Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019) - full transcript

A look at the history of black horror films and the role of African Americans in the film genre from the very beginning.

We've always loved horror.

It's just that horror,

hasn't always loved us.

[suspenseful music]

- Zombie! [indistinct]!

- What have we got here?

- [shouting]

NARRATOR: Terror and voodoo
and all the weird black magic

that the white man seldom see.

- [screams]
I'm gettin' outta here now!

BEN: You can be the boss
down there.

I'm boss up here.

- Yes! That's history.

- [screams]

- "The name is Blacula!"

- [laughs]
- [screaming]

- Is there any more
scary imagery than this?

- I wanna hear you scream.

- It's cool to see yourself
on the screen.

- There's something so powerful
about scaring someone.

- [screams]

- Oh, my goodness.

CANDYMAN: Allow me
at least a kiss.

- I've been
waiting for you, boy.

- Phew!

- [screaming]

- Oh, my God.

- Yes, get rid of that, son.

- [growling]


- Isn't that beautiful?

DRE: [chuckling] It's crazy.

You got me all here in this
creepy, confusing ass subarba.

You all so serious, though?

I feel like
a sore thumb out here.


Walking down the...

RUSTY CUNDIEFF: Walking down
the sidewalk at night.

- In a suburban neighborhood.
- In a suburban neighborhood.

- On the cellphone by himself.

- Yeah, yeah, yeah.

- Shit!
- All of that.

- [scoffs] I've been there.
- Yeah, yeah.

- It was the perfect
black horror story.

- Yeah, really.

- [grunts and groans]

- I've never felt so ill at ease

because, for me, there was
so much riding on this film

in that is he going to
get this right,

not just in quality,

but for the way that
we understand black people.

- If there's
too many white people,

I get nervous, you know?

JORDAN PEELE: When I found out
they were gonna let me

actually direct "Get Out",

I knew something big
was going to happen.

I thought there was a chance
something very bad could happen,

that I would get run
out of town, that, you know,

I thought there's a possibility
that people, you know,

don't want to see entertainment
about something that...

you know, has been
traditionally dealt with

with a certain reverence.

But I also thought, you know,

this is the movie
I wanted to see.

- To have a black protagonist,

first of all,
just in a horror trailer,

had my attention.

"Huh? Wait, he might
survive this."

[laughs] He might not be
the magical Negro

or the sacrificial Negro
or the first to die

and all those tropes,
so it's like,

"This is a story through
a black lens by a black artist

and it's horror."

I thought I was in heaven.

Jordan Peele, "Get Out".

[loud cheering]

This had never happened before

to have an Oscar-nominated
black horror movie.

- And I think it really shows

how horror films
can really talk about things

that are affecting us.

- Black history is black horror.

- Before we think about horror

as we know it today,
we can go back to the films

that perhaps wouldn't be
on our radar as horror.

- [title music of movie playing]

- There's a character, Gus.

Gus is a white actor
in blackface

who was depicted
as being in pursuit of

a young white girl.

Gus is essentially
lynched by the Klan.

of a Nation" was a horror film,

especially if you were
a black person.

KEN FOREE: Most people,
at that point,

were getting to know what
African Americans were like

through that film because
they lived in communities

where they had no
African Americans.

This was the only source
of information

and a lot of people
got the wrong impression

of who we are, certainly.

- It's one of the first films

to be screened
in the White House,

in Woodrow Wilson's
White House.

KEN FOREE: Didn't help that
Woodrow Wilson said,

"That's exactly the way it is."

- Oh, you know, I mean...

KEN FOREE: You know, he was
a contributor to the problem.

- With the endorsement
of the president,

it feels like policy.

There were even
advertisements and promotions

that said this was essentially
based on a true story

and it was as close to fact
as one could get.

- The Ku Klux Klan

is being heralded as the
solution to the black menace.

- This is a movie
that really solidifies

that there's this sort of

odd black lust
on the part of black men

towards white women.

You see it
time and time again then

throughout the horror genre,

from "King Kong"...

...to "Candyman".

- It reigned as
thepicture of black life

for so many years.

Hollywood could use
its messaging

to create fear
around black people,

fear around black men.

- It sets up
black life and culture

as so deficient
and so deviant

and I think we see
that kind of history

in forming race relationships
even today.

- Dr. Clinton?

Filmmakers in this period

really want black actors to be
what they think blackness is.

- Don't bite on this time,
Ms. Yoga.

These are the kinds of films

that are coming out
in the '20s and '30s,

leading up to Oscar Micheaux
and Spencer Williams

sort of saying, "Enough."

Oscar Michaeux,

who was one of the first
African American directors,

who would,
like a lot of people

doing today
in the independent world,

he would have his own film crew,
he would gather his actors,

he would write a script
around the actors.

- What Oscar Michaeux's films do

is say, "Don't engage
in these behaviors,

don't engage in these acts,"

which ultimately could
sort of bring down the race

or sully the reputation
of the race.

Oscar Michauex's
making arguments

that we are equal
and to be respected

and to be valued
as human beings.

Spencer Williams' film

from 1940, "The Son of Ingagi",
is as interesting case.

Its genesis
was a little bit odd

because there was a film
called "Ingagi".

"Ingagi" was an earlier

low budget effort
by a white director.

- Which basically purported

that black Africans were mating
with gorilla-like creatures.

- "Ingagi" promises

that it is a true story
and that this mating

has produced half-ape,
half-human babies.

The whole thing is a scam.

- Even whites were like,
"But that's not true, you know."

The "Son of Ingagi"
is basically considered

the first
black-made horror film.

The makeup isn't great,

and they didn't have
much of a budget.

- [growling]

- But Spencer got it made.
- Got it made, exactly.

- And I look at that
to this day as a testament.

- It stars a black woman
as a scientist.

She has a scientific lab
in her basement

and there is this ape-man
that resides there

that she has been taming

and sort of helping
this ape-man to thrive.

- If it does
what I think it will,

I've done more for humanity
than anyone else on Earth.

- So, Spencer Williams actually

kind of does the first black
women in stem kind of film.

You really get to see
the black middle class

on full display.

- [laughter]

TANANARIVE DUE: You're seeing
a bunch of black folks

coming back from a wedding.

It doesn't sound revolutionary,
but in that era, in 1940,

when did you ever see black
people just being themselves?

It was a way to show
that not all black people

were the way they had been
depicted in films

up to that time.

So we have a doctor
and a lawyer,

everyone is well-spoken,
and in that way,

it was a slice of black life
that, to me,

is one of the most important
aspects of that film.

- And if you know
anything about television,

Spencer Williams
sounds familiar, right?

He starred in the television
situation comedy "Amos 'N Andy".

- Oh, Andy, I love jokes!

- Then you gonna
like this one

because I bought this gun
at a joke store.


- So, what's sad about that

is that people will always
know Williams

as from "Amos 'N Andy",

but what Spencer Williams

to the history of film
is absolutely unmatched.

He sets up what we really
probably think of is

modern black cinema today.

Hollywood realized

that horror was big business,

especially during
the Great Depression.

I think people were looking for
that kind of escapism in films

and film going was like huge.

That's where you get those
Universal Studio classics like

"Murders in the Rue Morgue",
"The Mummy", "Dracula",

"The Bride of Frankenstein".

I love all of those films
but clearly in the 1930s,

they weren't really big
on racial representation.

Back in the '30s and '40s

in those days, you know,

there were only a few roles
for black people.

- It was like a quiet servant

who's just basically furniture,
tribesmen like in Africa

or voodoo priestesses,
that sort of thing.

- Hmm... At the theatre.
- It was like...

- It was like
the comedic buffoon

who was like scared
of his own shadow.

- [screams]

- Mantan Mulan.
- Yes.

- Was the last actor
to play that kind of character

and that was
in spite of the baby,

and after that, I would just say
they were ready to move on.

We are moving into this period

of kind of the scientific
or atomic age.

There's not a lot of room
for servants,

so in laboratories,

there's no really place
for blacks in that space.

In the '50s and '60s,

no studio wanted to put
a black scientist in there.

That was a place where they felt
black people weren't allowed in,

so like in hidden figures
how hard it was for black people

to get into the space race
and that sort of things,

so it has another reason I think
that black people

would pretty much disappear
during the whole, you know,

the decade or two.

- In all of those
classic alien movies...

like"The Day the Earth Stood Still"

and all that stuff,
there are no black people

but the "other"
is this monster thing

that I think is supposed to
represent all people

that are not white.

"Creature from the Black Lagoon"

looks so much like
those advertisements

from the '20s and the '30s
and the '40s.

The bulging lips looks
just like those awful ads

for Nigger Head Shrimp.

- It's like
first we weren't in it,

we were played
by white people...

- Yeah.
- Then we were in it

but we looked like aliens.

- [screaming]

So here I am, this 10-year-old,

in a drive-in theater
with my mom,

but even then, I knew
that there was something

that horror was saying to me
about blackness, about race.

I knew that King Kong
was a metaphor for blackness.

- [snarling]

- Even as a kid,
there was something

uncomfortable about it.

- Monsters and aliens

are stand-ins
for black folks

but we're not actually
present in the story.

- But then
there's this moment...

"Night of the Living Dead".

- It's 1968,
and that's important.

- [dogs barking]

[snarling dogs,
people screaming]

I don't scare easily.

"Night of the Living Dead"
I think gave me nightmares.

- It was a frightening,
frightening film,

and the black and white of it...


...play such a huge part
in what makes it scary.

NARRATOR: All law enforcement
agencies and the military

have been organized
to search out and destroy

the marauding ghouls.

There's a zombie apocalypse

and we have
a small group of folks

who all sort of converge
on a cabin house to survive.

- It has a black protagonist
in Duane Jones.

- You can be
the boss down there.

I'm boss up here.

- He's in charge.

- If you stay up here,
you take orders from me!

- You can never quite tell
if the white woman

who Duane Jones
is essentially saving

is more creeped out by the fact
that there's zombies outside

or the fact that there's
a black man in the house.

- I was probably
way too young to see it

but I was absolutely
fascinated by the fact

that there is this a beautiful,
handsome black man.

That was the first time
I probably saw somebody black

in a movie,
and they weren't a criminal,

and they weren't gangster,
and they were the hero.

- At that time,
there was not a black character

who was really a man,

who was, again,
who took charge of his fate.

Who wasn't waiting
for the white man to save him.

TONY TODD: Duane Jones'
performance stood out for me.

By that point, I knew
I wanted to be an actor

and I said, "Okay,
I was gonna be fearless."

- He's slapping white people up
inside the head.

He's killing white zombie
after white zombie

after white zombie.

This had to be horrifying
to racists.

- The '60s was
a turbulent time, you know.

We had assassination
after assassination.

We had riot after riot.

- Civil rights movement
and all those movements

were combining together
and we were producing those men

that were standing up
and saying, "Not here.

Not again. Not me."

At the same time, he comes up
and he does this film

and that's the character,
that's the man,

that's the man I saw.

"Night of the Living Dead"
was so important

because for the first time,
we're not just the victims.

We were the destroyers
and the protectors

for other people
against monsters,

That's a good point.

TONY TODD: Years later,
I got to know George Romero.

I asked him,
I said, "Why Duane?"

and he said, "The role
wasn't even written,

it wasn't written black.

Duane just happened to be
the best actor

to show up on that day."

This is like in the '60s

when people being hosed,
people in sit-ins

and stuff like that.
- Jim Crow era.

- Exactly.
- Yeah.

- It just blew my mind that

this was a black guy
who was doing all this,

taking charge,
he was the hero,

even though it didn't
turn out for him in the end.

- Alright then,
hit him in the head,

right between the eyes.

[ gun shot ]

I can remember seeing this

and not being able to move.

- Okay, he's dead.
Let's go get him.

That's another one for the fire.

He's killed by the white mob

which had to look a lot
like white mobs

that were roaming
throughout the South,

menacing black folks
and terrorizing black folks.

You see lynchings.

You think of Emmett Till
and it's just too much.

And so you are left
just sitting there going,

"My God.
Did this just happen?"

George Romero tells the story
of putting the film cans

in the trunk of his car,
driving to New York City,

and they hear it.

They hear it on the radio.

Dr. Martin King, Jr.

was killed
by an assassin's bullet

in Memphis, Tennessee.

- And I can't imagine

what happens in that car,
what that feeling is like,

the crush, the blow,
the sinking,

and I want to believe
that they know what they have.

"Night of the Living Dead"
becomes what it is

exactly because of what's
happening in this country

while he's filming it.

- I think
the tenseness of the time

and the turbulence
that was going on in society

and the political drama
all fed into people

all of a sudden having a need to
wanna see themselves on screen

and that gave birth to
the blacksploitation period.

[peppy music]

- We call 1970s film

and it's really a portmanteau

for "black" and "exploitation".

Blacks are on the big screen.

Black audiences are really
joyful for the inclusion

but the representations
are sometimes just not right.

from maids to pimps and hos.

At that time,
we didn't use that word

- No, no.

- But we were
horrifically profiled.

I like to wear hats
and I bought me a new hat

and some white boy yells at me,
"Hey, pimp!" you know,

and I think he's thinking

that he thinks
he's complimented me.

The big hats and collars

and they were images that were
perpetrated by white people

who exploited these images
for their own gain.

Sam Arkoff owned American
International Pictures, AIP,

they were the great producers
of films

that fell under
the blacksploitation period.

There are studios who get in

on the blacksploitation craze.

And AIP's business model was,
"We're not going to lead.

We're going to look,
see what's happening out there,

what might be popular,

and then we're going to get on
kind of the back side of this

and produce more of it."

Theirs was a strictly
for-profit budget model,

as little as they could

and hoping something stuck.

Their films would go on just
a few screens in some cases,

often in black neighborhoods,
very low investment,

very low quality.

- At the time,
I was astute enough

to look up AIP's budget,

but they weren't making
any money at all.

I mean, the rumor was, was
that they were in deep water,

and then "Blacula" brought in
a lot of money for them.

- The name is Blacula!

Starring William Marshall,

a black actor,

directed by William Crain,
a black director.

And so here's where you see

how knowledgeable
black directors and actors

can have an extraordinary
impact on a film.

- They wanted to do
"Count Brown's in Town".

- "Brown's in Town"? Really?
- Yeah.

It was really...Yeah.
- "Brown's in Town"?

- So, we decided we were
gonna do something else.

I wasn't the favorite
person there for them...

- No, of course not.
- ...because we had

something else in mind.

- The movie opens
with him with his queen

trying to argue
with Count Dracula

to end the transatlantic
slave trade.

- To totally cease
the slave trade?

When is the last time

black audiences
had seen themselves

expressed visually in the 1700s
as erudite and intelligent

and holding court and trying to
discuss world affairs?

- Slavery has merit,
I believe.

- Merit? You find
"merit" in barbarity?

- But it was a big deal!
- It was a big deal.

I just remember
right out of school

everyone say
Black Dracula.

- Vampires,
I think they're possibly

the most fascinatin of all.

- That's all I remember.

"What? A black Dracula?"

And it gave you a sense of
something I can't even explain.

I wanted to be an actor.
Something opened up

'cause I think that
affected me in a way

that probably
I don't even understand.

- I was still in high school

and I had dreams of being
the first black Dracula.


- [Blacula laughs]

- But when William Marshall,
who came out with it,

I was like,
"Who could be mad about that?"

I mean, it was--
because he was...

I've loved William Marshall.

- When I was a kid,

the vampires and the Draculas
that had been going on

were these really soft,
metrosexual white guys

who didn't really have
an energy to them for me,

and then, Blacula.

Okay, so he's this yummy,
yummy chocolate, dark, sexy man

and so it was sort of,

it was this really
confusing thing as a child

because I'm like,
"Oh, my God, I'm scared!

But I'm excited.
But I'm scared.

But I'm interested.
I think I wanna kiss him."

And I hadn't really experienced
that with a "villain" before,

so I would say Blacula
scared the fuck out of me.

- I was proud
that a black man

was kicking some butt.
- Was eating people.

- Kicking butt, yeah.
- Hi, what'll you have?

- Make is a Bloody Mary.

- [laughs] He was
having a Bloody Mary!

a lot of tangible resistance

and maybe even
tangible resentment...

- Racism?
- Yeah. Well, for racism,

I mean, nobody...
- Because I'm sure your crew

was predominantly white.

- Everybody was white.
- All right.

- Right now,
I can't remember

anyone else black
that was on that set.

something of a resentment

on the part of many producers

who didn't want our voices
to ring resonantly about

and create a new kind of genre.

[disco music]

Remember the night club scene?

And the 150 actors
in that club scene, right?

- Right, right, right.

- And so, there was
a mix of white and black.

Right. Beautiful.

It really worked.

And once the music
was supposed to start,

kids were supposed to be dancing
and I watched the AD,

the assistant director,
he had the black couples

and he had white couples,
so I had this...

- He didn't mix it up?
- No, he didn't. He didn't.

They didn't have gloves
to throw down but I said,

"Hold up, we're not
gonna do this.

This is what you're gonna do.

You're gonna mix
these people up."

And it went
all the way up to Sam Arkoff.

- He got some resistance

but his pushback helped
even the higher-ups

doing this film understand
that he was making

something really meaty
and meaningful.

It makes the film so memorable
and impactful even to this day.

We're sitting in this wonderful

old police station,
and I saw this long range

of about at least 20 yards,

and then I asked them

for a high-speed camera.
- Okay.

- Which would be
a slow-motion camera.

- Right. Okay.

- They didn't wanna do it.
I wasn't gonna get it.

This went on
for at least a week.

- Right.
- And so, I was waiting

for this camera to show up.

Never did show up.

On the morning
that we got ready to do that,

this extra van pulls up...

- And they gave it to you?
- And these guys come out

with this high-speed,
slow motion camera.

- Okay.

- They decided
to give it to you.

- I bet they did
after they start seeing

those dailies, right?

- People are still
talking about that shot.


TINA MABRY: And it created
kind of a cultural shift

and to have that awareness
to say, "Me, too,"

and then to come back with
"Scream Blacula Scream",

Pam Grier and Richard Lawson's
first role.

"Scream Blacula Scream"

I did with William Marshall,
Pam Grier, Don Mitchell,

and a host of other
wonderful black actors.

I'm a Pam Grier fan.

She ends up becoming
the lead of the film

which to me is fun
because, in my opinion,

it's one of the only times
they let her act,

like she really got to be
a real person

and not a sex symbol.

- Stay away! Who are you?

- This is when you start to see
women really emerge.

Women are now starting to take
the center stage.

- How about that?

- She got to use her mind.
- Change her wardrobe,

she used her mind,

of course she saves
the two guys

at the end.
- Yes.

And she's like an historian
of black antiquity,

you know...
- Exactly.

That whole diaspora.

- In the white horror movies,

the voodoo is always
like the evil force.

- Yeah.
- And the villain.

But in like
"Scream Blacula Scream"

it was like the force of good,
it was kind of...

- Exactly.
- They relied on that

to conquer his curse basically.

They were using it
to remove his curse.

The cross horrors history voodoo

is explicitly
a sign to black people.

All black people know voodoo!

And it's really helpful
if they're in Louisiana.

- How do you kill
someone with voodoo?

- You often see black women

associated with voodoo
on screen.

Commonly, we've seen black women
be voodoo priestesses

and things of that nature,
and always use it for ill-will.

- A [indistinct] is gonna growl,
and rain is gonna rain.

- Black women
were very much centered

as frightening because
they wielded power.

"Abby" the blacksploitation era
film, is a really good example

of both fear of black women
in general

but fear of black women's
sexuality in particular.

- [growling]

ABBY: You're mine now!

- Abby.
- That's Abby.

This scared me so much
when I was a kid

because she was pretty,
but then she went crazy.

- [laughs]
- Yeah.

- What do you think
of my powers now?

[evil laughter]

- Black women, of course,
have always been depicted

as highly sexualized.

This is definitely something
that came to the fore with Abby.

On the one level,
you could say she's sort of

resisting her defined role
as sort of a church wife,

becoming possessed
by a sex demon

who basically attacks men
through sex. [laughs]

It's a silly film,

but what's not silly about it
is it does point to this fear

of black women
and black womanhood.

- There is this one, I think,

kind of cool movie.
It's called "Sugar Hill".

- [loud laughter]

- Sugar's community
is under siege

by some corrupt
white gangsters.

- [grunting]

She conjured this voodoo god

to get revenge
on these gangsters

who killed her boyfriend.

- I want the power
to destroy my enemies.

one of the early films

where a black woman
was the lead.

- Remember me?

- She had made
her own determinations,

was not suppressed by men
and the system.

She was smart, powerful,
she was sexy,

she was intelligent,
and she was willful.

- Show us what big man you are.

This is a narrative

that isn't entirely

It does resurrect
these early notions of black men

lusting for white women.

- [loud laughter]

- And so,
for female audiences to watch

these movies on the big screen,

certainly came with
a bit of conflict.

- So, the blacksploitation era

probably gets mixed marks
in terms of, you know,

overall how black life
was being portrayed,

but you can see in even
just these horror films

that there's an effort
to do more.

- One movie from the '70s

that gets lumped in
with blacksploitation

is "Ganja & Hess".

It's really cool
and it's from a black director.

Bill Gunn is his name.

- Bill Gunn is a guy

who a lot of people
don't know about

because he was a playwright,
a screenwriter.

He wrote the screenplay for
a movie called "The Landlord"

that Hal Ashby did.

Bill Gunn was in episodes
of "The Outer Limits",

"Man From U.N.C.L.E.",
you know,

they just wanted him to make

a horror film.
- Right.

- You know,
with black folks in it.

And the story is that he just,

I think the producers were
out of town or something,

and he took the whole
cast and crew

up to some place at New York
and rewrote it and shot it.

- Wow.
- You know, to talk about

the history of blood,
the history of African blood,

and how it's passed down
to the ancestors.


- This is a film about
a very erudite scholar

who struggles with addiction,

so he's using blood
as an addiction metaphor

which is something
that spoke to this director

and in his mind,
I'm sure spoke to his community.

- He was recently
turned into a vampire

and he falls in love
with this woman

and he kinda has to decide
whether to turn her

and that sort of thing.

And it's very slow
and meditative.

Throughout the movie, Hess,

no matter how wealthy he is,
no matter how educated,

is still very fearful
of the police.

- There's no possible way
for you to know this

but I'm the only colored
on the block, you see,

and if another black man
washes ashore around here,

you can believe

the authorities will
drag me out for questioning.

- The police still remain
a threat

to even this very wealthy,
well-educated black man.

- It got
like a standing ovation

at the Cannes Film Festival.
- Yeah.

- It played at Cannes
and got a lot of awards there.

When it got to America,
not so much.

- Hollywood hates this movie

because it doesn't look
anything like

the blacksploitation films
of this period.

Frankly, it's a little
too smart.

It's a little too stylistic.

The characters are really a bit
too developed and realized.

They wanted something cruder.

- They recut it. [indistinct]
before years, you know,

I used to go some video stores
and it was recut as a movie

called "Blood Couple".

For the longest time,

it was sort of
in this netherworld

where the true version
of the film

was at the Museum of Modern Art
in New York.

- It was a film
that I heard about for years

before I was finally to see it.

- Hmm-mm.

- Actually, Bill Gunn,
when I was at Howard, came.

He didn't come with
a print of the film.

- He just came
to talk about it?

- Yeah, 'cause
the only print was available,

the only print in existence
was at the Museum of Modern Art.

He was an interesting cat,

and "Ganja & Hess"
was his chance

to elevate a vampire story
into something more meaningful.

"Ganja & Hess"

is like this beautiful,
artistic film

but it wasn't the only film
during that time

that was making
these broad stroke statements

about what was going on
in society.

There's a lot of
blacksploitation horror films

that kind of deal with kind of
involuntary experimentation

and it doesn't feel
like a coincidence.

The Tuskeegee Experiment
was this medical experiment

that spanned a 40-year time.

There were these tests done
on Southern men in the South,

some had syphilis,
some didn't,

but they all thought
they were being treated

for what was called "bad blood".

They were promised
free healthcare, free meals,

free burial, but they weren't
even treated.

They were pretty much
being tested

to see the effects of syphilis
over a lifetime.

Some of those men
lost their lives

without knowing what they were
fully consenting to,

and there was
this big investigation

and it came a halt
in early to mid-1970s.

- You wanna use me for some type
of human guinea pig, is that it?

"Dr. Black & Mr. Hyde",


those are films that were
lackluster in quality

and maybe even story,
but they are centered around

medical experimentation
on black males.

And so, you couldn't help
but notice

those two things coming together
and kind of converging.

- This could be a good chance
to try out that serum.

- No, you can't
try that serum on a human.

That's not right.

Since blacks were brought here

during slavery,
we were treated as lab rats

and for various,
different medical purposes,

they treated us as inhuman,
as we were seen,

and so, you see a lot of that
even today

with movies like "Get Out".

- Why us, huh?

Why black people?

"The Girl with All the Gifts"

and even "The First Purge".

- Should you choose
to actively participate,

we'll implant
a tracking device.

After that, you'll be all set,
as they say, to purge.

- As sort of bad as

some of these
blacksploitation films were,

they just simply got worse.

- [screaming, grunting]

- "Blackenstein" is so bad,

you can't see the film.

I mean, you're like,

Did they purposefully
shoot it in shadow

or just completely in the dark?

In addition to that,

civil rights groups
are protesting these films

and saying that they're not good
for black culture,

they're not good for
black representations.

- We may not have
liked necessarily what we saw.

- [screaming]

- It was stereotypical,

but those doors
slowly started to open.

So, as all things in life,
there's a double-edged sword.

- We're finally seeing
a number of movies

where black people
are on the big screen.

And so, you think, "Okay,

the momentum
is going to continue

and maybe in the '80s,

we're going to get
these representations right."

Exactly the opposite happens.

- [grunting]

- I always knew
that if there was somebody black

in the horror film,
they will be the first to die.

MIGUEL A. NUÑEZ: I remember
one of the first things I did

was when I got the script

was count the number of pages
before I died.


- If we're not dead
in the first 15 minutes,

we're certainly dead
by the last 30 minutes.

- It's like
the red shirt phenomenon

in "Star Trek".

You know you can't kill Spock,
you can't kill McCoy,

you can't kill Captain Kirk
or Uhura,

so this poor crew member
with the red shirt

is the one who's going to die.

And I think that's very much

where blacks were kind of
stuck in horror for a while.

It became such a joke
about first to die

that there were these
sort of tongue-in-cheek

references to it.

IRA KANE: Snag one.

- Snag one?
- Yeah, snag one

and put 'em in the bucket.

- I seen this movie.
The black dude dies first.

You snag it.

- So, let's talk about
black people

always die first
in horror movies.

It's not entirely true.

- Well, in "Alien",
Yaphet is actually

the last male to die, you know?
- That's true. He is.

Yeah, he makes it aways.

- Get out of the room!

- Sometimes they do die first.

- [grunting]

- But I wanna kinda dispel
a little bit of that myth.

It often happens.

- [grunting]

- But then, at the same time,

it can't always happen
because black people

play a particular role
in horror films.

For example, if you have
a really horrible, big,

kind of badass monster,
how do you evidence

that that creature
is as bad as it can get?

You need a black guy.

- I'm Sergeant Buford Brown,
but my teammates call me Buba.

- If the monster beats that guy,

then that monster
must be a true badass.

- You believe any of this
voodoo bullshit, Blair?

- Well, you know, my first,

my very first movie was
"The Thing".

- Yes! Yes, yes.
- I lived to the very end.

I survived.
- Yes.

In my next movie, I did die
but not till the end.

- Their roles are tokens,

and so, they show up
as sidekicks,

incidental characters.

- Which would be fine

except that often,
they don't exist

for any other reason
in the movie.

They don't have wants,
needs of their own,

their only concern

is the welfare
of the white protagonists,

and that's where
it becomes problematic.

- I looked at it as I was
the chosen black person

for the film.
- I know, that's right.

- I didn't look at it
in a negative way.

I looked at it like
I was chosen.

- I didn't look at it
in a negative way, either,

'cause I was getting a check.
MIGUEL A. NUÑEZ: Absolutely.

Everybody who had said
anything about it,

I'm in "Friday the 13th",
you're not,

so I didn't look at it
like that.

But it was really
a good thing to be black

and, in any film,
in the '80s,

not much less a horror movie,
but any film.

- I was like,
"Hey, we're in this movie!"

[laughs] We're dying first.

- [muffled scream]

- Or we're sacrificing

- [screaming]

Or we're just a sidekick
or we're just being sassy.

- Dan keeping you up again?

Girl, you gotta put a lock
in that window.

- Or we're not gonna appear
after the first act or whatever.

But we were in it.
We were in it!

It's such a powerful validation
of your existence

and I think it's really
difficult for a lot of whites

to even imagine
what it would feel like

if you were surrounded
by entertainment

that was nothing
but black people, right?

- I got on set
and I read the script,

and there was several little
racial things in there.

- I see you!

Chocolate man.

- And so,
I, you know, I said,

"Okay, you know,
I'm gonna be alone on this."

- Scary, isn't it?

- Back when
I was doing "The Craft",

I definitely
was really nervous

about how to portray
this character.

Like Bonnie has burns,
or what's her name?

[laughs] scars.

And the other one is poor
and very angry

and probably bipolar, right?

So when I first auditioned,

I had a big monologue
about being anorexic

and then I think
once they decided to cast me,

that is when they made
race her issue,

but for me, I was like,
"I don't have an issue."

I didn't think it was
a big enough problem

for her to have.

Although, in retrospect,
I actually think it's fantastic

they had it in because
that is the kind of racism,

whether it was subtle or big,
that I went through,

I'm sure you went through,
and everyone went through,

but isn't it interesting
that I was able to

compartmentalize it
and be like, "What?

She doesn't have a problem,"
because it's so ingrained in me

that that's a part of me
that I'm gonna go into a store

and someone's
gonna be horrible to me

or somebody white's gonna say
something terrible.

- Why are you doing this
to me, Laura?

- Because I don't like Negroids.

- To this day,
people come up to me

and tell me how much it meant.

I was getting off a train,
this little girl was getting on

and she would,

"Yo... yo.. you were
in the Crafts movie!"

And I realized,
"Oh! Oh, oh!"

I wasn't even thinking
that like I'm now in a movie,

so these girls don't have to
go through what I did

which was, you know,
watching "Pretty in Pink"

and going, "There's no one
who looks like me,

or acts like me,
or sounds like me."

I am going to be that
for these girls.

- I drink of my sisters

and I ask for the ability
to not hate those who hate me,

especially racist pieces
of bleach blonde shit

like Laura Lizzie.

- I think what Rochelle did
was she gave us...

she gave us a way to kind of
talk about our own experiences

and be comfortable with them

because a lot of us were
in like all-white spaces.

- I live in a white world.

I mean, most of the time,
all I'm around is white people.

A lot of times,
when you're living in the world,

so you don't think of it being,
"Oh, I'm a token,"

or anything like that.

You're just thinking, "Oh,
I finally got a position in this

and it'll bring me
other positions,"

so I think you think positively
about what you're doing.

KEN SAGOES: It didn't
really matter to me

because we were working.

I was so happy that I had
a check but, on the set,

it was absolute...
I was the only black there.

And I think minorities
all over the world

felt that Kincaid
was their hero.

Let's go kick
the motherfucker's ass

all over dreamland.

Every script that I read

and the leading man,

that was my part!

That's the part
I shoulda played!

But I understood where it was.

There was no resentment.

It was like, "In due time."

- Perhaps the quintessential,

although it pains me to say,
token character,

is Scatman Crothers
in "The Shining".

- No problem, Mr. Urban,

I was just getting
to the ice cream.

- It pains me to say it because
he's a terrific performer.


TANANARIVE DUE: The character
played by Scatman Crothers

who is a psychic in the book
survives, but in the film,

to set up a danger
for the important characters,

meaning the child and the wife,

Scatman Crothers
got an axe to his chest

the minute the brother
walked through the door.

- [manic shouting]


- Always bothered me
'cause I was always thinking,

"Oh, if he's shinin', how come

he didn't see it coming?"
- He should see that.

- He shoulda ducked that axe.

- At the time, I mean,

I thought it was
an unusual choice

because I knew it hadn't
happened that way in the novel.

I didn't understand
that I was seeing a trope called

the sacrificial Negro.

- The sacrificial Negro

is just the character
who literally just like

puts themselves
in the face of danger

and dies in order for
the white character to survive.

- In the first "Annabelle",

poor Alfre Woodard
has no investment in the film

other than helping
the white characters...

- No, no!
- [screams]

TANANARIVE DUE: And I was like,
"That's a little retro,"

because you don't see
that so much anymore.

- It was literally
Alfre Woodard saying,

"Oh, I have lived my entire life
just to save you."

And it's just like,

[laughs] "Oh, my God,
that drove me nuts!"

- I'm over that.

I've seen that
in almost every movie

I grew up with as a child
where, you know,

the desexualized
black woman mammy figure

gives her life so that
the little white girl can live.

That's noble, I guess,
but I just feel like,

Why can't everybody live?
Or everybody die?

- I think it really
honestly goes back

to that era of
the "Birth of a Nation"

where you have
the faithful servant trope.

That faithful servant trope
is a really important image

for a lot of races
because it shows them

that slavery and Jim Crow
weren't so bad!

Sometimes those
secondary characters

are just gonna have to die
because if they don't,

the audience won't believe

something scary is about to
happen to the real characters

who are not
the black characters,

which is what I think
gives birth to this other

horrible trope
which is the magical Negro.

- Molly, you in danger, girl.

- They have super wisdom

that helps like these
white characters kind of thrive.

- It's one of those boxes
that black people get put in,

the sort Uncle Remus thing,

where we're somehow afforded
some mystical wisdom.

- Alex,
your friend's departure shows

that death has a new design
for all of you.

- Then you have the other side
of a terrible coin

which is invisibility.

- I remember being
when I was younger...

- Yeah.
- Like around that age,

like seven to eight grade and
like discovering scary movies

like, "You know what,
I'm not gonna die

'cause I'm not even in this."
- [laughs]

all my friends at the sleepover

should be scared
'cause they're all white

and no one's coming for the man
who looks like me!

- No one's coming for us.

- 'Cause I'm not even in it!

It's the Reagan era

and black people
become the face

of what is bringing
this country down.

The nation is led to believe

that their good,
hard tax dollars

are being put
into these young women

who are having babies
and collecting welfare checks

and it's a propaganda message

that really encourages
the nation

to turn its back
on social programs.

Black people become monstrous
in a real way in the political.

NEWS ANCHOR: Horton fled,
kidnapped a young couple,

stabbing the man and repeatedly
raping his girlfriend.

- On the big screen then,

what is encouraged
is that white, fleety urban.

"A Nightmare on Elm Street",
"Amityville Horror",

all have pushed us out

into the suburban,
away from the urban,

and so we have to imagine
new monsters.

- [growling]

- Take a movie like

"Our homes are built
on Indian burial grounds

and somehow it's radiating up
and affecting us in awful ways

not because
we're inherently evil

but because
black and brown people

were still the source of evil."

- One horror film
with a lot of black faces in it

that stands out
from the 1980s is

"The Serpent and the Rainbow",
directed by Wes Craven,

and Wes Craven, I would say,
was one of those filmmakers

who really did try to be
inclusive in his films.

He also did "Vampire Brooklyn"

and he did
"The People Under the Stairs".

"The People Under the Stairs"

you had a young black kid

leading a major film
for Universal.

It was ahead of its time.

- I remember seeing it
on the VHS and I'm being like,

"This movie has a black
child actor as the lead?

What's going on here?"

- I don't wanna kill you

but I will 'cause
I don't like you much, anyway.

- One of the things
that movie really captures is,

you know, black fear
of white spaces, you know,

this thing we're talking about.

And this particular white space,
you know, this is stereotypical

but like, you know, this idea
of like sadomasochism

and leather
like psychosexual shit,

like this torturing stuff.

It all seemed
very white, you know?

- There's no community here.

All I see you
are a couple of n...

[indistinct] ass bitch.
You can.

- What are you gonna do?

Shoot us all?

- They had Roach in there,

in the walls, as a victim,
and that, I think,

was the most powerful

and terrifying part
about that movie.

You look at "Get Out",

it's clear that my deepest,
deepest fears

come to this idea
of confinement.

- And then we get
this beautiful renaissance

called the '90s.

- I actually am not afraid
to say Candyman.

- Candyman.

- Candyman!

- [girl shouting]
No, no.

- I'm a really hard person
to scare

and "Candyman" was like

one of the first things
in a while that got me.

- That really got to you?

- Yeah, I mean,
that shot with the open mouth

inside the vacated apartment.

- I guess we kinda knew
that we had something

but we didn't know what.

We had Tony Richmond,
was our DP,

who did
"The Man Who Fell to Earth",

we had Philip Glass

whose incredible score
kicked off the film,

we had the beautiful city
of Chicago as our backdrop,

and we had a interracial

is such a powerful actor

and brings such gravitas
to that role.

- Be my victim.

- Candyman is Tony Todd,

and Tony Todd is Candyman,
for a lot of us.

- Out of the blue, I get
a call from my manager

at the time, saying
there's a script on their table,

it's called "Candyman"
and I kinda...

in my cockiness, I hung up
the phone because I said,

"What are we talking about?

Is this Sami Davis, Jr.'s story
we doin'?

I'm way too tall."

- Do I know you?

- No, but you doubted me.

- Tony's got a great
screen presence.

- He does.
- Candyman" was, you know,

it was obviously unique

because that was the first
black supernatural killer.

I loved Clive Barker,
and Candyman being

sort of like the patron saint
of urban legends.

You know, I thought that was
just such a beautiful invention,

such a beautiful monster.

- Candyman
is not a bogeyman.

He was an artist who was
happily doing his thing.

He happened to fall in love with
a woman that wasn't his race

and he was lynched
because of it,

and not only that,
they cut off his art hand.

directed "Candyman"

based on a short story
set in the UK by Clive Barker.

They changed the original story

from sort of
a class conversation

to one that is rooted
in American racial history.

- It dealt with
the social things.

You have this white woman,
you got this black guy,

you got this backstory
about this black guy

and this white woman
and kind of, you know,

how he is attacked
because of this relationship.

- It was a very terrifying film,

a film that I loved
but a film that, you know,

is kind of problematic.

CANDYMAN: We shall die together
in front of their very eyes.

we have a movie

that echoes what happened
in "King Kong" in the '30s.

There is this black bogeyman

and he's in pursuit
of this blonde white woman.

- He becomes obsessed,

recirculating the same tropes.

- I don't think that character

would go after
poor black people.

- Right.
- This is where you can tell

that "Candyman" came
from the mind of a white person.

He chooses to haunt,

to disrupt the lives
of blacks in Chicago

in the Cabrini-Green Projects.

When really,
right across the tracks,

are essentially
the representatives,

the sort of, the folks
who would have been responsible,

their ancestors,
for his lynching.

- He is a personification
of racism in the United States,

like what it looks like
and what it can conjure,

like all that negative energy,

like what does it look like,
and what does it do?

- Keep away from me!

For me, it's a character.

I don't live and breathe
and die by it.

I'm happy
that I was able to do him

and hopefully I did him right.

- It was very empowering to me

to feel like we could... like
black people can do anything.

We're not in this box.

We can be the Freddie
of a movie.

- [screams] No!

- I remember
Vondie Curtis-Hall

who was married to Kasi Lemmons
who was in the film.

In the original screening,
he shook his head, he says,

"Man, you realize,"
and I said, "What?"

"You gonna be Candyman forever."

ANNOUNCER: Candyman,
Day of the Dead.

- Unfortunately,
I think the sequels

kind of get overlooked.

It gives Candyman
a sympathetic backstory.

He is the spirit that's conjured
from the history of racism

and white supremacy
in the United States.

- [screaming]

- I feel like the sequel

helps you understand
the original

a little bit better maybe.

The '90s were a renaissance

not just in film,
I want to point out,

but also in literature.

This is the era that Spike Lee
helped give birth to.

Spike Lee was like
the Terry McMillan in film

as what Terry McMillan
was doing in publishing.

You know, black people
are going to see movies.

MARK H. HARRIS: There was
a push for black filmmaking

started by like Spike Like
and John Singleton

and people like that,

and I think it was kind of
a response to the '80s

where black people were
kind of marginalized.

- In the early 1990s,

you kind of saw like
a lot of black filmmakers

kind of come into the fold
and not just make comedies

and dramatic films
but also horror films,

and I think
what they were doing

with the horror films
at the time,

they were making movies
that were kind of

socially conscious
and more directly in tune

with what was going on
in the outside world.

- What you saw today,
young brother,

were victims of economics,

environment Reganomics.

Joel as the main character,

this up-and-coming
and soon to be minister.

He goes and visits his cousin
that lives in New York City.

It really centers around
Joel and his crisis of faith.

"Do I stick with
kind of like my Bible

and Christian fundamentalism,

or do I kind of stray a little
and have a little fun?"

- No, I wouldn't.
Fornication is a sin.

- It gets even more
extreme than that

because his, literally,

his soul is at stake
with a demon who is like

looking to immediately
kind of eradicate him.

- [laughs]

- It is super biblical,
now that I think about it,

'cause she's basically
the parallel of the devil.

- [screams] No!

- "Def by Temptation"

is all about that battle
between good and evil.

this is also a morality tale.

These are the lessons
that mirror so closely

to what Michaeux
and Spencer Williams

were offering up
in earlier decades.

I love that connection

that "Def by Temptation"

has with those older films
from the 1940s.

It was unique for the time
because you weren't seeing

a lot of black horror films
made in 1990, if any.

That's what makes it
a real landmark.


I feel like
"Tales from the Hood"

did more to kind of cement
black horror for the '90s.

- Welcome to hell!

- "Tales from the Hood"
was groundbreaking.

- Oh, the shit!

"Tales from the Hood"

was this anthology horror film.

There's four short stories
with one wraparound story.

- My dad used to drag me
to march after march

if it had black, colored,
or Negro in the title,

he was a member.

So, when I, you know,
started to look at horror

as something to do myself,
I'm like,

Well, I gotta have
something in there to...

we gotta do,
we gotta mix it up.

Not just have horror
for horror's sake.

It deals with spousal abuse

and then child abuse
in the home.

It deals with gang violence.

It deals with
racist politicians.

- Can't we all
just get along?

It deals with police brutality.

So, all of these things
kind of intertwine

and create this kind of
supernatural tale

about revenge and retribution.

- [screaming]

MARK H. HARRIS: It deals with
a lot of different things.

The anthology format is actually
really good in terms of

you can address a lot of
different issues

with short stories.

- You have
a racist politician.

An original American.

Isn't it about time?

- That's great.
I'd even vote for me!

- Is it really that

that someone would have that
as a campaign slogan today?

- I always tell my kids,

I'm like, you know,
people in grave...

the dead people and the spirits
are not gonna mess with you.

It's livin'...

- It's living people
you gotta worry about, yeah.

- Yes, that's what
we gotta worry about.

[scary music]

That's how we kinda twisted
when we started to do "Tales",

we gotta turn the tables
and make the horror redemptive.

- [screaming] No!

- This movie is kind of like

helping us see justice happening
when we're not seeing it happen

outside of a movie screen
or a movie theatre.

There's cops being acquitted
and there's LA riots

and it just seems like
things are so hopeless

but then you kind of like
exercise retribution

in a horror film for,
you know, for justice,

for racial justice,
and I think that's super dope.

- You tackled, you know,
subjects that are horrific.

- Right. Right.

- We're running around

looking for
ghosts and vampires

when the vampire is,
you're married to him.

- You're married to him.

- You know,
he's sucking you dry,

you know, and beating you,

and also hurting
and destroying your child.

That, and I was so young,
I learned a lot on that set.

- [groans]


- I always liked
David Alan Grier as a comedian--

- Yeah.

- --but realizing
what he could do as an actor.

That really, that really...

and then I found out
that he was Shakespearian...

- Shakespearian trained.
- Shakespearian trained.

- Yeah, I, you know,
I used to do standup,

so I kinda knew David
from the comedic thing

but I also knew that he had
this Shakespearian background,

and when I was thinking of
who to play that part,

I purposefully wanted someone

that everyone looked at
as a nice guy.

There was an interesting thing
that happened

when we screened that episode.

- I'm gonna teach you
and that boy some respect.

When David Allen Grier

was first hitting Paula,
these kids were laughing.

- Wow.
- And you know what happens,

particularly I think
as a black teenager,

as someone that
goes through the world,

you're always on the lookout

for how something
is gonna mess with you.

You're not trying to
show your vulnerability.

- Right.

- And the easiest way
to do that is to

- Laugh it off. Yeah.
- laugh at something.

And laugh at something.

- [groaning]

- As the beating went on,

it got quieter and quieter
and quieter

until it felt like
they were about to cry.

- When I rewatch this film,

it really stands
head and shoulders above

a lot of black horror
up to that point

because in those four segments,
what Rusty Cundieff is doing

is using that metaphor
to tell stories

that were about
real-life problems

facing the black communities.

- It kind of became more kind of

a genre classic or something
that, you know,

the black community kind of
like talked about

and it was kind of
a word of mouth thing

but maybe it is because of
"Get Out" that it got

this kind of resurgence
and then got a sequel.

- This shit
ain't over yet, bitch!

- "Tales from the Hood 2",

you know, Darren and I
have been trying

to get this thing made forever.

- I think it's gonna be
quite amazing!

We're back to telling [laughs]

...back to telling stories

that hopefully deal with
some issues that people have.

This one I think is,

there's some stuff
that's a little headier.

It's a different
kind of "Tales" story,

touches people
in a different way,

though it is scary.

- [screaming]


- You start to see more women
on screen in the 1990s.

"Eve's Bayou", Kasi Lemmons,

which is one of my favorite.

Some people
don't consider it horror

but I do because it's just,

really, it's one of those great
interchanges of human horror

and hints of the supernatural.

During the time,

it was still super rare to see
black women be directors,

so Kasi Lemmons
really pushing to direct

was really groundbreaking
and really important.

beautiful cinematography.

The whole thing
is like a poem, really,

it's just so beautiful.

The script by Kasi Lemmons
is just fantastic.

I've taught it in my black
horror class at UCLA

and when I teach it,

I like to tweet out lines
from the script.

It's just so beautifully

- That opening scene
and the first thing you hear...

EVE BATISTE: The summer
I killed my father,

I was ten years old.

...it's just brilliant,

and it was a different
kind of scary movie.

- Bad girl.

about what memory means

in the eyes of
a black young girl

and how she tries to help
keep her family together

and also kind of heal any wounds
that are kind of lingering

within, her father's,
you know, infidelity,

and also maybe that kind of
like touchy subject of,

"Is he being inappropriate
with one of his daughters?"

- That Debbi Morgan character,

you feel so...
so much strength from her.

But you feel so much pain
because of what she's lost.

- Sometimes I feel like
I've lost so much,

I have to find new things
to lose.

TANANARIVE DUE: Magic steps in
to sort of take the place

of those harder questions

about what's really
happening in that house.

what Kasi Lemmons does

and what she
kind of inspired

for a lot of the black women
horror filmmakers that I talk to

is we do have a story to tell
and don't be afraid

to kind of like, you know,
"Oh, because a studio exec

or higher ups may not like
seeing an all-black cast

or a film centered around
black women,

then I can't do this."

And I think what
Kasi Lemmons' film did,

she says,
"No, we can do this,"

and to not be afraid
of any pushback,

to keep pushing
for your story, your voice,

which she did for a generation
is tell them

that their voice
really does matter.

- Horrible, isn't it?

- There's Billy
and there's Jada.

- Billy and Jada.

- Do we have a deal?

She did surprise me, though.

She called me up,
"Ernest, I colored my hair."


"I hope it doesn't
mess you up too much.

I made it
kind of like platinum."

I said, "Oh, Jada, Jada."

- [screams]


something really
groundbreaking happens

because we kind of see this
like first like contemporary

black final girl,
and it's Jada Pinkette.

The final girl is this term
coined by Carol Clover.

She wrote this book called
"Men, Women, and Chainsaws,

Gender in The Modern
Horror Film"

and the final girl is basically
the last girl standing

and the common theme was
that they were all white.

- I know
that the producers wanted

another actress,
a white actress, for that role

but I had just seen Jada
in "Menace to Society"...

And I just said,
"Oh, she's my Jeryline,"

so I had to campaign hard
to get her in there.

I said, you know,
it's the perfect setup

because everybody's gonna think,
"Oh, she's gonna die."

- Right.

- She's dead already,
you know? We know that.

And she winds up
being the sister

that winds up
saving the world.

- [screams]

- That was just like,
"Oh, crap."

You wouldn't have
seen that in '80s.

Fearless women on screen
have been on the rise

ever since Kira in
"The Invitation",

Aaliyah in
"Queen of the Damned",

Sennia Nanua in
"The Girl with All the Gifts".

They're black women
and they're survivors.

Seeing Saana Lathan
side by side with the predator

and just killing aliens
was just like,

"Wait a minute,
so her and this predator

are gonna start like..."

That was so cool

because I think she was like
the last person alive

and like he made her
kind of a tribeswoman,

like she was a part
of their crew now.

Right around the turn
of the 21st century,

hip hop-inspired horror films
started to come out.

- Then it's just add Z.

So "Wolvez" with a Z,

"Vampz" with a Z,
"Bloodz VS Wolvez",

so there's just Zs
exploding all over the place

but the Zs are there to indicate

that it's kind of
a hip-hop kind of thing.

You have rappers just
showing up in horror movies.

LL Cool J
is in "Halloween H20".

- Yeah?

What's going on, baby?

- I don't know.

- You had "Anaconda",
you know, Ice Cube.

- Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff

and it's a send-up to the film
"Nightmare on Elm Street"

and the "Geto Boys"
who are from Houston

who have really significant
horror themes.

It's kind of a natural pairing.

They're fans,
they're rapping about it,

and eventually,
they end up on set.


from the early 2000s was "Bones"

which was this kind of this
blacksploitation throwback.

It comments on what drugs did

to the black community

We had Snoop Dogg
as this title character.

He's involved in gambling

and stuff like that,
but he ain't somebody

who always tried to give back
to his community.

But for me, one of the most
interesting things

about doing "Bones"
was the love story.

- [gasps]

- But just the idea, you know,
of reviving a love

that had been lost
and it's one of the things

that the studio
really kind of downplayed.

- Really?
- Yeah, when they...yeah.

Yeah, I think they wanted kind
of like a cheap horror film,

you know, and I think we gave it
more than they anticipated.

But I gotta tell you this,

you haven't lived until
you've seen Snoop blush.


'Cause Snoop, Snoop,

first day,
Snoop had to kiss Pam Grier.

- For real?

her and they were into it,

they were into it,
they were into it,

I said, "Cut,"
and Snoop just...

[laughs] I said,
"You blushing, man?"

He said, "Hey, man, I grew up
dreaming about this woman.

Now I get to kiss her?"

- [laughs]
Yeah, that's a good day.

things started to change

and more black characters
are starting to be centralized

or even if they were
secondary characters,

they were much more prominent,

more seen, not just
as window dressing,

but very integral
to the story.

"Attack the Block",

I loved this film, man.
This was the kind of movie

I would have loved
to have seen as a kid.

- Now that you mention,

I wanna make sure
I show it to my kids.

- But also growing up
in a housing project

and seeing a film that says,
"Yeah, we can be heroes, too."

It's a story about

working class youth in London

and literally,
there's an alien invasion

that comes crashing down
on your neighborhood.

played by John Boyega,

basically saves
his neighborhood.

Every time I see this movie
at the end, it gives me chills.

Moses is in a cop car
with his friend Pest

and all he hears outside
is his name being chanted

over again.
"Moses, Moses!"

CROWD: Moses! Moses!

- His friend looks at him,

he's like,
"Hey, that's for you."

PEST: That's for you, man.

This is why John Boyega

is in "Star Wars", right?

That's why he's this big star
because he looks up

and he has this smile
on his face,

this innocent, pure,
child-like smile.

He gets to feel like he matters
in his neighborhood.

A lot of young black kids
don't feel like they matter.

I think that's really
the core of this film.

He gets to be the hero.

- I think something
really important

happens in the 2000s.

When you have these
more self-reflexive horror films

that are looking back
and saying,

"That was the stereotype,"
or, "That was the cliché,"

or, "That's the trope
we are always relying on."

So, in exposing
those kinds of well-worn,

kind of well-trodden
knowns about horror,

horror also had to catch up
and mature

if it was going to
continue to thrive.

EDDIE PARKS: It's all over.

MELANIE: It's not over.
It's just not yours anymore.

Now you gotta see this film,

"The Girl with All the Gifts".

- I mean, I watched this
'cause you recommend it.

- Really well-done
British horror film

with this young black girl
as the main character.

It's after a disease
that's hit humanity

where it's turned into everybody
into like these feral animals.

- [screams]

- It's a zombie movie.

Sort of. It's terrifying.

It's an apocalyptic future
where we're no longer us

but again it's probably
white people's fear, right?

That they're losing dominion,
you know,

that the manifest destiny thing
isn't quite working

like it used to.

TANANARIVE DUE: That character
was not written as black.

That happened during
the casting process.

It's a very similar process
as to what happened

in "Night of the Living Dead".

She just killed the audition,
so she got the part,

and it creates such a difference
in the film

to have this black child.

- I read the book
before I saw the movie,

so when I saw the movie

and they had cast
a little black girl,

I was like, "Oh, my God,
this is amazing!"

- We're alive?

- Yes.

- Then why should it be us
who die for you?

I talked to Mike Carey,

the writer/screenwriter.

This is a sharper
social commentary

even maybe than
that he had intended.

You see a story about
a character, a black girl

who faces
some insurmountable odds

where it seems impossible
but you come up with plans

and you execute your plans.

This is the stuff that helps us
get through life.

That's the kind of opportunity

that I would have killed for
in the '90s,

reading script after script
after script

and wanting to read
for the lead girl

but going, "Oh, no, okay,
I'm the friend,

so I'm gonna say,
'Are you okay?

Oh, are you okay?

Are you okay?'"

- Are you okay?

- Yeah.

- I mean, six million
different ways to Sunday,

I have to figure out a million
different line readings

for the same line because
whatever thing is going on,

it's not about the black people
we're going through,

it's, "Are you, white person
in peril, okay?"

So when I saw that movie,

I was like,
"Okay, things are shifting."

TANANARIVE DUE: We've shifted
from being the focal point

of the fear, other,
to being the heroes, right?

To being the icons.

To being the one
that you in the audience

are looking up to.

That's been very exciting
to watch unfold.

- If you have to ride
in the back of the bus

for 90% of history, it takes
a little bit to get in front.

- Black is in fashion.

"Get Out" I think,

is kind of like
a perfect movie of its time.

It came out like the transition
between the Obama administration

and the Trump administration.

- Yeah.

- So, I mean,

I remember when
Obama was elected.

People were actually
having debates about whether

racism is dead now
and that sort of thing.

Is this a post-racial world
and all that?

As Trump's campaign came along,

I think the public
came to be aware like,

"Uh-oh, you know,
racism still does exist."

- A horrific scene
in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The hate boiling over
white supremacists

and countered protestors
fighting with fists and clubs,

confederate flags
on full display.

there's blame on both sides

and I have no doubt about it.

- You will not replace us.

White lives matter!

It sort of like shows you

where the culture is
right now

as far as black men
are concerned.

- Yes.

- And a lot of the fears
that we go through

being a part of the black race.

JORDAN PEELE: When I think about
the fears that we deal with,

I think that anything
that we suppress as people,

anything that we push down
and hold deep is gonna explode.

It's gonna come out
in a nasty way

if it's held on to
long enough.

So, I think we need these valves
for our fears.

- Sink into the floor.

- Wait, wait,
wait, wait, wait.

- Sink.

- Floored me right to the...

I had no idea what to expect.

something that we, as a people,

always talk about.
- Exactly.

- Like, you know, it's like
you told our secret.

- [laughs]
- That we do have a fear

that these people [laughs]
are trying to steal our souls.

It's an auction, you know.

It's an auction block

and she's disguised
in a different way.

- [applause]

- What the maid to me
represented in "Get Out"

is just what maids has been
doing through history.

They've been trying to tell you.

- Oh, no. No. No.

No, no, no, no, no, no,
no, no, no, no, no, no.

- They've been
sitting at the table

with the white people
and saying look,

"We ain't gonna do this.
Get the hell out of here."

one of my favorite parts

is when the girl is smiling
and crying at the same time.

- My favorite part is when
he was beatin' their ass!

- [grunts]

RACHEL TRUE: I was like,
"Oh, you didn't get

that he was like picking
cotton out of the chair?"

Or, "You didn't get,
like he killed him with a buck.

Did you not know
that black men were called bucks

during slavery?"

- I felt like
I wanna make the movie

as answering every
disappointed black person

that goes to a theater
and watches, you know,

white protagonists
make dumb decisions.

- No, no, no, no, no.

No, no, no, don't do that!

- And that sense
of marginalization

that sense of,
"Can we just...?

If there was a brother in here,
that would never happen.

That would never happen.

If there was a sister,
would never let this...

she would be out of the house."

Spoiler alert,

but there's no good white people
in this movie. [laughs]

That white savior trope
always pops up.

There's always
one good white person.

I saw this as obviously
this opportunity

to use that to my favor.

The audience is expecting,
though, you have to have

one good white person
in the film, right?

- You know I can't give you
the keys, right, babe?

- I couldn't believe
what I was watching.

- I made "Get Out"
for everybody in the audience,

you know, I didn't want anybody
to see the film and not get it,

but I really made it
for black audiences,

that meaning, if black audience
didn't get it,

and didn't get like it,
that's a fail, you know.

- Not surprisingly
but kind of surprisingly,

the white guy next to me
and all the audience members

who were white
were cheering for Chris.

That empathy
that we have so often

had to extend to characters
who didn't look like us,

white audience members were
extending their empathy to him.

The ending of "Get Out"

was very inspired by
"Night of the Living Dead",

although I didn't necessarily
know it when it happened.

You know,
it was common knowledge

that my intention was to have
Chris go to jail

and that the cops would come out
and take him away.

- Get up here!

[soft piano music]

- Now most realistic ending is
he's shot on the road.

- [gunshot]

- No one wants to watch that.

That's headlines,
that's hashtags.

Prison would have been
a little bit more of a mercy

but even so, I have seen
enough black men

in prison orange.

I could go my whole life
without seeing another film

or television program
about black men in prison.

JORDAN PEELE: By the time I
showed the film to an audience,

the culture [inaudible]
were at change, okay,

so Black Lives Matter
had become a presence

and there was now attention
to racial violence

in a way that there hadn't been
when I first wrote it.

- The lights of the car said
it was the cops coming

and it was a whole another
rash of fear.

It was almost like
the Klan is coming.

Because it was like,

"Oh, my God, if it's the cops,
he doesn't have a chance."

- Black people also were
expressing this like,

"Yo, we need a hero.
We need a release.

We need a cheer,"
and so I listened to that.

Rod show up and save him,

that lets you know
that there will be no Chris

being speared by meathooks,
being burned on a pyre.

There will be no lynching today.

That's the power of "Get Out".

- The fact that this movie
had never been made,

not only "Get Out" itself,
the fact that there's, you know,

a small handful of films
led by black people,

to me,
was the horror itself.

It's no mistake
that the sunken place

feels and looks like
a darkened theatre, right?

We're allowed to buy a ticket
and yell at the screen

but we're never going to get
that representation.

- What's going on, man?

I can't see myself.

- I'm afraid that's one of
the misfortunes of the cursed.

- This really ain't hip!

I mean, a man has
got to see his face!

of any line in that film,

that line reverberates.

"A man has got to be able
to see himself,"

is really a prophetic line

'cause it represents
black people

and black people's history
and legacy and journey

and the ability
to see yourself today.

- It's finally dawning on
the powers that be

that horror
is a valid genre, right?

It's not just some little
odd thing over there

that low budget people make,
and make a little money on,

and we make fun of.

Because of "Get Out"

I think black is the new green.

I think any little
remaining shades of,

"Uh, if he's black,
do you think it'll work?

You know, if it's a black cast,
you think it'll work?

If it's a black director,
you think it'll work?"

All those little bitty
remaining barriers

have been completely removed.

There's some people right now,
and I know this to be a fact,

that are changing
some of their white scripts

to make them black now.

- There's less and less of this,

"Oh, well, black people
don't like,

or make horror films."

I think that's a conversation
that's becoming obsolete.

A part of the work that I do
that I love doing is

I get to talk to these new
and up-and-coming filmmakers

who are making these
really fun and funny

but also scary
and introspective films.

- Just so many up-and-coming
talents out there

that's, you know,
that's pretty exciting

and gives me hope
for the future that we're...

- We'll help other and...

- Yeah!
- ...and change the game.

- We just need to all
get in the door, you know.

There's so many stories
and so many genres

that we belong to.

- I just have
so many people like say,

"I got a horror film.
I got a horror film.

I got a horror film,"

and this is way before
"Get Out".

And now, maybe
they'll get a chance

to actually get that out
to the public.

- These are stories

by black creators
for black viewers.

If whites want to enjoy it,fine,

but it's not about them, right?
It's about us.

KEN FOREE: I think
the entire film industry

are ready for us
to open up the doors.

MARK H. HARRIS: Just seeing
black heroes and leads on screen

like the next generation
won't think,

"Oh, that's weird."

They're gonna think,

"That's perfectly normal
to have the black lead,

the black person
save the day."

- If we can use
what we've experienced,

we can tell stories that people
have never seen before,

so that's what I'm excited
to see coming.

- There's a draw
and a connection there

in the minority experience
for these horror films.

The industry's realized,
"Oh, yeah,

white people will see movies
about non-white people."

They will. They'll see.
You just have to make 'em.

- Mic.
- Thank you.

- Are we rolling?

Why didn't somebody tell us
we were rolling?

No one said anything!

We just sitting here talking...
I didn't know we were rolling.

No one said Action.

- That always got me up like

I don't know about
the fashion of the time,

but I'm like, you know,

these murders going around,
people with bites in their neck,

and no one's suspecting
the guy with the cape. [laughs]

- Nobody!
- They did the mash...

They did the monster mash!

- Horra? Horror?

It's like rhymes
with torah, right?

Horra? Torah?

I cannot horror.
I love talking horra.

Oh, shit.
I love talking horror.

They play the monster mash!


- Brown's in Town!

- "Return of the Living Dead"
was one of my favorite films.

I didn't know anything
and the entire film,

I was supposed to be walking
around with a naked girl.

- Right.
- So, if you watch it,

go back to the movie, 'cause
when the scenes were on her,

most people lookin' at her but
next time, when you watch it,

look at me
and I'm gonna be like this.

[Kelly Jo Minter laughs]

- Every scene I was like that!

- So, any of you filmmakers,

if you wanna include
a couple of old timers,

hey, you know,
my number still works. Okay?

- Our numbers still work.
- You know what I mean?

- Are we finished? 'Cause I
wanna watch this whole movie.