(Photo by Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection)

The Essential Black Horror Movies

In our guide to some of the best, most resonant Black horror movies, we begin in 1960 with Night of the Living Dead. The movie was groundbreaking for setting the zombie template, but also through its casting of Duane Jones as its hero, an everyman of color. He leads survivors through Night, up until its provocative ending, when director George A. Romero inextricably binds the horror genre to America’s dark living history.

Jones’ other starring movie was 1973’s Ganja & Hess, for which writer/director Bill Gunn uses vampires to press into societal breakdowns. This kind of elevated horror has given definition to many Black horror films, including, obviously, Jordan Peele’s Best Picture-nominated Get Out, but also the Chicago-set Candyman and Oprah Winfrey-starring Beloved.

Of course, horror is there for lights-out entertainment, like ’90s classics Def by Temptation and Tales from the Hood, and with crossovers into the gothic (Eve’s Bayou), sci-fi (Attack the Block), thrillers (Ma), war (Overlord), and superheroes (Blade).

Explore all 20 fun, frightening, and groundbreaking films in our guide to the essential Black horror movies.

Best Spanish-Language Horror Movies | Best Korean Horror Movies | Best Italian Horror Movies | Best French Horror Movies | Best Japanese Horror Movies
2020’s Best Horror Movies | 200 Best Horror Movies Ever


Bones (2001)

Adjusted Score: 24.658%
Critics Consensus: Slow to start, the sleek looking Bones is more silly than scary.
Synopsis: Cinematographer turned director Ernest Dickerson returns to the horror genre with this African-American, urban twist on haunted house stories. Rap... [More]
Directed By: Ernest R. Dickerson

Adjusted Score: 39.599%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This first theatrical feature spun off from the television series Tales from the Crypt (which was in turn inspired by... [More]

Adjusted Score: 50.529%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a trio of young criminals break into a funeral home searching for a stash of drugs, they instead find... [More]
Directed By: Rusty Cundieff


Blacula (1972)

Adjusted Score: 50.612%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Advertised as the 100th production of American International studios, Blacula stars actor/singer William Marshall in the title role. An 18th... [More]


Blade (1998)

Adjusted Score: 60.626%
Critics Consensus: Though some may find the plot a bit lacking, Blade's action is fierce, plentiful, and appropriately stylish for a comic book adaptation.
Synopsis: British director Stephen Norrington helmed this David S. Goyer adaptation of the Marvel Comics character created in 1973 by scripter... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Norrington


Ma (2019)

Adjusted Score: 64.587%
Critics Consensus: Octavia Spencer's performance overpowers many of Ma's flaws, but uneven pacing and a labored story keep this thriller from fully realizing its unhinged potential.
Synopsis: Oscar (R) winner Octavia Spencer stars as Sue Ann, a loner who keeps to herself in her quiet Ohio town.... [More]
Directed By: Tate Taylor


J.D.'s Revenge (1976)

Adjusted Score: 48.867%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Complete with a soundtrack by a then-barely-known Prince, this blaxploitation film stars Glynn Turman as a modern-day student possessed by... [More]
Directed By: Arthur Marks


Blade II (2002)

Adjusted Score: 61.014%
Critics Consensus: Though Blade II offers more of what worked in the original, its plot and character development appear to have been left on the cutting room floor.
Synopsis: Four years after scoring a box-office touchdown with Blade (1998), actor Wesley Snipes returns to portray the Marvel Comics character... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

Adjusted Score: 68.619%
Critics Consensus: Held aloft by gonzo black comedy and socially conscious subtext, The People Under The Stairs marks a unique -- though wildly uneven -- change of pace for director Wes Craven.
Synopsis: Wes Craven wrote and directed this surrealistic horror-comedy, which was inspired by a true story of parents keeping their children... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

Adjusted Score: 74.957%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A black theology student (James Bond III, who also directed) is unaware that his father's early death was at the... [More]
Directed By: James Bond III


Candyman (1992)

Adjusted Score: 79.976%
Critics Consensus: Though it ultimately sacrifices some mystery in the name of gory thrills, Candyman is a nuanced, effectively chilling tale that benefits from an interesting premise and some fine performances.
Synopsis: Researching urban folklore, a University of Chicago student snoops around the housing projects of Cabrini Green to find more about... [More]
Directed By: Bernard Rose


Beloved (1998)

Adjusted Score: 81.31%
Critics Consensus: A powerful, emotional and successful film adaptation of the original novel.
Synopsis: When a former slave takes in a feral young woman, strange occurrences begin to take place, begging the question: could... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme


Overlord (2018)

Adjusted Score: 90.372%
Critics Consensus: Part revisionist war drama, part zombie thriller, and part all-out genre gorefest, Overlord offers A-level fun for B-movie fans of multiple persuasions.
Synopsis: With only hours until D-Day, a team of American paratroopers drop into Nazi-occupied France to carry out a mission that's... [More]
Directed By: Julius Avery


Eve's Bayou (1996)

Adjusted Score: 84.778%
Critics Consensus: Eve's Bayou marks a striking feature debut for director Kasi Lemmons, layering terrific performances and Southern mysticism into a measured meditation on disillusionment and forgiveness.
Synopsis: Black female writer-director Kasi Lemmons made her feature directorial debut with this period family drama set in the South. Depicting... [More]
Directed By: Kasi Lemmons


Sugar Hill (1974)

Adjusted Score: 63.015%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this horror movie, a woman's fiance is killed by gangsters. To get her revenge, she conjures up a corps... [More]
Directed By: Paul Maslansky


Ganja & Hess (1973)

Adjusted Score: 89.047%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: What could have been a mere blaxploitation picture is elevated above the norm by two factors. The first is the... [More]
Directed By: Bill Gunn


Attack the Block (2011)

Adjusted Score: 95.453%
Critics Consensus: Effortlessly mixing scares, laughs, and social commentary, Attack the Block is a thrilling, brisky-paced sci-fi yarn with a distinctly British flavor.
Synopsis: From the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Attack the Block follows a gang of tough inner-city... [More]
Directed By: Joe Cornish


Us (2019)

Adjusted Score: 117.287%
Critics Consensus: With Jordan Peele's second inventive, ambitious horror film, we have seen how to beat the sophomore jinx, and it is Us.
Synopsis: Set in present day along the iconic Northern California coastline, Us, from Monkeypaw Productions, stars Oscar (R) winner Lupita Nyong'o... [More]
Directed By: Jordan Peele

Adjusted Score: 104.274%
Critics Consensus: George A. Romero's debut set the template for the zombie film, and features tight editing, realistic gore, and a sly political undercurrent.
Synopsis: One can only imagine the impact that Night on the Living Dead had on unprepared audiences of 1968. Here was... [More]
Directed By: George A. Romero


Get Out (2017)

Adjusted Score: 114.918%
Critics Consensus: Funny, scary, and thought-provoking, Get Out seamlessly weaves its trenchant social critiques into a brilliantly effective and entertaining horror/comedy thrill ride.
Synopsis: Now that Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend... [More]
Directed By: Jordan Peele

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

supernatural doctor who science fiction dramedy Disney Plus police drama Paramount Plus Mary Tyler Moore Hallmark Christmas movies politics women scorecard Adult Swim VICE mission: impossible criterion VOD based on movie worst movies halloween tv Marathons Tarantino Britbox revenge halloween PlayStation Character Guide tv talk DC Universe Watching Series See It Skip It BBC One TruTV Interview composers Sci-Fi Black Mirror Dark Horse Comics hist ABC Signature Cosplay political drama breaking bad 71st Emmy Awards A&E sag awards james bond venice dark screen actors guild war Sundance obituary festival Hulu streaming Disney+ Disney Plus YouTube Red boxing Winter TV Sony Pictures batman disaster psychological thriller a nightmare on elm street FX SundanceTV child's play Avengers Cannes 72 Emmy Awards football Film historical drama sitcom Mudbound Spectrum Originals Emmy Nominations blaxploitation richard e. Grant Tubi Bravo Netflix Fall TV Song of Ice and Fire christmas movies rom-coms Acorn TV MSNBC TBS HBO Go CBS All Access Red Carpet Extras Fox News nature 21st Century Fox TIFF Schedule Awards Tour justice league Christmas Musicals Classic Film true crime cancelled TV series First Reviews Rocky 4/20 Travel Channel The Walking Dead asian-american slashers Valentine's Day Martial Arts CMT CBS award winner Quiz HBO Mystery USA ITV Ghostbusters TLC aliens critics Logo Marvel Studios DGA SXSW Holidays GLAAD Spike cats cops nbcuniversal CW Seed universal monsters Nickelodeon independent PBS Video Games Binge Guide werewolf Heroines MTV AMC Apple TV Plus cinemax psycho remakes all-time Starz sports BET Shondaland Disney streaming service Podcast quibi 20th Century Fox 99% History Television Academy Vudu Comedy Black History Month Ellie Kemper game show strong female leads parents Nominations video period drama fast and furious Alien Marvel Television Fantasy ID zombie Set visit GoT YouTube toronto Hallmark Amazon Prime Video elevated horror romance PaleyFest adaptation fresh canceled TV shows 2016 MCU WarnerMedia binge rt archives canceled San Diego Comic-Con Grammys japanese HBO Max BAFTA jamie lee curtis joker Certified Fresh FX on Hulu ViacomCBS Reality Competition satire Infographic RT21 Crackle Netflix Christmas movies Television Critics Association Sundance TV The CW El Rey pirates of the caribbean Stephen King kids diversity Elton John anime CNN italian Polls and Games book Musical TCA 2017 Horror OWN Country facebook YouTube Premium Comics on TV teaser ghosts hispanic TV Land BBC Columbia Pictures Drama foreign Star Wars Thanksgiving Writers Guild of America Comedy Central spider-man 2018 medical drama directors WGN romantic comedy Star Trek Food Network series harry potter deadpool Sneak Peek screenings docudrama Women's History Month Nat Geo President 24 frames golden globes rotten movies we love Pirates TNT Calendar worst jurassic park Arrowverse spain transformers movie black talk show 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards USA Network X-Men biography archives A24 BET Awards indie Trophy Talk social media emmy awards Premiere Dates space singing competition children's TV discovery Crunchyroll LGBTQ hollywood cartoon comedies National Geographic Brie Larson FXX Year in Review TV renewals Epix festivals crossover Trivia ratings dogs Spring TV cancelled television Turner superhero Lifetime ABC Family chucky twilight Winners NBC Disney Film Festival Lifetime Christmas movies Chernobyl Music laika Amazon Studios versus trailers First Look 45 spy thriller Western Pixar blockbuster Freeform adventure animated documentary DirecTV Creative Arts Emmys The Walt Disney Company Pop scary movies Toys Pet Sematary stop motion ESPN TCA Awards Mary Poppins Returns Endgame The Witch latino American Society of Cinematographers Reality australia travel Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt sequels crime thriller Funimation LGBT 2019 Holiday Awards news mockumentary serial killer Tumblr 2015 Anna Paquin FOX dragons IFC Comic Book boxoffice Best and Worst natural history spanish language The Arrangement Universal Chilling Adventures of Sabrina best Summer Cartoon Network The Purge dceu Rocketman finale Amazon Prime Paramount cancelled TV shows robots witnail thriller Walt Disney Pictures television comic french what to watch YA 2020 Marvel indiana jones Emmys franchise ABC green book Lionsgate Biopics 2017 spanish theme song Discovery Channel DC Comics The Academy movies Action golden globe awards APB spinoff Teen sequel mutant Academy Awards Oscars Opinion New York Comic Con dc Ovation comics Amazon documentaries Animation films reboot VH1 comic books technology SDCC Turner Classic Movies name the review crime drama toy story Masterpiece GIFs Warner Bros. classics Kids & Family cults Photos TCA Winter 2020 Showtime Apple IFC Films anthology rotten Election comiccon TCA Esquire casting cooking Fox Searchlight stoner Paramount Network Hear Us Out Captain marvel Tomatazos Family Rom-Com Mary poppins Countdown OneApp Lucasfilm Baby Yoda miniseries south america renewed TV shows BBC America Trailer Peacock Rock crime cancelled Superheroes DC streaming service free movies concert cars die hard Box Office Shudder TV One Pride Month Pop TV unscripted E3 reviews Superheroe TV Syfy E! nfl Mindy Kaling vampires zombies Disney Channel 007 Super Bowl TCM stand-up comedy RT History NYCC game of thrones zero dark thirty Apple TV+ Sundance Now video on demand