Category: Film

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31 Films of Halloween: Women in Horror Edition

Appreciation of Black Women In Horror

Happy Halloween goblins, witches, vampires, and other ghoulish creatures!

For my final 31 Films of Halloween: Women in Horror Edition post, I decided to show appreciation for the Black women in horror! The first Black women who began appearing in horror films were in the 1930’s, and they held roles that strongly represented the social values of America at the time. Films like Chloe, Love is Calling You (1934) and Ouanga (1936) showed Black women as the villain White people (mostly White women) had convinced themselves that they were- thieves of their babies and their men. As the film industry progressed and the horror genre pressed on making more films, the role of Black women in these films didn’t increase in number nor in value. They were pigeon-holed into roles that further stigmatized the ideas around Black people and their culture. They were voodoo priestess’s, gyrating natives, and loyal mammies who served the only purpose of furthering a plot or storyline.

Then, came in the 1970’s. Just as Black pride movements continued their ever-increasing momentum- with an emphasis on Black hair, culture, clothes, and more- came the rise of the Blaxploitation film genre. During this decade, approximately 13 horror films were made that centered around Black women. Most of them were Blaxploitation. They told stories that stepped away from mammie-tropes and the like, and they focused on what horror was truly about- zombies, possession, and more- while Black women served as the focal point, the heroines. Characters like Sugar Hill and Abby Williams are truly a revelation when you go back throughout history and re-watch these stories.

After the 70’s, however, horror films were starring less and less Black women all over again. With the exception of a few, Black women took on a new role- the doting, sacrificial best friend. Scream 2, Freddy vs. Jason, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and even The Vampire Diaries placed Black women in this new role. They weren’t stereotyped; they were just irrelevant. Their fate could have gone either way, and it wouldn’t have effected any aspect of the film.

Everything wasn’t all bad though, right? Of course not! After the birth and death of Blaxploitation, audiences were gifted some really memorable- no iconic- Black female characters in film. Even if they only came once every few years, they still made a stamp where they stood. In 1986, Grace Jones played one of the most stylish, groovy vampires in film ever. Vamp is a campy, cult classic with Jones being the highlight of it all. In 1995, Jada Pinkett Smith plays the demon slayer in Demon Knight, and that same year, Angela Bassett plays Rita Veder in Vampire in Brooklyn. Both were roles you’d hardly ever- if ever- seen Black women play. Vampire in Brooklyn is a reimagination of vampire-lore unlike any other.

Recently, the 2000’s definitely seem to have gotten the ball rolling a little faster. 28 Days Later, Gothika, and Alien vs. Predator all came out the same decade, and they all have a powerful Black woman charging the head of their film. More recent years also seem to be catching wind of the want- no the need- of more Black women in horror. It’s no doubt that Lupita Nyong’o’s performance in Us will go down as one of the most outstanding and popular performances of this decade. And films like Ma allow for Black women to be fun and campy the way we all love horror to be. As the film industry expands its definition of diversity, it’s sometimes easy to feel annoyed with how late and how slow their progress really is. But I also can’t help but feel so excited about what the future has to offer.. What, with things like Candyman in the near future and all.

SO without further ado, here are some of my favorite Black female characters in horror. There’s so many more that deserve recognition, but enjoy this modest list of mine.

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31 Films of Halloween: Women In Horror Edition

For my next 31 Films of Halloween, I want to honor the Underworld series. Selene (played by Kate Beckinsale) is my favorite badass, leather-wearing vampire woman in a 5-film series. The Underworld series definitely gets a bad rep, and sometimes it’s understandably why. It’s the only film series (besides Star Wars) where bullets never seem to land. And there is more emphasis placed on the aesthetics (hotness) of the film rather than the actually story-telling. Nonetheless, I love this film franchise!

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31 Films of Halloween: Women in Horror Edition

Black and White Beauties

Happy Halloween fellow horror lovers!

It is said that the first noted “woman in horror” was Jehanne D’Alcy. After leaving the theatrical stage in 1896, she went on to participate in a number of “horror” films directed by her husband- George Melies. His work on The House of the Devil (1896), A Terrible Night (1896), and A Nightmare (1896) makes him the first technical horror director. Although his works were meant to instill wonder and amazement- not fear- his technical style, use of practical effects, and thematic stories of devils, giant spiders, and men turning into bats, made them what they are considered today. They helped establish a role for women in film that made them seductresses, damsels, and mystifying creatures from an unknown world.

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Beyoncé’s “Gift” That Keeps on Giving

One of my first CD’s was a bootleg of Destiny’s Child The Writing’s on the Wall. My mom gifted me with Survivor not too long after, and I later added …Baby One More Time, The Emancipation of Mimi, and the clean version of Encore (from my dad, of course.) My silver and purple boombox sat on the floor as I played my favorites and gave bedroom concerts to an imaginary audience. When my cousin came over, it was better because we could split up the singing parts. Fake microphone in hand, with my mom’s Von Dutch purses and clear lip gloss on, we thought we were IT. Hitting those runs and high notes had me thinking I was really the 5th/4th Destiny Child. “Who gets to be Beyoncé this time,” was a constant dilemma. I almost always lost that argument because I was the younger one, but it’s okay because I took the part right back after she left.

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“What’s Going On”- Da 5 Bloods (2020) Pays Double Tribute

“Mother, mother, There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother, There’s far too many of you dying”

There are many memorable moments in Spike Lee‘s 2020 film Da 5 Bloods. From Delroy Lindo‘s performance- hell, the entire cast’s performance- to the cinematography and the story line, the film held me awestruck, tearful, and contemplative through its entirety. But perhaps the most compelling aspect of this film for me was Lee’s incorporation of Marvin Gaye‘s 1971 album What’s Going On. It was such a minor, yet monumentally, moving choice that etched this film into my brain and sent my thoughts soaring.

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20 Films Directed By Black Women That You Can Stream Right Now

In 1989, the first film written and directed by a Black woman and produced by a major Hollywood studio was released. That Black woman was Euzhan Palcy, and her monumental, award-nominated film was A Dry White Season. Palcy was the first and only woman to direct Marlon Brando. He received an Oscar nomination for his role- also making her the first Black person to direct an actor to an Oscar nomination.

Just two years later, in 1991, Julie Dash wrote, directed, and produced the first film by a Black woman to get a widespread, US theatrical release. This film was Daughters of the Dust. Both of these films received critical acclaim, making them some of the most historically important and classic films to date. However, many people have 1.) never heard of them; and 2.) never heard of the amazing women behind them. Why is that?

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Miss Juneteenth (2020) Feels like Home

She lays a pillow on the floor in front of the couch. She sits you down on the floor before her and gets right to work with the hair box, grease, gel, comb and brush next to her. Looking back, having my hair done by my mom was one of our most intimate moments. I’ve gotten in trouble for not holding my head straight more times than I can count. I can still remember holding the floor for dear life as she combed through my knots. I remember falling asleep on her lap and waking up feeling like my face had been pulled tight, back into my hair. I didn’t know it then, but my mom was giving me all of her love in those moments. She wanted me to look nice. She would admire me afterwards, like she knew she was succeeding at something. Looking back, I feel nothing but love for those moments.

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Mental Health Awareness Month: Inside Out (2015)

Inside Out (2015) Carries a Message That Spans Generations

May 31 marked the end of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month, but that doesn’t mean the conversation should end. Mental health effects all of us, positively and negatively, so it shouldn’t be the taboo conversation that it is. It’s important that we talk about our bad days. It’s important that we mourn. It’s important that we cry. It’s important to feel, to reach out, to talk it out…

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My May Quarantine: Favorite Watches Streaming Now

*Marks off another tally on my wall, quarantine calendar*

Yes, I have been homebound for almost two months now. Falling asleep between 1-3 AM and waking up whenever. Wandering aimlessly throughout my apartment, watching way too much tv, and actually catching up on schoolwork in between. For the first month, life was a drag. I was sleeping far too often, eating way too much, and watching hours of TikTok. I wasn’t even putting effort into my writing much….but now, I’m back! Like Drake said, Jazzy back up in this thang, I’m ready. What’s happenin? Gone for quarantine but now I’m back again. I’m bout my paper like a mfckin scratch and winnnn.

Anyways, now that I’m back to my computer screen, I’ve got some tea to share. Some streaming tea. Now, I’ve watched a lot of shows and movies over the past month…like a lot, but I don’t want to bore you with all the gory details, so I’ll just give you some of the highlights of the past month. Here is a list of my favorite watches for May quarantine:

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A Goofy Movie, and A 25 Year Anniversary

This childhood classic tells you to Embrace Your ‘Goof’

25 years ago, Disney’s underrated gem, A Goofy Movie (1995), was released. Most of us grew up watching this classic animated film, including myself, but it wasn’t until adulthood that I could appreciate and understand it for all it truly has to offer. From the tender story-line between a father and son, to the themes of self-acceptance, Powerline’s “Stand Out” and “I2I” bops, and finally to the overall Blackness that the film exudes- A Goofy Movie is a critical film in Disney’s Renaissance era repertoire.