Horror is a genre with a uniquely avid fandom. Sitting directly in the center of the intersection between art and commerce, horror is particularly well-suited to call out societal injustices, and it is through use of highly subversive creative techniques that many controversial stories have been told. It’s no wonder that many modern practitioners of DIY and low-budget filmmaking use the genre as a vehicle through which to deliver their message.
EXCLUSIVE: Get your crucifix and be ready to recite a bunch of Hail Marys because New Line’s The Nun is coming back and screenwriter Akela Cooper has been tapped to write the script for the next installment of the series which will take us deeper into the hellishly sacred world of The Conjuring universe.
When Dr. Hess Green (Duane Jones) is attacked and stabbed with an ancient African dagger by his unstable assistant, he discovers he’s developed an unflinching addiction to imbibing blood. But his assistant’s wife, Ganja Meda (Marlene Clark) arrives in town in search of her missing husband, and the two begin an affair that makes for a complicated journey involving lust, companionship, and dependency.
Ganja & Hess (1973) is such a feast for the senses that it almost cannot be reflected upon linearly. It relies on visuals, sound, and mood. It is a coherent sequence of moments. We are intimate with the characters and space that surround them. Ganja & Hess, for this very reason, doesn’t come with a set of instructions. It is up to the viewer to map a path that suits their understanding. What writer/director Bill Gunn (who plays Dr. Hess’ assistant) wanted was a disruption of mainstream fare. Gunn didn’t seem too interested in what Hollywood desired, and like many writers, wrote a screenplay that felt personal and needed to be written. It tackles so many themes, it’s almost difficult to begin. While most rely on it being vampiric and about addiction, it’s important to note the journey that Hess and Ganja embark on together. Their romantic entanglement may by one of the most fascinating aspects of the film that is commonly overlooked because it is challenging to simplify.
It was officially reported earlier this year that Aquaman star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II had joined the cast of director Nia DaCosta‘s spiritual sequel to Candyman, and what we had been told at the time is that the actor would be playing our new Candyman. But that’s now being called into question, as DaCosta has brought some clarification to the reports.
It was all right there in the trailer.
There was Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) looking, dressing and acting like a regular degular Black mom in a car with her husband and two kids, headed to the beach. Then, Luniz’ “I Got 5 on It,” comes on the radio and she tries to get her young son Jason to…snap along with the song. “Get in rhythm,” she tells him, but sis, which one? She’s snapping on the one and the two and the three and a half. Adelaide is a fraud.
“African American characters outlive other characters way more often than you’re lead to believe through genre jokes.” -Blair Hoyle, cinemaslasher.com
“I seen this movie, the Black dude dies first.” -Orlando Jones as Harry in Evolution (2001)
I’m a bit sour to the notion that Black characters (always) die first as the issue skitters the line of accuracy. I’ve always watched horror movies a bit removed from this concept, consistently watching films that more or less taint this formula. If Black people don’t die first, they perish later. My biggest gripe is the fact that Black characters are more times than not woefully underdeveloped, simplified tropes that, if and when they do die, are plants often for the white, central character we are to invest emotionally in. With the television series Fear The Walking Dead being the latest demonstration of Black and first fallen, I began thinking more about why this idea continues to prevail. Within film history in particular, does it have an origin?
There’s a school of thought (or, non-thought, as it were) that says you should just turn your brain off and enjoy movies. If it’s not “high-brow” entertainment, then it’s not worthy of exploration. Certainly, horror films, with their low production values and cheap thrills meant for teenagers aren’t worthy of serious study. But as seen in Xavier Burgin’s excellent documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror, analyzing the horror genre is perhaps most worthy of study because of how it shows us how black people are depicted in American popular cinema. Although the documentary is primarily just movie clips and interviews with black scholars, filmmakers, and actors, Burgin weaves it all together into an engrossing story of American cinema. Horror Noire never professes to be a complete history of black cinema, but it does show how certain tropes appear in horror films with regards to black characters. By analyzing these tropes, Burgin, along with writers Ashlee Blackwell and Danielle Burrows, emphasizes not only a lesson in black representation, but the importance of analysis in making sure that representation is accurate and equitable.
Latresa Baker as KayA young office worker learns her changing world is even scarier than she realized when she checks in on a friend who has stopped attending their grief support group. (From Press Kit)Written by Nicole Witte Solomon & Sean MannionDirected by Nicole Witte SolomonOne of the most effective moods a filmmaker can invoke,…
I can remember the first time I picked up Horror Noire. It was the spring of 2013, and I was close to graduating in Pittsburgh, PA. My favorite place in the whole city was a particular nook in the Carnegie Libary of Pittsburgh, that houses the books on cinema and overlooks the dinosaur fossil exhibit of the Natural History Museum. I would get a stack of books and just hide there, nap there and eat Quiznos sandwhiches there, it was my favorite place in the world. I was getting more into horror movies and came across the one book I could find on black culture and horror films. Robin R. Means-Coleman’s Horror Noire. It was eye-opening for me. It showed me that despite what my professors told me, there was a place in film for me. I felt seen, or maybe I felt like I could finally see, other films, other filmmakers, writers and creators. I held the book much longer that I should have, and I think I might still have an overdue fine with the CLP.
Coming out this month, the Netflix of horror, Shudder is premiering their first original documentary based on Robin R Means-Coleman’s book, along with several live screenings and panels. This is an ambitious venture for Shudder, bringing together the underappeciated but close-knit community of actors, writers, filmmakers and creators for a documentary like this. I only started to see black people on horror panels after Get Out, then (most of them my own) a number of horror panels had POC talking about POC issues, and POC issues only. It was nice to be included but it was also limiting, many of us want to talk about more things than how good Get Out was and how there needs to be more representation in horror. Hopefully this doc will be the official word on the topic, for many people to use as a reference for how they want to discuss the topic going forward.
I can’t wait to watch it and hopefully I can have a premeir party of my own in Seattle soon!