Can we say that Jordan Peele with his two movies, Get Out and Us, made his mark on horror cinema? Yes, I think we really can. His fine line of horror, social commentary and comedy is so well balanced it makes us wonder what the hell we were watching before. And it also have given a voice to black people through the genre as well as killing some tired tropes of black people dying pretty fast. So, here are some other horror movies that came before with some kick ass black protagonists in them.
Night of the living dead (1968)
With: Duane Jones
Director George A. Romero’s classic, Night of the living dead, turned cinema upside down. He was a pioneer in many ways. That includes iconifying the zombies, casting a black man as his starring role, and letting him be the bad ass survivor that he was. It seems stupid by calling that a pioneer, but that is the stupid world we live in. In any case, the role of Ben, played by Duane Jones is still some of the most kick-ass characters in one of the most kick-ass movies there is.
Synopsis: A ragtag group of Pennsylvanians barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating breed of monsters who are ravaging the East Coast of the United States. Who knows what would have happened if the horror genre just continued to treat their black characters like this?
28 days later (2002)
With: Naomie Harris
Director Danny Boyle, claims he didn’t set out to make a zombie movie, but no matter what his intentions were, he ended up with reinventing the whole genre. On the DVD commentary, Boyle explains that, with the aim of preserving the suspension of disbelief, relatively unknown actors were cast in the film. Cillian Murphy had starred primarily in small independent films, while Naomie Harris had acted on British television as a child. It is perhaps weird to think of her as a relative unknown actress today, but hey, the movie is a couple of years old, and Naomie Harries looks and kick-ass as she did back then. As the kick ass Selena, she is the one character that got the comic book spin off and that the audience follows. (Heads up: Most of the zombie-characters that are actually great and memorable are black. Remember Ben, Selena and Michonne. Whatever that is a metaphor for, I think we will leave to the reader.)
Synopsis: Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.
I am legend (2007)
With: Will Smith
A lot of white actors were considered to play the lead role, including Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, Michael Douglas, Mel Gibson, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Ted Levine. It was after all what could be called: A confirmed white man. Whatever that mean, whatever, whatever. But it went to Will Smith when Francis Lawrence directed the movie, and gave way of putting many black characters in a blockbuster horror movie. As it should as Will Smith is sort of the only great thing about this movie. (Not to say I don’t like it, but…)
Synopsis: Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles valiantly to find a cure in this post-apocalyptic action thriller.
With: Halle Berry
Yes, they did try to give Halle Berry a razzie for this role. But it is still alive and kicking on various streaming sites, and it is Halle Berry, so it makes the list. Her role was of a kick-ass, well educated black woman that saves the day and herself (of a white man’s oppression if we read into it a bit.) It is worth watching the movie if only for that fact, even if the script is a bit… well, silly…
Synopsis: A depressed female psychiatrist wakes up as a patient in the asylum where she worked, with no memory of why she is there or what she has done.
With: Morgan Freeman
It might be more of a thriller than a horror actually, but it got Morgan Freeman in it, so hey! It is also so well received and made, it needs to be remembered. And I don’t think I need to tell anybody about how kick-ass Freeman is, it’s just the most unnecessary thing, we all know, he played GOD for heavens sake!
Synopsis: Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.
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