We know this is technically not a feature-length horror film. But this music video (universally hailed as the greatest of all time) is nevertheless a highly influential short film where the King of Pop and former Playboy playmate Ola Ray are pursued by some seriously funky zombies.
This campy blaxploitation-era classic featured Shakespearean stage star William Marshall (Othello) as a black prince cursed to become a vampire when he’s assaulted by a racist Dracula. “He’s one straaaaaange dude.”
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
George Romeo’s horror classic broke ground by casting an African-American (Duane Jones, center) as the heroic leading man. This film became the prototype for virtually every zombie film that followed.
J.D.’s Revenge (1976)
This unusual horror film has a pretty original premise. A mild mannered college student (played by Cooley High alum Glynn Turman) is possessed by the spirit of a vicious pimp from the 1940s. A campy classic.
Def by Temptation (1990)
Samuel L. Jackson and A Different World’s Kadeem Hardison co-star in this oddball film about a man named James Bond (yes, James Bond — and oddly enough the director’s name is James Bond III) who tangles with a mysterious vampire temptress who kills the many men she seduces.
Imposing actor Tony Todd played perhaps the most iconic black horror figure “Candyman” — a folklore character with a sharp hook who haunts his prey — in this cult hit and two sequels.
Vampire in Brooklyn (1994)
Eddie Murphy made an unexpected leap into the horror genre in this mix of comedy and fright from legendary director Wes Craven (Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream). Although it flopped upon its initial release — it’s built up a solid following over the years. Murphy’s dual roles as a drunk preacher and Italian mobster are standouts.
Tales from the Hood (1995)
This episodic series of horror stories (executive produced by Spike Lee) features the always eccentric former Mod Squad star Clarence Williams III as a spooky funeral parlor director who spins terrifying yarns.
One of Denzel Washington’s most underrated films, this supernatural thriller has a really creepy concept. A demon from within an executed killer lives on and passes from person to person simply through touch.
Leprechaun: In the Hood (2000)
Either hilarious or in bad taste depending on your points of view — this horror film transplants the already ludicrous Leprachaun character to an urban setting and Ice-T comes along for the ride.
In a film that somewhat borrows from J.D.’s Revenge, rapper Snoop Dogg plays murdered gangster Jimmy Bones who comes back from the dead to get back at the foes who killed him. Pam Grier plays a supporting role as a sexy psychic.
Queen of the Damned (2002)
R&B icon Aaliyah tragically died six months before the release of this Ann Rice-inspired vampire thriller. She played Queen Akasha who has an intense relationship with the legendary Lestat.
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Who says the only places to find horror have to be Transylvania or Elm Street. Sometimes the biggest scares go down in the hood.
Over the last forty years or so Hollywood has occasionally turned out horror movies with an unapologetically urban flavor.
Check out some of our favorites — just don’t watch them alone in the dark.