Episode 24: Horror Noire

Author, scholar, and executive producer Tananarive Due discusses the often misunderstood relationship between Black Americans and horror cinema and literature

Daniel Kaluuya starring in Get Out

Thriller film Get Out, directed and written by Jordan Peele, was one of the most popular films of 2017, grossing $255 million worldwide. The movie, which highlights issues of racism through a creative mix of comedy and horror, sparked excitement and conversations about horror cinema featuring, and produced by, Black Americans. Get Out was certainly not the first film of its kind. Flicks Def by Temptation, Candyman, and others pre-dated the 21st Century blockbuster, but Get Out’s success seems to be heralding a new embrace of African Americans and the horror genre.

At the same time that this sub-genre of horror seems to be gaining popularity, we are still left with questions about the broader horror/thriller genre’s treatment of race. Conversations about race and horror still often center around the prevalence of a “token” Black characters in predominately White casts of characters.

So where does that leave us? How do we understand this rise in popularity and the history of Black Americans with horror films?

New documentary Horror Noire tackles some of these questions:

Delving into a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and finally embraced black culture, Horror Noire traces a secret history of Black Americans in Hollywood through their connection to the horror genre. Adapting executive producer Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman’s seminal book of the same name, Horror Noire will present the living and the dead, using new interviews with scholars and creators, from the voices who survived the genre’s past trends to those shaping its future.

This week, host Chris Robichaud sits down with author, scholar, and executive producer Tananarive Due to talk about the complicated relationship black filmmakers and black audiences have with horror.

On this episode

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror

Get Out

My Soul to Keep (African Immortals series)

Suicide By Sunlight

Sycorax’s Daughters

The Devil in America: A Tor.Com Original

The Sunken Place (Online Class)

Tales from the ‘hood

Candyman

Blacula

Def By Temptation

This Week’s Guest: Tananarive Due

🐦 @TananariveDue

🌐 www.tananarivedue.com

Tananarive Due is a filmmaker, author, and educator steeped in black horror and Afrofuturism. Since 2017, she has been teaching a class
at UCLA called “The Sunken Place.” Inspired by the movie Get Out, the class delves into the century-spanning history of black horror. As the author of a civil rights memoir and twelve novels, Tananarive has been honored with an American Book Award, a British Fantasy Award, and an NAACP Image Award.


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This podcast is produced by Harvard Ash Center.

This Week in Dystopia

This Week in Dystopia is a new podcast hosted by Christopher Robichaud, Harvard Kennedy School Senior Lecturer. A podcast of politics, theory, and pop culture, This Week in Dystopia, brings commentary from the halls of Harvard to everyone's headphones.

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A podcast about the promise and perils of democracy, hosted by Christopher Robichaud, Harvard Kennedy School Senior Lecturer.

This Week in Dystopia

This Week in Dystopia is a new podcast hosted by Christopher Robichaud, Harvard Kennedy School Senior Lecturer. A podcast of politics, theory, and pop culture, This Week in Dystopia, brings commentary from the halls of Harvard to everyone's headphones.