The Blackening is one of the most hyped genre films of the summer. Directed by Tim Story, the film follows seven Black friends on a weekend get-a-way who end up trapped in a cabin with a killer. Starring Jay Pharoah, Antoinette Robertson, Dewayne Perkins, and other comedy all-stars, the film subverts the traditional slasher tropes and toys with the idea that Black characters die first in a horror movie.
In preparation of The Blackening, we present a list of some of our favorite Black horror comedies. Please keep in mind we picked films with Black directors/and or writers. This is why films like Ma or Vampire in Brooklyn, directed by Wes Craven and starring Eddie Murphy, are excluded. This isn’t a knock against those films, but we really wanted to highlight horror comedies made by Black creatives. Unfortunately, they’re still too few and far between.
Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson (Tales from the Hood), Bones is hella fun. Part homage to 70s Blaxploitation movies, it stars Snoop Dogg as Jimmy Bones, a gangster who runs the streets and also helps the Black community. When he’s set up and murdered by ruthless rivals, he returns years later as a supernatural force and possesses, you guessed it, a dog. Eventually, he returns in full form and unleashes some gnarly kills.
Meanwhile, era-icon Pam Grier stars as Bones’ love interest Pearl. Another narrative thread involves a group of young Black entrepreneurs who plan to open a club in Bones’ old stomping grounds. You can guess how that goes down. There are many other positives about this movie. Grier is awesome, especially as the mystic she plays in the present. The scenes among the club-starting friends contain smart, crackling dialogue. There’s also a moment where the dog spews maggots on a victim and all over the club. Oh, and let’s not forget about that on-screen kiss between Grier and Snoop.
Meet the Blacks (2016)
Directed and co-written by Deon Taylor, Meet the Blacks is a clever spoof of The Purge franchise. It stars Mike Epps as Carl Black. He decides to move his family from Chicago to Beverly Hills, thinking he’ll escape the purge by doing so. The jokes about the purge films work great, as well as some of the political and social commentary. Let’s just say white neighbors aren’t too happy about a Black family moving into their gated community. They decide to purge and invade the Blacks’ home.
However, what makes this film stand out is the cast. Epps is always great, but he’s joined by a stellar crew. Daughter Allie (Bresha Webb) is especially funny, as is Carl Jr. (Alex Henderson), who thinks he’s a vampire. Zulay Henao lands some good lines, too, as Lorena, Carl’s new partner who the kids are reluctant to call mom. All jokes aside, this film is also very much about family, specifically a Black family coming together and resisting insipid forces that try to tell them they have no place in a wealthy white neighborhood. And who can forget that absurd Mike Tyson cameo?
The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2 (2021)
Director/co-writer Deon Taylor returned to helm a sequel to Meet the Blacks. Maybe this isn’t a surprise, since the Black family threatens a sequel at the end of the original. As far as follow-ups go, this is pretty solid. In this one, Carl Sr. is now a best-selling author, whose book recounts the ordeal his family faced in the first film. Most of the cast from the OG returns.
In Meet the Blacks 2, Carl Sr. moves his family back to his childhood neighborhood in Chicago. Instead of a purge, the family faces off against a pimp who may or may not be a vampire. Like the first film, the sequel isn’t without some notable appearances, namely NBA star Matt Barnes. His scene is knee-slapping funny. Will we get a third Meet the Blacks film so we have a trilogy? Let’s hope so.
Scary Movie (2000)
What hasn’t been said about Scary Movie already? Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans and co-written with his brothers Shawn and Marlon, this film spoofed all the big box office 90s slashers, specifically, Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. It also lampooned The Sixth Sense and The Ring.
Yes, some of the Wayans Brothers’ jokes have aged poorly. That said, upon rewatch, this movie is still really, really funny and the strongest of all five. The Ghostface spoof, even the mask, is comedic gold. Shorty’s (Marlon Wayans) “wazzzupppp” line is iconic. The rest of the cast is great, too, especially franchise stalwart Anna Faris as final girl Cindy Campbell, Regina Hall as Brenda, and of course, Dave Sheridan as Officer Doofy.
Scary Movie 2 (2001)
Scary Movie smashed the box office, so a sequel was inevitable. Unfortunately, Scary Movie 2 is the last in the franchise created by the Wayans Brothers. The surviving cast from the first film mostly returned. The sequel reaches back in time to lambast some classics. The cold opening is a gross-out spoof of The Exorcist. There’s plenty of vomit and urine.
Instead of parodying slashers, Scary Movie 2 takes aim at some of the haunted house movies that were big at the time, like The Others. The survivors, now in college, are tricked by Professor Oldman (Tim Curry) into visiting a haunted house for a “school project.” He basically wants to exploit everything they went through in the first film.
Scary Movie 2 has plenty of solid jokes, but it relies a little too much on icky moments. Who can forget housekeeper Harris’ (Chris Elliott) gross hand? Talk about uncomfortable! Since the franchise’s heyday, the Wayans Brothers moved on to other projects. Yet, as late as last year, Marlon said the franchise was “snatched” from them by The Weinstein Company. He’s still justifiably upset about the fact the franchise was taken from them. Still, I hold out hope that one day they’ll return and make another Scary Movie. I’d love to see their take on the A24 era.
Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016)
Yes, yes, I know that Tyler Perry isn’t for everyone, especially when he plays so many roles in the Madea films. Still, you can’t deny his success as a Black entrepreneur, filmmaker, and actor. Boo! A Madea Halloween grossed about 74 million on a budget of 20 million. That’s impressive.
There are some pretty funny gags in this film, especially an early sequence when Madea (Perry) and Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis) make fun of the trick-or-treaters, telling one young boy dressed as a cow that he looks like “chocolate milk.” Meanwhile, when Aunt Bam develops a scheme and steals candy from the kids, it’s hilarious.
You can hate on Perry all you want, but he knows his audience. This film was a major hit that launched a sequel, released in 2017.
Bad Hair (2020)
Writer/director Justin Simien‘s Bad Hair is a creature feature and satire about white beauty standards. Yes, this film is a bit of a tonal mess, but it’s still an enjoyable ride and really goes into overdrive in the second half. It follows an ambitious young woman, Anna Bludso (Elle Lorraine), in the late 1980s. She pines to work in music television. To make herself look more acceptable, she gets a weave.
The problem is the weave kills people and thrives on blood. Like The Blob, it can reshape itself as it hunts and stalks prey. The film fumbles the natural versus processed hair argument, and the metaphor is a little too shallow, but still, this movie entertains.
Last but not least, the 1946 film Fight That Ghost deserves a mention here. It’s one of the first horror films/comedies to feature an all-Black cast. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to track down the film. You’ll only find stills of it online.
The Blackening opens in theaters June 16. Should it be successful, hopefully, we’ll see more horror comedies with Black creatives front and center.
Brian Fanelli is a poet and educator who also enjoys writing about the horror genre. His work has been published in The LA Times, World Literature Today, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Horror Homeroom, and elsewhere. On weekends, he enjoys going to the local drive-in theater with his wife or curling up on the couch, and binge-watching movies with their cat, Giselle.