There’s nothing like an excellent, spine-tingling horror movie, especially when it features Black excellence. While it’s a long-running movie trope that Black characters are often the first to die in horror films, that isn’t the case in the following films! Each of these scary Black movies features Black protagonists and is a horror classic in its own right. From classics like Dawn of the Dead to the oeuvre of Jordan Peele, these scary Black movies are guaranteed to leave you hiding under the blankets.
1. Get Out
Director: Jordan Peele
In order to keep this list from just being a copy of Jordan Peele’s IMDB page, we’re giving his original directorial debut the top spot. “Nope,” “Get Out,” and “Us” became instant horror classics, each one speaking directly to the Black experience. But it was “Get Out” that got the party started, and really originated the modern-day version of the horror-comedy. The movie spoke to so many aspects of Black life, including being a young Black man in white society, being an elder Black woman working for white people, interracial dating, dealing with the cops, and the white guilt that often causes “well-meaning” white people to do some crazy shit in the name of helping Black people. It was truly a masterstroke in debating racial issues in a terrifyingly entertaining way. While his follow-ups to “Get Out” were commercially viable, none of them met the high bar that “Get Out” set.
2. Ganja and Hess
Director: Bill Gunn
This 1970s horror movie is simultaneously terrifying and beautiful. Unlike many other horror movies, at no point are the Black characters caricatures. The main character is a renowned university professor, and it’s a love story as well as an excellent vampire film. It recently received a resurgence in attention as it is heavily featured in clipping.’s “Blood of the Fang.” Director Bill Gunn worked creatively, using dreamlike sequences, experimental camera work, and poetic editing to immerse the audience.
(As a note, Spike Lee remade this movie as “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,” but trust us – the original is way better.)
Director: Nia DaCosta
Both the original Candyman and the 2021 sequel are classic scary Black movies, but we want to focus on Nia DaCosta’s newer movie. While the original “Candyman” focused on a white graduate student, the sequel focuses on Black artist Anthony McCoy (played to perfection by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). It frames the horror within a modern social context. It’s a story about art, performance, and the corruption of innocence. It’s also absolutely terrifying.
4. Night of the Living Dead
Director: George Romero
Yes, the original zombie movie is a Black horror film! George Romero’s groundbreaking horror movie was one of the first films with a Black hero whose story didn’t center around his race. While actor Duane Jones was a controversial pick, Romero simply stated that he had the best audition – and his character, Ben, created the archetype of the ultra-competent, intelligent zombie survivor. The movie created many of the tropes we’re familiar with today, including an ending that will have you questioning who the real monsters are.
5. Eve’s Bayou
Director: Kasi Lemmons
Kasi Lemmons’ directorial debut was also Jurnee Smollett’s breakout role. Lemmons, a horror veteran who appeared in Silence of the Lambs and Candyman, crafted a lush Gothic horror story about a young girl who has the gift of second sight. Eve’s Bayou features rich, layered storytelling and was the most successful independent movie of 1997. It’s a slow burn horror film that entrances and pulls you in deeper and deeper.
There’s never been a better time for Black horror. With a wealth of creative, brilliant directors, writers, and actors, the genre is thriving with new voices and revisited classics. If you’re looking for Black horror to watch, check out BlackOakTv’s catalog. From series like Criblore to classic scary Black movies, we have the spine-tingling entertainment you need! And for more Black content recommendations, check out the Black Content Review blog, featuring all things Black media.