Us

(Photo by Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection)

The Essential Black Horror Movies

In our guide to some of the best, most resonant Black horror movies, we begin in 1960 with Night of the Living Dead. The movie was groundbreaking for setting the zombie template, but also through its casting of Duane Jones as its hero, an everyman of color. He leads survivors through Night, up until its provocative ending, when director George A. Romero inextricably binds the horror genre to America’s dark living history.

Jones’ other starring movie was 1973’s Ganja & Hess, for which writer/director Bill Gunn uses vampires to press into societal breakdowns. This kind of elevated horror has given definition to many Black horror films, including, obviously, Jordan Peele’s Best Picture-nominated Get Out, but also the Chicago-set Candyman and Oprah Winfrey-starring Beloved.

Of course, horror is there for lights-out entertainment, like ’90s classics Def by Temptation and Tales from the Hood, and with crossovers into the gothic (Eve’s Bayou), sci-fi (Attack the Block), thrillers (Ma), war (Overlord), and superheroes (Blade).

Explore all 25 fun, frightening, and groundbreaking films in our guide to the essential Black horror movies.


Best Spanish-Language Horror Movies | Best Korean Horror Movies | Best Italian Horror Movies | Best French Horror Movies | Best Japanese Horror Movies
2020’s Best Horror Movies | 200 Best Horror Movies Ever

#25

Bones (2001)
25%

#25
Adjusted Score: 27185%
Critics Consensus: Slow to start, the sleek looking Bones is more silly than scary.
Synopsis: Jimmy Bones (Snoop "Doggy" Dogg) is a legendary protector and patron of his thriving neighborhood. Cool, handsome and respected -... [More]
Directed By: Ernest R. Dickerson

#24
Adjusted Score: 39641%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Ex-soldier Frank Brayker (William Sadler) is the guardian of an ancient key that can unlock tremendous evil; the sinister but... [More]
Directed By: Ernest Dickerson

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 52630%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A creepy mortician, Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III), attempts to scare teenage drug dealer Stack (Joe Torry) and his friends... [More]
Directed By: Rusty Cundieff

#22

Blacula (1972)
48%

#22
Adjusted Score: 50110%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: During a visit to Transylvania, an African prince (William Marshall) gets turned into a vampire by Count Dracula (Charles McCauley).... [More]
Directed By: William Crain

#21

Blade (1998)
57%

#21
Adjusted Score: 62984%
Critics Consensus: Though some may find the plot a bit lacking, Blade's action is fierce, plentiful, and appropriately stylish for a comic book adaptation.
Synopsis: A half-mortal, half-immortal is out to avenge his mother's death and rid the world of vampires. The modern-day technologically advanced... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Norrington

#20

Ma (2019)
56%

#20
Adjusted Score: 67919%
Critics Consensus: Octavia Spencer's performance overpowers many of Ma's flaws, but uneven pacing and a labored story keep this thriller from fully realizing its unhinged potential.
Synopsis: A lonely middle-aged woman befriends some teenagers and decides to let them party in the basement of her home. But... [More]
Directed By: Tate Taylor

#19

J.D.'s Revenge (1976)
44%

#19
Adjusted Score: 17764%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Although notorious New Orleans gangster J.D. Walker (David McKnight) is shot and killed in the 1940s, his spirit remains restless... [More]
Directed By: Arthur Marks

#18

Black Box (2020)
70%

#18
Adjusted Score: 73970%
Critics Consensus: An intriguing debut for writer-director Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour, Black Box compensates for a lack of surprises with strong performances and an emotionally rewarding story.
Synopsis: After losing his wife and memory in a car accident, a single father undergoes an agonizing experimental treatment that causes... [More]
Directed By: Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour

#17

Blade II (2002)
57%

#17
Adjusted Score: 60725%
Critics Consensus: Though Blade II offers more of what worked in the original, its plot and character development appear to have been left on the cutting room floor.
Synopsis: Exploding from the pages of Marvel Comics comes the thrilling follow-up to the blockbuster "Blade." Half Man ... half vampire,... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#16

Sweetheart (2019)
95%

#16
Adjusted Score: 95560%
Critics Consensus: Carried by Kiersey Clemons' performance, Sweetheart balances smart subtext and social commentary against effective genre thrills.
Synopsis: A shipwreck survivor on an uninhabited island must fend off a malevolent force that surfaces each night.... [More]
Directed By: J.D. Dillard

#15
Adjusted Score: 67693%
Critics Consensus: Held aloft by gonzo black comedy and socially conscious subtext, The People Under The Stairs marks a unique -- though wildly uneven -- change of pace for director Wes Craven.
Synopsis: When young Fool (Brandon Adams) breaks into the home of his family's greedy and uncaring landlords, he discovers a disturbing... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 69130%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Joel (James Bond III), a quiet divinity student from North Carolina, starts to question his faith. So he heads to... [More]
Directed By: James Bond III

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 22239%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When nightclub owner Langston (Larry D. Johnson) refuses to sell out to local mob boss Morgan (Robert Quarry), he is... [More]
Directed By: Paul Maslansky

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 12641%
Critics Consensus: Neither scary nor very funny, this misguided effort never lives up to its premise.
Synopsis: In the wake of her mother's death in a mental institution, detective Rita Veder (Angela Bassett) is assigned to a... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#11

Candyman (1992)
77%

#11
Adjusted Score: 83265%
Critics Consensus: Though it ultimately sacrifices some mystery in the name of gory thrills, Candyman is a nuanced, effectively chilling tale that benefits from an interesting premise and some fine performances.
Synopsis: Skeptical graduate student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) befriends Anne-Marie McCoy (Vanessa Williams) while researching superstitions in a housing project on... [More]
Directed By: Bernard Rose

#10

Beloved (1998)
78%

#10
Adjusted Score: 80333%
Critics Consensus: A powerful, emotional and successful film adaptation of the original novel.
Synopsis: In 1873 Ohio, Sethe (Oprah Winfrey) is a mother of three haunted by her horrific slavery past and her desperate... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#9

Eve's Bayou (1997)
82%

#9
Adjusted Score: 85261%
Critics Consensus: Eve's Bayou marks a striking feature debut for director Kasi Lemmons, layering terrific performances and Southern mysticism into a measured meditation on disillusionment and forgiveness.
Synopsis: Over the course of a long, hot Louisiana summer, a 10-year-old black girl, Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett), discovers that her... [More]
Directed By: Kasi Lemmons

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 98669%
Critics Consensus: A tense, terrifying, and all-around outstanding feature debut for its co-directing duo, The Boy Behind the Door should thrill discerning horror fans.
Synopsis: In The Boy Behind the Door, a night of unimaginable terror awaits twelve-year-old Bobby (Lonnie Chavis) and his best friend,... [More]

#7

Blood Couple (1973)
90%

#7
Adjusted Score: 90108%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Germs from the stab of an ancient dagger turn two lovers (Duane Jones, Marlene Clark) into immortal vampires.... [More]
Directed By: Bill Gunn

#6

His House (2020)
100%

#6
Adjusted Score: 107831%
Critics Consensus: Featuring genuine scares through every corridor, His House is a terrifying look at the specters of the refugee experience and a stunning feature debut for Remi Weekes.
Synopsis: A refugee couple makes a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, but then they struggle to adjust to their new... [More]
Directed By: Remi Weekes

#5

Candyman (2021)
84%

#5
Adjusted Score: 102059%
Critics Consensus: Candyman takes an incisive, visually thrilling approach to deepening the franchise's mythology -- and terrifying audiences along the way.
Synopsis: For as long as residents can remember, the housing projects of Chicago's Cabrini-Green neighborhood were terrorized by a word-of-mouth ghost... [More]
Directed By: Nia DaCosta

#4

Attack the Block (2011)
90%

#4
Adjusted Score: 96874%
Critics Consensus: Effortlessly mixing scares, laughs, and social commentary, Attack the Block is a thrilling, briskly-paced sci-fi yarn with a distinctly British flavor.
Synopsis: South London teenagers (John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones) defend their neighborhood from malevolent extraterrestrials.... [More]
Directed By: Joe Cornish

#3

Us (2019)
93%

#3
Adjusted Score: 127302%
Critics Consensus: With Jordan Peele's second inventive, ambitious horror film, we have seen how to beat the sophomore jinx, and it is Us.
Synopsis: Accompanied by her husband, son and daughter, Adelaide Wilson returns to the beachfront home where she grew up as a... [More]
Directed By: Jordan Peele

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 98364%
Critics Consensus: George A. Romero's debut set the template for the zombie film, and features tight editing, realistic gore, and a sly political undercurrent.
Synopsis: A disparate group of individuals takes refuge in an abandoned house when corpses begin to leave the graveyard in search... [More]
Directed By: George A. Romero

#1

Get Out (2017)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 128243%
Critics Consensus: Funny, scary, and thought-provoking, Get Out seamlessly weaves its trenchant social critiques into a brilliantly effective and entertaining horror/comedy thrill ride.
Synopsis: Now that Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend... [More]
Directed By: Jordan Peele

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

Pop ITV YouTube Red robots Warner Bros. Apple SundanceTV toy story franchise Masterpiece Musical Summer versus Teen Ghostbusters Superheroes Sci-Fi BAFTA Netflix Christmas movies CBS football rotten Nat Geo concert 90s cancelled TV series Pacific Islander Discovery Channel kong trailers new zealand hollywood TNT comic Red Carpet Starz Instagram Live reviews renewed TV shows green book black comedy zero dark thirty twilight SXSW lord of the rings BBC America hidden camera slashers chucky Hear Us Out worst movies golden globes Awards crime thriller Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Super Bowl rt labs NBA Legendary Captain marvel Prime Video The Arrangement Oscars Disney posters screenings Nominations BBC indie new york Martial Arts razzies Food Network History Amazon Prime Video streaming movies festivals Kids & Family OneApp spanish language Hallmark Christmas movies debate Arrowverse directors Reality Competition Country TV Land Fox Searchlight SDCC TCA 2017 IMDb TV sequels VICE sag awards IFC 4/20 technology TLC popular Disney Channel CNN Universal Pictures 71st Emmy Awards romance stoner Ellie Kemper south america comic book movies docuseries 99% Shondaland Writers Guild of America japan cops ratings Hollywood Foreign Press Association suspense Television Academy Fantasy critic resources A&E laika 45 Box Office President Disney+ Disney Plus children's TV spinoff 2019 adventure theme song Mindy Kaling sports Travel Channel rotten movies we love Tubi DC Comics dark HBO Hulu See It Skip It Epix Tarantino El Rey 79th Golden Globes Awards australia Crackle Amazon Studios Animation Emmys TV movies facebook Winners Peacock jurassic park Exclusive Video 21st Century Fox Film child's play films Fox News Wes Anderson GIFs biography dexter Ovation docudrama cancelled TV shows TV One 24 frames spanish Comic Book pirates of the caribbean American Society of Cinematographers Winter TV Turner Classic Movies nature HBO Go The Purge Cannes Action indiana jones Alien worst Musicals Opinion AMC japanese serial killer Trailer Sundance A24 aapi video on demand National Geographic ABC Signature breaking bad Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt cats fast and furious a nightmare on elm street Horror Fargo TV BET USA Network 2016 PBS Lionsgate streaming richard e. Grant Sundance Now TCA Winter 2020 war all-time ViacomCBS miniseries live event independent The Walking Dead TBS documentaries Creative Arts Emmys Christmas Adult Swim binge RT21 Spike Showtime Lifetime Christmas movies scary Shudder rt labs critics edition Photos book scary movies sequel slasher dc die hard HBO Max social media TruTV 72 Emmy Awards Podcast science fiction Acorn TV casting Extras Marvel Television Tokyo Olympics wonder woman police drama X-Men Song of Ice and Fire Video Games game of thrones cults TCA Awards Apple TV+ genre YouTube elevated horror Funimation fresh Cosplay critics Election Turner live action USA 73rd Emmy Awards PlayStation Elton John FOX Disney Plus Certified Fresh psycho halloween remakes Valentine's Day movie batman Comedy Central First Reviews Comic-Con@Home 2021 classics blaxploitation E3 james bond AMC Plus E! ABC Family Sony Pictures harry potter monster movies 1990s Family anthology Pirates boxing doctor who Thanksgiving cancelled television mission: impossible Anna Paquin Amazon Prime Freeform First Look Sundance TV crime Superheroe spider-verse spy thriller Drama Women's History Month diversity 2015 blockbusters ID mcc 2020 international Marvel stop motion Awards Tour Nickelodeon documentary Cartoon Network 007 superhero video Syfy Heroines Black History Month trophy Lifetime Polls and Games Black Mirror disaster hist comic book movie Fall TV rom-coms king arthur Comedy DC Universe finale Character Guide IFC Films Music quibi TCA Paramount Plus halloween tv blockbuster Mystery young adult supernatural kaiju Star Trek zombie christmas movies sopranos Reality Watching Series Trophy Talk reboot talk show NYCC DGA what to watch Rocketman marvel cinematic universe feel good WGN asian-american Calendar YA free movies Pet Sematary Best and Worst satire jamie lee curtis name the review king kong GLAAD period drama YouTube Premium Premiere Dates The Walt Disney Company vs. comedies based on movie Baby Yoda television venice Rom-Com Biopics rt archives crime drama political drama animated new star wars movies Holidays Star Wars HFPA historical drama Columbia Pictures ESPN Mary Poppins Returns festival CBS All Access Film Festival deadpool olympics emmy awards godzilla politics ghosts Tags: Comedy scene in color mockumentary Stephen King DC streaming service women WarnerMedia leaderboard FX on Hulu The Witch french comic books Mary poppins black Esquire true crime legend book adaptation discovery Marathons The Academy action-comedy adaptation Bravo 2017 Spectrum Originals Set visit spider-man BET Awards natural history Pride Month marvel comics vampires Universal royal family Chernobyl Year in Review Interview psychological thriller Grammys crossover joker Paramount comics Neflix Lucasfilm scorecard archives universal monsters dragons art house mob MCU NBC romantic comedy Countdown know your critic 93rd Oscars GoT Quiz transformers superman screen actors guild series boxoffice teaser Marvel Studios Netflix Western MTV MSNBC TV renewals sitcom canceled Paramount Network hispanic heritage month telelvision Mary Tyler Moore dramedy Vudu Brie Larson Broadway space Infographic parents medical drama italian movies kids canceled TV shows The CW FXX Hallmark PaleyFest 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards high school TCM CW Seed cancelled dreamworks hispanic Image Comics best ABC mutant Holiday stand-up comedy BBC One unscripted Tomatazos comiccon cooking saw Tumblr Rocky Pixar Crunchyroll nbcuniversal San Diego Comic-Con thriller APB Rock Comics on TV LGBTQ foreign 20th Century Fox DirecTV Classic Film dceu cinemax TIFF nfl Binge Guide OWN Amazon witnail target Schedule tv talk spain justice league Academy Awards RT History Sneak Peek revenge singing competition news CMT New York Comic Con cars Logo Apple TV Plus Spring TV anime strong female leads travel toronto Television Critics Association prank Endgame dogs aliens Toys VH1 adenture LGBT cartoon gangster golden globe awards game show FX obituary criterion Pop TV Mudbound basketball Emmy Nominations Trivia VOD 2021 biopic Walt Disney Pictures Disney streaming service werewolf Britbox latino Avengers zombies composers heist movie Dark Horse Comics 2018 award winner