From King Kong to Candyman, the boundary-pushing genre of the horror film has always been a site for provocative explorations of race in American popular culture. In Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from 1890's to Present, Robin R. Means Coleman traces the history of notable characterizations of blackness in horror cinema, and examines key levels of black participation on screen and behind the camera. She argues that horror offers a representational space for black people to challenge the more negative, or racist, images seen in other media outlets, and to portray greater diversity within the concept of blackness itself.
Horror Noire presents a unique social history of blacks in America through changing images in horror films. Throughout the text, the reader is encouraged to unpack the genre’s racialized imagery, as well as the narratives that make up popular culture’s commentary on race.
Offering a comprehensive chronological survey of the genre, this book addresses a full range of black horror films, including mainstream Hollywood fare, as well as art-house films, Blaxploitation films, direct-to-DVD films, and the emerging U.S./hip-hop culture-inspired Nigerian "Nollywood" Black horror films. Horror Noire is, thus, essential reading for anyone seeking to understand how fears and anxieties about race and race relations are made manifest, and often challenged, on the silver screen.
Robin R. Means Coleman is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and in the Center for AfroAmerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan. Her previous books include African Americans and the Black Situation Comedy: Situating Racial Humor and the edited collection Say It Loud! African Americans, Media and Identity, both published by Routledge, and most recently the co-edited volume Fight the Power! The Spike Lee Reader.
"Slavery’s brutality. The Violence that birthed a nation. Our own modern-day "birther' movement. Without question, Blacks, blackness and black identity is inextricably linked with horror. Means-Coleman plunders a natural, yet untapped source: the horror film. The result is a treasure trove of insight into how racial performance, racialized narratives, as well as challenges to prevailing racial discourse permeate American life. Means-Coleman builds her case for the historical and contemporary significance of horror films not only by astutely choosing the most exemplary among them, but by presenting her analysis in a vivid and powerful historical trajectory where 20th century media and 21st century technology set the stage for new debates about the future of race and Blackness in the global public sphere."-- Charlton McIlwain, Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU
"This book is gold. I thought I was a horror head, but she goes so deep into it, just speaking my language. Everything she says I’m just like, 'Yes... that’s exactly what I always thought.' It’s so nice to find a scholarly book that addresses what your friends have been talking about for years and just breaks it down." -Tananarive Due, University of California, Los Angeles, in "How Get Out Inspired a New College Course on Racism and Horror"