Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Black Women In Horror History: Marsha A. Hunt


Obscurity is a common occurrence in the lives of billions. In grand fashion, very few carry the burden of conspicuousness. The remedy of balance some hope for, is the space to exercise their passion that isn't eclipsed by their personal life in a showcase.

Surely, a group of many are able to do great things in a spotlight, see multiple corners of the planet and be able to keep a part of their shadow. Marsha A. Hunt, in such lyrical passages could be described in this manner.



She's been a theatre darling, model, singer, and activist who spent her older youth/young adult years in all the artistic and political vibrancy that the 1960s had to offer. From Philly to Oakland to England, Hunt has made an indelible impression within the art community. In horror, she can easily make an audience starry-eyed with her presence.

It's no surprise then, that Hunt's most memorable roles on screen were playing a vicious werewolf or becoming one of Christopher Lee's victims. Although they were few and her status as a singer and model who shares a daughter with rock legend Mick Jagger tends to overshadow her presence in feature films, I wanted today to shift that focus in honor of this month and briefly reflect on her corner in the horror pantheon.

Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)

Although her presence was brief, underused and full of lost potential, it was nice to see Dracula A.D. 1972 with all its hammer charm attempt to roll with the times and add Hunt's portrayal of Gaynor. She's simply a party girl who reflects what was probably an accurate depiction of hip, London youth in the 1970s that gets caught in Dracula's resurrected whirlwind. Unfortunately, she becomes one of his earliest casualties.


The Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf  (1985)

Once again a moving target for Christopher Lee, Hunt in The Howling II slays with a demanding performance as Mariana, a vicious werewolf who acts as a servant with enviable sex appeal. The film itself is less than superior within the sub-genre, but it is fun and I love it because, werewolves. And Hunt makes the case for playing an ancillary villain you can neither turn away from nor completely dismiss. I express a bit more in detail with a prior discussion on Black women werewolves.

Musical Bonus


"(Oh no!) Not the Beast Day!" was recorded in 1973 on Vertigo Records
It's very 70s and very catchy.

For more on Ms. Hunt, read her memoir Undefeated, Like her Facebook tribute page, and check out her film appearances which I do recommend.

You may have seen this photo before with no immediate idea of who the model is. This photo was taken in 1968 by photographer Patrick Lichfield after the model, Marsha Hunt's opening night performance in the musical Hair on a London stage. The photo appeared on the cover of British Vogue in January of 1969.

It's so important that Black women see their faces in the past, no matter how minor or major our roles are and specifically, when we're not demonstrated as 'types but as characters that create their own meaning of self. Hunt manages to do this with little effort and I'll always admire her for it.




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