By theorizing Blacks’ participation in horror this way, I am trying to make clear that though Blacks have been part and parcel to the genre since its beginning, how they are represented varies. It is easier to understand if we can think about films such as Nigger in a Woodpile (1904) or The Birth of a Nation (1915) as horror films, or more obvious horror films such as The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) or Candyman (1992).
In step with Ingagi’s successful execution of holistic portrayals of African American characters, Spencer Williams came back the following year with a directorial debut and supernatural morality script that positioned Martha (Cathryn Caviness), a devout Baptist woman in between dimensions after her non-religious husband (played by Williams) fatally shoots her accidentally while out hunting. The devil takes her on a tempting journey through the glamorous city life where her faith is tested. The plot may not be entirely captivating but for the 1940’s with its strict industry “Code” that all filmmakers were dependent upon, The Blood Of Jesus remains among a revolutionary few horror films, even to this day, to have both a Black director and a central, Black female protagonist that is fully developed.
Ganja and Hess (1973)
In the likeness of Cleopatra Jones, Coffy, and other title characters of this film genre, Bey’s Sugar represented a ‘By Any Means Necessary’ attitude with sex appeal and style that was well entangled in the celebratory as well as problematic politics of gender at its time. Any way you see it, Sugar Hill is a righteous addition to Black horror and a standout for creating a memorable heroine.