Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hip Hop Horror Films

Snoop Dogg in Urban Menace
Horror has always had a heavy constituency made up of youth. In the 21st century as a generation matures into adulthood and has essentially lived in a world where there always has been access to hip hop culture, the horror market developed ways in which to capitalize on this. Many of us have seen rappers in genre films. It has even been said that one of Halloween producers, Moustapha Akkad's sons enthusiastically encouraged him to cast Busta Rhymes in Halloween: Resurrection (2002). Moustapha then used Google to find out who Busta Rhymes was.

Rapper/actor lead and major supporting role horror films have been a trend. In the direct-to-DVD, independent market, they were a saturation; "over 100 hip-hop inspired 'Black horror' films were released in the first decade of the twenty-first century alone." Mostly known for their (much) lower budgets and putting z's at the end of titles (Vampiyaz, Zombiez, Cryptz, and overall abuse of the English language) these films were ruled by a marketing target set in the 1980's: the profitability of "youth, hip hop, and the home video market".

Next to placing a well-established figure in hip hop culture in another medium, it's critical to observe what kind of stories are being told in hip hop horror. These films maintain a sort of cultural insulation that is infused with supernatural elements. While mainstream films tend to overtly shy away from racially laden cultural commentary, "hip-hop infused horror" hits audiences "over the head like a sledgehammer with tales of morality and social responsibility" from one Black community to another. 1999's Urban Menace (Ice-T, Big Pun, Fat Joe, Snoop Dogg) accomplished this with a ghost killing criminals who capitalized on the detriment of poorer neighborhoods. New Line Cinema's production, Bones (2001) starring Snoop Dogg tackled matters of how drug epidemics destroyed Black communities, gentrification as well as matters of African Americans and class divisions.

Below are just a handful of the more well-known hip hop horror films that are significant enough to be a part of the Black horror film genre. Not all of them star hip-hop artists, but all work and dabble with themes that give it the label. Additionally, many images from these films and the films themselves were extremely difficult, if impossible to find. The lack of recognition for this sub-genre likely has a lot to do with the overall production value. But it certainly merits visibility and at this point, free streaming to at least check them out.

Cryptz (2002)

When aspiring rappers Tymez Skwair, Fuzzy Down, and Likrish cross paths with stripper Stesha, they follow her to a mysterious strip club where the sexy ladies are really vampires in disguise. Things go from bad to worse when the vampires' leader Kulada (Ty Badger) finds out that Tymez holds the key to the bloodsuckers' world domination in this urban horror film that plays like Vampire Strippers in the Hood.

Vampiyaz (2004)

A hip-hop, ex-con returns to his former neighborhood and must team up with a group of vampire hunter-killers to rid the area of vampires whom have taken over the area.

Zombiez (2005)

A woman finds herself on the run from the living dead. Her friends are being slaughtered and she can find no help. Will she survive or will she too fall victim to the Zombiez?

Bloodz v. Wolvez (2006)

A turf war is started by two rival supernatural gangs, The "Bloodz" which are vampires and the "Wolvez" which are werewolves.

Holla (2006)

Tells the story of a TV star who is stranded with seven of her friends in a cabin on the grounds of Camp Diamond Creek. Also trapped with the group is a murderous sociopath.

Da Hip Hop Witch (2000)

5 white kids get lost in the hood looking for da hip hop witch, a year later their footage was found.

Starring Eminem, Rah Digga, Charli Baltimore, Pras Michel, Ja Rule, Mobb Deep

Day X (2005)

As a mysterious outbreak transforms the general populace into a throng of marauding, flesh-eating creatures, eleven strangers find themselves trapped in an abandoned steel mill. One of them, the enigmatic Frank Chambers (Ken Edwards), is accompanied by a comatose white-haired girl who may be the key to revealing the horrific truth behind the infection. Time is running out, and the end is nearer than you think!

Snoop Dogg's Hood Of Horror (2006)

A hip hop horror anthology of three tales of terror told by the Hound of Hell (Snoop Dogg) that revolve around the residents of an inner-city neighborhood whose actions determine where they will go in the afterlife.

Vampz (2004)

The downtown jungle of Los Angeles home to the downtrodden, forlorn and desperate makes the perfect roost for this trio of ancient one's. When going out to "feed" becomes too dangerous, they concoct a plan to bring their dinner home with an all-night massage parlor that offers to cater to the kinkiest of midnight tastes. But when a young woman, who has been evicted by her husband arrives on their doorstep, they don't realize the danger they are letting into their nest.

*All summaries provided by imdb.com

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