Friday, February 26, 2016

Perspectives: Black Women Horror Fans

I'm over 40, so horror movies have meant different things to me over the years. In my early teen years, horror novels were a great way to encounter subjects that were forbidden –men and women with questionable morals, sex, human and supernatural monsters. While my grandparents were hesitant to let me watch The Facts of Life (because of the title), they didn't pay any attention to what I was reading. When the reins loosened in my late teens, we joined West Coast Video and I started renting horror movies. That's when I really started to appreciate and wanted to emulate the Final Girl—they broke all of the rules, faced danger and lived to tell. They didn't wait on a boyfriend or the church to save them. Even better than the Final Girl were movies where a black woman was the villain.

I wanted to be as powerful as Marsha Hunt in Howling 2 or Grace Jones in Vamp. By college, I turned a more critical eye to the horror genre. I still found a lot of things to love, but I became more conscious of what I was looking at and what messages I was seeing/internalizing. These days, I prefer more fun horror --I own the Gingerdead Man trilogy. I still probably over analyze horror movies--especially the ones I like. I didn't face zombies or homicidal maniacs but I feel like the old school Final Girls did inspire me to go my own way.

-Tawanna Sullivan (@tpsulli)

I've been a horror fan all my life. As a kid, I remember my friends and I telling each other scary stories in the dark. My family was good for jumping out of shadows and scaring each other so it's in my blood. Going to the library and checking out books on the paranormal was another way to get my horror fix. As an adult, I think 60% of my personal library is made up of horror fiction and every October, I try to read ALL horror to celebrate Halloween.

Whenever I'm on Netflix ,Amazon or Hulu the horror section is the first area I check. Horror, for me, is an escape from everyday life. And a release from boredom or stress. There's no feeling like sitting in the dark-eyes wide, heart pounding loudly, in suspense of what happens next (and that's with good movies) With bad horror movies, it's still fun to laugh at dumb decisions characters make. When I hear people say they don't watch or like horror, I'm perplexed. I mean I can't imagine a life without horror be it film or the written word.

-Sharon Leggett (@CatladyShazza)

For me, horror movies are comforting, as weird as that may sound. When I was a kid, my aunt used to babysit me and my little brother. She had so many vhs tapes that she would let us choose what to watch to keep us out of her hair. Her movie collection included horror films like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Chucky movies; so of course those are what we chose to watch. Ever since then, I've been a big fan of horror films. They take me back to my childhood and watching horror movies in my aunt's living room with my little brother. Now that I'm older, I'm so thankful for communities like Twitter that bring me in contact with fellow black girl horror fans. The live tweets and discussions have made my love for horror films grow even more.

-Jessica (@InHollywoodland)

A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser and Shocker were some the movies I watched as a kid that would solidify my love of horror movies. And looking back, while I should have never seen them because I was an impressionable child, I can't help but think that I would have found a way to regardless of the rating or parent's concerns. I, as a child of the 90's, had no business watching the forbidden, but watch it I did and several times over.

See, horror movies allowed me to be transported to a world I might not ever experience but that definitely sparked my interest. Even now, when asked why I love horror movies, I sometimes can't give a definite answer. Then there are the days where I can rattle a thousand and one reasons as to why I love horror movies. I can tell you that I love watching the protagonist's anxiety escalate right before they turn a corner. I love the "gotcha" moment when the unsuspecting victim finally comes across a surreal situation that tests their sanity. Lastly I love it when the hero overcomes his greatest obstacle whether it comes in the form of another character, the villain or even himself.

Horror movies, be they good, bad or other, will always be intoxicating to me because they force me to place myself in a wholly different headspace than the one I live day to day. And, plus, who doesn't like a little rush of adrenaline while waiting for the unexpected to jump out? I know I do.

-Marsha (@PanaNegra)

I became enamored with horror when I was around preschool age. My mother and I lived in an apartment building, 4-stories tall, at the very top. Right next to us was a cemetery, with only a fence separating the two lots. The local kids and I used to play “the Whisper Game” in the cemetery, where we would whisper questions into the headstones and place our ears on them for a response.

From then on it was Night of the Living Dead (1968), Child’s Play, Nightmare on Elm Street, Return of the Living Dead, Poltergeist, The Exorcist, and so on. I was hooked on horror movies and books. My favorite books in elementary school were Goosebumps, Monster Mama, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Horror has been apart of my life since the beginning and probably has fueled my imagination since. To this day, I’m always on the hunt for a horror movie I haven’t seen and make any holiday or weekend “Horror Movie___” where I binge horror movies. Halloween is my favorite holiday and I like to be scary. I am a fangirl of The Walking Dead, Sleepy Hollow and Hannibal. My next goal is to subscribe to HorrorBlock.

-Alisa (@Noneypoo)
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