Halloween and horror are nothing new, but ever since Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” in 2018, the industry has actively been looking to highlight more marginalized voices and stories into their repertoires. This year both Shudder and Amazon Prime have some inclusive and unique indie offerings that you should check out. These are also all great to watch with Amazon Watch Party* for a fun but safe last minute Fright Night!
Welcome to the Blumhouse
Welcome to the Blumhouse is the second consecutive year that Blumhouse has dedicated to horror films created by women and marginalized voices. This year four films have dropped throughout October that are worth a weekend of binging. Heavily influenced by 70, 80s, and 90s horror films, Black as Night, Bingo Hell, The Manor and Madres all use horror as the vehicle to provide social commentary. All are available to watch exclusively on Amazon Prime.
Black as Night
Written by Sherman Payne (Scream: The TV Series, Charm City Kings) and directed by Maritte Lee Go (Phobias, Rise), Black as Night is one of my favorites of the Welcome to the Blumhouse series. The story focuses on Shawna, a 15-year-old girl in New Orleans. She discovers that the people experiencing homelessness and drug addiction in her city are being turned into vampires as part of an ancient war between rival bloodsucking factions. When Shawna’s mother dies after becoming a vampire, she teams up with a group of young friends to avenge her death. The after-effects of Hurricane Katrina, racism, and colorism are all addressed in this coming-of-age vampire story.
When something at the local Bingo Hall has been killing the locals in violent and gruesome ways, feisty senior citizen Lupita decides to take on the entity to protect her barrio. Directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero (Into the Dark, The Purge) from a script by Gigi Saul Guerrero & Shane McKenzie (La Quinceañera, Aztech) and Perry Blackshear (When I Consume You, The Siren).
“The inspiration for Bingo Hell grew out of me wanting to see old people kicking ass!” Saul Guerrero says. “I hadn’t seen older folks kicking butt in a movie since Cocoon or Batteries Not Included, and I thought it would be amazing to tie that in with bingo, which so many people can relate to.” The other quiet enemy in this movie turns out to be gentrification. (No, that’s not a spoiler).
Madres takes place in 1970s California and follows Diana and Beto, a young Mexican-American couple expecting their first child, who move to a small town in Northern California where Beto has a new job managing a farm. When Diana begins having terrifying visions from an unknown entity, the more she investigates, the more she realizes that the house and the community have a terrifying history.
Directed by Ryan Zaragoza (Bebé, All American) from a screenplay by Marcella Ochoa (White House Down, Discarnate) and Mario Miscione (Circle, Dark/Web). Madres is based on a horrific true story for many Latina women in California in the early 70s.
Barbara Hershey stars in this horror film about an older woman who suffers a stroke, whose family agrees to admit her to an assisted living facility. Despite the best efforts of the staff and a budding friendship with fellow resident Roland (Bruce Davison), strange occurrences and nightmarish visions convince Judith that a supernatural force is killing off the residents. Unfortunately, Judith’s frantic warnings are dismissed as pure fantasy.
The Manor is written and directed by Axelle Carolyn (Soulmate, American Horror Story) who says that the idea sprang from a deeply personal place. “My dad had dementia the last two years of his life, and it started when he was fairly young,” remember thinking, what if you were in a state of mind where you could see something terrifying, but the more you talked about it, the more people assumed you were crazy? So I found that idea very scary.”
Many of you are familiar with the documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror based on the book by Robin Means Coleman, which chronicles the history of Black Horror movies, their creators and stars. I have spoken to one of the co-producers, Tananarive Due on my podcast about the project.
Due has produced a new film anthology through Shudder, also called Horror Noire, showcasing six shorts by six different directors. Horror Noire features six stories presented together as a two-hour film starring Lesley-Ann Brandt (Lucifer, Spartacus), Luke James (The Chi, Thoughts of a Colored Man), Erica Ash (Survivor’s Remorse, A Black Lady Sketch Show), Brandon Mychal Smith (Four Weddings and a Funeral, You’re the Worst), Sean Patrick Thomas (Macbeth, The Curse of La Llorona), Peter Stormare (American Gods, Fargo), Malcolm Barrett (Genius: Aretha Franklin, Timeless), Tony Todd (Candyman, Night of the Living Dead), and Rachel True (The Craft, Half & Half), among others.
The new and adapted stories are written by Due and husband Steven Barnes (Lion’s Blood), Ezra Claytan Daniels (BTTM FDRS), Victor LaValle (The Ballad of Black Tom, The Changeling,) Shernold Edwards (All Rise, Anne with an E); and, Al Letson (Reveals).
The six stories featured in the anthology are: Daddy, Bride Before You, Brand of Evil, The Lake, Sundown and Fugue State.