When it comes to horror documentaries, Horror Noire certainly stands out from the crowd. Its focus specifically on the history of Black people in horror, from the abhorrent days of blackface to epic films like Jordan Peele’s Get Out is incredibly comprehensive. But there’s always more conversation to be had about how Black people fare in scary films, whether they survive deep trauma or meet their demise. That’s exactly why we are getting The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema from Fodder to Oscar. The book is written by Horror Noire executive producer Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman and film critic Mark H. Harris and explores tropes, overarching horror themes, and much more.
The Black Guy Dies First blends humor with deep analysis and critique of the genre from 1968 through today. Several major topics include Black horror film deaths, whether they be truly heroic or the cringeworthy “Sacrificial Negro” one. You know, the Black person who dies to save a white character directly or to advance their story.
Stereotypes like the “sidekick,” how religion permeates horror films, and Black queer identity are just a few of many avenues to explore. There will certainly be some deeper dives into not only the failures of horror to represent Black people well but the many wins over the years as well. (Really hoping for some praise of The Girl With All the Gifts. It is a truly stunning and wonderful example of a leading Black girl.) And, with Dr. Coleman’s essentially encyclopedic knowledge of the genre, there will be something for even the most staunch horror fan to learn along the way.
The Black Guy Dies First will arrive on shelves on February 7, a fitting month to highlight Blackness indeed. Sounds like a horror book club pick is on the horizon for fans of spooky and downright scary movies.