From low-budget vampires to a psychological Satan, I dug up a whole new batch of horror with primarily black casts. And there are some goodies!
Cryptz is like an urban From Dusk Till Dawn. After an encounter with a hot babe on the street, a wannabe rapper drags his friends to a club called Cryptz. And soon, the strippers reveal their true selves!
This fun little low-budget vampire flick comes from Full Moon Features. The guys are funny, and the leading man is a hottie—and is hysterical when he fights off the vampire strippers with a human bone! There are plenty of big boobs and the vampire chicks look pretty gnarly! And, surprisingly, the gore factor and special effects are pretty good for a Full Moon release. A hunky martial arts dude comes to help save the day, and the film is left open for a sequel.
Ragdoll is another Full Moon Feature, and in classic Full Moon tradition, it involves a killer doll! And this little ragdoll is an eerie, evil little bitch who makes nasty noises!
A rapper and his posse get an offer from a powerful music manager that they aren’t supposed to refuse. But they do reject the offer, up on stage in a public forum, humiliating the manager. Next thing you know, the rapper’s grandmother, who practices the occult, has been assaulted and is in the hospital. So he taps into her magic and unleashes a revenge spirit that brings his grandmother’s ragdoll to life!
The ragdoll’s scenes are the best part of the film. It just feels like they aren’t used to full scary potential, especially since you know most of her victims are baddies. But that changes as she starts going wild and attacking innocent victims as well. Naturally, it’s up to the rapper to send her back where she came from. Pretty standard Full Moon stuff.
Considering this film was made way back in 1999, it’s interesting to note that one of the baddies is very openly gay. He might be fabulous, but he has a definite tough side.
DEAD HEIST (2007)
Not to keep bringing up From Dusk Till Dawn, but Dead Heist, a much more serious film than Cryptz, is sort of structured just like it. After an initial monster attack to hint at what’s to come, the entire first part of the film is focused on a gang of criminals planning a bank robbery. On top of that, I think these guys break Quentin Tarantino’s record for using the “n” word the most in one movie.
Once the gang realizes they have to work in cooperation with the one female cop in the bank because they are trapped with blood-thirsty zombie/vampire hybrids outside, the slaying fun begins. And it’s a blast.
Dead Heist is a total party film. Likable characters, cool looking zombie-vamps, loads of action and blood, some humor, tight horror and suspense setups, rapper Big Daddy Kane all grown up in an awesome role, and even a twist.
But the real standout here, in more ways than one, is our hero D.J. Naylor. Big, burly, and bald, D.J. is so cool, calm, and collected you can’t help but adore him.
He runs around in a tight white tank top, showing off some huge gazonga nipples. They are such a distraction it’s almost like the director wanted them to be the stars of the film! Personally, I would have given them top double-billing. D.J. Naylor should totally have a career as suave, devil-may-care action hero. He’s just that cool.
CRAZY AS HELL (2002)
I found Crazy as Hell on a list of the best urban horror films and after watching it, I assume the person who assembled that list just included it because there were a couple of black guys in it. There’s nothing “urban” about this film.
It’s about a doctor, played by veteran actor Michael Beach, who comes to a mental hospital to film his treatment of patients for a documentary. Eriq La Salle of E.R. directed the film and stars as a domineering man who walks into Beach’s office claiming to be Satan.
This is no cheesy low-budget horror film. It’s more of a psychological-supernatural-drama-thriller focusing primarily on the relationship of these two men. It’s mostly dialogue driven, but La Salle’s performance is so captivating it draws you in.
It’s a heavy-handed script; the two men spar verbally, delving into theology, philosophy, psychology, and human notions of what exactly the devil is. Satan all the while taunts and tests the doctor, who seems to be suppressing some serious issues of his own. It really does offer some fascinating ideas if you’re not looking for straight-up horror.
There’s one particularly interesting moment when the doctor talks to Satan about his ability to be both man and woman…while they are standing at a urinal together. It’s a very homoerotic scene, with Satan wearing a black mesh shirt and a pearl necklace (not a euphemism) and coming across as very feminine. The conversation focuses very much on the size of his penis, with the doctor checking it out with no shame. I could totally see overly-sensitive types accusing this movie of being homophobic and racist for portraying Satan as a black queen….
Aside from the two leading men, Crazy as Hell has a pretty well-known cast, including John C. McGinley (Dr. Cox on Scrubs), comedian Sinbad, and veteran actors Ronny Cox and Jane Carr. There’s even an appearance by David Backus, who is the man behind the mask in The Orphan Killer!
The movie’s soundtrack includes some soul classics. There’s “Fire” by the Ohio Players during a scene in a sex club, and “Pick Up the Pieces” by Average White Band during a scene in which Satan breaks out into a mesmerizing dance for the other patients at the hospital.
The final twist in the film definitely delivers the most chilling moment in the film. If you’re looking for horror a little more thought-provoking, Crazy as Hell is a must-see.
SUGAR HILL (1974)
Why not throw a 1970s classic in as a bonus? Sugar Hill is essentially a revenge flick with zombies as the weapon of choice.
A black couple owns a club that this evil white man wants. So he has his men kill the husband! Now the wife, played by adorable Marki Bey (who would go on to Starsky & Hutch) goes to an old voodoo lady for help exacting revenge.
The old lady takes her to a cemetery and calls upon the lord of the dead…who appears dressed as a hobo. Seriously. Anyway, he summons an army of freaky black zombies who rise from the grave. They have creepy metallic bug eyes and are covered in spider webs. There are some incredibly creepy zombie scenes in the movie that would be highly effective in a different plot, but considering they are going after bad guys and this is a revenge flick, the power of the horror loses a little something.
Sugar Hill has a lot of camp to offer. Every time someone is about to die, Marki suddenly turns into Foxy Brown, with an awesome afro and tight jumpsuit showing off major cleavage.
The hobo sits by and watches each kill with a gleeful smile that shows off his gold teeth. There’s an interracial catfight, the “n” word is thrown around like it’s going out of style (it’s still not quite there), there’s a killer chicken leg, voodoo dolls are used to great effect, and a dude gets a zombie massage. Plus, the detective is played by Richard Lawson, who went on to be one of the ghost hunters in Poltergeist!
But best of all, Marki Bey has awesome lines, like calling a guy “Whitey” and saying “Hope they’re into white trash” when her zombies throw a dude in pig pen.
I think I prefer Sugar Hill over the more well-known 70s black horror film Blacula. Overall, this was a group of winners for me, all in different horror subgenres with different styles. And just look at some of the men you get to enjoy.