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‘The Black Guy Dies First’ review: Charting Black representation in horror

Strongest defense of ‘The Purge’ ever.

The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema from Fodder to Oscar is an enlightening and humorous look at the history of Black characters in Hollywood – specifically in genre films. It is a deep dive that looks at everything from small indie movies to the biggest blockbusters. The nonfiction book is a timely and important read that all cinema fans will enjoy.

Authors Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman and Mark H. Harris from Shudder’s excellent Horror Noire both do a great job of infusing comedy into their work. This starts quickly with a section called the “Frequent Dier Awards” and continues throughout the book . It also brings levity to what is a very serious issue. This does not mean that The Black Guy Dies First downplays the message it is trying to convey. If anything, it adds to it by highlighting the hypocrisy and ignorance that has been going on for decades. Lists like Black Oscar nominees who have died in horror movies and subjects like the “Yeah Girl” are great examples of the poignant humor found.

The book provides a roadmap of Black actors in horror movies. Starting with 1967’s Spider Baby, winding through the Blaxploitation boom of the 1970s, and ending with recent output such as 2017’s Get Out and 2022’s Master, The Black Guy Dies First is a comprehensive read. What makes it especially refreshing is that it is told from a point of view that is rarely heard.

The Black Guy Dies First also talks about Black queer representation. While the plight of Black characters in horror movies has become something of a joke (comedy that is akin to everyday or “casual” racism), LGBTQ inclusion has been almost completely ignored. Coleman and Harris bring up examples as far back as the 70s to showcase some examples of queer ideas and characters.

'The Black Guy Dies First' review: Charting Black representation in horror

From tales of troubled productions to oral histories about entire studios, there are a number of books about movies. The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema from Fodder to Oscar is hilarious, insightful and unlike similar books. It is written with wit while also tackling an important issue. This is the rare book about Hollywood that is for more than just cinephiles.

The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema from Fodder to Oscar comes out February 7

the black guy dies first
‘The Black Guy Dies First’ review: Charting Black representation in horror
The Black Guy Dies First
Not limited to cinephiles, the book is a great read that brings light to a problem that has plagued Hollywood for decades.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Laugh out loud funny with downplaying the importance of what it is talking about
Wealth of film knowledge
Has a tendency to revisit subjects
9
Great

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