With Halloween just around the corner, the horror genre is getting its time in the spotlight as viewers have a plethora of scary TV programming to choose from. AMC Networks stands apart in this category with its menu of slasher and horror shows, giving audiences the shrieks and thrills they crave during this time of year. Not only is AMC Networks the home of the fan favorite, "The Walking Dead," the programmer also hosts FearFest, an annual horror marathon featuring over 680 hours of iconic horror films and shows. But this year, AMC Networks is also debuting a new anthology, "Horror Noire," through Shudder, its streaming service. With stories written by and starring Black artists, the anthology seeks to expand on the legacy of Black genre filmmaking.
Based on Shudder's critically-acclaimed 2019 documentary, "Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror," the anthology showcases six stories of Black horror from Black directors and screenwriters. "There's no doubt that horror has the global appeal," explained Dan McDermott, president of original programming for AMC Networks and AMC Studios, at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. "The narrative power of horror has the unique ability to entertain, shock, inspire conversation, explore political and societal issues, and expose the human experience in a way that's unlike any other genre."
And this is exactly what "Horror Noire" sets out to do.
"We get the opportunity to express our stories based on our own cultural myths and our own experiences," said Tananarive Due, one of the writers of the anthology. A few of those cultural myths include what some might call "hoodoo," which Due said has been misrepresented by Hollywood. "Even if it's not technically hoodoo, it's just that sort of oral history of how African Americans or people from the Caribbean have coped with infant mortality, have coped with poverty, have coped with these larger questions ... "
Al Letson, who also served as a writer of the anthology, added that he wrote an episode based on how he, as a Black man, has navigated the world. Raised in the South, Letson often found himself in situations where he was the only person of color. "And so it's sort of like building on the fear that you carry with you every day which is what I think anybody who's writing in horror does."
Steven Barnes, another writer on the team and husband to Tananarive Due, defined "Black horror" as "really just horror made by Black people as if we are the center of the universe the same way these other movies have been made as if they [white people, for example] were the center of the universe." He added, "So it's the same thing. It's the urge to be seen, the urge to feel real and heard and believed." Barnes spoke to the experience of Black people not being able to see themselves in horror films except to "make the white people look good. Sometimes to die so they can be avenged."
The writers also paid tribute to the 2017 horror film, "Get Out," as helping to bring attention to Black horror and opening doors for Black writers. Because while Black horror has been around for a long time, many of those stories were never given an outlet.
"The truth of the matter is, no matter how clichéd any kind of subgenre in horror might seem, when you add the specificity of race or culture, whether its Black characters, Native characters, it just has a slightly different tenor and a freshness, which is really what all horror fans want," said Due. "Novelty and freshness."
"Horror Noire" will premiere on October 28 on Shudder.