Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema from Fodder to Oscar

The Black Guy Dies First is a well written and erudite monograph by Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman and Mark H. Harris on black cinema portrayals especially in the horror film genre. Released 7th Feb 2023 by Simon & Schuster on their Gallery/Saga Press imprint, it's 336 pages and is available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. 

Horror cinema has had a long and fraught history with black actors and until recently, as the title says, when an actor of color appeared on screen, viewers could be fairly certain s/he wouldn't be long for the world. This book is full of horror film trivia and humor and often surprised a chuckle out of me for the wryly funny observations which were spot on. Throughout it's clear that the authors 1)know what the heck they're talking about and 2)have the research and sources to back it up. 

This is a beautifully researched book *full* of horror films with which I was unfamiliar but which I intend to look up asap. This book contains enough film trivia and obscure cult favorites to stump even horror mavens who *always* win the film categories at their local pub trivia nights. It's also full of background info and film history and culture as well as some profound and thought provoking object lessons and a couple of uncomfortable moments of self-reflection. It really made me think.

Although it's written in completely comprehensible layman accessible language, it is well annotated and the chapter notes and annotations make for a very educational additional reading. I was delighted by the depth of trivia contained here; list after list of credits, history, background, and awards. 

Four and a half stars. Strikes a perfect balance between humor and serious critique/history. This would be a good choice for public or school library acquisition as well as a must-have for any serious lover of film (especially, but not only, horror).

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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