The Plantation-ville Horror?
February 18, 2012 6:46 PM   Subscribe

What, if any, horror films feature the retaliation of ghosts of enslaved Africans, similar in concept to movies that are built around Native American spirits taking revenge against (white) Americans?

Inspired by recently viewing (as of an hour ago) Ti West's recent film The Innkeepers, I'm curious about a certain American horror trope. It seems to be a subset of a cultural fear of the past connected to haunted houses, ghosts, and young brides who have committed suicide. On one hand, there are movies about the bride in white haunting the site of her honeymoon. There are, of course, many films in which American homes are built upon "ancient Indian burial sites" after which much havok ensues. But what of movies about the hundreds and thousands of former slaves' souls who are similarly "not at rest?" Have I just not heard of any of the movies about them? Have you?
posted by thadman to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
posted by thomas j wise at 6:50 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


(on preview: drats.)
posted by scody at 6:51 PM on February 18, 2012

Tales From The Hood has a couple storylines like this.
posted by steinsaltz at 6:52 PM on February 18, 2012

I don't think Beloved counts as a horror movie, but still.
posted by kestrel251 at 6:55 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Skeleton Key loosely has that theme.
posted by raisingsand at 7:03 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Some of the Exorcist movies feature the Pazuzu demon's origins in Africa. The first sequel features scenes from Merrin's first exorcism of a tribal girl, and the Paul Schrader/Renny Harlin clusterfuck re-hashes it all nearly as badly.

One of the first monsters to challenge John Constantine (in the comic) is an African hunger spirit composed of millions of insects. The same monster appears in the movie, but only as a poorly-CGI'd throwaway baddie with about a minute of screentime.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 8:17 PM on February 18, 2012

(Oops - skipped over the line about it being specific to slaves, which neither of my suggestions involve. Still that won't stop me plugging Dust Devil, which also has nothing to do with slavery, but is simply one of the finest horror movies ever made.)
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 8:24 PM on February 18, 2012

Not a movie, but: the storyline "Southern Change" in issues 41-42 of the comic book Swamp Thing (reprinted in the trade paperback "Swamp Thing: The Curse") involves an old abandoned plantation house where the ghosts of the former inhabitants possess visitors and make them re-enact their final days. Meanwhile, the slaves buried out back sense that their old master has returned, and rise from the grave to seek revenge -- which is a bit of bad luck for the person he's possessing at the time.

As with most of Alan Moore's work on Swamp Thing, it's something of a parable. Being mind-controlled by someone long-dead is a metaphor for the hold that racial tensions born in the time of slavery still have over us in modern America.
posted by baf at 8:43 PM on February 18, 2012

It's been years since I saw it, but I think Dead Birds may have touched on this.
posted by goshling at 9:17 PM on February 18, 2012

Can TheSt. Francisville Experiment really be the only horror movie based on Delphine LaLaurie?
posted by nicebookrack at 9:41 PM on February 18, 2012

Not a movie, but it was a plot line in Season 4 of True Blood.
posted by willnot at 2:39 AM on February 19, 2012

It's blaxploitation, but Sugar Hill.
posted by loriginedumonde at 2:41 AM on February 19, 2012

In Blacula, people are menaced by the spirit of a slain slavery opponent.
posted by steinsaltz at 8:56 AM on February 19, 2012

Oh, you beat me to suggesting Sugar Hill! Damn I love that movie. I think that Beloved is totally a horror film, or at least you could view it that way, and it's really good.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 10:28 AM on February 19, 2012

Thanks, everyone. I knew AskMe was the right place to come with this question. (Take that, Quora!) Candyman was the first movie that came to mind. This morning a friend of mine mentioned Skeleton Key, so I'm going to look in to that as well. St. Francisville Experiment came up in a search, but everything else I found was voodoo/zombie-based and thus not exactly what I was looking for.

Thanks also for the comic recommendations! These are really helpful too.

Please keep them coming, if there are others!
posted by thadman at 7:00 PM on February 19, 2012

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