Bamboozled No More! Horror and Science Fiction Movies (casting calls for black actors)


 

The following is a reprint from Janet’s column from July 10, 2014, reprinted here to help kick off the Halloween weekend.

 

I love horror and sci-fi movies from the 50’s -80’s. My idea of a big fun is a “Twilight Zone” or “Hammer House of Horrors” marathon. I enjoy the campy storylines, political/cold war references, cheap props and bad makeup. Most of aliens were arrived with plans to conquer the Earth. And then there were those creatures unearthed and mutated by nuclear blasts and radiation, and of course armies of zombies. Those were movies…

One of my favorite movies is Sugar Hill. I am not talking about the Wesley Snipes gangster movie. I am talking zombie gangster movie…Sugar Hill was a sistah in love, and then the MOB murdered her man. She goes after the MOB with her own army of black Zombie Hit men. Back in the day, black actors could always find work playing zombie roles. The casting calls were straight forward: Mad scientist (white guy), his love interest who wasn’t interested in him (white woman) and an army of zombies (black male and female actors) to do his bidding.

As I watched Sugar Hill’s Zombie hit squad do their thing, I had this kind of revelation with questions! When did the demand for black actors in zombie roles decline? When did the casting calls for white actors in zombie roles start? These questions tormented me…and then I found my answer…Blame it on George Romero. Romero’s Night of The Living Deadchanged zombie world forever. On the upside, the hero was an African-American man who fought off hordes of white zombies. I appreciated Romero realistic twist in the story…the hero (and only black person) in the movie was shot dead by the rescue team comprised of white police officers and shooters. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Night of the Living Dead. I’m just saying Romero took a lot of jobs away from black actors. And his zombies ate people!

 

Janet Cormier is a painter, writes prose and poetry, and performs comedy. JC prefers different and original over pretty. She loves collecting stuff, but cleaning not so much. Janet also talks to strangers… a lot. Her column now appears weekly on Oddball Magazine.