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Media Studies with Professor Chuck

Read This Before You Watch “Eve’s Bayou”

Writer-director Kasi Lemmons’s brilliant feature debut “Eve’s Bayou” (1997) is probably not actually a “horror film” as we usually think of them. Yes, there are supernatural elements, including ghosts, psychic visions, and voodoo curses, but those elements suggest we view the film as more of a Southern Gothic tale than as outright horror. The settings…

Discussion Questions for “Eve’s Bayou”

Write a short paragraph or two in response to each of the following prompts. What is the significance of the title “Eve’s Bayou” and the back story told in voiceover by the title character Eve who is named after her family’s matriarch? Remember to consider the importance of the setting named in the title. Describe…

Read This Before You Watch “Tales from the Hood”

Our chronological series moves into new territories of Black representation with “Tales from the Hood” (1995), directed and co-written by Rusty Cundieff (with co-writer Darin Scott) and executive-produced by Spike Lee. With this film, we finally encounter a commercially successful horror film not only aimed at Black audiences but one with a Black director, Black…

Discussion Questions for “Tales from the Hood”

From its opening scenes, this film feels different from the other horror movies in our current series. How? Why? Describe our narrator, the mortician Mr. Simms. How is this framing device useful for the collection of short tales that follow and how does it link them together into a coherent narrative? What is the significance…

Read This Before You Watch “The People Under the Stairs”

Like his fellow white horror George Romero did with “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) writer-director Wes Craven places a Black hero at the center of his 1991 horror film “The People Under the Stairs”; however, unlike Romero, Craven clearly wrote and cast the lead role for a young Black actor, Brandon Quintin Adams as…

Discussion Questions for “The People Under the Stairs”

Write a paragraph or two in response to each of the following prompts. What is the significance of the title “The People Under the Stairs” both specifically to the narrative of the film and looking at the term from a broader cultural context? What sorts of people are “under the stairs” and why? As the…

Read This Before You Watch “Ganja & Hess”

First off, let go of your expectations. “Ganja & Hess” (1973) is not your typical American horror film. It’s actually much more like a European avant-garde film from the 1960s or 70s. Think “Hiroshima, Mon Amour” or “El Topo.” Or for some American comparisons, think “THX1138” or “Eraserhead.” Coming in at over two hours and…

Discussion Questions for “Ganja & Hess”

Write a paragraph or two in response to each of the following prompts. As implied by the title, we have two main protagonists in “Ganja & Hess.” Describe each of their individual characters. How do they dress and present themselves? What do they desire separately and together? Discuss their relationship. How do all of these…

Read This Before You Watch “Night of the Living Dead”

This week we start our exploration of Black representation in horror films by watching “Night of Living Dead” (1968), the feature debut from George A. Romero who went on to become of the horror genre’s great directors and to create his own cottage industry of “living dead” movies. Romero famously said he co-wrote the movie’s…

Discussion Questions for “Night of the Living Dead”

Write a paragraph or two in response to each of the following prompts. The main protagonist of “Night of the Living Dead,” Ben (Duane Jones) is the first Black lead in a major American horror film. How would you describe Ben as a character? How does he dress and act? What are his main traits?…

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