The People Under the Stairs (1991)
Horror master Wes Craven made his first foray into African-American culture (followed by the less successful Vampire in Brooklyn) with this twisted fairy tale about an inner-city kid who sneaks into his slumlord's home, only to discover that it's a house of horrors with flesh-eating humans living in the basement. Ving Rhames discovers this the hard way.
Tony Todd embodies the most iconic black horror villain this side of Blacula in this terrifying modern classic that puts the "urban" in an urban legend about a 19th century black man who was lynched for having sex with a white woman, only to become an undead "Bloody Mary"-type figure who appears if you say his name five times in front of a mirror.
Tales from the Hood (1995)
This anthology, which takes a cue from Tales from the Crypt, is surprisingly straight-faced and socially relevant, touching upon issues affecting the African-American community, like gang violence, police brutality and racism. The highlight, though, is the zany performance of Clarence Williams III (Linc Hayes to you and me) as the whacked-out mortician who serves as the anthology's storyteller.
Sure, Snoop Dogg isn't a great actor -- or even a good one -- but luckily he doesn't have to carry this tale of an undead '70s gangster seeking revenge for his death. A strong supporting cast, including Pam Grier, stylish direction from Ernest Dickerson (Demon Knight) and solid production value make this worthwhile.
Crazy As Hell (2002)
Directed by Eriq La Salle of ER fame, this thought-provoking cat-and-mouse game pits a cocky psychiatrist against a mysterious mental patient who claims to be Satan. The two spar back and forth until the doctor begins to believe that maybe, just maybe, the guy is who he claims to be. Or not.
While the title cleverly implies that this is an urban version of Scream, Holla isn't a rip-off. It's a standard slasher handled with surprising skill for a modern "urban" horror movie, combining scares, laughs and a sense of mystery. Holla!
Shadow: Dead Riot (2006)
Silly, outrageous, potentially brain damaging and completely mesmerizing, this slice of campy shame combines women-in-prison films with zombie horror and yes, even kung fu.
Dead Heist (2007)
Rappers E-40, Bone Crusher and Big Daddy Kane star in this engaging tale of criminals who decide to rob a bank just as a horde of vampire-like zombies (or zombie-like vampires?) come rolling through town. They have to barricade themselves in the bank against not only the cops, but also the undead nasties. With solid production value, direction and acting, Dead Heist stands out from the rash of do-it-yourself zombie fare littering Blockbuster shelves.
In this subtle, Twilight Zone-ish haunted house tale, a pair of hoods running from the cops hide in a seemingly abandoned building that turns out to be occupied by an invalid wrapped from head to toe in bandages, cared for by an unnervingly cheery young man, who has to be hiding something...
Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror (2007)
Snoop Dogg is back! Once again, we must overlook his dazed and confused acting in this horror anthology, as he presents three tales of terror set amidst an urban backdrop. An impressive cast -- including Jason Alexander, Billy Dee Williams, Method Man, Ernie Hudson, Danny Trejo and Sydney Tamiia Poitier -- makes up for Snoop's shortcomings, as do impressively gruesome makeup effects, including a death courtesy of a 40-ounce malt liquor bottle.