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THE UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT

Deadicated to Scatman Crothers

1900 - 1960 - 1970 - 1980 - 1990 - 2000

85 coincidences and counting!

The Unfair racial Cliche really got moving in the 1980s.
Read HOLLYWOOD RACISM

For a complete explanation of what this page is about, please go to the
UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT
main page.

"I've seen this in the movies before! The black guy dies!"
- Harry Block (played by Orlando Jones): EVOLUTION (2000)

The 1980s is where it seems that the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHE ALERT really took off and hasn't stopped growing. Read my article, Hollywood Racism.

 


LEGEND

HORROR/THRILLER HOLLYWOOD THRILLER NON-HOLLYWOOD HORROR

 

BE ALERT FOR THESE TITLES
1980s

 

Flash Gordon
FLASH - 1980
THRILLER
DEG / Starling Films / Universal Pictures
Screenplay: Michael Allin, Lorenzo Semple Jr.
Director: Mike Hodges
Producer: Dino De Laurentiis

Only one black character in this whole flick who has a speaking part and what does it get him? Ming the Merciless makes an example of Prince Thun of Ardentia (George Harris: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, APPETITE, HARRY POTTER), who says that his loyalty to Emperor Ming is, "Without measure!"

Is that a fact? Swear loyalty to me, will you? I'll teach YOU to be loyal! Fall on your sword! That'll teach you to be so damn loyal!

For a guy who is so damn merciless, Prince Thun is the only one we see Ming kill.

THE SHINING (1980)
HORROR
Scatman Crothers
dies a noble if unexpected death in the movie, even though he didn't die in the book - these Hollywood clichés are Powerful stuff!

STAR TREK: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)
THRILLER
Paramount Pictures
Paul Winfield gets a bug in his ear and nobly blows his own head off. Side note: Paul Winfield also starred in a TV episode of STAR TREK: Next Generation. Though he didn't play a black man, he nobly dies in that one too.
Paul Winfield also died in: DAMNATION ALLEY (eaten alive by bugs), THE TERMINATOR, and MARS ATTACKS!

 

The Terminator
TERMINATOR - 1984
HORROR / THRILLER
Hemdale Film Corporation
Screenplay: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, William Wisher Jr. (additional dialogue), & Harlan Ellison (Terminator inspired by H.E.'s screenplays Soldier, and Demon with a Glass Hand)
Director: James Cameron
Producer: Gale Anne Hurd

Paul Winfield gets blown away by der Terminader. All the black men are killed off in every Arnold Schwarzenegger Horror / Thriller movie. No exceptions.

Then again, actor Paul Winfield often played the black guy who gets killed in every Horror / Thriller movie.

Paul Winfield also died in: DAMNATION ALLEY, STAR TREK: The Wrath Of Khan, THE SPERNET AND THE RAINBOW, MARS ATTACKS!, and more. An awful lot of them.

Small wonder that the man who built his career on "Check it out! I die in this movie!" was chosen to play Martin Luther King in the 1978 mini-series, King.

 

Gremlins
GREMLINS - 1984
HORROR / THRILLER
Warner Bros.
Screenplay: Chris Columbus
Director: Joe Dante
Producer: Michael Finnell

I've been emailed repeatedly about this and, while I know that some folks feel this should get the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHE ALERT, GREMLINS does not.

This is why -

Yes, actor Glynn Turman (also dies in SUPER 8 and JOHN DIES AT THE END), is the only black man with a speaking part and is killed.

However, the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHE ALERT isn't focused on movies that kill off all of the black men or even black people. My theory is much narrower than that.

For a movie to make the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHE alert, it has to kill off every single member of every single race (represented by actors with a speaking role or at least a major presence, not some foreground or background extra) leaving only white people as survivors.

Yes, I am being that exclusionary about the URCA. In fact, in order to validate my theory, I've taken a narrower slice than that.

If a white actor is playing a character outside of his caucasian race (for example, Welsh actor John Rhys-Davies playing an African Egyptian in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK), and that non-white character lives - even though he/she is played BY a caucasian, I still count that as a Non-URCA.

Yet even with all of those exclusions, I've still counted nearly 100 of these UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHE ALERTS and there is STILL no end in sight.

There are actually this many Horror Thriller movies, nearly all of them major Hollywood studio movies, and they kill off ALL of the non-whites leaving only caucasian survivors.

So since other people of other races survive in GREMLINS, it doesn't get the URCA.

The fact that GREMLINS is also a comedy may have something to do with it, as a possibly unwritten rule, all major studio Horror comedies don't adhere to the URCA. Again, The UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHE treats killing all of the non-white characters as a standardized practice.

I call the URCA a theory because it may not actually exist as a written rule, unwritten rule, or standardized practice (it could all be the most fantastic remotest of remote coincidences), but the URCA certainly exists like a rule and is definitely a practice.

 

AliensALIENS - 1986
HORROR
20th Century Fox
Screenplay: James Cameron & William Wisher Jr.
Director: James Cameron
Producer: James Cameron

The Unfair Racial Cliche Alert counts even if you hire a white person to play a minority, as was the case with Jenette Goldstein (NEAR DARK), who played Private Vasquez. There was also Sergeant Apone (Al Matthews: OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT) and Private Frost (Rico Ross: WISHMASTER). Racially mixed crowd but only 3.5 survivors. All white including the .5 who only looks human.

No, there is no special allowance for the 20 second role of the med tech played by Alibe Parsons. She wasn't a character. She didn't even have a name.
VAMP - 1986
Balcor Film Investors / New World Pictures
Screenplay: Donald P. Borchers, Richard Wenk
Director: Richard Wenk
Producer: Donald P. Borchers
Grace Jones is the evil vampire Katrina. She dies in a pretty cool way, actually.

 

From Beyond
FROM BEYOND - 1986
HORROR
Empire Pictures / Taryn Prov
Screenplay: Stuart Gordon, Dennis Paoli, & Brian Yuzna
Director: Stuart Gordon
Producer: Brian Yuzna

Ken Foree, who created a cinematic first in being the first black man to survive in a horror movie (DAWN OF THE DEAD) is eaten alive by bugs from another dimension.

 

Near Dark
NEAR DARK - 1986
HORROR
F/M / Near Dark Joint Venture
Screenplay: Kathryn Bigelow & Eric Red
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Producer: Steven-Charles Jaffe

Like so many horror movies made in the U.S., all the non-white actors get killed off in this picture.

NEAR DARK has a single black actor (Roger Aaron Brown: ROBOCOP 2, DNA) who you may remember as James Caan's murdered partner in ALIEN NATION (which also earned an UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT). In this movie he plays a good natured Cajun truck driver who gets his by Mae.

While many movies like this have people of every race getting killed, the fact remains that if you are black and in a U.S. made horror movie, you are going to die! It is one of the major cliches of Hollywood movies that only the black actor/actress gets slaughtered.

What is especially creepy about NEAR DARK is the fact that Caleb and Mae are set up as "the good vampires". They are really victims of the rest of the group. Mae is seen killing only one person in the whole film and he is black. She shies away from killing any white folk. Only the bad vampires kill white folk and only white folk. It's a questionable message Kathryn Bigelow and Eric Red were sending.

 

PREDATOR - 1987
HORROR / THRILLER
20th Century Fox
Screenplay: Jim Thomas & John Thomas
Director: John McTiernan
Producers: John Davis, Lawrence Gordon, & Joel Silver

On a rescue mission in Central America, Arnold leaves everyone for dead except Anna (Hispanic actress Elpidia Carrillo) who they find in the jungle. The only male survivor is Arnold. His racially integrated team is wiped out to a man.

The only survivor is a white guy, Arnold again. He saves nobody. In fact, to save time let's just say that if you are black, and in a Schwarzenegger action movie, then you are not a good guy, probably a bad guy, and Arnold is going to kill you personally or leave you for dead. This is not a spoiler since this formula remains the same throughout every Arnold Schwarzenegger Horror / Thriller movie ever made! It would be a surprise if it DIDN'T happen!

 

ALIEN NATION -1988
THRILLER
20th Century Fox
Screenplay: Rockne S. O'Bannon
Director: Graham Baker
Producers: Gale Anne Hurd & Richard Kobritz

Det. Bill Tuggle (actor Roger Aaron Brown. His character also dies in NEAR DARK) gets blown away by the criminal Aliens.
THE RUNNING MAN - 1987
THRILLER
HBO
Screenplay: Steven E. de Souza
Director: Paul Michael Glaser
Producer: George Linder & Tim Zinnemann

All the main black actors are butchered. Jim Brown as Fireball - is evil and done away with by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yaphet Kotto, who was killed off in ALIEN, is a good guy in this movie, but he still dies - though nobly. Once again, Arnold gets the minority woman (Hispanic actress Maria Conchita Alonso) and they ... walk off together hand in hand?
Nope.
They walk off together with Arnold's arm over her shoulder?
Nope.
They walk off together with Arnold's arm around her waist?
Nope.
What they do is, they walk off with Arnold's paw gripped firmly around Maria's neck!

 

THE BLOB - 1988
HORROR / THRILLER
PalisadesCalifornia / TriStar Pictures
Screenplay: Chuck Russell & Frank Darabont
Director: Chuck Russell
Producers: Jack H. Harris & Elliott Kastner

The only black guy, Joe Seneca, is an evil government scientist who gets sucked into a sewer hole by the Blob; which leaps, and creeps, and glides and slides across the floor.

Brain DamageBRAIN DAMAGE - 1988
HORROR / THRILLER
Palisades Partners
Screenplay: Frank Henenlotter
Director: Frank Henenlotter
Producer: Edgar Ievins

There are those who survive their brush with Almer/Elmer, but all of them are white.

All of them.

Non-whites like Night Watchman (
Bradlee Rhodes), and Toilet Victim (Michael Bishop) wind up dead.

 

CHILD'S PLAY - 1988
HORROR
UA / MGM Studios
Screenplay: Don Mancini, John Lafia, & Tom Holland
Director: Tom Holland
Producer: David Kirschner

The VooDoo Priest, Dr. Death (Raymond Oliver), gets killed by Chucky.

 

LEVIATHAN - 1989
HORROR / THRILLER
MGM
Screenplay: David Webb Peoples & Jeb Stuart
Director: George P. Cosmatos
Producers: Aurelio De Laurentiis & Luigi De Laurentiis

Ernie Hudson's character, Justin Jones, gets killed as an afterthought. A very odd death scene, it's as if the film makers said "Oh yeah! We forgot to kill off the black guy!" and then they do it.

 

DEEPSTAR SIX - 1989
HORROR / THRILLER
Carolco Pictures / TriStar Pictures
Screenplay: Lewis Abernathy & Geof Miller
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Producers: Sean S. Cunningham & Patrick Markey

Sole black actor Taurean Blacque's character, Captain Phillip Laidlaw, nobly kills himself so that the two white people can escape. Only survivors are white.

 

The Fly IITHE FLY II - 1989
HORROR / THRILLER
20th Century Fox
Screenplay: Mick Garris, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat, & Frank Darabont
Director: Chris Walas
Producer: Steven-Charles Jaffe

Lots of survivors, and I mean lots, of survivors. But there was only one black character with any notable screen time, played by actor William S. Taylor, and he gets accidentally shot and killed by a white guard.
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URCA

MOVIES

The
UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT
by
Decade

1930
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000

The
RACIAL RESPONSE

RESPONSE
2007
RESPONSE
2006
RESPONSE
2005
RESPONSE
2004

 

HOW OTHERS SEE IT
Does Hollywood hire based on race?
LA Daily News article.
Study: Whites Get Majority Of Acting Jobs
From The Independent in the UK
Gay Rights And Wrongs: Hollywood's Biggest Taboo.

 

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INTERVIEWS

Joe Mynhardt interviews E.C. McMullen Jr. in the book Horror 201: The Silver Scream.

Matt Jarbo's interview with Feo Amante at The Zurvivalist.

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Check out our interview at The-Scientist.com.

Feo Amante's Horror ThrillerAnthropologist Gretchen Bakke, PhD, references my UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHE ALERT as an expert resource in her 2010 Anthropological Quarterly essay @ Johns Hopkins University and Academia.edu.

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