• Gabe Powers

Grinding the Stream: Black History Month Edition

Happy Black History Month. No doubt many of us are using this time to visit/revisit classic films from Black filmmakers and/or concerning Black culture. Assuming more eloquent and educated cinema experts are suggesting important canon entries, I'm here to inform you about films that fall under the "cult" label. Obviously, this will be limited by what is available to stream as of the first week of February, 2021, as well as the films I'm personally aware of. If anyone has additional suggestions, I'll be happy to add things through the rest of the month. As per usual, I'm including as many movies as I can per each category as I scour Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel, HBO Max, Peacock, Fandor, Shudder, Tubi, Midnight Pulp (a "+" will be included wherever subscription fees apply), VUDU’s free selections, The Roku Channel, Popcorn Flix, Crackle, Dark Matter TV, Night Flight, Pluto TV, Shout Factory TV (though most of their titles can also be watched via Amazon Prime). I've included a couple of links to my reviews, as well. Also, please note I'm using the term "Blaxploitation" as a marker, not as a statement of quality judgement. Some of these films were designed as exploitations, many were not.



Blaxploitation Era Crime Films

  • Cotton Comes to Harlem (Ossie Davis, 1970) – Criterion Channel and Pluto TV

  • Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (Melvin Van Peebles, 1971) – Fandor

  • Across 110th Street (Barry Shear, 1972) – Pluto TV

  • Bone (Larry Cohen, 1972) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Top of the Heap (Christopher St. John, 1972) – Amazon Prime, Pluto TV, and Tubi

  • Coffy (Jack Hill, 1973) – The Roku Channel, Tubi, and Pluto TV

  • The Black Godfather (John Evans, 1974) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • TNT Jackson (Cirio H. Santiago, 1974) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Lady Cocoa (Matt Cimber, 1975) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Dolemite (D’Urville Martin, 1975) – Fandor, The Roku Channel, VUDU Free, and Tubi

  • The Human Tornado (Cliff Roquemore, 1976) – Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, VUDU Free, and Tubi

  • Black Shampoo (Greydon Clark, 1976) – Amazon Prime, Tubi, and Night Flight

  • Death Journey (Fred Williamson, 1976) – Amazon Prime

  • Velvet Smooth (Michael Fink, 1976) – Amazon Prime

  • The Baron (Phillip Fenty, 1977) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • The Guy From Harlem (Rene Martinez Jr., 1977) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Black Fist (Timothy Galfas & Richard Kaye, 1977) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Disco Godfather (J. Robert Wagoner, 1979) – Amazon Prime, Fandor, VUDU Free, and Tubi

  • One Down, Two to Go (Fred Williamson, 1982) – Tubi

  • Vigilante (William Lustig, 1983)Amazon Prime, Tubi, and VUDU Free

  • Original Gangstas (Larry Cohen, 1996) – Tubi


Blaxploitation Era Action

  • Bamboo Gods and Iron Men (Cesar Gallardo, 1974) – Amazon Prime

  • The Arena (Steve Carver, 1974) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Black Dragon’s Revenge (Tony Lou Chun-Ku, 1975) – Amazon Prime

  • Black Force (Michael Fink, 1975) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Mean Johnny Barrows (Fred Williamson, 1976) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Devil’s Express (Barry Rosen, 1976) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Soul Brothers of Kung Fu (Hua Shan, 1977) – Amazon Prime

  • Death Dimension (Al Adamson, 1978) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • The Tattoo Connection (Lee Tso-Nam, 1978) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Death Force (Cirio H. Santiago, 1978) – Amazon Prime, Tubi, and Pluto TV

  • Way of the Black Dragon (Chih Chen, 1978) – Amazon Prime

  • Penitentiary (Jamaa Fanaka, 1979) – VUDU Free and Tubi

  • Sun Dragon (Yi-Jung Hua, 1979) – Tubi

  • The Messenger (Fred Williamson, 1986) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • The Black Cobra (Stelvio Massi, 1987) – Tubi

  • Black Cobra II (Edoardo Margheriti, 1989) – Amazon Prime

  • Black Cobra 3 (Edoardo Margheriti, 1990) – Tubi



Black-led Westerns

  • The Bronze Buckaroo (Richard C. Kahn, 1939) – Criterion Channel

  • Lola Colt (aka: Black Tigress; Siro Marcellini, 1967) – YouTube

  • Buck and the Preacher (Sidney Poitier, 1972) – Criterion Channel

  • Thomasine & Bushrod (Gordon Parks Jr., 1974) – Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel, Tubi, and Pluto TV

  • Boss Ni**er (aka: Boss and Black Bounty Killer; Jack Arnold,1974) – YouTube

  • Take a Hard Ride (1975) – YouTube

  • Joshua (Larry G. Spangler, 1976) – Amazon Prime

  • Kid Vengeance (Joseph Manduke, 1977) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Posse 1993 Directed by Mario Van Peebles – Amazon Prime


Classic Black-made/led Horror

  • Son of Ingagi (Richard C. Kahn, 1940) – Amazon Prime

  • The Blood of Jesus (Spencer Williams, 1941) – Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

  • Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, 1968) – HBO Max & Criterion Channel (best transfers), Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, Tubi, VUDU Free, Popcorn Flix, and Dark Matter TV


Blaxploitation Era Horror

  • Blacula (William Crain, 1972)Pluto TV

  • Night of the Strangler (Joy N. Houck Jr., 1972) – VUDU Free and Tubi

  • Scream Blacula Scream (Bob Kelljan, 1973)Tubi

  • Blackenstein (William A. Levey, 1973) – Amazon Prime, VUDU Free, and Tubi

  • Ganja & Hess (Bill Gunn, 1973) – Shudder and Popcorn Flix

  • The Beast Must Die (Paul Annett, 1974) – Amazon Prime, Shudder, Fandor, Tubi, and Pluto TV

  • The House on Skull Mountain (Ron Honthaner, 1974) – Pluto TV

  • Lord Shango (Ray Marsh, 1975) – Amazon Prime

  • J.D.’s Revenge (Arthur Marks,1976) – Amazon Prime

  • Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde (William Crain, 1976) – Fandor

  • Black Devil Doll from Hell (Shot-on-Video; Chester Novell Turner, 1984) – YouTube

  • Tales from the Quadead Zone (Shot-on-Video; Chester Novell Turner, 1987) – YouTube



Modern Black Horror

  • Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (Bill Condon, 1994) – Amazon Prime, Crackle, Popcorn Flix (no, the original film is not currently streaming unless you want to pay for it)

  • Vampire in Brooklyn (Wes Craven,1995) – Amazon Prime, HULU, and Popcorn Flix

  • Eve's Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 1997) – Amazon Prime and HULU

  • Spirit Lost (Neema Barnette, 1997) – Amazon Prime

  • Bones (Ernest R. Dickerson, 2001) – Tubi

  • Blade (Stephen Norrington, 1998), Blade II (Guillermo del Toro, 2002), Blade Trinity (David S. Goyer, 2004) – HBO Max

  • The Bloodettes (French: Les Saignantes; Jean-Pierre Bekolo, 2005) – Criterion Channel

  • The Girl with All the Gifts (Colm McCarthy, 2016) – HBO Max

  • The Alchemist Cookbook (Joel Potrykus, 2016) – Amazon Prime and HULU

  • The Transfiguration (Michael O’Shea, 2016) – Shudder

  • Kuso (Flying Lotus, 2017) – Shudder

  • Us (Jordon Peele, 2019) – HBO Max

  • Sweetheart (J.D. Dillard, 2019) – Netflix

  • Bad Hair (Justin Simien, 2020) – HULU

  • His House (Remi Weekes, 2020) – Netflix


Black-made/led Science Fiction/Fantasy/Afrofuturism

  • Black Orpheus (Marcel Camus, 1968) – HBO Max and Criterion Channel

  • Space Is the Place (John Coney, 1974) – Criterion Channel

  • Abar, the First Black Superman (Frank Packard, 1977) – The Roku Channel, VUDU Free, and Tubi

  • Warriors of the Year 2072 (Italian: I guerrieri dell'anno 2072; aka: The New Gladiators; Lucio Fulci, 1984) – Amazon Prime

  • Born in Flames (Lizzie Borden, 1983) – Criterion Channel and Fandor

  • The Brother from Another Planet (John Sayles, 1984) – Criterion Channel, The Roku Channel, and Tubi

  • Ornette: Made in America (Shirley Clarke, 1985) – Criterion Channel

  • Yeelen (Souleymane Cissé, 1987) – Criterion Channel

  • Welcome II the Terrordome (Ngozi Onwurah, 1995) – Criterion Channel

  • The Last Angel of History (John Akomfrah, 1996) – Criterion Channel

  • An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (Terence Nance, 2012) – Criterion Channel

  • White Out, Black In (Adirley Queirós, 2014) – Criterion Channel

  • Crumbs (Miguel Llansó, 2015) – Criterion Channel

  • Once There was Basilia (Adirley Queirós, 2017) – Criterion Channel

  • Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011) – The Roku Channel, Crackle, and Tubi

  • Fast Color (Julia Hart, 2018) – Amazon Prime and HULU

  • See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol, 2019) – Netflix


Jamaican Indie Cinema

  • The Harder They Come (Perry Henzell, 1972)Fandor (there's also a nice HD bootleg on YouTube)

  • Rockers (Ted Bafaloukos, 1978) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Shottas (Cess Silvera, Lyndale V. Pettus & Adam Doench, 2002) – Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, Tubi, and Pluto TV



Other "Cult" Black-made/led Titles

  • Black Jesus (Italian: Seduto alla sua destra; Valerio Zurlini, 1968) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • The Story of a Three-Day Pass (Melvin Van Peebles, 1968) – Fandor

  • Uptight (Jules Dassin, 1968) – Criterion Channel

  • Putney Swope (Robert Downey Sr., 1969) – Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel, VUDU Free, Tubi, and Night Flight

  • The Liberation of L.B. Jones (William Wyler, 1970) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Watermelon Man (Melvin Van Peebles, 1970) – Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel, and Pluto TV

  • Black Gunn (Robert Hartford-Davis, 1972) – Tubi

  • The Final Comedown (Oscar Williams, 1972) – Amazon Prime and Tubi

  • Don’t Play Us Cheap (Melvin Van Peebles, 1973) – Fandor

  • Petey Wheatstraw (Cliff Roquemore, 1977) – Fandor, The Roku Channel, VUDU Free, and Tubi

  • The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (Fred Schepisi, 1978) – Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel, and Tubi

  • Personal Problems (Bill Gunn, 1980) – Criterion Channel

  • Kirikou and the Sorceress (Michel Ocelot, 1998) – Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

  • Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch, 1999) – Criterion Channel

  • Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley, 2018) – HULU

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