Growing up LGBTQ is really hard to find movies, books, music, and etc. that speak to you. Ok, maybe in my day it was a bit harder. We had to watch or read for clues that may be dropped to hint that a character in the books or movies might be LGBTQ. For me it would be like a cheering section, each new clue would spark an outburst of giddy reactions. As a kid, horror was my go-to escape for any of my teenage troubles. So, I always would relate to it and equally watch to see if there were characters like me. My appetite for horror grew quickly and I moved from current horror to older horror. Black and White horror because a favorite my new found love. From the 1920s to the early 60s, devoured it. I learned about James Whale due to him directly Frankenstein and I also learned that he was an out gay director. He is responsible for the aforementioned movie as well as the Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and the Old Dark House. Each of those are rumored to have gay subtext in their story lines. I invite you to grab some popcorn, your favorite beverage, dim the lights and some room for me on the couch as I share my seven horror movies that I feel fit into Queer Cinema.
- Okay, since I brought, the Queen himself, James Whale up, we will start with the Bride of Frankenstein. Being an out gay director, supposedly, is why he is the first to be mentioned. Well that’s not entirely true, I personally love the movie because of Elsa Lanchester starring as the Bride and as Mary Shelley. Whale cast Ernest Thiesger as the overly flamboyant Dr. Pretorius. The movie starts with Mary Shelley being praised of her work Frankenstein by Lord Byron and Percy Shelley. She imparts to them there was more to the story she needed to tell, and the movie opens. We see Dr. Frankenstein being pulled away from his new bride by Dr. Pretorius and skirted away to the lab so they can make their own children to populate the world. In this movie, Whale intentionally camped his characters up more than the first movie. Stepping a bit away from the haunted house style horror he was known for. Lanchester was probably my first experience seeing a drag queen, and before you poke me in the ribs to correct me, yes she is a woman but she sho’ was painted up like a queen. Hair to the gods and giving attitude the house down boots.
- The next one isn’t exactly a horror movie as much as a thriller. Stranger by the Lake debuted at Cannes in 2013 and was directed by the openly gay director Alain Guiraudie. I will be perfectly honest here; I found this movie on Netflix while searching for something of a more overt adult theme. This movie definitely delivers on the nude male form, acts of sexual engagement, and what cruising areas are like. I’m sure you are saying, “Bisch, how is this a horror movie when you saying it’s got sex in it.” Well duh. What good horror movie doesn’t have the people having sex getting killed. Hellur, Friday the 13th and Halloween to name two. But yes, it is more of a murder thriller and all happens about when cruising for tricks goes horribly wrong. Hell, you thought getting clap from a trick was bad enough this one will steer you away from Mentor Headlands for a good season or two.
- Psycho has to be on this list for the reason of Norman Bates needing to put a patent on old lady drag. And admit it, anyone who has worked in hospitality knows that guests can get on your last nerve and you want to kill them. He lets us live that fantasy out. True, Norman wasn’t a cross dresser but was probably suffering from suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder. However, there is more talk recently that the character Norman Bates actually created the multiple personality based on his mother being overly punitive of what was once considered deviant impulses and his gender confusion. His rage is targeted towards the females in the movie due to his relationship with his mother.
- This gem I actually found at Barnes and Noble when I was looking for a completely different Movie. Vampire Lovers was filmed in 1970 and like many vampire movies, does have a heavy sexual undertone. Where most movies are inspired by Bram Stoker’sDracula, the inspiration comes from an older Irish author’s story called Carmilla.Carmillawas written by Sheridan Le Fanu is a story about lesbian vampires and sparked many adaptations. The most sexually charged was Blood and Roses. But it was the Hammer Studios that released Vampire Lovers, starring Ingrid Pitt, and keeping it true to the story line. The success of this film created the Karnstein Trilogy, which follows the life of Camrilla.
- The Lost Boys sneaks into this list for several reasons. So, let’s start with a few reasons why I feel this falls on the list. You see the movie opening to a family, played by Dianne West, Corey Haim, and Jason Patric, moving to Santa Clara due to a divorce. Once they settle in you notice Sam’s (Haim) room and the overboard 80s posters on the walls. Wait, over there on the back of the door. See that poster there? Is that a young Rob Lowe wearing a crop to and his hand ever so slightly dripping with sex appeal as he is touching his treasure trail? That’s not all of it. Sure, vampires exude sexual ambivalence, but in this case, we see Michael (Patric) supposedly in love with the young female half vampire, Star, but spends the movie running around after David (Sutherland) staring intensely into his eyes and craving his presence. The whole vampire pack looks like they just walked out of an 80s leather bar crossed with hair band tryouts. Dripping with sex appeal and animal lust. Did it just get a bit warm in here? I will be right back.
- Getting back into some easier LGBTQ subtext, I submit to you the original Fright Night. Out of the box it is a campy movie that makes fun of serial horror TV shows like Dark Shadows or the 50s serials with vampire hunters. Jerry Dandrige and Billy portray themselves to be lovers when they move into a quiet neighborhood. This affectation gives Jerry, a vampire, to feed freely throughout the town. Almost the entire cast is LGBTQ with the exception of Charlie Brewster, played by William Ragsdale. Charlie becomes overly fixated on his new neighbor and ends up causing a rift between him and his girlfriend. Ultimately, Brewster realizes to save himself and his girlfriend, he has to sleep with her. How many times have we heard that line or tried to tell ourselves that we could change if we found the right girl?
- A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge comes in as my all-time favorite queer subtext horror movie. This movie has so many queer themes that it is hard to know where to start. Many movie posters tried to bill this one as a coming of age story of a guy and a girl dealing with teen desires wrapped up in a killing frenzy. But let’s step back and take a look at it. You have a guy, Jesse Walsh, who only starts dating a girl to help him fit in, he never really is into her. When she attempts to make out with him, he pushes her away. He shows more interest in his macho renegade jock friend, Ron Grady, played by heart throb Robert Rusler. There are scenes in the shower where lingering eye contact is made by Jesse. Jesse then confronts his gym teacher in a gay bar. Subtle use of imagery in the movie, how candles appeared as they melted. The struggle with a secret he is hiding. It is a coming out story in the biggest way.
There you have it kiddies, our marathon is complete. These are my favorites and I am sure you have some I didn’t include or thoughts on these. I would love to hear them, drop your comments in the box below or send me an email. Enjoy your screaming, I mean screening.