Horror films have not always been kind to gay characters, although LGBTQ viewers maintain a unique, wonderful relationship with the genre. There are a number of competing theories about what is behind this intense love affair – from identification with the “difference” of monsters to subtexts full of early works – but perhaps it’s just an appreciation for the camp’s fine arts.
The canon of queer horror titles has been slowly developing over the past several decades, buoyed by a number of modern indie films that deflect traditional gay horror tropes and a host of classic films re-read through a contemporary lens.
While there’s plenty to choose from, here are 19 weirdo horror movies to put at the top of your watch list for “Christmas Gay,” aka Halloween.
“You will always be my son, no matter who you are.”
The main character in this unabashedly violent film – which won first prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival – is a gender-bending psychopath with a dangerous affinity for cars and an indifferent view of human life. The stomach-churning “horror of the body” has smashed its way into becoming one of the biggest titles of 2021 – and France’s entry to an Oscar.
The three-part Netflix series is based on the adult horror books by novelist RL Stine. The trilogy began in 1994, when a group of high school students, led by a lesbian teen, Dina, encountered an evil spirit that had plagued their city for centuries.
“The only way out is to fight.”
In this funny movie, gay couple Rene and Valerie leave the big city to go to a country cottage for a retreat to plan a wedding for their friends, a gay couple. A getaway becomes a true haven, where they are hunted down, monitored and tortured by a group of anti-gay extremists.
“Let it be men who are afraid to run at night.”
Trans actress Nicole Maines, best known for her role as superhero Nia Nall in The CW’s Supergirl, stars in this feminist vampire thriller. Set in Los Angeles, the film follows Maines’ character, Laurel, as she moves from Oregon to the City of Angels and connects with a group of bloodthirsty vampires working to get rid of predatory men.
“All art is dangerous.”
Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette and John Malkovich are among the star-studded cast in this satirical horror movie set in the hateful art world of Los Angeles. Things begin to take a gruesome turn when the artist’s posthumous instructions to destroy his paintings are ignored.
“It’s time to face the music.”
After deferring life to care for a dying mother, cello prodigy Charlotte returns to the former Academy of Music to find an attractive new star student, Lizzie. But it’s not just a return to the spotlight or the drift that Charlotte is after: she’s looking for revenge. This is a heavy bouncy game in the #MeToo era with seemingly endless twists and turns.
“Who has a cigarette and a bump?”
A year after a gay attack in Brooklyn, New York, party boy Danny is brutally attacked by a stranger, who decides to give his social life another chance. But a rhino-masked killer soon targets Danny and anyone who helped him that night.
“Sometimes the scariest discovery is who you really are.”
Growing up in a deeply religious Christian family in Norway, Thelma finally gets a taste of freedom when she challenges her parents and enrolls in university in Oslo. What begins as a tale coming of age, punctuated by a sexual awakening, takes a dark turn when the hero’s heightened feelings for his classmate lead to dangerous supernatural forces. “Thelma” has been submitted for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2018 Oscars.
“They made their bed. Now they have to die in it.”
Gay London Mark and Fred go to war when they are refused a double bed in a remote Christian guesthouse. They won in court, and now they’re back to claim their marital rights. What could possibly go wrong?
“What are you hungry for?”
A strict vegetarian begins to develop a voracious appetite for the human body after enduring a disturbing ritual at her veterinary school. Addressing all kinds of topics from peer pressure to female lust and gender roles, “Raw” isn’t for the faint of heart — so much so that The Los Angeles theater was handing out bags of parfum With tickets after the fans continued illness.
“A mother must protect her child.”
Gabe Hoffman, of “Transparent” fame, plays a mother whose grief over the death of her young child turns to paranoia, believing her neighbors are part of a demonic cult. Think of it like “Rosemary’s Baby” with a lesbian twist.
“Will he kiss me… or will he kill me?”
In a men’s sailing place, far away on the banks of a lake in the picturesque south of France, Franck falls in love with Michel, an attractive, strong and dangerous man. Stranger by the Lake is perhaps one of the most exciting and elegant thrillers of all time.
“When it’s the devil’s night, the party goes to hell.”
Hellbent was the first horror film aimed at gay audiences and successfully exited the film festival circuit. She came complete with openly gay lead characters, drag queens and a scythe-obsessed madman in workout tights and a demon mask. The killer’s clothes alone were enough to make you want to run away screaming – or towards him, depending on what you’re into.
The French constantly bring simultaneously fascinating and profound narrative to the horror genre, and “High Tension” is no exception. After a terrible brutal home invasion, a college student enters a race against time to save her bestsI have the one who was kidnapped by a deranged killer. The third act of this impressive movie will surely leave you.
“The man of your dreams is back!”
“A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” is one of those movies that you sit down to watch with your fellow straights and all of a sudden the subscript quickly becomes a script. It doesn’t take long, until you find yourself looking around the room, wondering if you’re dropping your oddities into the plot or if you’re actually supposed to read as gay. Rest assured that with scenes of leather bars, locker rooms and screaming male queens – they are pretty queer.
“Nothing a man loves is forever.”
Come in fancy fashion, and stay tuned for the famous sex scene of Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. Sprinkle a little David Bowie on top, and you’ve got a totally weird, albeit light on plot, vampire story.
Al Pacino sets sail in search of a killer.
When a New York serial killer begins targeting active men in the city’s sadomasochistic subculture, a rookie police officer goes undercover — or at least gets out with a flogging. As he tries to root out the killer in tight pants and ciphered handkerchiefs, the officer, played by Al Pacino, begins to lose his sense of self…and straightforwardness.
Despite drawing on the anti-gay horror trope of “the gay man as a killer,” the controversial film is well worth watching as a cultural time capsule. Filmed in New York’s S&M bars and clubs and featuring actual customers as extras, “Cruising” offers an exciting glimpse into the pre-AIDS world of gay sex and seduction.
“Even the lifeless can love. Even the dead can desire.”
Lesbian vampires were popular in the ’60s and ’70s, but the romantic side of on-screen romance wasn’t always as pronounced as in “Vampire Lovers.” Based on a prequel novel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the film, produced by legendary production company Hammer Films, began a trilogy considered daring for its depiction of ruby seduction. By contemporary standards, “vampire lovers” can feel exploited, with a fair amount of casual nudity and fatherly undertones. But it is difficult to resist the other beauty of the heroine and her emotional interests, which give new meaning to the term “heavy petting”.
“The guest who died on time.”
Alfred Hitchcock, director of cinema’s most prolific psychological thriller, has never been shy about using gay stereotypes — a knife-wielding killer dressed as his deceased mother in “Psycho,” a stylish psychopath who lures a wide-eyed athlete in Strangers on a Train.” A Hitchcock movie was never quite the same as Rob.
The plot revolves around two men, Philip and Brandon, who attempt to carry out the perfect murder and throw a dinner party to add excitement. Tension rises as the couple begins to fall apart under the pressure of a deadly ceremony, punctuated by overburdened hints of the men’s living situation. With stinging sarcasm, Brandon’s one-time beard responded, “How comfortable,” to the fact that the phone is in the (the one) bedroom. This is Hays Code Hollywood, after all.