Indoor Queers Club: LGBT-Boo!
Queer horror picks from your trusty Chronicle crypt keepers
By James Scott,
11:48AM, Fri. Oct. 28, 2022
Horror holds a special place in the queer community and everyone has their favorites they reach for. (Shout-out to Gothess Jasmine, who commented on Qmmunity’s Instagram that cave-diving horror The Descent is an all-time fave of theirs.) There’s always room for new nightmares, so check out these picks for your next late night scarefest.
Manhunt by Gretchen Felker Martin
Are you, like me, sick of gender apocalypse novels that either ignore trans people or only use them as pitiful punching bags? Oh boy: That gruel grinds my gears! As an antidote, I prescribe Manhunt, a post-apocalypse novel about a world beset by testosterone-triggered disease called t-rex that turns anyone with a high T-level into a feral beast. At the center of this story are two trans women, Beth and Fran, who scramble to survive not just this new plague, but also the regime of trans exclusionary radical feminists who have decided to take the crumbling world order as a sign to start exterminating trans people. Part survival horror, part sensual thriller, part uncompromising takedown of gender critical discourse, Manhunt takes you down and dirty, and makes you like it.
Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca
Ask anyone around the Chronicle office what horror book I most often recommend, and this title will be top of the list. Having gained viral prominence thanks to the novella’s incredible cover art, Things Have Gotten Worse sticks in reader’s teeth thanks to author Eric LaRocca’s deeply discomforting depictions of queer loneliness. Written in epistolary form, the novella follows the relationship between two intensely isolated queer women beginning from a forum post about a vintage apple peeler that spirals into instant messenger chats ripe with horrific yet undeniable romantic power dynamics. My biggest suggestion? Read this on an empty stomach.
It Came From the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror edited by Joe Vallese
Newly released as of Oct. 4, this anthology comprises of essays by queer trans and authors investigating their own experiences with horror films. Navigating the complicated history that the genre has for the LGBTQ community – both empowering and oppressive – makes for 23 complex pieces from writers like Carmen Maria Machado, Jude Ellison S. Doyle, Addie Tsai, and more. What better time than during the spooky month to hunker down and really dig into what makes Dead Ringers and Jennifer’s Body important to the queer horror viewer, right?
”The Demons of Dorothy”
Another French film: I’d say I’m sorry, but they’re simply churning out fun, weird queer cinema. Writer Dorothy spends her days creating vivid and horny scripts about big breasted communist lesbian terrorists who kill straight men and make out on motorbikes. Yet her producer and the financiers don’t seem to appreciate her art. Driven mad by demands she rewrite her work for mainstream consumption, demonic visions of her mother, selling out, and the follies of fame send Dorothy through an odyssey of self-actualization. The special effects are as silly as you expect, and the pink glittery aesthetic offsets the nauseatingly melted skin of the demons chasing dear Dorothy down. Worth every inch of its 30 minute runtime, so throw it on while you get in your Halloween costume.
Queer for Fear
Four episodes of a docuseries dedicated to queer horror film analysis doesn’t seem like much, but every minute of Bryan Fuller’s new effort for horror streaming service Shudder is packed tight by gay genius. Don’t expect a heteronormative linear narrative, though. Through thematically grouped episodes, film historians, queer actors and directors, drag artists, and other experts analyze and explore different movies and their makers, skipping around the cinematic timeline and reading queerness into every era. A major highlight in the series so far? Episode two’s exploration of Anthony Perkins in the Psycho series (That’s right! The series, not just the Hitchcock original! Justice for Psycho II!) that includes intimate and in-depth recollections from his son, Oz. All four episodes are currently streaming and work great as a companion to any LGBTQ screams you're watching this spooky season.
I hesitate to call this a horror movie, but Titane does contain horrific images. Following a car crash in her youth, young Alexia is left with a titanium plate in her head and an insatiable lust for automobiles, which leads her to have hot, BDSM sex with a flame-decal coated car. Oh, another detail: this auto-aroused gal’s got an insatiable lust for stabbing people with her solid silver hair pin. When the cops catch on to her homicidal affairs, Alexia disguises herself and her newly pregnant belly (yeah, it’s the car’s baby) to look like the long lost son of a fire chief, now grown up and suspiciously quiet. This movie invokes strong feelings from those who watch it – usually disgust, but that reaction misses the point of this strange tale about how difficult and disgusting real love is. Why’s it queer? Look, dude, if the S/M seatbelt tomfoolery of the first half doesn’t sell you on this flick’s queer leanings, then stay tuned for a cross-dressing Alexia performing a sensual dance for her faux father’s firemen in their very firehouse. Ten out of ten titanium plates from me.
Chron Staff Queer Horror Recs
Haven’t had your fill of horror recs? Well, good news: A few of the Chron’s best movie watchers gave their choices for good gay horror to see.
(A note: Because I did this at about 5pm on a Tuesday, the office was a little bare so if your favorite staff member isn’t here, well … that’s because they have better work/life balance than I do.)
Art Listings Editor Wayne Alan Brenner: Urbania, a movie from the 2000 that Brenner first picked up at a Blockbuster under the impression this was the collegiate storytelling slasher Urban Legend. Far from the shiny straightness of that film, Urbania follows a man whose cruising misfortunes are presented as urban legends. A definite pick for those who like their gay cinema on the gritty side.
Art Director Zeke Barbaro: Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker, a film that Barbaro first recalls as a movie where the mom kills a bunch of people and there’s an evil gym teacher. Close, but no cigar: This madcap slasher follows an orphaned basketball star whose overbearing aunt starts murdering anyone who insults her, including a repairman who rebuffs her sexual advances. A hateful chief of police tries to pin the blame first on the teen’s basketball coach, who turns out to have been the repairman’s lover, and then tries to mark the kid as the killer. Despite the title not being anywhere near accurate, BBNM is a great campy horror movie with fun, over-the-top acting, with the gay coach getting a hero turn at the end.
Community Editor Kat McNevins: What Keeps You Alive, which she remembers catching on Amazon Prime. The 2018 film follows a woman whose wife slowly reveals a homicidal side of herself during a trip to celebrate their first anniversary. Fun fact: Though a Canadian production, the film’s premiere was at Austin’s own South By Southwest Film Festival.
Credit Manager cindy soo: Rocky Horror Picture Show, a film soo says is the first one that comes to mind when she thinks gay horror. Having seen the film at the Paramount in 1978, only four years post-release, she remembers the riotous excitement of the audience already participating in the rituals that continue to this day. She compares all the folks shouting at the screen to seeing little kids running around during the kung fu movies she used to watch in downtown Houston.
News Editor Michael Clark Madison: Interview With the Vampire, which he acknowledges is more vibe-based gay than textual, and adds to that the Hammer vampire films with Christopher Lee’s storied performance of Dracula. (Lee actually played the Count more times on film than any other actor.) These vampire films carry the camp factor, which makes them high ranking queer viewing.
Proofreaders Jasmine Lane and Lina Fisher: Jennifer’s Body, a proofer favorite, gets both Lane and Fisher’s recommendation. The 2009 supernatural teen horror with an iconic Megan Fox as the titular Jennifer remains a continued classic for those who enjoy a) demonic possession, b) girls kissing girls and also stabbing them with box cutters, and c) pink cropped hoodies. Lane also adds a rec for Strangers on a Train, the Patricia Highsmith-penned thriller adapted by noted queer-subtext creator Alfred Hitchcock.
Graphic Designer Jeff Gammill: Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, for those looking for a schlocky silly slasher that has homoerotic subtext and a whole lotta paratextual gay history to dig into. Gammill also adds Hellraiser to the list, though Gammill says he can’t speak to the queer themes. Don’t worry, dude: I’m on it. Hellraiser is literally written and directed by Clive Barker, a hero for the horror-inclined homosexual. If you haven’t seen that BDSM nightmare flick, that’s your Halloweend homework.
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