ATX TV Festival 2022: Queer for Fear

New Shudder series gives queer audiences a genre to call their own

Image courtesy of ATX TV Festival

From beginning to end it was clear that the ATX TV Festival’s first look panel on Queer for Fear, the upcoming docuseries from horror streamer Shudder, was an event for queer people, by queer people.

Before panelists Bryan Fuller (​​Pushing Daisies, Hannibal), Steak House (Disney Launchpad), and Nay Bever (Attack of the Queerwolf podcast) even took to the stage, a staff member welcomed the crowd by wishing us all a happy Pride. One audience member shouted back, “We’re here and we’re queer!”

Attendees got a first look at a trailer for the project. Opening with a montage of monsters from classic black-and-white films narrated by Lea Delaria (Orange Is the New Black), each new interviewee that was introduced, and each familiar clip projected onto the big screen elicited excited laughs of recognition from the audience. It was dizzying to see so many influential horror creators, from directors like Kevin Williamson (Scream), and Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body), to figures known in the niche of the horror community like writer and This Ends at Prom podcast co-host Harmony Colangelo, sharing their perspectives in the same project.

Fuller described the four-part docuseries, set to be released this fall, as “pretty sprawling,” going as far back as the 1922 film Nosferatu, all the way up to more recent horror favorites like What We Do in the Shadows. He explained how in revisiting old stories the creators were able to pull away the limitations (read: homophobia) of the time in which the stories were originally told.

The series will touch on dangerous women, lesbian vampires, the trans killer trope, sexploitation, “gateway horror” like The Addams Family and Beetlejuice, and many more aspects of queer horror. These themes will be addressed by interviewees Alaska Thunderfuck (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Leslye Headland (Russian Doll), Jennifer Tilly (Bride of Chucky, Bound), Mark Gattis (Sherlock, Doctor Who) and many more.

The series also takes a closer look back at horror classics like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, which straight audiences might not remember as queer, or which queer audiences, like panelist Nay Bever, might remember feeling drawn to without understanding why: As producer Steak House quipped, “All the dykes love Mrs. Danvers [the queerly suggestive villain], let’s be real.”

Bever described how personally validating it was to look back and see the queerness in beloved media she loved in her childhood, and also spoke about the catharsis of seeing revenge narratives in horror as a trauma survivor. “When women are murdering people, I’m like, ‘Yes. More of that.’”

Queer for Fear took shape after the success of Shudder’s docuseries Horror Noir, and Fuller described it as Shudder’s project to serve the queer community the way Horror Noir served the Black community. However, he said the content really flowed from the interviews. The panelists all expressed amazement at the willingness of their interviewees to be vulnerable and share their personal histories with queer horror: Fuller, for example, shared how emotional it was to watch Oz Perkins share his experience of his father Anthony Perkins’ death from AIDS. Bever added, “[I] can’t believe what people were willing to share.”

When asked what they hoped audiences will get out of the series, Steak House replied, “I hope they get some queer history.” Bever said she hopes the series gets people “rowdy,” starts discussions, and let queer people know that queerness in horror “isn’t new and there’s people [they] can talk to about it.” Fuller added that he hopes that queer audiences leave the series feeling “pride and ownership in our genre, 'cause it is ours.”


ATX TV Festival, June 2-5. Tickets and info at atxfestival.com.

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