Pride Month Horror Movies
If there are two things I love, it is horror movies and equal rights for all. This month is Pride Month, a celebration of what those of the LGBTQ lifestyle have overcome and the triumphs and obstacles along the way. If, like me, you want to get some great cinematic scares during June there are plenty of horror movies which are key pieces of LGBTQ cinema. They have sometimes been criticized, as they do not show the healthiest of relationships, but they are in fact horror movies, so what do you expect. Anyways, here are my personal picks for Pride Month Horror movies.
Dracula’s Daughter: Probably the most underrated film in the Universal Monsters series. This movie picks up immediately where the 1931 original left off with Countess Marya Zaleska, one of Dracula’s progenies, venturing to England in the hopes of finding a cure for her vampirism through scientific means. Vampires in fiction are traditionally depicted as sexual creatures and Zaleska is no exception, perhaps unexpectedly for audiences of 1936, she chooses to focus that energy on women throughout the movie. In no more is this clearer than in the memorable scene when she picks up the naïve young Lili to pose for an art piece. The tension between the two radiates through the screen, as the Countess has to fight the urge to prey on Lili. Contemporary critics have not been shy to point out that Gloria Holden portrays the vampire as a dominant lesbian who has no hesitancy in lording her power over victims of the same gender.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge: Five years after the events of original movie, Jesse and his family move into the old Elm Street house and in doing so awakens Freddy Krueger. The claw-gloved slasher begins to take possession of the teen to carry on his violent ways, until ultimately he can make his grand return at a pool party that Freddy turns into a massacre. Today this film in the Elm Street series has become a staple of LGBTQ cinema, while audiences of 1985 may have missed it; modern audiences clearly see this is a film about Jesse dealing with his burgeoning homosexual feelings. We see this theme pop-up throughout the film, even to the point of his seeking comfort with best friend Grady, after Jesse freaks out following a kiss from a girl. Even Robert Englund AKA Freddy himself has stated that the film deals with Jesse deciding whether to come out or not during the era of the AIDS pandemic.
Interview with the Vampire: This adaptation of Anne Rice’s hit novel explores the long and often anguished existence of the vampire Louis as he tells his story to a curious reporter. Formerly a wealthy plantation owner in New Orleans, Louis falls into despair after the death of his wife. This is when he crosses paths with the charismatic Lestat who falls for him and brings Louis into the ranks of the undead. They eventually “adopt” a young girl named Claudia as Lestat hopes to create a vampiric family unit. While Lestat may be in what he perceives to be love with his companion, the relationship between he Louis and Claudia grows complicated and toxic. Surviving attempts to slay him, Lestat keeps tabs throughout the years on Louis as the two are inevitably tied together.
Sleepaway Camp: Years ago, siblings Peter and Angela were in a horrific boating accident which left one survivor. Years later Angela and her cousin are sent to Camp Arawak where her reserved nature makes Angela a target for abuse. Strangely enough everyone who preys on her ends up dead in violent “accidents”. As any good horror fan knows the plot twist is that it was Peter who survived the in the beginning of the film and was made to live as Angela by her/his demented aunt. As many true life trans kids sadly do, Angela lives in a self-imposed secretive life lest anyone discover the truth. To her credit, Felissa Rose gives a masterful performance which was ahead of its time in this suspense-filled horror film. In addition to this Sleepaway Camp does not shy away from the homosexual relationship her father is in.
The Hunger: From the stylish opening featuring Bauhaus‘ hit “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” you know this is a particularly sleek and hip vampire film. On the surface, Miriam and John are a successful New York couple, but by night their true nature shows as they prowl the city’s nightclubs seeking prey to feed their vampiric bloodlust. John, like her previous lovers now finds himself suffering from a condition which rapidly ages him, but does not allow him to die forcing Miriam to lock him away. This leaves her utterly alone and she finds comfort in the arms of John’s friend Sarah. The relationship between Miriam and Sarah is the heart of this film as their initial entanglements become deeper as Miriam tries to bring her into the shadows becoming a vampire like her. Drenched in the coolness of 80’s excess, the Hunger is largely credited for giving modern audiences vampires who indulged in bisexual behavior.
The Haunting: From legendary director Robert Wise comes this atmospheric adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic novel. In hoping to research the paranormal activity in Hill House, Dr. John Markaway recruits a team to assist him including, Nell who as a child was the center of poltergeist activity. She forms a close bond with the team’s medium Theo. Over the course of the investigation, the supernatural presence which may haunt the home seems to be driving Nell into madness and Theo may not be able to save her. While Theo’s lesbianism is only hinted at in the source material, Wise made the decision to tackle it directly; not in an exploitative way but in way that was realistic. The bond she shares with Nell is the heart of the movie and there is unmistakably something there between them.
Ginger Snaps: This werewolf film has been praised by many as the “most feminist horror movie” ever made. Two teen sisters, Brigitte and Ginger, are too tragically hip to fit into their bland white bread Ontario hometown. When Ginger is attacked by a werewolf she takes on a new aggression and sexual voracity which worries her sister. As her lycanthropy takes more control over her life, Brigitte tries her best to find a cure for Ginger’s condition or be forced to resort to desperate measures. Ginger Snaps broke new ground in horror by putting the focus squarely on a young woman discovering her sexuality. As such this film has resonated deeply with lesbian and transgendered individuals who see parallels in their own lives in this masterpiece of a film.
Jennifer’s Body: A bit of a flop upon its release, this 2009 horror film has seen a massive and well deserved resurgence in popularity recently. Penned by Oscar winner Diablo Cody and directed by cult favorite Karyn Kusama, nerdy Needy has been friends since childhood with the popular Jennifer despite their differences. After a fateful fire, Jennifer is changed and has become far more murder-y towards the men she seduces. Needy discovers that Jennifer was the center of a botched Satanic sacrifice and was now possessed by a Succubus who drives her to prey on men….and Needy. In fact when Needy first confronts Jennifer over what she is, the tension is nothing short of palpable. In an era where the closest thing mainstream cinema had to monsters were sadly the Twilight films, Jennifer’s Body did not have a chance at mainstream success. Over time this movie has developed a massive cult following, especially within the LGBTQ community. Jennifer’s origin of monsterdom is just as sympathetic as any Universal Monster and her ability to be attracted to/attack victims of either gender is treated as no big deal.