Gays often use Halloween as an excuse to go all out.
But why waste weeks assembling some single-use couture contraption when you can spend the evening in sweats with your monster bong and a stack of horror flicks?
This year, Daily Xtra invites you to shun party invites, spurn trick-or-treaters and spend this Halloween cuddled up with cinema’s scariest queers.
Haute Tension (2003)
Haute Tension is, in a word, controversial. French “splat pack” director Alexandre Aja’s film has been maligned as unnecessarily gory, structurally implausible and homophobic, not to mention potentially plagiarized from Dean Koontz’s 1995 novel, Intensity.
At the same time, a sector of the queer critical class have lauded its tough-as-nails heroine and argued the film isn’t homophobic, but rather a discussion of internalized homophobia.
Whatever your take, Aja’s tale of a woman battling a sadistic killer who’s kidnapped her best friend is better without popcorn.
A blood-soaked psychosexual thriller of the highest order, Haute Tension is not for the faint of heart. But then again, neither is falling in love.
The Hunger (1983)
Tony Scott is best known for his blockbuster, Top Gun. But three years before he partnered with Tom Cruise on arguably the gayest naval aviator flick ever, the English auteur made a contribution to the unfortunately tiny canon of bisexual vampire art films.
Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) and John (David Bowie) are a longtime bloodthirsty couple. When the latter seeks medical advice from Sarah (Susan Sarandon), a doctor specializing in rapid aging, it brings her into an unexpected affair with his wife.
Full of two-tone blush and over the top ’80s hair, The Hunger is like a queer love story inside a Bauhaus video. The arty visuals occasionally overpower the narrative. But whatever confusion the aesthetic induces, it’s a worthwhile price to pay for watching Catherine Deneuve suck Susan Sarandon’s nipples.
Clive Barker’s directorial follow up to the 1987 SM-themed Hellraiser was initially a bit of a flop. The story of a murderous psychotherapist (David Cronenberg) who tries to pin his crimes on a patient (Craig Sheffer) was decried by critics for its haphazard plot and underdeveloped characters. But the openly gay novelist’s film has gradually gained cult status, particularly among queer horror fanatics.
Its portrayal of homosexuality is less overt than others on this list. But Nightbreed offers an opportunity to use that handy device known as a queer lens. The unconsummated relationship between the two main characters, for example, was cited by Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky when he declared it was, “the first truly gay horror fantasy epic.”
But the film’s true queerness may lie in its depiction of a character torn between two worlds, neither of which truly accepts him. Amid the confusing structure and the out-there makeup effects, a queer viewing of Nightbreed reveals a perfect analogy for the experience of coming out.
If you’ve already seen the second instalment of Freddy Krueger’s reign of terror, you may be surprised to learn it wasn’t considered queer at the time it was made. But Jack Sholder’s hastily-produced follow-up to Wes Craven’s seminal 1984 shocker may be one of the gayest horror movies of all time. The film’s now-out star Mark Patton is even developing a documentary on the subject.
Franchise aficionados decried the film as a cheap cash-in that dispensed with the original’s unique twist on the slasher genre. But despite its sloppy shortcomings, it’s also a landmark film in the gay canon. From jockstrap flashes to SM-obsessed gym teachers to its sexually confused male protagonist, Nightmare on Elm Street 2 has queer stamped all over its mangled face.
Sleepaway Camp (1983)
With the exception of the high school locker room, probably no space has spawned more sexual awakenings than summer camp. Robert Hiltzik’s first directorial outing is full of homoerotic exchanges, but revealing the film’s queerest elements means spoilers of the highest order.
Like most ’80s horror, it’s packed with fabulously campy acting and ridiculously dated outfits. But amid some surprisingly sophisticated discussions of bullying and its blood spattered twist ending, Sleepaway Camp also offers an essential lesson for any era: never trust the girl with the side ponytail.
The Wishing Stairs (2003)
When it comes to Korean lesbian schoolgirl horror, 1999’s Memento Mori is often the first film that comes to people’s minds. But Yun Jae-yeon’s 2003 contribution to the Whispering Corridors franchise is arguably the series’ standout.
The tale of best friends in an all-girls academy fighting for the same spot in a competitive Russian ballet school combines the best aspects of the other films, with a dash of Black Swan thrown in for good measure. It’s also one of only a handful of horror movies directed by a woman.
Mirroring the aesthetic of Japanese horror giants such as Ringu and Ju-On , The Wishing Stairs can mess with the heads of even the most experienced horror lovers. While the complicated visual tricks will have you on the edge of your seat, its central message will also be deeply resonant: No matter the context you’re living in, coming out is always terrifying.