10 Queer Horror Movies to Check Out
*contains some spoilers and potentially triggering material*
Who said that queerness and horror couldn’t possibly go hand in hand? Certainly not me. Even though there hasn’t always been the greatest LGBTQ+ representation in the genre, there’s still plenty of room for change. And much has been changing in terms of queer characters in horror who don’t serve as punching bags, comedic relief, stereotypical depictions and so on. Not to mention how queer creatives are more involved in the horror movies being released now than ever before. As time goes by, there will undoubtedly be more horror that caters solely to queer audiences, marking pivotal moments for the horror community and the massive amount of queer fans that exist within it. Below is a list of outright or subtextually queer horror movies that I believe are worth checking out:
1. Fright Night (1985)
Subtext can often be frustrating compared to explicitly queer text. Though, with a horror-comedy framework like the one Fright Night (1985) employs, it’s not a bad time. The movie follows a teenager named Charley (Williams Ragsdale) who becomes increasingly convinced his next-door neighbor Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire. Charley’s realizations aren’t outlandish, despite nobody around him believing him until all hell breaks loose. Charley isn’t the most interesting person in the movie, but, thankfully, Jerry and his subtextual queerness ooze throughout the movie in a way that’s hard to ignore. Even though the movie doesn’t entirely focus on Jerry and, instead, focuses on Charley and the characters who surround him, he’s still a major presence. What makes everything exponentially more queer is the fact that Jerry lives with his manservant named Billy (Jonathan Stark). While they could be considered just roommates, they certainly have a closeness to them that resembles a closeted couple. And Jerry’s unexplained appearance, while living with another man in an average suburban neighborhood, is subtext all on its own. Not to mention that vampirism in horror movies hasn’t always been depicted as that straight (think The Lost Boys, Interview with the Vampire or Queen of the Damned). All in all, it’s a good ‘80s horror with classic queer subtext that’ll have you nodding along knowingly.
2. High Tension (2003)
The New French Extremity wasn’t playing around when it came to horror and High Tension (aka Haute Tension or Switchblade Romance) fell in line with that. The plot follows Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco) and her best friend Marie (Cécile de France) who travel to visit Alex’s family at their secluded home. Later that evening they are attacked by a murderous truck driver (Phillipe Nahon), who murders Alex’s family and kidnaps her. Meanwhile Marie hops in the back to rescue Alex from the maniac.Thus beginning a rescue mission from hell and a lot of bloodshed. Without spoiling too much, there are some problematic aspects to this slasher, which shouldn’t be surprising as slashers don’t always have proper depth (and I say this as someone who really loves slashers). The queerness of this movie is obvious as Marie has visible feelings for Alex. Though once you reach the end, everything you thought before collapses. It presents Marie in a different light and certainly exemplifies a drastically different way of depicting queerness in horror, how it isn’t always positive and queer characters aren’t always written how one might expect.
3. Seed of Chucky (2004)
Most horror fans and casual horror watchers know who Chucky (Brad Dourif) and Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly) are. This mass-murdering duo is infamous, outrageous, and iconic. Seed of Chucky marks their return after their demises in the prior film (Bride of Chucky), in which they finally meet their child named Glen (Billy Boyd). The three embark on a murder spree, Chucky and Tiffany struggle to be decent parents, and, later on, kidnap the real-life Jennifer Tilly, who plays herself. While the movie is very campy, there’s much that’s endearing and charming about it. That credit goes mostly to Don Mancini (creator and writer for the series) and him being a gay man plays heavily into the queerness of this film. He put plenty of care into revealing how Glen (also known as Glenda) experiences dysphoria, but later on embraces being genderfluid. Though Glen/Glenda doesn’t outright claim said identity, we know what’s being made clear. Overall it’s not a terrible entry in the franchise and is indefinitely the most queer. 4. Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Undeniably iconic and notoriously misunderstood upon its initial release, Jennifer’s Body is both feminist and incredibly queer which is a big part of why it’s evolved into the cult classic it is today. The movie follows best friends Jennifer Check (Megan Fox) and Anita “Needy” Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried) who live near a town called Devil’s Kettle. After a string of unfortunate events, Jennifer ends up becoming demonically possessed and starts killing her male classmates, which forces Needy to take action and try to stop her from murdering and eating any more boys. The relationship between Jennifer and Needy is full of sexual tension/obvious feelings towards each other. Problem is Needy has a boyfriend named Chip (Johnny Simmons) who is no fan of Jennifer. Of course, throughout the movie it’s made clear that Jennifer’s consistently on Needy’s mind. She can’t stop thinking about Jennifer, not even during sex with Chip. There’s a lot of subtextual representation regarding Chip and Jennifer as choices for Needy. Chip represents a more heteronormative path whereas Jennifer doesn’t. She pushes Needy to be herself and to embrace her desires. Ultimately, that has pivotal and dire consequences for their relationship in the end.
5. All Cheerleaders Die (2013)
Cheerleaders who come back from the dead with glowing crystals owned by a queer witch? All Cheerleaders Die checks all those boxes. The movie follows Maddie (Caitlin Stasey) who joins the cheerleading squad at her high school to take down the football team’s captain, Terry (Tom Williamson). Her plan to ruin Terry’s life involves sleeping with his on/off girlfriend Tracy (Brooke Butler) and humiliating him in public. This goes awry when Terry gets violent with Tracy and chases Maddie, Tracy, and two of their cheerleader friends off a cliff, resulting in their deaths. Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee), Tracy’s ex-girlfriend, finds them and shockingly revives all of the girls with magic, which results in them coming back as blood-sucking zombies.
The movie is incredibly campy but doesn’t shy away from several characters being queer. In fact, it even tackles the ways in which queer women are perceived and sexualized by straight men as well as how Terry, a (sexually/overall) violent straight boy, hates the idea of women being more powerful than him. Though when it comes down to it, the movie is about two girls who love each other and what they have to conquer to be together.
6. Lizzie (2018)
Lizzie Borden took an axe and…well many people know the ending to that rhyme. Plus there’s been plenty exploration (whether it be in movies or elsewhere) into Lizzie Borden. Though Lizzie explores Lizzie Borden’s home life as well as her alleged lesbianism, which in this movie comes in the form of a relationship with her maid Bridget “Maggie” Sullivan (Kristen Stewart). With Lizzie’s father being overbearing, judgmental, and a predator (as is revealed with him expecting sexual acts from Maggie), it makes for a lot of building hatred in both the film’s characters and its audiences. All of that draws Lizzie and Maggie together and results in them concocting a plan to kill Lizzie’s father and step-mother. The relationship between the two women isn’t solely what makes the movie queer. It’s also the repression that’s expected of them and the isolating energy surrounding them as people. They can’t truly express themselves because they’ll be shunned or worse. Of course, there’s no happy ending for the relationship, and, ultimately, it’s a queer tragedy.
7. The Quiet Room (2018)
Not many horror movies feature a Black lead, let alone a Black gay lead, which makes this horror short very refreshing. The film focuses on Michael (Jamal Douglas) who wakes up in a hospital after a failed suicide attempt. He eventually is warned about a demon named Hattie (Alaska) who stalks suicidal patients. Eventually leading to Michael having to watch those who get in Hattie’s way be picked off one by one. Sam Wineman, writer and director of the short film, is also gay himself and that lends to the writing of the gay characters in the film. It’s also important to note that much of the cast is openly LGBTQ such as Jamal Douglas, Alaska, Katya (who plays David), Kit Williamson (who plays Hunter), and Chris Salvatore (who plays Joe). While it’s quite short, as soon as it’s over you’ll be wishing there’s more - it’s definitely worth spending 30 mins on.
8. The Perfection (2019)
Looking for a psychological horror movie pertaining to #MeToo? The Perfection is that movie. This film focuses on Charlotte (Allison Williams) who returns to the music world after the death of her terminally ill mother. After reuniting with the head of the academy she formerly attended, his wife, and her former teachers, she meets Lizzie (Logan Browning), the prodigy who replaced her. By the end of the evening, Charlotte and Lizzie end up forming a connection and have sex. Charlotte’s intentions aren’t as pure as they seem, and several chaotic events lead Lizzie to chop off her hand. While it isn’t the most positive queer representation, the core relationship between Charlotte and Lizzie is beautifully complex. They’ve both experienced sexual violence at the hands of men who were meant to nurture them. And their combined desire for revenge against said men and those who were complicit runs deep. It’s an intense revenge horror that features a queer interracial relationship bound by unfortunate circumstances. Take it or leave it.
It’s not hard to cast trans actors to play trans characters and thankfully Bit actually did just that. This supernatural horror follows Laurel (Nicole Maines), a trans teen who moves to LA and meets a group of queer feminist vampires. The movie has a dreamy vibe to it and is incredibly neon/punk. Of course the vampires are killing men who are predators and overall shitty people. Nothing is lost there, but Laurel doesn’t want to participate in their vigilantism, leading to conflict within the group and some secrets coming to light by the end of the film. The queerness of the film is obvious and there’s not much to unpack in that regard. It’s very explicitly a queer feminist movie in terms of its approach, dialogue (which isn’t always the most solid), and choice of main characters. Would I consider it to be the most put together horror movie, let alone pertaining to vampires? Not really. In the end it’s a relatively fun watch, has some decent gore, and is unapologetic in its queerness. Nothing more or less.
10. Freaky (2020)
Definitely one of the best/most queer horror movies to come out of this chaotic year. Freaky focuses on teenager named Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton) who unintentionally switches bodies with the local serial killer “The Blissfield Butcher” (Vince Vaughn). Maybe I’m biased because of how quickly this became a favorite horror movie of mine, but it’s the perfect queer horror-comedy. Blending queerness, comedy, and horror so well that it’s like fine wine. Also knowing that two gay men are behind this movie makes it all the better. What makes this movie queer are certain characters, such as Josh (Misha Osherovich) who is the tropey gay best friend, and the body/gender swapping. Having a middle-aged man be inside the body of a teenage girl (and vice-versa) as well as how their pronouns don’t change despite being in the other’s body is gold. Then there are the moments that Millie (in the Butcher’s body) has with Booker (Uriah Shelton), the boy she has feelings for. He doesn’t repel from Millie even with her being in a different body. He proceeds to tell her that she’s still Millie to him. Much fun can be had while watching this, especially if you’re a queer viewer.