October is, hands down, the best month of the year. Fall comes in and sweeps all that heat and humidity away. The air turns cold, the leaves go into full color show mode and the entire country smells like Pumpkin Spice. It’s also the month that kicks off arguably the most intensive holiday block of the year. October marks the beginning of the Holiday Season in our house. For us, there is simply no better way to begin the season than by jumping into the deep end of Halloween.
We decorate EVERYTHING. We hang lights. We make special crafts with the kids. We ALL get dressed up. It’s a big deal for us and part of the joy is indulging in horror movies.
This year we decided to pick some movies with LGBT overtones, partly as a challenge. I mean, how many good (or so-bad-they’re-good) LGBT horror movies could there be?
It turns out that a lot of movies that fit our criteria are either weird indie things that didn’t make any sense and appeared to be shot on someone’s Moto Razr phone or they were so dated that the LGBT element was more off-putting than the scary bits.
We did, however, end up with five pretty great movies that fit the bill. That doesn’t mean they handle LGBT issues or address the lack of diversity in pretty much any horror movie before 2000 but, c’mon – they’re slasher flicks.
5. The Hunger
The first thing you need to know about The Hunger is that it stars David Bowie. That alone is a good reason to check it out but, if you need more convincing there are plenty of other reasons. Bowie plays an 18th Century vampire who’s lost his immortality.
Catherine Deneuve plays Bowie’s partner – and the vampire who turned him in the first place. Susan Sarandon plays a doctor who tries to help the couple and ends up becoming a willing – and lusty – victim. When it was released it received mixed reviews. Infamous film critic Roger Ebert called it “an agonizingly bad vampire movie”. But even critics agreed it was heavy on atmosphere even if the plot was thin and kind of incoherent.
Feminist author Elaine Showalter said the movie “casts vampirism in bisexual terms, drawing on the tradition of the lesbian vampire…Contemporary and stylish, [it] is also disquieting in its suggestion that men and women in the 1980s have the same desires, the same appetites, and the same needs for power, money, and sex.”
Jeffrey Dahmer has become almost mythical in just how over the top insane and depraved he was. Troubled by his inability to develop a lasting relationship, Dahmer set about trying to make his own sex zombie. Characters based on him in books and movies can be okay but nothing beats the original over-the-top weirdness of The Milwaukee Cannibal.
This 2002 horror film is dark and broody and awkwardly uncomfortable in spots. Jeremy Renner does a perfect job playing the socially maladjusted but cravenly creative Dahmer. This movie also had mixed reviews but I think those were due, in part, because Renner is THAT good at being cringingly awkward.
3. What Keeps You Alive
What Keeps You Alive features plenty of lesbian and horror movie stereotypes: a granola couple celebrating a year of bliss heads out to a cabin to celebrate. While there, one woman realizes she didn’t ask enough questions about her wife’s exes. Specifically her first wife. And why she’s dead.
This movie pulls a lot of the same tricks as traditional slasher movies but that’s part of what makes it great for LGBT couples. Finally we can see if carabeeners and chap stick can outsmart a psycho lover.
2. Seed of Chucky
Did you know Chucky and his girlfriend Tiffany (voiced by the amazing Jennifer Tilly) had a child? Oh yes, they sure did.
In Seed of Chucky, murderous dolls are the most believable part of the plot. There’s a whole secondary story where their child struggles with its sexuality. Is he Glen? Or is he really Glenda? (And, yes, we can only assume the Glen / Glenda names are a nod to the classic Glen or Glenda? by Ed Wood)
1. Sleepaway Camp
This was the movie that started my wife and I talking about these movies in the first place. For those who don’t know, Sleepaway Camp is one of the best 80s Slasher Movies of all time. When I mentioned the movie to her as we were getting to know each other, I knew I was onto a keeper when she immediately knew what I was talking about AND boasted she owned the DVD box set. *swoons*
The story follows an awkward young woman, Angela, during her first summer at camp. Angela has some issues but who wouldn’t after seeing their family killed in a freak boating accident? Then she was raised by an aunt who is clearly not completely with it. Long story short, Angela doesn’t just have issues – she has a whole subscription. So it comes as no surprise that she doesn’t deal so well when people start getting slaughtered her first year at camp.
Sleepaway Camp is everything a cult horror movie should be – ridiculously scripted, oddly cast and unintentionally hilarious. I mean, really, how many movies can boast a kill scene involving a curling iron?