What Is It With Gay Men And Horror?

Images via Entertainment Film Distributors, MGM/UA Communications Co, & Dimension Films

Did You Know Gays Have Been Behind Some Of Your Favorites In The Horror Genre?

The spectrum of gays is wide and long, we already know that. The many subgenres within our community can’t be described during one brunch. Some of our friends love drama movies, romance flicks, science fiction and then there are the movie-gays who are obsessed with horror films. Horror’s fandom is unlike any other film genres. A romcom convention doesn’t exist (yet) and would probably be an absolute mess if it did, but luckily for many of us, there are a handful of horror conventions regularly held all around the nation. There are many horror actors I would like to see in person. For instance, Adrienne King, who appeared in the original Friday the 13th movie, is still at rockstar status today with horror fans, despite not returning to the screen for almost thirty years. A successful horror convention would definitely bring attention to the gay participation in front of and behind the camera.  Upon some researching, it was a bit mind blowing to find out that so much of the great mainstream horror are brilliantly crafted creations of gay men.

Author Clive Barker talks about what makes him tick Nov. 5, 2007 at the EMP/ Sci Fi Museum in Seattle.

The first standout of gay creators in horror would be perhaps the most commonly known, Liverpool’s Clive Barker. He gave us not one, but two iconic scary movie monsters that seemingly will never die, quite literally and figuratively speaking. He helmed the Hellraiser franchise that left gore all over the genre with Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and the forever vile Julia Cotton (Clare Higgins), one of the first horror femme-fatale monsters, who was originally going to take lead of the series and be somewhat of a female-Freddy Krueger. He also crafted the soon-to-be-remade Candyman franchise, made most famous for having a black antagonist perfected by Tony Todd. Interestingly, Barker is shameless with is past, being cited on his Wikipedia page to having been a prostitute when writing wasn’t paying his bills. He came out of the closet as a teenager – almost sixty years ago. It’s safe to say that Barker has always been fearless when it comes to both his personal life and his art, even if that means he instilled absolute fear into his audience. He broke the barrier for gays to be open and Out in the Dark. It’s not a surprise that many followed in Barker’s footsteps.

Don Mancini (photo from Dreadcentral.com)

Another esteemed openly gay horror creator is Don Mancini. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because you know him as the wild mind behind the Child’s Play series – yes, Chucky the killer doll. That’s another horror monster icon created by one of us! He hasn’t strayed too far from only being known as Chucky’s master. Since the franchise’s creation Mancini has given us seven films and a continuation of the storyline into an upcoming SyFy network series dropping soon. Originality has been a staple of the Child’s Play movies. Each one appears to be something new and grows the story instead of reshaping it. Incorporating Jennifer Tilly as Chucky’s love interest, Tiffany Valentine, led us into the series strangest branch, Seed of Chucky, which saw Chucky and Tiffany raising a doll-child who is experiencing gender dysphoria. His script was deemed “too gay” by Universal Pictures, but he wanted to explore more LGBTQ themes and refused to rewrite. Seed would be distributed by another production company.  Upon a rewatch, it’s shocking how obvious the storyline is a shout out to the transgender community and the struggles they experience. In the fourth installment of the series, Bride of Chucky, the dearly departed Alexis Arquette portrayed a character pre-transition and it was the first time to this writer’s personal remembrance that we saw a gay character in a horror film who was boldly and openly himself rather than having ridiculous homosexual subtext that we saw in characters in Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and Interview with the Vampire.  

Kevin Williamson (image from scream.fandom.com)

Okay, last one – but did you know that Ghostface was created by a gay guy?! YES, the various killers from the Scream franchise were written into existence by Kevin Williamson. Well, all besides the third sequel – but that’s the Scream that no one wants to remember anyway. While we may think of Wes Craven as the puppet master of the franchise that revived the slasher genre, Williamson was the gay mind writing our favorite characters who we have still yet to forget – and has created one of the genre’s still final-final girls in Neve Campbell. Williamson is a long-standing veteran in both horror and entertainment all together. He’s created or written for The Vampire Diaries, The Faculty, Cursed, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Dawson’s Creek. When you think about it – Williamson’s legacy has been rife with homoerotic subtext and sometimes is outwardly gay. His work is unrivaled to many in the industry: He’s plainly molded the best the genre has to offer. We can expect to see his work continue as he is attached to produce the next Scream sequel set to be released next year.

While the above gentlemen have provided us with horror icons and movies that will play in homes and on mobile devices for the next century, there’s still plenty of other gay directors and writers within the genre that could fit a scroll. Recently, we reviewed the bloody hilarious Death Drop Gorgeous championed by an incredible team of gay men including Brandon Perras-Sanchez. Executive producer and IHorror creator, Anthony Pernicka, continues to contribute his knowledge to the ever-expanding genre. M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller came up with The Final Girls, which may be the only horror film that will leave you bawling your eyes out and calling your mother immediately afterwards. Hulu presented their first gay-horror film, Midnight Kiss, written by Erlingur Thoroddsen. And who can forget about the cult classic Jawbreaker cooked to perfection by Darren Stein? Gays aren’t just the heart of the horror genre, they’re also the brain.

Finally, we’re at a stage in society where characters in films don’t have to be subtly gay as a wink to the audience: We can be as loud and obnoxious as we want to be. As quoted in the horror documentary, Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, Heather Langenkamp mentioned for years that she had a loyal following of gay fans who related to her final girl character of battling an inner demon that no one else could see. It was almost an allegory for them of wanting to come out of the closet. Gays and horror have been an instant duo just as chocolate and peanut butter. In the next ten years, you can easily bet we’re going to see a rise in LGBTQ persons in future horror films. Maybe, perhaps hopefully, we’ll be treated to a Final Gay instead of a Final Girl.

Writer’s Note: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.

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