13 movies for a queer horror marathon
Planning a queer horror marathon? Whether you’re getting together with friends for Halloween or cuddling up to a date for a spooky flick, we’ve got your screams covered.
Here are our top 13 movies for your gay fright night.
What are the best queer horror films?
From slashers and demons to camp classics, some of our favourite horror films include:
- A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- Knock at the Cabin
- Stranger by the Lake
- Doctor Sleep
- The Babadook
- Jennifer’s Body
- Bodies, Bodies, Bodies
Horror films have a cult following in the queer community. The genre provides an outlet for queer people to reclaim their identity. Many LGBTQ+ folks know what it’s like to exist on society’s social margins. And many of us know the feeling of being the ‘monster’ in the room. We’ve been feared, discriminated against, and confronted for our otherness.
“Horror films have a cult following in the queer community.”
Horror films place characters in situations where they must confront otherness — represented as a murderer, a supernatural entity, or a ferocious creature. When we watch horror, we explore facets of ourselves in the heroes on the screen and the foes they confront.
Let’s dive into the films and take a look in more detail:
1. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, 1985
The razor-gloved supernatural killer, Freddy Krueger, returns to stalk the dreams of teenager Jesse Walsh in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. Jesse moves into the former home of the first film’s protagonist, Nancy Thomspon, and experiences similar violent nightmares after reading her diary. Freddy Krueger plans to use Jesse to murder his victims.
Released at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, the film has a subtext related to the crisis. The slasher genre usually places a final girl in the face-off against a killer. However, this sequel pits a teenage boy against Freddy Krueger. As Freddy tries to take over his body, Jesse is, in many ways, fighting against himself. There’s also ongoing sexual tension between Freddy and Jesse, which director David Chaskin has since acknowledged was a deliberate commentary on the HIV/AIDS crisis.
It’s not essential to watch the first film, but if you are a fan, strap yourself in for a sequel to remember.
2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975
Don’t forget this musical cult classic that embraces queer sexuality in a campy and exuberant way. Brad and Janet get a flat tyre in a rainy forest and must seek help at a nearby castle. It happens to be the humble abode of Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), a mad scientist holding an annual science convention. Frank plans to showcase the birth of his newest experiment, a man created to fulfil his sexual desires!
The film’s exploration of gender, sexuality, and their fluidity resonated with queer audiences in the 1970s, who were living on society’s social fringe. Between the queer subtext, unique song lineup, and Curry’s outstanding performance, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has become a queer Halloween staple.
3. Thelma, 2017
An intricate tale of queer female sexual awakening ensues in the Norwegian film: Thelma. Suffering from seizures, Thelma (Eili Harboe) attempts to understand her affliction amid the rigidity of her rural Christian upbringing. All the while, Thelma grapples with an emerging sexual attraction to Anja, a fellow university student, and her own suppressed telekinetic powers.
4. Knock at the Cabin, 2023
If you’re looking for a fresh queer horror flick, Knock at the Cabin is the film for you. Gay couple Eric and Andrew are vacationing at a remote cabin in rural Pennsylvania with their daughter, Wen. The family is held hostage by four strangers (including Dave Bautista), who claim to have had visions of the coming apocalypse. The only way to prevent it is for the fathers to sacrifice one of their own.
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan (known for films such as The Sixth Sense, The Visit, and The Village), you can expect jump scares and a twist ending that will leave you watching with one eye closed.
5. Stranger by the Lake, 2013
This French film, directed by Alain Guiraudie, brings the thriller genre to a gay nude beach tucked away by a lake. Franck, a regular at the cruising spot, meets the attractive Michel at the beach. When Franck witnesses Michel drowning another man one evening, he questions their deepening relationship. You’ll be on the edge of your seat as Stranger by the Lake builds towards an intense climax (wink!).
6. They/Them, 2022
They/Them is a slasher film set among the very real horrors of an LGBTQ conversion practices camp. Kevin Bacon stars as Owen Whistler, the owner of Whistler Camp. A group of queer teenagers endures unsettling psychological conversion practices as a masked axe-wielding murderer stalks the camp.
The release of the film sparked LGBTQ+ ally Kevin Bacon’s United States-based campaign to end harmful conversion practices.
7. Halloween, 1978
Another queer ally you may wish to see on your screen is Jamie Lee Curtis in the 1978 classic Halloween. Laurie Strode is a teenage babysitter on Halloween night in the quiet town of Haddonfield, Illinois. The iconic masked killer Michael Meyers stalks the neighbourhood, leading to a face-off with Strode — a hallmark of the horror genre.
The film kicked off the slasher masked-killer trend, which was particularly popular in 1980s and 1990s horror films.
8. Doctor Sleep, 2019
The long-awaited sequel to Stephen King’s The Shining, Doctor Sleep, hit screens with a queer twist. Now an adult, Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) struggles to overcome his father’s murderous rampage at The Overlook Hotel. He connects with a young girl who shares his gift of ‘the shine’, hunted by Rose the Hat — the bisexual leader of a gang seeking to feed on her energy. The complex character arcs of Doctor Sleep will leave you hungry for more.
9. M3GAN, 2022
What is it that makes M3GAN so popular in the queer community? This Black Mirror-esque film is about an AI-powered doll named M3GAN designed to fill the parental void of a tech whiz aunt’s orphaned niece, Cady. As M3GAN becomes self-aware, she determines her ward must be protected at all costs. M3GAN works herself up into a campy slaying frenzy, literally and metaphorically.
Writer Akela Cooper asked one of her gay friends why he felt M3GAN became so popular with queer audiences. He believed the concept of found family, where Cady loses her parents and finds family with her aunt and M3GAN, particularly resonates with queer people. Found family comes in many forms, such as friends, mentors, or neighbours, and is undoubtedly an experience shared by many in the LGBTQ+ community.
10. The Babadook, 2014
We would be babashook not to include this queer icon! The Babadook is an Australian film about a young boy convinced of a top-hatted monster’s presence in his home. His single mother, Amelia, does her best to help her son while spiralling into paranoia.
While not explicitly a queer horror film, a viral Tumblr social media post garnered so much support from the queer community, the Babadook took on an entirely new meaning for LGBTQ+ people. The creature has become a symbol of the journey queer people undergo to understand ourselves and our identity.
11. Jennifer’s Body, 2009
Popular high-school girl Jennifer (Megan Fox) becomes possessed by a demonic entity and turns into a succubus. Jennifer uses her sex appeal to lure straight male victims to their deaths, while her friend Anita tries to protect her lover from Jennifer’s advances.
Jennifer’s Body has become a Feminist horror classic as the first film in the genre to relegate straight men to victims and side characters! The film is credited with sparking the sexual awakening of many queer women, notably through the sexual tension between Jennifer and Anita. It’s not hard to see why this flick has become a queer horror favourite!
12. Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, 2022
A lesbian couple leads this cast of characters in Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, a film about a party game turned deadly. Bee and Sophie travel to a mansion owned by a family friend for a night of revelry during a hurricane. The young adults play a game similar to murder in the dark, which leaves one of their friends’ throats slashed. Suspicion ensues, and Bee and Sophie try to find the killer among them.
13. Hellraiser, 1987
Gay filmmaker Clive Barker started a decades-long franchise with the 1987 gore-fest Hellraiser. Larry and Julia, a married couple, move into Larry’s brother’s former home. They accidentally resurrect his brother Frank, and Julia promises to lure men in as human sacrifices to restore his body to its original form with the help of a mysterious ancient puzzle box. Said puzzle box just so happens to be a portal to an otherworldly realm inhabited by demonic entities. Just another day in suburbia!