Queer for Fear: The History of Queer Horror
The horror genre is a land of outcasts and deviants. In this cinematic world of killers and demons, which has historically reflected the darker parts of life back at audiences, the monsters are manifestations of “The Other”, a part of society that doesn’t belong. On the surface, this “Otherness” is murder, cannibalism, or whichever transgressive act the terror pivots towards. However, to queer audiences and film scholars, this deviancy is more a celebration of queerness than something to fear. Horror has had its roots in queer cinema since its conception, and in Shudder docuseries Queer for Fear, a collection of queer creators and academics come together to examine the genre through a queer lens. To anyone even remotely interested in cinema history or the horror genre, this series is worth taking note of.
Beginning with early gothic (and gay) writers like Mary Shelley and Oscar Wilde, who helped pioneer the genre, to examining the homoerotic subtext of Hitchcock’s films, the first two parts of this documentary cover a staggering amount of ground within a relatively short space of time, and its barely scratching the surface of what’s still to come in the remaining instalments. With the introductory section hinting at digging into the queer cinematic icon that is The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the playground of sexual deviancy in the slasher genre, there’s still a lot more to come.
By drawing upon history and film analysis, the show puts forth a comprehensive and fascinating understanding of horror that some may never have realised existed. However, for a programme that embraces campness so lovingly, it comes as a disappointment that it is lacking when it comes to its own execution. Many of the talking heads are sat on blood-red chairs against a black background. Aside from a handful of tongue-in-cheek moments, the series format is as lifeless as the undead monsters it talks about. It feels like the production took the least creative route possible, which is the antithesis of what the show is celebrating.
Despite this, as a crash course in queer film theory told passionately by horror fans, Queer for Fear is an engaging and entertaining trip into LGBTQ+ horror history that cinephiles shouldn’t miss.
Queer for Fear: The History of Queer Horror is released on 30th September 2022.
Watch the trailer for Queer for Fear: The History of Queer Horror here: