As Pride month comes to close, we honor the queer icons that paved a way in the horror genre.
The end of Pride month is upon us, and we have to go out a bang. And, what better way to do that than by looking back at some of our top queer icons in the horror genre. These icons paved the way for more representation in films and shows by sharing their stories and experiences. From several lesbian vampires to an Australian book demon that was meme’d to death, this list has everything you could possibly want!
Ellen Ripley, Alien
Starting off strong with Sigeorney Weaver’s exemplary role as “Lt. Ellen Ripley” from Alien (1979). Ripley is the lead character of the film as a powerful, androgynous femme fatale while male crew members around her are subject to things we see women usually experience in horror movies. Ripley’s character rejects the common gender norms and stereotypes of the era, never leaning too much into femininity or masculinity. Without the pressure of gender and sexuality thrust on her, Ripley was propelled into being a queer iconic character.
Jesse Walsh, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Freddy’s Revenge
Referred to as the “Gayest Horror Movie Ever Made”, the sequel to cult classic showcases Jesse Walsh (protrayed by Mark Patton) in very homoerotic situations, including with killer himself, Freddy Krueger. For example, upon their first encounter, Krueger drags his blade across Walsh’s face, creating almost sexual tension between the two. Also, instead of confiding in girlfriend Lisa (Kim Myers) about the current procession of his body, Walsh seeks out his friend Grady (Robert Rusler) and even gets on top of him to wake him up. This prompts Walsh to tell him something is in his body and Grady’s response to that is: “And, you want to sleep with me?” Can it get any gayer than that? Definitely a queer iconic film!
This recent horror-comedy brings us the hilarious queer character of Josh, portrayed by Misha Osherovich. Josh’s character is a breath of fresh air, since as the movie goes on, he makes commentary about how his odds of surviving are low as an LGBTQ, thus flipping the stereotype on its head. Osherovich spoke about his role, saying, “I even say it in the film ‘You’re Black, I’m gay, we are so dead,’ because it’s commenting on that trope. That’s how society normally treats characters like us and often how the horror genre treats characters like us.”
Elizabeth Bathory, Daughters of Darkness
Who doesn’t love lesbian vampires? Look no further than Elizabeth Bathory, portrayed by Delphine Seyrig. The whole movie is Countess Bathory trying to tempt newlywed Valerie (Danielle Ouimet) from her husband (John Karlen), after they end up at the same hotel she’s been at for 40 years. Bathory is a queer icon in herself for two reasons: she hates men and loves to dress up! What more can you ask for?
Angela, the Sleepaway Camp series
Our first transgender representation on the list; Angela, portrayed by Pamela Springsteen. Unfortunately, there are some trans-phobic undertones within the original movie, such as using the transgender character’s identity as a shocking plot reveal, having that character be the villain, and on top of it all, be played by a cisgendered actress. However, in the series, the writers gave the character more than just her gender identity. Instead of the focus being on her queer gender, it’s on how she wants to punish the campers for ruining the experience and how she “cures” them. By “cures,” we mean killing them one by one.
Countess Marya Zaleska, Dracula’s Daughter
Remember what we said about lesbian vampires? Oh, we have more! Countess Marya Zaleska, played by Gloria Holden, isn’t explicitly gay but between her stellar wardrobe and her sexually charged scenes with other women, many can connect the dots. This sequel to Dracula (1936) . In the movie, the Countess has her servant, Sandor, bring women for her to devour, yet they strip prior to her feasting and slowly seduces them. With her only male victim, she is very quick and cold with her kill. The film is filled with queer-coded undertones between it’s shots of Mayra looking over her female victims body and her telling her doctor she wants to be “normal.”
Miriam Blaylock, The Hunger
Another lesbian vampire! Though, this vampire is out and proud! Miriam Blaylock, played by Catherine Deneuve, has her eyes set on Sarah (Susan Sarandon) after her lover John (David Bowie) passes away. Upon their first meeting, Blaylock instantly has Sarah in her control after she starts helping Sarah clean the spilled wine on her blouse, which leads to a infamous queer sex scene. According to Sarandon, the director originally wrote for Balylock to get her character drunk and then sleep with her, to which she replied, “Why would she have to get drunk to want to sleep with Catherine Deneuve?” Touche.
Glen/Glenda, Seed of Chucky
A more sillier queer icon in the list! Voiced by Billy Boyd, Glen/Glenda is the child of infamous killer doll icons, Chucky and Tiffany. They adopt an orphaned doll, and they are unaware of the doll’s gender. By the end, they realize it doesn’t matter and continue calling the doll by its names. The Director of the film, Don Mancini, has since said, “As a gay guy, I love the fact that over the years, [to] the people who saw that movie as children, the character of Glen really meant something to them, and that’s very cool.”
Mitch Downe, Paranorman
In this animated film from 2012, Mitch (Casey Affleck) is a cool queer jock who spends the entire film receiving advances from Courtney (Anna Kendrick), who likes him. Later in the movie, he tells Courtney about his boyfriend and how he is a “total chick flick nut.” The best part is that writer/director, Chris Butler, and co-creator, director Sam Fell, confirmed that Mitch is indeed gay and wasn’t just a punch line. “We played it off as a punch line to a joke,” Butler said. “But, in a sense, that made it all the more potent, I think, because Mitch is just an ordinary guy — and what I wanted to do with the script throughout the story was, first of all, to turn preconceptions on their head.”
Frank-N-Furter – Rocky Horror Picture Show
The queer icon of all icons: Tim Curry’s “Dr. Frank-N-Furter.” Clad in fishnets, a corset, and a face full of drag, Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s character explores gender and sexuality exploration throughout the musical. He seduces both Janet and Brad, the heterosexual couple that show up to his castle. While there is definitely a conversation to be had on the concept of consent and messy portrayal of sex in the film, there is no denying that Dr. Frank-N-Furter himself has become a pop culture icon. Many have even owed their coming out stories to the character.
The Babadook, The Babadook
Confused with this one? You might be but this one comes from a series of internet lore, with even Netflix allegedly joining the fun. The Babadook (2014) was a Australian movie about a monster who manifests and terrorizes family after a widower, Amelia, conjures it from reading a book. The meme started in October 2016 after a Tumblr user (Ianstagram) made a post saying “Whenever someone says the Babadook isn’t openly gay it’s like?? Did you even watch the movie???” Thus a queer icon was born. Then in 2017, photo surfaced on Instagram of the horror film filed under the “LGBTQ” section on Netflix. Whether or not this was real is still to be determined but this only filed the fire. Memes of the Babadook on RuPauls Drag Race and holding various Pride flags bombarded the internet, cementing their status as a Queer Icon.
Michael, The Quiet Room
This short film has everything: demons, suspense, and Rupaul’s Drag Race alumni! It takes the tale of Michael (Jamal Douglass), a queer gay man haunted by a psych-ward demon (Alaska Thunderfuck) after attempting suicide. Michael realizes Hattie kills everyone he interacts with and tries to find a way to stop her. We see Michael go through mental health struggles, experiencing grief and emotional exhaustion. This movie can be reliable for anyone, especially LGBTQ members, going through depression and mental health crises.
Lourdes, The Craft Legacy
Building off of The Craft (1996) lore, the sequel introduces more characters, including transgender character Lourdes. Played by Zoey Luna, the queer character is a carefree, spunky witch who loves hanging out with her friends. Luna points out that the film tried to make it known that the character is trans without it being her entire character. “They did it in such a beautiful way that I had been waiting for, I guess, studios and movies to address it,” Luna said. “Because Lourdes is trans, Lourdes is Latina, but that’s not her arc.”
Jackie, What Keeps You Alive
In this thriller, we watch as a married lesbian couple take an anniversary trip to a cabin in the woods to unwind and celebrate each other’s love. Well, sort of. Not really. Nothing ever good happens in a cabin in the woods. Instead, we watch Jackie (Hannah Anderson) attempt to kill her wife (to try to get insurance money). A true girl boss! While Jackie isn’t one for anyone to be inspired by, she is a queer icon for her determination, and how she could hold her own against other top killers of the genre.
Charlotte Willmore, The Perfection
Last but not least, Charlotte Willmore (Alison Williams) is a cunning and dangerous musician in The Perfection (2019). Willmore meets fellow successful cellist, Lizzie (Logan Browning) and after hitting it off, they go to a club and have sex after they both admit to liking one another’s work. Eventually in the film, Willmore drugs Lizzie and even manages to convince her to cut her arm off, after she is convinced she sees bugs under her skin. This is all to prevent her from playing the cello. As the audience learns Willmore’s motives for targeting Lizzie, they start to empathize against their will with the musician. While Willmore does go to extreme measures to end the cycle of abuse within her circle, her queer character is well-written and knows how to steal the show.
Check out this classic trailer for “Alien” 1979!