Hundreds of standalone horror films are released in theaters and on streaming each year, and a huge portion of the genre that keeps people coming back is its franchises. Casual and dedicated fans alike swarm around long-running sagas, and a lot of the time, studios prioritize them. Whether it be through a new trilogy, a Golden Age series, or a legacy sequel from this current trend, one common thread ties them all together: queer coding, and this list of titles can prove it.
This article may contain spoilers
12. Scream (2022)
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Scream started off 2022 with a bang, as stated in our review earlier this year, and is undeniably the queerest of the saga thus far. For starters, Jasmin Savoy Brown portrayed the first canon LGBTQ character in the film franchise, Mindy Meeks-Martin, and — spoiler alert — she survived as one of four ‘next gen’ characters expected to return for the upcoming sequel. Fans have also made note of a relationship between Tara (Jenna Ortega) and Amber (Mikey Madison), which was apparently removed from the script, rendering it non-canon as of the theatrical release.
Creator Kevin Williamson came back as an executive producer, and made a statement that the Scream movies have been coded in gay survival from the jump, with heroines Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) having the weight of trauma on their shoulders, as gay kids might. Of course, the involvement of LGBT icons such as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Laurie Metcalf, Carrie Fisher and more have contributed to its success as a queer horror franchise, as well.
11. Fear Street (2021)
Part One introduces a young lesbian final girl (Kiana Madeira) on a mission to protect her cursed girlfriend (Olivia Scott Welch) from a murderous group of local legends. In Part Two, we meet Alice, who was portrayed by non-binary actor Ryan Simpkins with queer coding in mind, and Part Three goes further to wrap the story around full circle with the origins of Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel) and a mirrored tragic romance that leads to accusations of witchcraft.
Technically a trilogy, Fear Street paved its own space in the genre last summer while paying respects to films such as Friday the 13th and Scream. It’s a gateway story and supernatural-slasher hybrid that has something for everybody, especially LGBTQ+ teens. Read our reviews for 1994, 1978, and 1666.
10. Seed of Chucky (2004)
As noted here, Seed finds the killer doll (Brad Dourif) becoming a father after the events of Bride of Chucky. Series creator Don Mancini makes his directorial debut, and flat out turns it into a black comedy, with Chucky and Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) arguing over whether or not their child (Billy Boyd) is a boy or a girl.
It was later confirmed in an episode of the television series, Chucky, that Glen (also known as Glenda) is genderfluid, leaving fans eager to see how they return down the line.
9. The Craft (1996)
The Craft sees a young girl (Robin Tunney, also listed here!) taken in by a clique of teen witches. It’s set at a Catholic school, and that alone makes a statement, because being outed as a witch in a religious environment is about as dangerous as being outed as queer, too. With heavy themes of longing for acceptance and revenge, especially surrounding Bonnie (Neve Campbell) and Rochelle (Rachel True), it makes sense as to why this gained an LGBTQ+ cult following over the years.
Also noteworthy is The Craft: Legacy, its sequel released in 2020 following a similar premise, which features a bisexual subplot involving Nicholas Galitzine, and trans actress Zoey Luna as part of the lead coven. Nominated for the 2021 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film (Wide Release).
8. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
By far the lowest rated film on this list, Halloween 6 concludes the Thorn Trilogy six years after The Revenge of Michael Myers. While its status as a queer horror is almost never discussed, there is some evidence that might be interesting to those willing to give it a second look.
Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd, in his feature debut) is now a reclusive adult, obsessed with the slasher that attacked him in 1978. This fear of the boogeyman reads similar to one internalized in gay men. He also has a picture of Divine from Pink Flamingos on his fridge...And introducing our new leading lady, Kara Strode (Marianne Hagan) was disowned by her father for an undisclosed reason, and returning as a single mother in college, pairs well with Doyle as a homosexual and lesbian coded final duo.
7. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
John Carl Buechler
Prior to his arrival in Manhattan, Hell, and outer space, Jason Voorhees had his sights set on one specific group of victims: the gays!
Kidding, of course, but for a film franchise almost exclusively focused on straight couples getting butchered in the woods, it’s pretty cool to see a sequel with so many queer actors in its leading cast. Kevin Spirtas, Susan Blu, Craig Thomas, and William Butler are among those names, in this wildly underrated riff on Carrie.
6. Hellraiser (1987)
Written and directed by Clive Barker, who openly identifies as homosexual, and adapted from his 1986 novella, The Hellbound Heart. Hellraiser introduced Pinhead (Doug Bradley) as a horror icon, along with other Cenobites, who are summoned from a place between pleasure and pain, seeking carnal experiences with those who solve The Lament Configuration.
It’s a striking story rooted in sadomasochism, and between the character designs & campy performances, there is no taking away its queer classic status.
5. Psycho III (1986)
Psycho, at its core, focuses on the character of Norman Bates, who, while queer coded, lives with the murderous alternate personality of his deceased mother. This third film, Perkins’ directorial debut, brings in the element of religious trauma, which can be all too familiar to those in the LGBT community. Full of homages to the original film, and oozing with style and sleaze (in a good way), this is a strange entry for the slasher franchise, but a unique and entertaining one at that.
Feeding into the rumors about Perkins’ sexuality would be a great disservice to the late actor, so while stories are out there, it is more important that we recognize him as a queer icon for his contributions in film, first and foremost.
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
Potentially the most widely assessed film on this list, the first sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street has plenty of homoerotic subtext buried deep in its nature. Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), the bladed glove wielding demon created by Wes Craven, is reworked here as repressed homosexuality quite literally bursting out of the final boy. Add another ignored girlfriend (Kim Myers), a nightmare-induced gay bar sequence involving his coach (Marshall Bell), and there you have it.
For more on lead actor Mark Patton and his experience as a closeted gay man at the time of production, watch Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street.
3. Fright Night (1985)
If you want to be put into a trance for 106 minutes with campy humor and a sexy visual style, this one’s for you. Fright Night has gay written all over it — teen Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is absolutely fixated on his hunky new neighbor (Chris Sarandon).
Is he ignoring his girlfriend because this guy is a bloodsucking vampire, or because he’s suddenly questioning his sexuality? Worth mentioning, Sarandon’s character lives with a man (Jonathan Stark) and the two can easily be seen as a couple.
2. Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Harboring one of the most shocking and controversial climaxes in slasher history, Sleepaway Camp tells the story of a traumatized young girl (Felissa Rose) sent to Camp Arawak, where a series of horrible ‘accidents’ begins to raise the body count.
Originally seen by many as transmisogynistic, the Friday the 13th-esque shocker and its first two sequels have been reappraised for their creative kills. On top of that, audiences have found homoerotic subtext in its overall presentation.
1. Carrie (1976)
Brian De Palma
Based on Stephen King’s 1974 novel of the same name, this terror tale follows a tortured telekinetic teen (Sissy Spacek) ready to unleash her powers on her bullies and fanatically religious mother (Piper Laurie).
It’s a gorgeous story of self-discovery and any gay kid out there can relate to what we see on screen. Loneliness, feelings of abnormality, high school evil, and longing of being accepted for being yourself by your closest family. Also reflective of women’s trauma, as listed here!
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