The LGBTQ+ community has been an important part of horror for many years. Queer audiences have always been drawn to the genre, but despite this, the genre hasn’t always shown them the same love. Famous horror directors like Clive Barker, Don Mancini, and Stewart Thorndike have always included some form of representation in their works, but mostly on a subtextual level. There are not many horror films that represent queer individuals normally, but these stories are not nonexistent.
As the world gradually becomes a more accepting place, better representation can be seen across the board. Within horror, there is not only the chance to show LGBTQ+ individuals as normal people, but there is now a wide range of unique stories to be experienced. Here are the best horror films for the LGBTQ+ community.
14 Daughters of Darkness (1971)
Ciné Vog Films
With the arrival of the mysterious Countess Báthory and her assistant comes the discovery of women drained completely of their blood. The Countess is something beyond belief, but she isn’t after just victims. She sets her sights on one woman in particular: a newly married wife that so happens to be staying in the same hotel as her. Daughters of Darkness is as elegant as it is erotic. It seamlessly blends exploitation with elegance in a classic film from the ’70s that is still a fan favorite to many.
13 The Hunger (1983)
MGM/UA Entertainment Co.
Starring David Bowie, The Hunger sees the legendary gender-fluid pop star play a vampire named John who is in a relationship with fellow vampire Miriam (Catherine Deneuve). When John dies, Miriam finds herself in need of a new life companion. In comes Sarah (Susan Sarandon), who quickly finds herself under the beautiful vampire’s spell. The Hunger is ranked as Collider’s fifth-best LGBTQ+ horror film not just for being a great movie but for its aesthetic. Full of ’80s excess and erotically charged scenes, it’s not hard to believe that this film inspired much of how we view vampires today.
12 High Tension (2003)
Lovers Alexia and Marie travel to a secluded farmhouse owned by Alexia’s family. It’s supposed to be a peaceful weekend, but that goes out the window when a malicious serial killer arrives, leading to a brutal massacre. What follows is a bloody battle of wills as Marie is forced to rescue her girlfriend when Alexia is taken captive. High Tension may not be rated positively on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s now a cult classic and a terrifying modern slasher. Whatever critics may say, fans love this film for its queer storyline and insane twist.
11 Fear Street Trilogy (2021)
This hit trilogy based on R.L. Stines’ hit books premiered on Netflix over a three-week period and saw lesbian lovers Deena and Sam (Kiana Madeira and Olivia Scott Welch) dodge knife-wielding ghouls to try and break a centuries-old curse that’s plagued their town for generations.
Consisting of Fear Street Part 1: 1994, Fear Street Part 2: 1978, and Fear Street Part 3: 1666, critics and fans loved the trilogy not only for its well-written story and entertainment value but also for the romance story of these two characters. Never before had there been a normal representation of LGBTQ+ characters in a horror film, which is why Gay Times lists these movies on their 18 films to watch for Halloween. Their relationship effectively broke barriers for mainstream representation within the genre and will doubtlessly inspire future films to do the same.
10 Stranger by the Lake (2013)
Les films du losange
Stranger by the Lake sees an older man, Franck, infatuated with the younger Michel when he meets the man at the lake. The means by which they met are not so ideal as Franck witnessed Michel murdering someone. He knows he needs to say something, but the attraction to this killer is too strong, and he won’t let anything get in the way.
This dark erotic thriller has won multiple independent awards and is a tense, spine-tingling love story. Earning a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 4 out of 4 from Roger Ebert, this film is certainly not one to miss when searching for the perfect LGBTQ+ horror movie.
9 Raw (2016)
This French film may be the only one on this list to make audiences walk out as it is so grossly intense. Raw follows a vegetarian named Justine who experiences a harrowing change in her dietary cravings when she’s forced to consume raw meat at a college hazing ritual. What follows is a story mixture of cannibalism and queer attraction as she and her roommate fall deeper into a lifestyle she never knew existed.
Raw was critically acclaimed upon release for its queer storyline and characters in major roles. It’s haunting and disturbing and full of women empowerment, but if nothing else, it’s certainly disturbing.
8 Thelma (2017)
Thelma goes against her parent’s wishes by leaving home for college, marking her first time away. The world is strange, but things get brighter when she meets fellow student Anja, who awakens in Thelma a force of repressed emotions that cause strange things to happen to those closest to her. The film follows her struggle to come to terms with this strange new awakening, but she may find that everyone may have been safer if she stayed home. This Norwegian horror offers a fresh new take on the supernatural thriller that is both beautifully shot and thought-provoking and is as much a love story as it is a horror.
7 The Haunting (1963)
There have been many interpretations of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, but Robert Wise’s The Haunting stands out due to the relationship between the characters Eleanor and Theodora. While themes of sexuality were not addressed directly in the film, there were subtle nods to the two characters growing relationship.
The character Luke’s knowing look to Nell when Theo rebuffs him, and Nell calls the other girl “unnatural,” or their closeness throughout the movie in general. Fans can say this idea is debatable, but even Theodora actress Claire Bloom acknowledged that Theo was queer, even if the film didn’t. Whether anyone else wanted to acknowledge this or not, The Haunting is an unofficial LGBTQ+ haunting film.
6 The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
20th Century Fox
Everyone has at least heard of this classic, even if they’ve never seen it. The Rocky Horror Picture Show follows a couple who make their way to a secluded castle after their car breaks down. What they stumble upon is a convention led by the seductive Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), the self-proclaimed “sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania.” Rocky Horror has a massive cult following and is regarded as one of the best to ever be made.
One of the key themes of the flick is inclusivity, as it sports an array of characters dressed flashily and flamboyantly. It’s a film where everyone is welcome. Fans often dress as the characters and reenact musical numbers. Such a loyal and ever-growing following is probably why this film boasts the longest-running theatrical release in film history for four decades running.
5 Interview with the Vampire (1994)
The number one spot goes to the Anne Rice horror classic Interview with the Vampire. No one in this film is explicitly gay, as movies by this point in the 90s mainly pushed the idea through subtext and line blurring. This movie, directed by Neil Jordan, pushed things even further by making a depiction of two men who clearly love each other.
Throughout, we see companions Lestat and Louis (Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt) navigating their immortality by caring for a daughter together. This picture is chock-full of homoerotic subtext and a lot of bloodsucking and vampire lust. A new AMC series will be adapting Rice’s tales this year, and given the current state of film and television, any queer elements the series may retain will likely not be shown through subtext.
4 Jennifer’s Body (2009)
20th Century Fox
Another film where our protagonists aren’t forwardly queer, Jennifer’s Body has become a hallmark for the gay community. Released in 2009 and written by Diablo Cody, the screenwriter who brought you Juno, Jennifer’s Body is a cult classic starring Amanda Seyfried and Megan Fox as our lead protagonists Anita and Jennifer, respectively.
These two are best friends, but that doesn’t mean they have anything in common. Where Anita is quiet and curious, a total wallflower, Jennifer is out there and loud, looking to experience life to the fullest. When they are out watching a band play one night, Jennifer finds her lucky opportunity to spend a night with the band goes completely wrong. The result? She’s turned into a man-eating demon.
The dynamic between Jennifer and Anita is where much of the queer lore takes place. Anita is a needy friend, always trailing Jennifer like a shadow and desperate for her attention. Jennifer on the other hand uses Anita and her friendship almost experimental, using her to test the limits of her body and her desires. The relationship between the two thus emulates closeting sexual feelings towards each other, ones that are never fully acknowledged or acted upon, but are nonetheless there. Not to mention, the sexual nature of our protagonist, Jennifer, was a huge sexual awakening for many gay teens.
3 Suspiria (2018)
Directed by Luca Guadagnino, this 2018 remake of the original film starring Dakota Johnson, Mia Goth, and Tilda Swinton breaks the norms on all fronts including gender and sexuality. When Susie, an American woman, enrolls in a prestigious dance academy in Berlin, she is quick to discover the school is run by a coven of witches. When she quickly rises the ranks to lead dancer, the woman she replaces mentally and physically breaks down. After the shocking turn of events, an inquisitive therapist and our protagonist investigate the dark and sinister secrets of the academy.
Much of Suspiria’s queerness comes from the deconstruction of heterosexual and “typical” power dynamics through an all-women community. In the academy, the dynamics between dancers become intimate, violent, and sexually charged, revealing how the queerness between these women lends itself to creating alternative power dynamics. Tilda Swinton plays multiple roles in this film; lead choreographer, head of the coven, and the male psychotherapist for the dancers. These characters have goals that put them at odds with each other, their contradictory energy between the three roles is what helps establish much of the anxiety that is explored by our protagonist in the film.
2 Titane (2021)
When we talk about LGBTQ+ films, often these are narratives centered around sexuality. Sometimes, questions of gender don’t really make the cut. This is certainly not the case with the film Titane. Following a woman with a titanium plate fitted in her head, this protagonist has murderous tendencies and a violent streak that gets her into a lot of trouble. After killing several folks in their home, she runs away from the law by doing the one thing they least expect: changing into a man. From there, our protagonist finds their way into a fire-fighter house where she must keep multiple secrets from these men and their father figure.
Titane is deeply unsettling and uncomfortable, with many violent and physical scenes making audiences squirm. And while this might not be for everyone, Titane also breaks down gender conformity in a way that makes audiences question gender roles and binary. From how the protagonists dresses and act, to their interests, how they display sexuality, and their dark psychologies, the film attempts to estrange audiences from notions of gender that are typically reaffirmed by film and popular culture.
1 Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)
A24’s Bodies Bodies Bodies hit screens in 2022 and was an instant hit not only for its horror but for how it portrays how new generations of younger folks see and experience gender and sexuality. When a group of 20-somethings gets stuck in a remote mansion during a hurricane, they decide to throw a party with some scary party games. Everything goes very wrong, however, when, after the power goes out, one of the boys is discovered dead. From there, not only are the girls’ survival skills tested, but their friendships with one another.
Unlike other films on this list, a queer relationship is front and center stage. Emma and Sophie are in a relationship together, deeply in love when Sophie wants to introduce her girlfriend to her hometown friends. And where previous films are about the secretive nature of queer romance and sexuality, Bodies Bodies Bodies instead focuses on how these girls’ relationship is the most normal, straightforward forward, and natural part of a group of kids with psychologies and actions that aren’t exactly “healthy.” In this way, Bodies Bodies Bodies is the new age of queerness in film and media.