If you’re the same kind of scare-seeking movie geek that I am, you’ll know that October is a time to light a few candles, turn down the lights, open up the windows to let in that fresh autumn breeze… before really setting the mood with some seasonally-appropriate scary movies! Being authorities on all things gay-cinema, though, we at TLAgay.com wanted to put in a good word for some queer movies that don’t make the usual ranked horror lists. We came up with a selection of 50 different gay titles that are either direct horror movies or horror adjacent (suspense, mysteries, thrillers). Below, you’ll find part three of our ongoing list – in alphabetical order – with new lists appearing each Monday in October. Keep checking back each week for the latest additions!
We tried to limit these to films that are currently available on our site – either on DVD or Blu-ray, or available via our On-Demand service. If a movie is missing from this list, chances are good it’s just out of print or otherwise currently unavailable/hard to access. This isn’t, as you’ll see, a definitive list of the greatest gay horror – that’s not what we were going for. This is just a sampling of some offerings that usually fly under the radar. Some are good, some are great, some are delightfully campy and ridiculous, some might be downright terrible, but they’re all available to help get your into the Halloween spirit!
2011, United States
Director: Dan Lantz
Lust can be deadly. Bored with the West Hollywood gay scene, best friends Michael, Johnny and Ted have embarked on a cross-country road trip from Los Angeles to New York City. Though their friendship hits a few speed bumps along the way, the trio decides to have one final hurrah during their last night on the road. That’s when fate brings them to “The Lion’s Den”, a secluded backwoods bar where not everything is as it seems. As the three out-of-towners toast the end of their journey, someone at the bar is watching them and setting a deadly trap. Now, as closing time draws near, a night of unspeakable horrors begins. Jesse Archer (Violet Tendencies, Going Down in La-La Land, Slutty Summer) and Ronnie Kroell (Saltwater, Eating Out: Drama Camp, Bravo’s “Make Me a Super Model”) headline this bold, uncompromising thriller that plunges into the depths of human depravity. With an unpredictable plotline and raw performances, Into the Lion’s Den is a twisted nightmare that viewers won’t soon forget.
2012, United States
Director: Bradley Rust Gray
We’re going to go out on a limb and say you’ve never seen a lesbian-themed film quite like Jack & Diane. Part dreamlike experiment, part urban romance, part horror, part fairy tale and part animation, the film creates a wholly original tale of teenage lust, fear and love. Blonde with porcelain doll-like fragility, British teenager Diane (Juno Temple) sets foot on the streets of New York in a daze. She is visiting the city to spend a summer week with her aunt. Prone to nose bleeds and easily distracted, the girl seems like a lost soul in the frantic city until she bumps into Jack (Riley Keough), a skateboard-riding, street-smart tomboy cutie. Their attraction is immediate. From the funky shops and frenzied night clubs, New York becomes their romantic playground. But forces – Diane’s impending return home, and her shocking, magical body-altering episodes – work against the emotionally charged lovers. This is a fast-paced, hip, and weird love story about two beautiful misfits that way more people need to see.
2016, United States
Director: Thomas Dekker
Jack Goes Home marks the feature length directorial debut of actor Thomas Dekker, whom gay cinema lovers will know from All About Evil (see Part 1 of our list), Lost in the White City and Kaboom. After his father is killed in a car crash, Jack, our troubled young protagonist, travels home to Colorado to help nurse his mother, who was injured in the crash, back to health. There, he uncovers long buried secrets and lies within his family history, threatening his feelings about his parents, his friends and his very identity. Rory Culkin gives an excellent performance in the lead as a young man who is slowly losing his grip on reality in the face of overwhelming grief. He’s also very confused about his sexuality. Louis Hunter plays Jack’s attractive, young gay neighbor who masturbates for him through the window and ultimately seduces him. A weird little mind-fuck of a movie, Jack Goes Home is subversive in unexpected ways.
2012, United States
Director: Chris James Thompson
What drives a seemingly mundane man to commit a series of acts so heinous that it captured the attention of a horrified nation? In the summer of 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested in Milwaukee and sentenced to 957 years in prison for killing 17 people and dismembering their bodies. The Jeffrey Dahmer Files explores this Midwestern city by meeting those who knew Dahmer during and after his hidden killing spree. Recollections from Milwaukee Medical Examiner Jeffrey Jentzen, Police Detective Pat Kennedy, and neighbor Pamela Bass are interwoven with archival footage and everyday scenes from Dahmer’s life, working collectively to disassemble the facade of an ordinary man leading an ordinary existence. We have a pretty strong theory about what drove Dahmer insane and led to his murders… life in the closet. Investigate the chilling true story behind one of America’s most famous serial killers (and, of course, his particularly disturbing interest in lifeless male bodies). The Jeffrey Dahmer Files has earned a few rave reviews when it first came out in 2012. Movies.com even called it “one of the greatest serial killer movies ever made.”
2014, United States
Director: James Townsend
TLA fan favorite Sean Paul Lockhart (known to porn aficionados as the legendary Brent Corrigan) stars alongside a bunch of similarly stunningly hot young dudes! Kissing Darkness follows a group of college boys who, bored with the everyday “gay life” of LA, decide to skip pride weekend. Instead, they gear up for a camping trip in the woods. Sounds similar to Into the Lion’s Den, right? Maybe we should all just commit to staying in the city. Quickly into their trip, the boys venture into a game that ultimately unleashes the vengeful spirit of a local legend known as “Malice Valeria.” Overcome by her deadly plan of tainted love and her thirst to take back what was lost long ago, the boys must now band together before they fall victim to the poisons of a broken heart. Directed by James Townsend (Sideline Secrets, Unsolved Suburbia), this unbelievably sexy new vampire flick with softcore erotic elements doesn’t skimp on the blood or the beautiful, scantily clad young beefcake.
2010, United States
Director: Bruce LaBruce
Intentionally provocative bad-boy director Bruce LaBruce offered up a hyper-sexual analysis of contemporary gay culture with L.A. Zombie. Starring international porn star and model Francois Sagat, the film follows an alien zombie creature as he emerges from the sea and attempts to make sense of his new home, Los Angeles. After getting picked up by a surfer in a truck, a severe accident occurs that results in the surfer lying dead in the middle of the road. The alien zombie has sex with the dead man and brings him back to life. Wandering away from the accident, he finds himself among LA’s homeless population where it becomes increasingly unclear whether he really is an alien zombie or a schizophrenic suffering from delusions. Like a kind of dark savior, the alien zombie proceeds to find various dead men in the Greater Los Angeles area and brings them back to life. It’s part porn, part horror, part art film, part critique of superficiality and ALL Bruce LaBruce at his most delightfully graphic! While the non-pornographic version of the movie does contain some pretty damn explicit sexual content, there is also a completely uncut version of the film called L.A. Zombie Hardcore – and, as you might imagine, it’s even more packed with mind-blowing (and frequently horrific) gay sex scenes.
2003, United States
Director: David DeCoteau
The Lakecrest College swim team is determined to win at all costs, even if it means taking steroids. But winning comes at a horrifying cost when harmless leeches in the campus lake, quietly feeding on the steroid-rich blood of the team’s swimmers, mutate into giant parasites with a vicious streak. No one is safe as these ferocious creatures brutally stalk the students and staff of the rural college and literally bleed them dry! Brought to us by the wonderful David DeCoteau – that means low-budget, intentionally ramshackle productions values and LOTS AND LOTS of achingly cute, shirtless boys – Leeches! is perfect for a camp-tastic late-night movie party with your snarkiest gay buddies. A few years ago, the movie was given a Special Edition DVD re-release with a director’s commentary, never-before-seen behind-the-scenes footage, a blooper reel and cast and crew interviews. Also featured is a bonus movie from DeCoteau called Speed Demon. In that movie, a mysterious driver in a muscle car with a demonic hood ornament hunts down a gang that has taken over a small town. Two campy, 1950s-throwback cult horror flicks for the price of one!
2014, United States
Director: Stewart Thorndike
Expecting couple Leah (Gaby Hoffmann) and June (Ingrid Jungermann) move into a Brooklyn brownstone apartment with their toddler daughter Lyle. Despite the strange baby-obsessed landlady downstairs and the group of female models who live above them, the two are happy with their new apartment until a bizarre accident leads to the traumatizing death of their beloved baby girl. Months later, Leah is still grief-stricken, trying to make sense of Lyle’s death, her landlady’s odd behaviors and her attraction to one of the models upstairs. As Leah prepares for her home birth, she begins to suspect the neighbors are involved in a satanic pact and fears for her unborn baby (shades of Rosemary’s Baby with a lesbian point of view). A familiar face since she was a very little girl (Field of Dreams, anyone?) Gaby Hoffmann has grown up and become a phenomenally talented adult actress who is always willing to go the extra mile for authenticity. She’s been on a major hot streak with her roles on “Girls” and “Transparent” (also check out the criminally under-seen Chilean indie Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus). Lyle was the first feature-length films from talented, off-kilter female director Stewart Thorndike. She worked with Stanley Kubrick on Eyes Wide Shut, so you know you’re in good hands.
Director: Mary Harron
There are few too many female filmmakers on this list, so we’re really glad Mary Harron is represented. The woman behind I Shot Andy Warhol and The Notorious Bettie Page, she’s maybe one of the most underrated director’s working today (in our humble opinion). She was, after all, the person who took Bret Easton Ellis’s “unfilmable” American Psycho and turned it onto a cult classic (with the help of Go Fish star and LGBT film mainstay Guinevere Turner). The Moth Diaries tells the chilling story of Rebecca (Sarah Bolger), a young girl who, haunted by her father’s suicide, enrolls in an elite boarding school for girls. Before long, Rebecca’s friendship with the popular Lucy (Sarah Gadon) is shattered by the arrival of a dark and mysterious new student named Ernessa (Lily Cole). Lucy falls under Ernessa’s spell and becomes emotionally and physically consumed by her glamorous new friend. Rebecca, whose overtures of concern are rejected by Lucy, finds herself lost and confused. She begins to develop a crush on her handsome English teacher, Mr. Davies (Scott Speedman… mmmm) and immerses herself in the Gothic vampire novel “Carilla” for his class. Rebecca starts to suspect that Ernessa is a vampire, but, despite the suspicious deaths that begin to occur, her fears are treated as simple girlish jealousy. As the bodies of young girls pile up and the line between reality and the supernatural starts to blur, Rebecca decides to take matters into her own hands and get rid of Ernessa. Who can say what is real and what is unreal to the heart consumed by passion and a mind afire with loss? Based on the bestselling novel by Rachel Klein, The Moth Diaries is an elegantly crafted story of the anxieties, lusts and adolescent fears.
1985, United States
Director: Jack Sholder
People unaware of the major gay subtext of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge are always surprised whenever it comes up. There were so many sequels in this massive franchise that they all start to blend together. This one, though – the FIRST sequel in the series – took some bold risks in using the original film’s concept to craft a ‘coming out’ allegory. 1985 audiences looking for a follow-up to the previous year’s instant horror classic may not have stopped to give the film an in-depth analysis, but seen through today’s more enlightened lens, the intentions aren’t all that subtle. Mark Patton stars Jesse, as a seemingly normal ’80s high school boy who is hiding a dark secret. The notorious Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is trying to use his body for evil – possessing him and making him carry out his evil deeds outside of the dream world. The film uses Freddy as a metaphor for Jesse’s burgeoning sexuality and his fears surrounding it. There are other pretty blunt hints as well. Jesse can’t get it up for his girlfriend and runs to his best male buddy (Robert Rusler) for comfort in a fit of panic. Jesse wakes up from a nightmare and enters a leather bar where he runs into his creepy, muscle-daddy gym teacher (Marshall Bell). Christ, there’s even a nude bondage/whipping scene in a gym locker room! Interestingly, while screenwriter David Chaskin admits that all of the gay subtext was intentional – and lead actor Patton (who later came out of the closet) has stated that he noticed it loud and clear – director Jack Sholder claims he didn’t realize the depth of the story he was telling until long after the film’s release. Even if everyone was not on the same page, they managed to deliver a cheeky (literally) camp classic.
That’s it for today! Check back in with us next week for Part 4 – and visit us at TLAgay.com for your gay-themed horror/Halloween entertainment-related needs!