Pride month is officially underway and while some may be celebrating by attending parades—virtually or in person—others might be looking for the next queer horror film to enjoy. While the genre typically appears cisgender and heterosexual, there are numerous movies that prove that LGBTQIA+ representation in horror is essential and entertaining. From classic slashers to relationships gone awry, there’s an undeniably queer presence in horror.
As the genre continues to grow into a space where social discourse occurs, the presence of LGBTQIA+ characters and their stories increases. To celebrate pride month, it is important to recognize the various spheres in which queerness is embraced, represented, and unpacked. As such, we’ve carefully curated a list of the best movies to stream for Pride this June.
Director Joachim Trier’s Thelma is an intense coming-of-age story from Norway. It follows a young woman named Thelma (Eili Harboe) as she uncovers the truth behind her newly found telekinetic powers, all while discovering her true feelings towards her classmate Anja (Okay Kaya). Exploring the tragic lesbian trope alongside family trauma, Thelma is an essential film for pride month, as it details common experiences of closeted queerness, self-exploration, and first loves in a woman-loving-woman relationship.
The Hunger (1983) stars David Bowie as John and Catherine Deneuve as his lover Miriam, who just so happens to be a vampire. It is common knowledge in horror circles that vampires have a distinct queer-coding, as they appear as sensual, seductive, and dangerous monsters who can veer the most innocent individual into a life of sin. In The Hunger, director Tony Scott explores themes of polyamorous relationships and sexuality with queer icons acting as his characters. It is no surprise that a vampire flick with David Bowie as its star finds itself on this list to celebrate pride.
The horror streaming service Shudder dominated the year 2020 with its incredible exclusives and original content, which just so happened to include the movie Spiral—not to be confused with the latest installment in the Saw franchise. This film follows an interracial gay couple and their daughter as they move to a suburban neighborhood. As the story progresses, they discover that their new home is surrounded by evil.
Diablo Cody and Karyn Kusama’s Jennifer’s Body (2009) is an underrated horror flick that explores female friendship and bisexuality. After Jennifer Check (Megan Fox) falls victim to an indie boy band, she transforms into a succubus who feeds on the flesh of men. Throughout the movie, there are allusions to her queerness—it isn’t until she mentions that she “goes both ways” that viewers realize that Jennifer may be in love with her best friend. Now a cult classic, Jennifer’s Body is celebrated for its representation of bisexuality and exploration of complex female friendships that may be more than platonic.
Related: Female Villainy in Horror Movies
A talented young cellist named Charlotte (Allison Williams) befriends a fellow musician named Lizzie (Logan Browning) in The Perfection. As the two begin a sexual relationship with one another, horror ensues as Lizzie becomes inexplicably ill. Blending queerness with body horror, The Perfection leaves no gory stone unturned as it creates an atmosphere that disturbs and delights even the bravest horror fans. It features themes of lesbian love and female friendship, as well as revenge and triumph despite various obstacles and injury. Viewer beware, The Perfection isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is worth the watch, especially for Pride month.
Clive Barker is one of the most well-known horror creators of all time. From his novels to his films, he’s largely recognized for his creation of queer-coded characters and stories. Hellraiser presents a horrifying story of a puzzle box with cenobites that scream BDSM culture. Clad in leather, metal, and bondage, Barker’s cenobites have become icons of the BDSM community. While Barker never fully intended to present queerness through his characters, they are undeniably a part of mainstream LGBTQIA+ media and film.
If Rosemary’s Baby was about a queer couple, it would be the movie Lyle. In the film, a lesbian couple moves into a new home in a metropolitan city as they wait for their new addition to make their way into their family. While the happy couple are welcomed by their neighbors, they quickly discover that they might not be wholly welcome. Lyle explores the discourse on lesbian relationships, queer mothering and motherhood, as well as homophobia while these two mothers anxiously wait for their baby’s arrival.
May tells the story of a young veterinary technician who yearns for love and friendship. Growing up as an outcast, she never found a place of her own among her peers. Once May finds a man she truly believes could be the one, she becomes infatuated with his hands. However, she discovers her bisexuality when she falls in love with a woman at her work. May features themes of bisexuality, queer loneliness, and feelings of longing and belonging. It is essential to an LGBTQIA+ horror movie night, as it also utilizes queer-coded monstrous concepts of the past, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
What Keeps You Alive
While taking a relaxing trip to the woods, Jules (Brittany Allen) becomes skeptical of her wife’s past. As the events of the film continue to unfold, the trust between the two women begins to waver and the guise Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) held falls to pieces. What Keeps You Alive epitomizes the tragic lesbian trope in the horror genre while providing viewers the opportunity to explore how lesbianism is used in a horror context to create likable, dislikable, and complex characters.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge features the first scream king. Jessie Walsh, portrayed by Mark Patton, was the first male protagonist in Wes Craven’s slasher franchise and was explicitly queer-coded. While some viewers were able to pick up on this aspect of Jesse during their first viewing, it wasn’t until conversations on the topic began to circulate that it became a major source of contention for the actor and his ability to navigate the film industry.
Since the film was made in the 1980s, it was the height of the HIV/AIDs epidemic and queer characters weren’t exactly welcome in any genre. Therefore, it led to some outrage among fans and critics. The actual movie is an essential viewing for Pride, but so is the documentary on Patton’s experiences, titled Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street.
Technically, Raw isn’t an overtly LGBTQIA+ horror movie, but it does feature themes of queerness. When a young woman begins veterinary college, she finds herself attracted to raw meat, despite being a vegan for the entirety of her life. The film culminates with a gruesome end that stands as a metaphor for the consumption of gay men’s culture by straight white women. This runs rampant in LGBTQIA+ circles, as queerness is often commodified and appropriated for numerous reasons that are largely self-serving, especially in drag culture. Raw displays just how wrong it is to consume others' culture for the sake of clout, in a very literal sense.