The first films to leave an indelible mark on my psyche were William Sachs’ THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, a late-night screening on TV of Otto Preminger’s missing-child mystery, BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING, and the hilarious basketball decapitation in Wes Craven’s DEADLY FRIEND.
This combination of high-and-low-brow horror has definitely factored in shaping my identity. Embracing ghoulish and ghastly horror led me to connect with the fiction from edgy writers like Clive Barker and Poppy Z Brite, the anarchist teen-massacre cinema of Gregg Araki and work from underground auteur Bruce LaBruce.
But I was conflicted: I struggled to reconcile the occasionally derogatory and dismissive nature of horror with LGBTQ culture… until I did a bit more digging discovered that horror is far more expansive than I originally thought.
Compiling a list of LGBTQ filmmakers/writers/actors working in the horror genre proved to be a frustrating endeavor, and I’m sure I’m guilty of the sin of omission with this article. The following is a list of gay, lesbian, and transgender filmmakers you should definitely become better acquainted with…
A writer and filmmaker who has been in the industry for years, Jeffrey Reddick [pictured at top, with undead friend] is the man who came up with the creepy concept for the FINAL DESTINATION franchise. He began his career interning at New Line Cinema under Robert Shaye after submitting a proposed prequel for a NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. His other genre credits include DAY OF THE DEAD (2008) and he co-wrote the novel TAMARA with J.D. Matthews. Reddick is also an activist for gay rights and directed a music video that addresses LGBTQ conversion culture/therapy. Reddick’s latest supernatural thriller DEAD AWAKE, starring HOUSE OF THE DEVIL’s Jocelin Donahue, is slated for a 2016 release. He is also developing a TV series with MASTERS OF HORROR’s Mick Garris.
The Rondo-nominated former editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland and project editor for Rue Morgue Magazine is one of the most interesting and talented genre journalists working in horror. April’s journalism is focused on both mainstream horror and alt-cult/indie stuff. Last year, April joined the lineup for Glass Eye Pix’s chilling audio anthology TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE, recently selected for Entertainment Weekly‘s “Must List.” April’s spooky segment was a comic/horror hybrid called FOOD CHAIN, offering a terrifying new spin on the backwoods terror subgenre; our own Creepypasta King Gregory S. Burkart described the episode as containing “[t]he season’s (literally) drop-dead funniest performances… [and] one of the series’ most cringe-inducing scenes ever.”
Avid feminist, queen of geek culture, short story writer (with over 100 stories published in various anthologies), io9 site founder, novelist and LGBTQ advocate, Charlie Jane Anders is one sassy lady and recently penned the incredible Young Adult mad science/witchy teen mashup ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY — a novel which is setting the publishing world on fire. A champion for women’s visibility in the geek arena, she collaborated with Annalee Newitz on a book exclusively devoted to women called SHE’S SUCH A GEEK: WOMEN WRITE ABOUT SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND OTHER NERDY STUFF. (Trivia: Charlie appeared as a fictional character in a STAR TREK novel and Armistead Maupin’s TALES OF THE CITY, and won a Lambda literary award for her novel CHOIR BOY.)
The biggest cheerleader for gay men’s visibility in horror and is considered by many to be King of the Dark Rainbow Brigade… and an all-around nice guy. He ran a blog series at Fangoria for years, which he transferred to the non-fiction compilation OUT IN THE DARK: INTERVIEWS WITH GAY HORROR FILMMAKERS, ACTORS AND AUTHORS; it features dozens of up-close-and-personal interviews with both internationally renowned and lesser-known queer artists. He also worked as a reality TV producer, scripted animated episodes of SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH, directed a film called SOCKET and wrote a number of wonderfully arch, witty horror/queer-themed plays.
San Francisco’s Midnight Maven is the darker, more glamorous alter-ego of cult aficionado and horror filmmaker Joshua Grannell. The Cult Leader is a buddy of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, “Pope of Trash” John Waters and Waters “Dreamland” veteran Mink Stole, and tours the globe with her infamous drag act. When she isn’t dragging it up across the globe, she is making horror films: ALL ABOUT EVIL features Natasha Lyonne (ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK) butchering the patrons of her recently acquired theater for fame and financial security. It’s a scream — echoing classics like CARRIE, THE BAD SEED and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?
Lambda-winning writer of exceedingly dark historical horror fiction that includes the cult-themed THE DUST OF WONDERLAND, the post-war serial killer thriller THE GERMAN and hard-boiled supernatural throwback BUTCHER’S ROAD — which draws from Mafia lore, magical sects and the Depression-era pulp drama THE SHADOW. His writing tackles notions of masculinity and how it shaped dominant culture — predominantly white, heterosexual, heternormative environments throughout history — and man’s place within those spaces.
Selected for the BFI Flare’s 2016 LGBT Mentorship Program is self-confessed genre fanatic Siri Rodnes whose short films are a fusion of kitchen-sink drama, sci-fi and personal politics. The Edinburgh-based writer/director is developing her first feature NINE LIVES, an adaptation of an Ursula K. Le Guin story and her output has thematic parallels with the deliciously grim work of Andrea Arnold and Lynne Ramsey.
This Glasgow-based author of Gothic horror fiction (with noir trappings) has written over a dozen tantalizing novels: THE CUTTING ROOM follows a shady auctioneer (and gay antihero) who becomes embroiled in historical snuff photography; a heavily pregnant woman investigates the (apparent) abuse of a young girl in DON’T LOOK NOW-inspired THE GIRL ON THE STAIRS, which unfolds in eerie Berlin; and A LOVELY WAY TO BURN introduced her post-apocalyptic heroine Stevie Flint — an utterly believable badass. If you like your reading to be envelope-pushing and nerve-shredding, you should check her out.
The man who spectacularly reinvented Thomas Harris’s HANNIBAL series — and imbued it with gay subtext — is rebooting STAR TREK (and wants Angela Bassett on the bridge) and bringing Neil Gaiman’s epic AMERICAN GODS to TV. Fuller started his writing career on multi-world, groundbreaking sci-fi shows STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE and STAR TREK: VOYAGER before developing short-lived shows like PUSHING DAISIES and scripting the mini-series CARRIE (which starred Angela Bettis as the vengeful telekinetic). In a poll by Digital Spy, HANNIBAL was voted the greatest genre show ever… and most of us here agree.
It was announced that Laverne Cox will step into Tim Curry’s spiked stilettos for THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW as intergalactic Machiavellian diva Dr Frank N. Furter for the FOX television reboot of the cult classic. The transgender activist has pretty much taken the world by storm since appearing as inmate Sophia Burset in the prison dramedy ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, but this will mark Cox’s first foray into genre territory. Laverne feels like a perfect fit for the show — which was already way ahead of its time when it was first released in 1975.