Shudder’s ‘Horror Is Queer’ panel might not offer a release date yet, but at least it’s giving fans a reason to start getting excited. ‘Horror Is Queer’ is a documentary by director, Samuel Wineman, that sets out to do for queer horror films what Xavier Burin’s Horror Noire did for Black horror films (‘Horror Is Queer’ may not be the final title).
Like many of the panels at Comic Con this year, ‘Horror Is Queer’ was pre-taped, so there aren’t any opportunities to ask the panelists questions. One thing I wouldn’t have minded asking, since the panelists bring up gatekeepers, is whether ‘Horror Is Queer’ came about as a direct result of Horror Noire’s success or if it was a project Wineman had been working on for a while.
Writer, Jordan Crucchiola, acts as the panel’s moderator while joining her and Wineman are some of the film’s contributors: Don Mancini (who created the Child’s Play franchise), Bryan Fuller (who created shows like Hannibal), Lachlan Watson (who stars as Theo Putnam on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), and Nay Bever (who co-hosts the Attack of the Queerwolf podcast).
Rather than get into who will be appearing in the documentary and what films will be featured, ‘Horror Is Queer’ offers a preview of the kinds of conversations the film will be engaging in. Wineman defines queer horror by talking about four different types: explicit representation, queer coding, queer horror where you see yourself in a film that may or may not be considered queer, and horror that’s made by a queer creator (i.e. Nosferatu).
Jumping off of that, Mancini points out that the first three Chucky films had “nothing explicitly queer” in them but, looking back at them now, he can see how certain aspects, like Andy being fatherless, could’ve been “revenge” for his “…very conflicted… relationship with [his] own dad….” Bride of Chucky was the turning point where Mancini says he “…first started consciously trying to gay it up,” but all of the Chucky films are “…informed by [his] queer identity….”
Bever mentions looking at films through a queer lens, which Watson relates to being an actor and only getting offered “queer token characters,” when, in films like Silence of the Lambs, “I [didn’t] see myself in the implicitly queer characters… I [saw] myself as… Jodie Foster…”
Bryan Fuller brings up fandom and how Fannibals started, “…projecting a queerness on Will and Hannibal’s relationship that [he] wasn’t consciously tapping into early on…” When that began to change, though, Fuller says, “It wasn’t an agenda. It wasn’t something that I necessarily set out to do in design, but it was something that was adapted because it felt genuine for the characters…”
From there Crucchiola turns the conversation to queer horror origin stories. Wineman mentions the “toughness” he felt as a kid from being able to “…get through the viewing of something my friends had to watch between their hands” while Bever talks about the forbidden-ness of watching films she knew she shouldn’t anyway.
One subject that brings up a lot of great responses is when Crucchiola mentions “queer monsters” and the struggle between wanting to “revel in” queer villains, yet, “also detach from… our otherness being vilified.” As Fuller points out, “…people will use that to enact violence…” and, as Wineman adds on, two people can have hugely different experiences watching a movie. That doesn’t mean they aren’t “both… true.”
‘Horror Is Queer’ will be available to stream someday on Shudder. The panel (with all of its thoughtful, personal responses) can be rewatched below: