LGBTQ+ horror has always been here (and is better than ever).
1. Jennifer's Body (2009)
Few films have earned such a shift in opinion as Jennifer's Body, Diablo Cody and Karyn Kusama's 2009 comedy-horror about two best friends who are forever changed after one of them gets possessed by a demon. Watching the film in the #MeToo era, it's clear to see this film about sexual assault and revenge is more important every day.
Starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried in two of their best roles, the film initially flopped, but has since become beloved for its queer tones and is now considered a feminist classic. Forget whatever you remember about its initial release and give this amazing film a shot to see a queer tale of friendship.
The film is available to stream on Amazon Prime, Paramount+, and Kanopy.
2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Speaking of cult films, there probably isn't another film that truly deserves the title over 1975's The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Inspired by The Old Dark House (which you can read more about in a bit), Rocky Horror features a newlywed couple who becomes stranded in a strange mansion during a storm, and experience horrors and pleasures far from this world at the hands of its transexual host.
Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, and Barry Bostwick star in this unforgettable musical masterpiece that is queer to the bone. If you can't catch a theatre production of the equally amazing stage show, then lighten up your day by putting this classic on.
The film is available to stream on Amazon Prime and Hulu.
3. The Old Dark House (1932)
As mentioned earlier, this 1932 film about a couple stranded at a mysterious mansion would inspire Rocky Horror many years later, but don't skip over this classic.
Directed by James Whale, the prominent gay director who would essentially define horror films, The Old Dark House is notable for being more overtly queer than many other films of the era, being released pre-Hayes Code and escaping censorship that would force queer stories to be hidden.
This film would also foreshadow Rocky Horror by initially being a flop, but later, getting a resurgence after a remake of the film ignited the original film's rediscovery in the '60s. Considered one of the best horror films of all time now, the queerness in this film is just a small testament to how intertwined queerness and horror have always been.
The film is available to stream on Kanopy and rent.
4. ParaNorman (2012)
Some of the best Halloween films are not scary at all, or at least not meant to scare. ParaNorman is a film about being different, and became the first American animated feature to have an LGBTQ+ character, while telling a poignant story about coming together.
The comedy-horror is all about Norman, an 11-year-old who can speak with the undead. As he connects to the ghosts, including his late grandmother, Norman struggles to find common ground with his family and his peers at school, while learning a great danger is coming to his town.
The film is available to rent.
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
Following in line with the "initially a flop then a queer cult classic" horror route, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge isn't the first film to come to mind when thinking of the horror classics of the era.
In recent years, however, the film's queerness has become its signature, with the lead actor, Mark Patton, leading the discussion about how deeply queer the film's imagery and themes are. Patton, who would later come out as gay, is not alone in seeing the queer subtext, with many now seeing the film as an allegory for the main character's struggles with his queerness.
The film is available to stream on HBO Max.
6. Tom at the Farm (2013)
Xavier Dolan's work as a filmmaker has made him undoubtedly one of the best queer filmmakers in the 21st Century, but his work on Tom at the Farm may be some of his most quietly haunting.
Tom at the Farm is one of Dolan's smaller works, telling the story of a man visiting his deceased boyfriend's family who doesn't know about their relationship, and the dangers of dealing with the ramifications of hiding the truth.
While Dolan's work is often more from an independent and art-film background, this film scarily reckons with how scary homophobia can be.
The film is available to rent.
7. The Babadook (2014)
Yes, the titular Babadook is a queer icon.
Meme or not, The Babadook is a film that became an instant classic for its unsettling looks at depression, anxiety, motherhood, grief, and family through the story of a widowed mother and her son's monster who comes to life, and thus, this horror classic is a must-see.
While the film may not seem queer, the queer community has reclaimed it for how it handles its titular monster, with many opting to see the titular monster as a queer person trying to find common ground with the family they live with and now will forever be a queer classic.
The film can be streamed on AMC+, Shudder, and Kanopy.
8. Daughters of Darkness (1971)
One of the most prominent subgenres of LGBTQ+ horror came during the 1970s, with the lesbian vampire subgenre taking full advantage of the loosened restrictions on films. While many consider the films of the genre to be for the male gaze, Daughters of Darkness has stood the test of time for its queerness.
Daughters begins with a newlywed couple meeting a mysterious countess who has her eyes set on bedding them both to feed her bloodthirsty desire. While the film plays out like a monster flick, the sensual queer desire at its core will leave you wanting to be in their shoes.
The film is available to stream on AMC+, Criterion, and Shudder.
9. Hellraiser (1987) + (2022) and Nightbreed (1990)
Master of horror Clive Barker's works have always been queer. From his initial Hellraiser, seeped in BDSM imagery, to the new Hulu remake, starring trans icon Jamie Clayton as queer icon Pinhead, his masterpiece about the pleasures of pain have changed how we think about horror.
His other works, including Nightbreed, about a group of monsters trying to escape humanity, have always focused on themes that have attracted queer people to horror, with alienation, otherness, and the grittiness of our world all being transformed into magnificently haunting works from Barker.
For those daring enough to dive into the pain of pleasure, check out any of these films for some truly standout queer horror.
The 2022 Hellraiser is available to stream on Hulu, with its original being available on Amazon Prime, AMC+, Hoopla, and Shudder.
Nightbreed is available to stream on Peacock, AMC+, and Shudder.
10. Titane (2021)
Julia Ducournau's 2021 body horror film was so extreme it caused walkouts from its Cannes premiere, but its magnificence prevailed, with the film becoming the second film ever by a female director to win the prestigious film festival's top prize.
Sex, body horror, and family trauma are all central to this queer film's plot that you probably wouldn't believe if I tried to tell you, as insane is a mild way to categorize this film about a serial killer with a car fetish that begins changing her life.
Still, if you are a fan of queer horror and haven't caught this film, push it way up on the list. While you're at it, director Ducournau's 2016 film Raw is another amazing queer horror classic.
Titane is available to stream on Hulu. (Raw can be seen on Netflix.)
11. Thelma (2017)
When Thelma, raised in an ultra-conservative family, realizes her seizures and telekinetic powers come from her feelings for another girl, it begins a haunting journey of queer desire and overcoming trauma.
A supernatural thriller about a girl coming to terms with her sexuality, Thelma makes use of the family trauma that often comes with queerness, and warps it into a haunting romance about coming into your own power.
The film is available to stream on Hulu.
12. They/Them (2022)
Probably one of the most controversial LGBTQ+ movies of 2022, They/Them made headlines for being set at a conversion camp, with many saying the queer people suffer enough at places like that and that its treatment of its queer characters and themes were unneeded.
I disagree, having been thoroughly surprised by how the film handled the queerness at its core. While it is hard to watch at times as a queer person, the film grapples with the real-life queer nightmare of a conversion camp and tells a magnificent story about queer kids doing what they always have, survive.
The film is available to stream on Peacock.
13. Stranger by the Lake (2013)
Erotic thrillers can often appear an excuse to show gory sex, but Stranger by the Lake is one of the rare few to truly tap into the queer danger that can come with desire.
When a man witnesses another man drowning someone at a popular cruising spot, the two men begin a relationship taut with tension, both thrillingly sexual and terrifying, to tell one of the best queer horror stories of the 2010s.
The film is available to rent.
14. Let the Right One In (2008)
Few horror romances end up appearing genuine, but Let the Right One In defies expectations, both in its haunting purity and somehow sweet story of two boys coming together against the world for each other. Based on a Swedish novel, this international horror hit has a Showtime adaptation currently streaming, but don't miss out on the original.
Oskar, a bullied kid desperately seeking revenge, soon becomes entangled with the strange kid next door, Eli, and finds more than just a friend. Even after learning Eli needs blood to survive, the two form a dangerous pairing and embark on an unforgettable experience.
The film is available to stream on Amazon Prime, Hulu, Criterion, Showtime, and Hoopla.
15. Mulholland Drive (2001)
Few directors have as much love as David Lynch, and as far as his films go, Mulholland Drive is the one that's almost always brought up first. A cautionary tale of Hollywood with a queer love story at its center, this film is a unique experience for everyone, but will stick with you all the same.
Mulholland starts with Naomi Watts as an up-and-coming actress trying to figure out what happened to a woman who broke into her apartment suffering from amnesia. As the truth unfolds, the story twists and turns in ways that not even multiple viewings can explain.
Above all, the queer romance between the two leads is unexpected and poignant, with their desires bubbling to the surface.
The film is available to rent.
16. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
James Whale, one of the first openly gay directors ever, practically defined film culture forever with his works in the Universal Monster Franchise. While his iconic works are instantly recognizable, Bride of Frankenstein is one of his best, and queerest, films.
A sequel to the original Frankenstein, this film follows a subplot of Mary Shelley's original book, with Dr. Frankenstein trying to leave behind his ambitions of creating life, but he can't escape his mentor's or monster's wishes.
Considered one of the best sequels of all time and a masterpiece in its own right, the queer crew and cast helped make this film, prohibited from showing explicit queerness because of the Hays Code, queer as all hell.
The film is available to stream on Peacock and Criterion.
17. Fear Street Trilogy (2021)
Few expected this adaptation of R. L. Stine's Fear Street series to be as good, or as queer, as it ended up being.
The trilogy of films follows a curse set on a town, and the teens in three different eras that are affected by it. The films focus primarily on two queer girls and their love that transcends hundreds of years of horror.
If Goosebumps raised you, then this trilogy is exactly what you need, capturing the slasher vibe perfectly, while telling a beautiful queer story to boot.
The films are available to stream on Netflix.
18. Scream (1996) + (2022)
One of the most recognizable horror films of all time, Scream and the sequels it inspired have always been rife in the conversation around LGBTQ+ horror.
The original falls into the "queer villain" trope directly, but that hasn't stopped it from becoming fond of the queer lens, for just how good of a horror movie it is.
The most recent Scream, released in 2022, is more overt with its queerness, and with a score of the original cast, make it a must-add to your LGBTQ+ horror Halloween list.
The Scream films are available to stream on Paramount+
19. Seed of Chucky (2004)
Alright, if you are looking for something that will enlighten you or teach you about yourself, then this is probably not the film for you. However, if you can handle a dark satire about family dynamics and the brutality of Hollywood's treatment of queer people, then Seed of Chucky is your best bet.
When Chucky and his bride Tiffany give birth to Glen, a child with their twin Glenda's soul trapped in their body, an unexpected journey of queer self-discovery begins. This film would set the tone for the rest of the Chucky franchise, with queerness being central to its crass and bloody heart.
The film is available to stream on Peacock and FuboTV.