Queer characters have been an essential part of horror since the genre began, with monsters and vampires often standing in for the love that dare not speak its name. Horror films have moved from the subtly coded lesbian in 1963's "The Haunting" to the then-career-sinking gayness of 1985's "Nightmare on Elm Street, to the wholehearted embrace of Sam and Deena's relationship in Netflix's "Fear Street" trilogy.
"The Haunting" (1963)
While the character of Theo in the 2018 Netflix limited series "The Haunting of Hill House" was openly gay, almost all the references to her being a lesbian were removed from Robert Wise's still-effective classic about a psychic investigation into the notoriously haunted Hill House. Claire Bloom, who played the chic character in the 1963 film, later told the Motion Picture Archive that Theo was "very obviously gay" in a scene from the script that was cut out. What remains is Theo intuitively knowing that "Nell is the affectionate name for Eleanor," Russ Tamblyn's character giving Nell a knowing glance when Theo rebuffs his advances, and Nell lashing out at Theo at one point by calling her "unnatural." The two end up being roommates as the haunting escalates and end up huddled together out of fright in more than one scene.
"The Haunting" is streaming on HBO Max.
"Daughters of Darkness" (1971)
The blood-draining deaths of several beautiful women coincide with the arrival of the mysterious Countess Bathory (Delphine Seyrig) and her "assistant" (Andrea Rau). The Countess sets her sights on a newly married woman also staying at their hotel in this elegant and erotic film. Other lesbian vampires movie (it's an entire subgenre) include "The Blood-Spattered Bride," "The Vampire Lovers," and (nominally) the 1936 film "Dracula's Daughter."
"Daughters of Darkness" is streaming on AMC+, The Criterion Channel, Vudu, Tubi and Shudder.
"Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge" (1985)
Poor Jesse (Mark Patton) is possessed by Freddy Krueger and finds himself killing both his high school coach and his best friend Grady (Robert Rusler) in this now cult-classic. How gay is it? The leather-clad coach (Marshall Bell) frequents S&M and later is strung up, stripped naked, and subjected to a brutal towel-snapping before Freddy finishes him off. The movie killed Patton's career, but decades later, he has embraced his status as a queer horror icon and now attends conventions and screenings of the film, as you can see in the documentary, "Scream, Queen."
"Nightmare on Elm Street 2" is streaming on HBO Max.
"The Hunger" (1983)
Ancient vampires Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve) and her husband John (David Bowie) prey on both men and women in this extremely stylish Tony Scott film, but when John is out of the picture, Miriam turns her sights on Sarah (Susan Sarandon). Producers suggested Sarandon should be drunk in the very sexy seductive scene between the two women, Sarandon revealed in the documentary "The Celluloid Closet," adding, "You don't have to be drunk to bed Catherine Deneuve. I don't care what your sexual history to that point has been."
"The Hunger" is available to rent from all major retailers.
"Interview With the Vampire" (1994)
While Lestat (Tom Cruise) never proclaims his love for Louis (Brad Pitt) in the film, the subtext about these vampire consorts is quite clear, especially if you've read Anne Rice's novels. Lestat may complain about Louis' "whining," but he did choose him to be his immortal companion. Not to mention Armand (Antonio Banderas), who is also very taken with Louis.
"Interview with the Vampire" is streaming on Paramount+ and Hoopla.
"Let the Right One In" (2008)
In this acclaimed Swedish film, young Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) finds an unlikely protector from his bullies in Eli (Lina Leandersson), who lives in his apartment complex and who only comes out at night. It's less evident in the film than in the novel, but Eli , who was once Elias, is a rare trans character who gets a happy ever after.
"Let the Right One In" is streaming on Hulu, Fubo and Hoopla.
Twentieth Century Fox
"Jennifer's Body" (2009)
Jennifer (Megan Fox) is no virgin, so when a rock band sacrifices her in a bid to be more popular, she comes back as, naturally, a boy-eating demon. But her best friend Needy (Amanda Seyfried) — who she exchanges "boyfriend/girlfriend" kisses with — isn't safe either. As Jennifer tells Needy in their pentultimate showdown, "I go both ways.' Karyn Kusama's underrated horror comedy, with a highly quotable script by Diablo Cody, didn't register at the box office on its release, but it's now a beloved cult classic embraced by the LGBTQ+ community.
"Jennifer's Body" is available to rent from all major retailers.
"Stranger by the Lake" (2013)
At a lakeside cruising area, Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps) falls for Michel (Christophe Paou), but doesn't break things off after learning that Michel is a killer. Alain Guiraudie's full-frontal French erotic thriller won the "Queer Palm" award and Guiraudie was nominated for Best Director when it premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival.
"Stranger by the Lake" is streaming on Kanopy.
College student Thelma (Eili Harbou) is afraid to let her feelings for friend Anja (Kaya Wilkins) be known because strange, terrible things happen to people near her. This Norwegian film from "The Worst Person in the World" writer/director Joachim Trier offers a fresh take on the supernatural thriller as Thelma comes to terms with her true self and her true power.
"Thelma" is streaming on Hulu and Kanopy.
"Velvet Buzzsaw" (2019)
Jake Gyllenhaal is in fine form as an influential bisexual art critic in this campy horror romp which features a series of art world snobs being killed in horrific ways by rogue pieces of art.
"Velvet Buzzsaw" is streaming on Netflix.
"Fear Street" Trilogy (2021)
The romance between Sam (Olivia Welch) and Deena (Kiana Madeira) transcends time in this Netflix trilogy based on the beloved book series. Each installment takes place in a different time period, but LGBTQ+ themes are present in all: Part One is set in 1994, Part 2 in 1978 and Part 3 in 1666.
The "Fear Street" trilogy is streaming on Netflix.
Agathe Rousselle gives an astonishing performance in Julia Ducournau's mind-blowing Cannes winner as Adrien, a car show dancer who attracts men but prefers women and will kill either if the mood strikes her. Her real love, however is reserved for the cars themselves, a twisted love affair that began with a horrendous accident when she was a girl. The nature of Adrien's sexual identity is both a plot point and an ongoing meditation.