Shudder is putting together a four-part docu-series about queer people in the thriller/horror genre. Aptly titled Queer for Fear, this series is scheduled to be released on the streaming platform in fall 2022. Although one wonders why it wasn’t released this month, it being Pride month and all.
This series is being produced by Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, Pushing Daisies) and Steak House (Launchpad, The Mustang).
For decades the horror genre has been unkind to gay people in cinema. Whether they are portrayed as simpering men cowering in the corner, or deranged maniacs fueled by mental illness, queer men and women are mostly portrayed as victims or villains rather than heroes. There is a current pandemic of “kill your gays” in movies, that is, having a character come out proudly only to be sacrificed later in an attempt to appease the straight audience.
Queer for Fear will touch on these issues as well as give a full history of queer men and women who have influenced the genre even though their sexuality was never at the forefront. Queer authors Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde’s works will be examined.
From the onset of the Hays Code of the 1930s, sexuality and orientation were coded into the script’s subtext because Hollywood thought gay people and their relationships were ungodly. In order to get around that, writers and directors would envoke the “if you know, you know” mentality of the era in order to usurp self-censorship.
A 1950s anti-gay propaganda campaign initiated the Lavender Scare, or a moral panic in which queer people were unjustly persecuted as security risks by the United States government. Naturally, this meant further erasure of queer voices in cinema replaced by alien invasion films where, metaphorically, otherwordly menacing forces descended upon the world to conquer it.
Then came the 80s and the AIDS epidemic. Although the Hays Code was no longer (replaced by a rating system), Hollywood still felt the need to exploit the pandemic, which mostly affected gay men, through vampire films in which bloodletting was the main source of evil.
Shudder says Queer for Fear will examine genre stories through a “queer lens.” They will focus on queer narratives as stories of survival not murderous or insidious narratives.
The docu-series features interviews with series consultant RenÃ©e “Nay” Bever (“Attack of the Queerwolf” Podcast co-host), Mark Gatiss (Co-Creator, Writer & Actor, Sherlock and Dracula on BBC), Kimberly Peirce (Writer and Director, Boys Don’t Cry, Carrie (2013), Lea DeLaria (Actor, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2000), Orange is the New Black), Jennifer Tilly (Actor, Child’s Play franchise), Karyn Kusama (Director, Jennifer’s Body, Yellowjackets), Leslye Headland (Creator, Russian Doll), Oz Perkins (Writer & Director, Gretel & Hansel), and more.