From its literary origins with queer authors Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde to the pansy craze of the 1920s that influenced Universal Monsters and Hitchcock; from the “lavender scare” alien invasion films of the mid-20th century to the AIDS obsessed bloodletting of 80s vampire films; through genre-bending horrors from a new generation of queer creators; Queer for Fear re-examines genre stories through a queer lens, seeing them not as violent, murderous narratives, but as tales of survival that resonate thematically with queer audiences everywhere.
This five-episode series features interviews with series consultant Renée “Nay” Bever (Attack of the Queerwolf), Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Dracula), Kimberly Peirce (Carrie), Lea DeLaria (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Jennifer Tilly (Bride of Chucky), Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body), Leslye Headland (Russian Doll), Oz Perkins (Gretel & Hansel), and more. Episodes on the history of queer horror from executive producers Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) and Steak House (Disney Launchpad) will premiere weekly beginning with Episode 1 (30 September).
Episode 1: Queer gothic writers Mary Shelley, Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker invent the horror genre with masterpieces Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dracula. And when cinema arrives, queer director F.W. Murnau shocks the world with his queer-coded Nosferatu, Hollywood gets on the horror bandwagon and releases its legendary adaptation of Dracula at the height of prohibition and the wild Pansy Craze.
Episode 2: Legendary gay director James Whale makes four classics for Universal that paved the way for all Hollywood horror movies after; Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man, and Bride of Frankenstein; but he saw his prolific career dimmed by the conservative Hays code and anti-gay sentiment. And Alfred Hitchcock used queer characters and queer coded stories to keep audiences in suspense throughout his career, most famously casting closeted gay heartthrob Anthony Perkins as his most famous queer villain in his smash hit Psycho. But Perkins’ legendary performance would change his life, and his career, forever.
Episode 3: In the 1950s and 60s, repression keeps queer characters in the closet while internalized shame transforms them into literal monsters (Wolfman, Cat People) and external pressures like McCarthyism and the Lavender Scare force them to conform (Body Snatchers, I Married a Monster from Outer Space). Stonewall changes everything as queer characters finally get some time in the spotlight (Rocky Horror Picture Show).
Episode 4: Post-Stonewall, queer characters come out, but explicit representation means they are often cast as the villains in Episode 3. Leather bars (Cruising), queer relationships (Windows, The Fan), and trans identities (Dressed to Kill, Silence of the Lambs) are conflated with violence, obsession, and murder. We see the AIDS crisis reflected back to us in the wave of vampire and body horror films of the 80s (The Hunger, The Fly, The Lost Boys), and track the dangerous queer women of the 90s (Basic Instinct, Single White Female, Bound).
Episode 5: Queer rage erupts into indie content in New Queer Cinema (Poison, The Living End, Swoon), ushering in a wave of queer creators in mainstream horror franchises (Child’s Play, Scream, Final Destination), and queer representation in contemporary television (Buffy, American Horror Story, True Blood). Queer for Fear looks at the state of Queer Horror now (Yellowjackets, Scream), and its future.