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Horror Pride Month: The Best of the Best in Shudder’s Queer Horror Collection

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Queer Horror

Y’all didn’t think we forgot about Pride Month this year did you? The celebration may be smaller, but iHorror-a queer-owned publication-we still take it very seriously! There are so many great queer horror films out there, and we’re here for it everyday. I wanted to start this celebration out by shining a spotlight on Shudder, the all-horror/thriller streaming platform. They keep a Queer Horror Collection going all year long and they recently announced their upcoming  Queer for Fear docu-series coming this fall!

With that in mind, I thought we’d dig into the streamer’s Queer Horror collection and pick some of my personal favorites to share.

Queer Horror on Shudder!

What Keeps You Alive? (2018)

Colin Minihan (It Stains the Sand Red) wrote and directed this film starring Hannah Emily Anderson and Brittany Allen as a lesbian couple who set out on a romantic getaway to celebrate their first anniversary. However, they soon find themselves battling each other in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse when secrets from one of the women’s pasts bubble to the surface.

This is a taut psychological thriller that will put you on the edge of your seat and keep you there!

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Death Drop Gorgeous (2021)

Camp, camp, and more bloody camp. This horror-comedy romp created and directed by Michael J. Ahern, Christopher Dalpe, and Brandon Perras does the most. When a masked maniac is murdering young gay men and draining them of blood, a bartender and a drag queen team up in a bid to survive. Get some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy!

Knocking (2021)

This Swedish film wowed attendees at Sundance and now you can see it yourself! Molly is a young woman who recently moved into a new apartment hoping for a peaceful transition from her life in hospital. However, her peace is soon shattered as persistent knocking and screams from nearby invade her space. As more of her past is revealed, Molly’s complexity and her need to be heard become as intriguing and terrifying as the knocks themselves.

This film comes with an ending that will knock your socks off. You MUST see it to believe it!

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Dragula

One just can’t downplay the joy that is Dragula. The Boulet Brothers host a horror-themed drag competition show that showcases drag queens on the fringe working their best horror looks and competing in terrifying challenges.

All four seasons are available to stream on Shudder, and they won’t let you down!

Rift (2017)

This Icelandic thriller finds two men in a secluded cabin haunted by their former relationship. It is as emotionally compelling as it is terrifying, and will leave you completely drained as the credits role. If you love a slow-burn thriller, Rift, written and directed by Erlingur Thoroddsen, is one of the most iconic films in this collection.

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Islands (2018)

Surreal and strange, this short film by Yann Gonzalez (You and the Night) takes viewers through an erotic maze of love, desire, and intrigue. At only 23 minutes long, it’s utterly entrancing.

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1982)

I have a love/hate relationship with this film. It is, without a doubt, one of the first horror films to present a gay man as a sympathetic character. THAT is noteworthy. You have to wade through an awful lot of homophobic bullshit to enjoy it, though. It too me three tries to get through it, personally.

Still, there’s something about it that’s compelling, and so I’m including it here.

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Nightbreed, The Director’s Cut (1990)

Look, you just don’t get much better than this Clive Barker adaptation. It is very scary, and also very queer.

A young man, convinced by a shady psychiatrist that he’s a serial killer, seeks refuge in Midian, an underground kingdom of “monsters.” But who are the real monsters here? Every member of the LGBTQ+ community knows Midian in one form or another. We seek out its comforts and our community. The symbolism is right on the surface in this tale, and it’s a personal favorite I return to over and over again.

Spiral (2020)

Colin Minihan’s second film on this list centers on a couple, Aaron and Malik, who move into an idyllic small town for a fresh start, but soon realize that the neighbors aren’t what they seem to be. Deeply unsettling and beautifully filmed, it’s a perfect film for a night on the couch with a snuggle-buddy.

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Lyle (2014)

Take Rosemary’s Baby but make the central couple a pair of lesbians and you’ll just begin to scratch the surface of the paranoiac queer horror of Lyle. It’s only an hour long, but not a minute is wasted!

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street

This documentary focuses on the fallout of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, juxtaposing the film’s reception and the emotional fallout for its star, Mark Patton. While it’s undeniably the gayest of the franchise films from the 80s, it was also seriously mishandled. Moreover, when people began commenting on the film’s queerness, the production initially seemed to blame Patton for the audiences’ interpretation. Go behind the nightmares on with this doc. It’s a story that needed to be told.

Hellraiser (1987)

Queer horror icon, Clive Barker created one of the sickest (in a good way) horror films based on one of his own stories with Hellraiser. Moreover, the Cenobites, while terrifying, could also be met while stepping into a queer fetish bar. The tale of lust, hedonism, betrayal, and murder, is one of the greatest of its kind!

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Knife+Heart (2019)

Yann Gonzalez appears again on the list with Knife+Heart. Set in a seedy, low-budget gay porn studio in the late 1970s, this is a true giallo film in every sense of the word. From it’s over the top kills to its fantastic like and the sheer grit  of its characters, this is one hell of a movie that I cannot recommend enough. It is the essence of queer horror and we are here for it!

 

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Entertainment News

Shyamalan’s Next Horror Film, ‘Knock at the Cabin’ is an Adaptation of a Novel

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We’ve been trying to keep the readers updated on M. Night Shyamalan’s next film Knock at the Cabin, and we haven’t been able to give you any real details about the plot. Until now.

First, Dave Bautista will star; you probably read that already.

What we do know about Knock at the Cabin

But what you might not know is that this isn’t a Shyamalan original screenplay, it’s an adaptation of a book called The Cabin At The End Of The World written by Paul Tremblay. That’s good news for fans who have already read the novel or those who want to spoil it for themselves before the February 3, 2023 movie release date. Just keep in mind, Shyamalan could tweak it to accommodate one of his signature twist endings.

We also know that the main characters in Knock at the Cabin are a same-sex couple. They rent a cabin with their adopted eight-year-old daughter on a little off-grid vacation in New England. What could happen?

We have also learned that Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter TV Series, The Matrix Resurrections) and Ben Aldridge (Fleabag, Pennyworth) will play the couple. In the book, their names are Andrew and Eric, but there is no confirmation of who is playing whom in the movie.

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The book was a bestseller. Even Stephen King was a fan, calling it: “A tremendous book―thought-provoking and terrifying, with tension that winds up like a chain. The Cabin at the End of the World is Tremblay’s personal best. It’s that good.” 

It’s reported that just as Shyamalan used 35mm film to shoot his last movie Old, he will also use that same type of film here.

The director is keeping very busy this year, he is producing two new movies: The Vanishings at Caddo Lake and the recently announced, Labor of Love.

We will keep you updated on this film and its development.

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Fiction

Horror Pride Month: David R. Slayton, Author of ‘White Trash Warlock’

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David R. Slayton

A few months ago, I was looking for a new audiobook to dig into. Since re-entering the leaving-your-house workforce, audiobooks have helped me survive the daily commute. I wanted something that blended genres and fed my love of horror, fantasy, and gayness. As I combed through the thousands of Audible titles, I found a book called White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton. The book concerns Adam Binder, a gay witch from Oklahoma who ends up confronting a monstrous entity attacking Denver and driving people insane.

Gayme. Set. Match. I was so in!

By the end of the book, I was in desperate need for more. Luckily for me, the second book in the trilogy, Trailer Park Trickster, was already available, and though it ended on the mother of all cliffhangers, I knew there was at least one more book, Deadbeat Druid on the way.

In the meantime, I made it my mission to track down the author to let him know just what his books meant to a gay, horror-loving, romance addict–and fellow author–in a small town in East Texas. I also immediately floated a pitch to interview him for Horror Pride Month this year, and was excited when he agreed.

As we settled in to chat, I told him again how much I appreciated the books, but I also had to ask, “Where and when did you meet Adam Binder?”

The story did not let me down.

As it happened, Slayton had been trying to write epic fantasy which, from personal experience, I can tell you is a daunting task. As it turned out, however, he was also a fan of urban fantasy and had been formulating a story about a doctor, his wife, and their child in Denver, the city that the author calls home.

“So I had this whole plot, but what I didn’t have was a main character,” the author explained. “I sort of put it in the back of my brain and forgot all about it, and then one night I was driving through the Carolinas. The moon was full. It was hanging over the road. The trees were hanging over the road. And that Kaleo song ‘Way Down we Go’ came on the radio.  This character popped into my head, and I just start asking him questions. I said, ‘who are you?’ and he said, ‘Well, I’m just like you. I’m from Guthrie. I grew up in the woods.’ I started thinking I could merge this to that urban fantasy plot but that urban fantasy plot is still very Denver focused. Adam said, ‘Well, I could go to Denver.'”

And that’s just what he did…does…you know what I mean.

While the elements are fantastical and sometimes downright harrowing, the story of Adam Binder, a witch who has very little power in the grand scheme of things, and his mostly mundane family is rooted in a sense of reality. That truth, the realness of it all, was derived from Slayton’s own experiences. He even went so far as to name Adam’s mother after his own grandmother.

“Her name was Tilla-Mae Wolfgang Slayton and she was everything that the name implies,” he says.

As for the fantasy, he says, he was careful where he pulled his influences from while writing the novels.

“Someone who recently interviewed me said they didn’t understand why I didn’t use American folklore and myth,” he said. “The thing about it is, when you’re talking about American mythology you’re really talking about Native American mythology. I’m a very white person. I don’t want to appropriate that. So I was looking around at what mythologies are out there and what could I draw on from my own heritage and what can I do to take something that’s really well-known and tropey and flip it on its head.”

And so he created Elves who believe themselves to be hyper-modern yet they walk and dress and talk like they’ve stepped right out of a noir movie from the 1940s. Then, he brought in the far-too-seldom-used Leprechauns, giving them the swagger of a character from Peaky Blinders. I’m not even going to explain the gnomes to you. You just have to read it for yourself. The mix and mash, push and pull, of what we know and what we expect is what keeps the reader on their toes and that brings the author a great deal of satisfaction.

As it’s Pride, of course, we had to discuss the fact that the book has a gay protagonist.  Anyone who has spent any amount of time in a comments section where anything queer is remotely mentioned knows what most of us face when we set about writing about ourselves, placing ourselves in the narrative. The homophobes come out of the woodwork hurling accusations of forcing agendas and wokeness when all we really want is to read stories where we exist.

For Slayton, there was no question about Adam’s sexuality from the beginning. It wasn’t an agenda. It was who he was.

“It’s vital to me,” he said. “Most of my inspiration in what I write comes from seeing a gap in the market. I grew up in Guthrie in the woods. I didn’t have access to a lot. My mother was very religious so what I was allowed to read was very limited. What I could find in fantasy, whenever there was an LGBTQ character, they were either barely there or they died tragically. There was an AIDS analog or coming out was a thing.  I love seeing more of the representation spread and good representation in particular. That’s part of why I started writing White Trash Warlock. I don’t see a broke, gay witch from Oklahoma on the page. So, I thought, I’m going to write that. Since it is urban fantasy, prejudice and issues around Adam’s sexuality are present, but I didn’t want it to be the main thing in the story. Better writers than me have written about all that so I don’t want to read it.”

The formula is certainly working for Slayton. His books have captured the imagination of readers around the world. The blending of his own mixture of horror and fantasy is thrilling and compelling. For me, it gives me the same thrill of the first time I read Gaiman, Pratchett, and to an extent, even Barker.

This brings us, of course, to the final book in Slayton’s trilogy. With Deadbeat Druid on the horizon, it would have been criminal not to ask for a peek of what’s to come.

“At the end of Trailer Park Trickster, Adam is very much sent on an Odyssey,” he said. “Instead of using islands, I’m using real towns. Some of them just have a cool, creepy true crime thing connected with them; some of them just have interesting events connected to them. I’ve really enjoyed researching the history of these places. In Deadbeat Druid, you’ll get a little more of that.”

Yes, but what about Adam Binder and his sexy but very “everything is black and white” possible boyfriend, Vic, who he inadvertently made into a Grim Reaper?!

“I play a lot of D&D so I think in those terms,” Slayton pointed out. “Adam is chaotic good, which means that he always does the right thing, even if it’s against the law. Vic is lawful good, which means he will always do the right thing but it has to follow the law. By the end of book three, they’ve both taken steps toward each other and neutral good. Not everything is black and white and not every law is bad.”

To learn more about David Slayton, visit his official website and look for his novels online and in bookstores!

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Horror Entertainment News

‘Swallowed’ Review: Bugs, Drugs and Body Horror

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Mark Patton Swallowed

Swallowed starts off innocently enough with an intimate dance between two friends on the cusp of a life-changing move, then goes off the deep end with an anxiety-inducing drug deal gone wrong with lots of surprising body horror. 

From director Carter Smith, who also did the 2008 The Ruins and more recently the supremely underrated queer slasher Midnight Kiss for the horror anthology show Into the Dark, Swallowed had its world premiere at the 2022 Overlook Film Festival.

The film stars a small, but kickass group of actors, including the legendary Mark Patton,  star of the notoriously gay-coded A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, who disappeared for several years following the film’s release over fear for the queer aspects. 

Jena Malone Swallowed

Jena Malone in Swallowed – Image courtesy of XYZ Films

Jena Malone (Donnie Darko, The Ruins, The Hunger Games, The Neon Demon) also stars, along with Cooper Koch (who will be in Blumhouse’s upcoming They/Them) and newcomer Jose Colon. Outside of these four characters, there’s not much else, but they do a lot with their ensemble. 

Two childhood friends celebrate one last night before Benjamin (Koch) moves to Los Angeles to work in the gay porn industry. Trying to support his friend that he clearly has feelings for, Dom (Colon) tries to set up a drug deal that would get money for Benjamin to have financial stability in his move. 

As one would expect, the drug deal does not go the way they expected. Nor do they expect the way they have to smuggle the drugs. 

Swallowed, constantly switching between extremely intimate moments and tense action sequences, all takes place over the course of one night and the morning after, keeping you attached to what will happen next. 

Swallowed

Cooper Koch and Jose Colon in Swallowed – Image courtesy of XYZ Films

The friendship and unrequited romance between the two leads is realistic and sweet; you really want this pair to survive this ordeal. You also feel the pain that they feel knowing they have to leave each other, potentially forever, and go on with their lives. 

While it is tense, the body horror elements simmer throughout, ratcheting up near the end with some intense violations. 

While going pedal to the metal for the runtime, this film will ultimately affect your heart more than anything else, mostly due to the acting from Koch and Colon that goes beyond what you would expect from a traditional horror movie and carries a surprising amount of emotion between the two. 

Cooper Koch Swallowed

Image courtesy of XYZ Films

Swallowed is also somewhat of a personal piece for the director. Smith, who also grew up in rural Maine as a queer kid, felt lonely and dissatisfied with the representation he saw.  This film is what he would have wanted to see as a horror-loving kid in the midnight movie section.

Swallowed succeeds because of the cast, and seeing Patton again in a prominent and well-acted role can’t help but fill me with joy since he’s stayed off the radar almost completely since Nightmare. 

This film is much more into creating a thrilling one-night wild ride than a slasher or a more traditional horror movie. It doesn’t rely heavily on gore or injuries for its body horror, and is instead a lot more about the imagination. But for a horror thriller, Swallowed stands out for its heartwarming tint, excellent actors, and unusual progression of events. 

The film is currently going around festivals and has not yet been acquired for distribution, but keep an eye out for it in the future. 

3 eyes out of 5

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