We celebrate National Coming Out Day with five diverse, original, and captivating queer horror films you may have missed.
October 11th is National Coming Out Day, a day to raise awareness for individuals within the LGBTQ+ community and champion the idea that homophobia thrives in silence. To celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of five underrated or underseen horror films which prominently feature or center around complex and interesting queer characters — all of which are readily available to stream (for free in most cases).
There’s something here for everyone: an impressive Hitchockian thriller; a sexy modern-day slasher; a stylish Giallo-inspired mystery; a violent and post-apocalyptic, girl-powered adventure; and a hilarious and gory, wonderfully weird take on the vampire sub genre.
So, if you’re looking for something different to add to your genre watchlist, and you’re a fan of strong LGBTQ+ representation and well-written queer characters, we’ve got you covered!
1. B&B (2017)
Written and directed by BAFTA-nominated Joe Ahearne (Trance, Doctor Who), B&B is a thriller about a homosexual couple fighting for recognition of their civil rights by waging war with the devout Christian owner of a remote guesthouse.
Having successfully sued the owner, Josh (Paul McGann) for previously denying them a double bed, the recently married couple, Marc (Tom Bateman) and Fred (Sean Teale), return to the establishment with something to prove. The film begins with Marc and Fred checking into the B&B. There’s a very brief exchange with Josh in which we learn the couple is there to celebrate their legal victory over the establishment owner. They know Josh doesn’t want them there, and that’s exactly why they want to be there.
From there, the film takes plenty of cues from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchock, who Ahearne admits to being greatly inspired by.
B&B is a smart and well-crafted thriller that is both highly entertaining and wonderfully surprising. But the film truly shines by adeptly tackling important social and moral issues while giving us something we desperately need more of in the genre – complex and interesting homosexual characters in leading roles.
B&B is available for free with ads on Peacock, Vudu, or Tubi.
2. Pitchfork (2016)
Scary, sexy, original, and tons of bloody fun, Pitchfork is a throwback slasher homage with strong characters, a memorable killer, and some important social commentary.
The film follows a ragtag group of young performers and friends from New York, on a road trip to visit the family of their friend Hunter (Brian Raetz). Even though Hunter is now living in the big city and spending his time with a diverse and multi-cultural group of friends, his roots are on a small-town Michigan farm where his family still resides. Hunter has recently come out as gay (breaking the news to his family over the phone), something his “traditional values” father (Derek Reynolds) is having a hard time coming to terms with.
Hunter has returned to the farm to try to confront his father, while his friends have tagged along for moral support and a little fresh air and fun. As if things weren’t complicated enough, something far more sinister has descended upon the farm, putting Hunter and his friends and family in mortal danger.
Although director Glenn Packard pays a great deal of loving tribute to previous slashers, there’s plenty here that is refreshingly unique and memorable. The titular character himself, Pitchfork, is a terrifying but empathetic killer. Visually striking, lean, and muscular, this shirtless madman wears an animal mask and has a pitchfork for a hand. He’s highly reminiscent of other slasher favorites but unique enough to stand apart from other masked killers.
Despite its low budget, the film also looks fantastic, with gorgeous cinematography and sweeping overhead tracking shots.
Pitchfork is available for free with ads on Vudu or Tubi.
3. Knife+Heart (2018)
Knife+Heart is an ultra-stylized, Giallo-inspired murder mystery/slasher set in the world of 1970s French gay porn.
Vanessa Paradis stars as Anne, a porn producer whose latest film set is being stalked by a masked killer whose tools of choice include grotesquely modified sex toys. Given that the killer’s targets are gay porn stars, the police don’t seem to be very motivated to put an end to the terror.
Heartbroken and obsessing over her ex-girlfriend, Anne throws herself into her work, deciding to retool her film to center around the recent gruesome killings. Meanwhile, she takes up her own investigation to uncover the masked madman.
With inspirations ranging from Brian De Palm to Dario Argento, Knife+Heart is stylish, atmospheric, and technically resplendent. It’s both sumptuous to look at and an auditory feast, aided by director Yann Gonzalez’ former bandmates, the French electro-rock act M83 (Gonzalez’ brother, Anthony, is the group’s frontman).
A darkly comedic and unabashedly queer love letter to art and the transcendent nature of cinema, Knife+Heart is an intense and pulsating experience that’s as beautiful as it is visceral.
4. Riot Girls (2019)
With exceptional production and costume design and a killer score, Riot Girls is a stylish and bloody, post-apocalyptic thrill ride with a punk rock spirit.
Set in an alternate version of 1995, a mysterious virus has wiped out the entire adult population, leaving the young to inherit the Earth. In the small town of Potter’s Bluff, the teens have splintered off into two warring factions comprised of the haves and the have-nots.
The leader of the lower-class Eastsiders, Jack, is kidnapped by the elitist Westside Titans, testosterone-fueled jocks who rule Potter’s Bluff with an iron fist. It’s up to Jack’s punk rock sister Nat and her best friend Scratch to make the dangerous trek into Titan territory to rescue him.
Heavily influenced by films like The Warriors and The Outsiders, with bountiful nods to classic 80s and 90s genre and teen cinema, Riot Girls is a blast. Fun, frenetic, and female-driven, the film combines gory violence with a sense of playful attitude. Comic-book-inspired aesthetics and compelling characters add to the film’s boundless charm.
Jovanka Vuckovic’s (XX) feature film debut is a memorable one and one well worth checking out.
Riot Girls is available for free with ads on Vudu Free, Tubi, and IMDb TV.
5. Thirst (2020)
Hailed as the most metal film of 202o, the Icelandic vampire film Thirst is brutal, blood-soaked, and fiendishly funny.
The drug addict Hulda is arrested after she’s accused of murdering her brother. After she is let go because of insufficient evidence, she meets Hjörtur, a thousand-year-old gay vampire — a “gentleman” vampire who never touches women, only men, and who delights in devouring male genitalia.
The pair form an unexpected friendship and, together, have to fight a crazy Christian cult while being investigated by a rogue detective.
Get ready for some insane, over-the-top horror moments — including an excessive amount of penis prosthetics, ample gore, twisted dark humor, and even some subtle commentary and religion and society. There’s even a surprising amount of tenderness beneath the balls-to-the-wall comedic carnage. With its perfectly campy humor and homage to 80’s horror style, its solid practical effects, its gorgeous neon aesthetic, and its exceptional cast, Thirst is a ridiculously fun ride.
This bonkers bloodbath is an absolute must-see for fans of midnight movies and those who loved the surreal, psychedelic madness of films like Mandy or Fried Barry.
Thirst is available to stream now on Shudder.