It’s Halloween, the ideal time of year to watch a scary movie. And while the genre is known for its heterosexual hijinks, there have been plenty of homoerotic horror movies.
The themes of alienation, repressed sexuality and sin that have always permeated scary movies and horror films make them perfect vehicles for coded queerness. The 1980s and ’90s in particular were the golden age of homoerotic horror, as Hollywood began to understand that men could be exploited as sex objects, too. And as more men came out of the closet, gay panic permeated pop culture.
These 13 films are some of our favorite homoerotic horror flicks. Did yours make our list?
1. Ravenous (1999)
In this black horror comedy, a grunge’d-up-but-still-pretty Guy Peace plays Captain John Boyd, a man who escaped the Mexican-American War by hiding under the dead bodies of his comrades. In a remote mountain fort he encounters Colquhoun (played by Robert Carlyle), who recounts narrowly surviving an expedition that descended into cannibalism.
Both men realize they become stronger when they eat human meat and drink bodily fluids.
It’s not too hard to see this tale of men finding strength in devouring each other as subtext for homosexuality, especially when Ives and Boyd are literally pinned together as they battle between embracing the lifestyle and conquering their carnal urges.
2. Hostel (2005)
Director Eli Roth loves to play with gay themes (see 2003’s Cabin Fever), but this vacation-gone-wrong flick takes it to the next level. Seriously. Maybe it’s American backpacker Josh (Derek Richardson) staring longingly at his buddy Paxton (Jay Hernandez) as they have a four-gy in Eastern Europe.
Perhaps it’s Hernandez’s Paxton in a ball gag while a sadist maniac tortures him with phallic weaponry.
I mean, just check out these movie posters.
3. The Covenant (2006)
In a movie billed as “The Craft, but with guys,” Steven Strait, Taylor Kitsch, Chace Crawford and Toby Hemingway play prep-school hotties descended from Puritan witches.
In between donning skimpy swimsuits, staging half-naked locker room fights and ignoring their girlfriends, these Abercrombie model wannabes get into it with Chase (Sebastian Stan), who’s the new warlock in town.
The final showdown between Chase and Caleb (Strait) includes a kiss … and the two mages throwing white globs of eldritch power at each other. Yep.
4. The Lost Boys (1987)
Out filmmaker Joel Schumacher gave us a Batman with erect nipples, so it’s not too surprising he crammed a ton of homoeroticism into this hipster vampire flick.
Our adolescent protagonist, Sam (Corey Haim), has posters of Rob Lowe on his wall and sings showtunes in the bathtub.
His older brother, Michael (Jason Patric), is being seduced into a gang of glam-rock bloodsuckers by their sexy leader, David (Kiefer Sutherland), who asks him, “How far are you willing to go, Michael?”
5. Friday the 13th: Jason Goes to Hell (1993)
Claiming the Friday the 13th franchise was sexist, director Adam Marcus said he wanted equal amounts of male and female nudity in Jason Goes to Hell. And he delivered.
The film also has a character tying up another man, shaving off all his body hair and transferring the Jason “parasite” into him via a French kiss.
Marcus was removed as the director of the homoerotic horror movie shortly before the end of filming, and much of the finished film allegedly came from re-shoots. Whether his inclusive filmmaking was a factor is anyone’s guess.
6. Fear No Evil (1981)
In this low-budget campfest, troubled teen Andrew slowly comes out of the closet — as the Antichrist. But not before his bully corners him naked in the showers, asks him for a “date” and then kisses him.
Once he’s in his full satanic glory Andrew wears a sheer black gown and goth makeup — the go-to look for gay teens of the 1980s.
7. The Forsaken (2001)
At first The Forsaken feels like a Hollister ad. Then you think it’s a road movie. Eventually, though, it plays its hand as a vampire flick, packed with sexy bloodsuckers like Simon Rex and Johnathon Schaech. (Bite me, please!)
Bonus: The movie’s hapless hetero protagonists have both taken prominent gay roles: Kerr Smith was out teen Jack on Dawson’s Creek, while Brendan Fehr (Roswell) was a hustler in Sugar and a closeted medic on NBC’s The Night Shift.
8. The Hitcher (1986)
Presumably this movie was supposed to warn us away from hitchhiking, but for gays of a certain generation it had the opposite effect. Jim (C Thomas Howell) is transporting a car to San Diego when he picks up a charming hitchhiker (played by the always-creepy Rutger Hauer), who turns out to be a sadistic serial killer.
Hauer (Blade Runner) is at his sexiest, and director Robert Harmon plays up the taught tension between him and Howell for all it’s worth.
9. Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003)
Thankfully you don’t have to see the first Jeepers Creepers to understand this beefcake-heavy sequel, in which a busload of high-school basketball players is beset by a winged demon.
Incredibly, the film flips the script on the typical toplessness and opt for homoerotic horror by giving us a literal parade of shirtless hunks.
Even when they’re beheaded by the creature, these guys have perfect abs.
10. Re-Animator (1985)
This modern take on Frankenstein included several longing glances from Herbert West at Dan Cain, as well as continued references to West’s seething jealousy of Cain’s girlfriend.
Rare for a horror flick of the time, Re-Animator doesn’t shy away from exploiting the naked male form (including full-frontal nudity). But critics believe it’s the movie’s plot that’s the queerest thing about this homoerotic horror flick.
“While many of the classical horror films take the sadomasochistic relationship between their male leads to be the singular driving force of their narratives … perhaps the most obviously queer ones are those wherein the homosexual pair set out to procreate without the aid of woman,” writes Harry Benshoff in Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film. ”The act of procreation, read as sex, thus makes this particular formula spectacularly queer.”
11. Witchboard (1986)
1980s pinup Tawny Kitaen is in the middle of a deadly love triangle in this Ouija-board scarefest, but the sexual tension is really between her boyfriend, Jim (Todd Allen), and her ex, Brandon (Stephen Nichols). As we learn, the guys were once close until Brandon “walked out” on Jim.
Once that witchboard starts wreaking havoc, its victims include Jim’s flamboyant friend Lloyd, who is spectacularly flattened by fallen sheet rock on a construction site.
12. Fright Night (1985)
The fact that his girlfriend (out actress-director Amanda Bearse) doesn’t want to have sex is oddly not a big deal for teen Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale). He’s too preoccupied with the handsome vampire Jerry (Chris Sarandon) who moved in next door.
Writer-director Tom Holland (no, not the Spider-man actor) gives us plenty of scenes of the mature bloodsucker targeting the nubile Charlie. But he also finds space for Jerry’s fey “roommate” Billy (Jonathan Stark, two photos above with Sarandon), Charlie’s weird best friend Ed (future gay porn star Stephen Geoffreys) and gay actor Roddy McDowall (above) as effeminate vampire hunter Peter Vincent.
13. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
The only people who didn’t see Freddy’s Revenge as the gayest, most homoerotic horror movie of all time were its producers. Gay screenwriter David Chaskin gave us a dream sequence that included both a leather-bar scene and a gym teacher getting whipped in the showers.
Meanwhile, our freaked-out protagonist (gay actor Mark Patton) is playing crotch-grab with his best friend. And screaming about Freddie Krueger “He’s INSIDE ME, and he wants to take me AGAIN!”
We’re not even sure we can call it subtext at this point.