Horror is gay. It’s a genre about, among other things, destroying societal conceptions of heteronormativity and domesticity. Gay horror fans like myself see ourselves in these narratives about monstrosity and “otherness” and take hold of them, making them our own. In his book, Queer Horror Film and Television: Sexuality and Masculinity at the Margins, Darren Elliott-Smith says, “…the study of monstrous homosexuality in the horror film has also revealed the celebratory pleasures offered to queer, gay and lesbian viewers’ oppositional identification with the very same monsters that threaten the norm.” Our identities threaten heteronormativity and we cheer on those monsters that do the same. Horror is not only about queerness, but is shaped by queerness, with LGBTQ+ directors, like Clive Barker and Don Manici, creating horror classics such as Hellraiser and Child’s Play, respectively.
While gay horror directors and fanatics have helped shape horror film, their work is eclipsed by toxic tropes created to “other” LGBTQ+ characters and make them into villains. Horror ultimately reflects societal fears and for much of recent history, society has been afraid of gayness and the threat it poses heteronormative conceptions of family and relationships. While our current cultural context is evolving into a slightly more accepting one, this genre has perpetuated toxic tropes, two of which that I’ll discuss here, that depict LGBTQ+ characters as deviant, horrific monsters.
If you’re into lesbian cinema, then you’ve probably heard of Angela Robinson. Her profile has recently expanded; long after blessing us with the likes of D.E.B.S. and Girltrash!, the writer-director went mainstream last year with her vastly under-appreciated Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. (You can read our LFF review of the film here.)
At Much Ado About Cinema, we cherish LGBTQ+ film, and queer cinema is a core foundation of our lives. Robinson is an example of a filmmaker who constantly centres lesbian/bisexual women in her stories, and produces these stories in a way that often makes us feel validated and genuinely represented – she is a brilliant example of why LGBT stories are told best by LGBT people. Whether it’s through comedic parodies or psychosexual dramas, we’ll be following Robinson’s career wherever she chooses to go. If you’re new to her work, take a gander at the profile below: you’ve got a whole lot to catch up on.
This essay is by our guest writer, Cody Corrall. The classic femme fatale is elusive. She is a film noir staple: Gilda and Honey West. She uses her sexuality as a weapon against the patriarchy, but is inevitably foiled for having challenged it. Since the creation of the femme fatale, however, there hasn’t been a modern version that holds up. This is because the femme fatale, while a beacon of sexuality, is inherently a political statement. In the height of film noir in the 1940s and 1950s, the rights of the straight cisgendered white woman were the next to be fought for. While these rights may not have been fully achieved yet, the rise of feminism and liberation have weeded out the femme fatale from modern cinema. This archetype no longer fits the rebellion and desire for power of the femme fatale. In order for a femme fatale to work in today’s society, it must be queered. We see these modern depictions of the queer femme fatale in Pedro Almodovar’s 2004 film Bad Education, and in David Lynch’s 2001 cult classic Mulholland Drive.
This article is by our guest writer, Isabelle Miller.
Happy pride everyone! During the month of June, we reflect on the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and the activists who started the LGBTQ movement. It’s a time to advocate for the LGBTQ community, celebrate their culture, and naturally, watch some great films (though, when is there not a good time for this?). In the late 1970s, artist Gilbert Baker decided to create a flag in representation of the LGBTQ community. Today, the rainbow flag represents LGBTQ pride all across the world. The different colors carry various meanings such as life, healing, sunlight, peace, spirit, sex, art/magic, people of color, and HIV/AIDS.
In celebration of pride month, here’s a list of LGBTQ films based on some of those colors!
To celebrate Pride Month, here is a list of all the upcoming LGBTQ films you can expect to see on a cinema screen near you. All descriptions are from press materials.
June 8 – HEART BEATS LOUD dir. Brett Haley
The film follows Sam during her last summer at home before she leaves for UCLA. She lives with her father, Frank, who runs a record store in Brooklyn. Together, they bond while playing and writing music together in their living room. And Sam doesn’t let the impending cross-country move stop her from having a summer fling.
Starring: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Sasha Lane, Toni Collette
Adolescence is an important time for all of us. It’s a rollercoaster of unexplainable emotions – emotions that often cannot be accurately captured in words. It’s the first time we feel attraction, discover sexuality, and explore romantic relationships. It’s a crossroads for all, but it can be especially painful for LGBTQ+ youth. While heterosexual and cisgender teenagers will see their own desires reflected in the rest of their community, their trans and same gender attracted counterparts can often experience the throes of adolescence in complete loneliness.
Much of French filmmaker Céline Sciamma’s work focuses on the unique conflicts of adolescent life. Her camera juxtaposes the joy of new maturity with a fear of the unknown, calmly recounting the stories of strikingly individual characters. Her work is best watched collectively, for maximum appreciation of her minimal style, but if you’re looking for somewhere to start, take a look at the summaries below.
Approximately seven months ago, I started off this blog with a list of lesbian rom-com recommendations. At that point, myself and Dilara had no idea how far Much Ado could go; for all intents and purposes, this blog would be a place where we could occasionally throw written work, the odd opinion piece, or a review that required a platform slightly more formal than letterboxd.
Nine regular writers, twelve guest writers, 136 posts, 2700 twitter followers, and ten festivals later, Much Ado About Cinema has become a space where young developing critics can hone their skills and produce content for a new generation of film fans. For a while now, I’ve been wanting to do a follow-up post to my very first article – a continued vent about the wonder of the lesbian romcom. These five films may be slightly rough around the edges, with some even veering into cringeworthy territory, but they all provide the kind of gay warm fuzzies that every queer woman deserves.
Show Me Love/Fucking Åmål (1998)
Potentially more of a romantic drama than a true romantic comedy, ‘Show Me Love’ provides an insightful tale of teen love that will resonate with any lesbian who crushed on the popular girl in high school. Agnes is a depressed, closeted sixteen-year-old with a passionate love for Elin, an outgoing but bratty teen. Both girls are unhappy with their lives in different ways; Agnes is lonely and stuck in the juvenile social class of “weirdo outcast”, whilst Elin is bored with her seemingly perfect life. After a cruel kiss on a dare, Elin becomes intrigued by Agnes, and their mismatched romance flourishes through the peaks and troughs of adolescent life.