30 Essential Pitch-Black Comedy Films for Queer Horror Fans

Hello there, gentle readers. Confession: While I love horror films as much as the next Joe Homosexual, occasionally I crave something a tad ‘lighter’ (though still with plenty of bite). Enter, the wonderful world of black comedies. Truly exceptional black comedy films push the thematic boundaries of traditional, wide-appeal comedies. They often tackle ‘taboo’ subjects like sex, violence, murder, incest, etc. (though these topics are usually presented through a flippant, satirical lens). As a result, black comedies tend to be cult hits with small but devoted fanbases. I like to think of them as close cousins of horror films, and some even frequently get lumped into the horror genre.

What constitutes a queer black comedy film? For starters, the film should generally fit the black comedy criteria outlined above. From there, it should include at least one distinguishing feature specific to the queer community. This could mean the inclusion of queer icon cast and/or crew members, queer themes in scripts, queer historical relevancy, etc. A high ‘camp‘ quotient can also help tip a film into queer cult classic territory (as can strong feminist themes). Oh, and spontaneous musical numbers don’t hurt. Obviously, not all queer people have the same taste in films by any means, but the majority of films below do have significant followings within the queer community at large today.

Some quick ground rules: I’ve tried to limit the films below to entries that are primarily– and intentionally– comedic in nature (while still having some horror/sci-fi/supernatural elements). That means certain homoerotic horror classics like Nightmare on Elm Street 2, The Hunger, Fright Night, The Lost Boys, etc. are not listed here. Those films do have campy moments, but I would argue they’re primarily horror/thriller films. Additionally, youth-geared films like Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, etc. generally do not appear here in order to make room for more adult-oriented films. Finally, a few films on this list arguably skew more toward horror-comedy than black-comedy. Given that modern filmmakers today frequently blend genres, that terminology debate felt a bit limiting for the purpose of this list. Anyway, enough rambling from this queer! I see you shiver with antici —

1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

“Sweethearts Brad and Janet, stuck with a flat tire during a storm, discover the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite scientist. As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet meet a houseful of wild characters, including a rocking biker and a creepy butler. Through elaborate dances and rock songs, Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation: a muscular man named ‘Rocky’.”

— pation. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one of the most transgressive, genre-bending and gender-decimating cult films of all time. It’s also the film most often credited with creating the modern ‘midnight movie’ phenomenon. Originally conceived by queer artist Richard O’Brien as a stage musical, both the show and film draw inspiration from campy B-horror and sci-fi movies, schlock-horror, Steve Reeves muscle flicks, and 1950s rock ‘n’ roll. For decades, cinemas around the world have screened the film to sold-out audiences– often with shadow-cast performers and audience participation rituals. It’s a rare example of a queer cult phenomenon that has been embraced by mainstream society. P.S. Don’t skimp on the loose sequel, Shock Treatment (1981).

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


2. Clue (1985)

Clue finds six colorful dinner guests gathered at the mansion of their host, Mr. Boddy — who turns up dead after his secret is exposed: He was blackmailing all of them. With the killer among them, the guests and Boddy’s chatty butler must suss out the culprit before the body count rises.

“Flames… on the side of my face.” This classic murder-mystery comedy with multiple twist endings was co-written by Jonathan Lynn (My Cousin Vinny) and John Landis (An American Werewolf in London)– with the legendary Debra Hill (Halloween, The Fog) producing. Michael McKean portrays Mr. Green– a gay character in the film– alongside an ensemble cast of beloved queer icons like Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, and Lesley Ann Warren. Clue‘s script is extremely clever and firmly tongue-in-cheek, but it’s the larger-than-life performances, period gothic setting, and respect for genre conventions that really push this macabre gem into prestige comedy territory. Who knows what to think of the Ryan Reynolds-backed remake in the works.

WATCH: Amazon (Prime Streaming)


3. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

“Seymour Krelborn is a nerdy orphan working at Mushnik’s, a flower shop in urban Skid Row. He harbors a crush on fellow co-worker Audrey Fulquard, and is berated by Mr. Mushnik daily. One day as Seymour is seeking a new mysterious plant, he finds a very mysterious unidentified plant which he calls Audrey II. The plant seems to have a craving for blood and soon begins to sing for his supper.”

Before being hired as the dream team behind most of Disney’s animated film scores from the late ’80s and early ’90s, Alan Menken and the late, [openly gay] Howard Ashman wowed off-Broadway audiences with their little horror-comedy stage musical, Little Shop of Horrors. The show– a musical adaptation of the 1960 cult B-movie by the same name– was later adapted into a major motion picture directed by Frank Oz. Notably, the film’s original apocalyptic ending mirroring the stage version’s was cut and replaced with a happier one. However, a director’s cut was released in 2012 with the original ending intact (thankfully). The film remains one of the best stage-to-screen musical adaptations of all time.

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4. The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

“Three small-town friends, Alexandra, Jane and Sukie, each having lost the man in their lives, are feeling unfulfilled — until a furtive stranger, Daryl Van Horne, arrives and begins courting each of them in turn. Eventually, Daryl tells them that they are witches. But as the three friends spend more time at his mansion, enjoying themselves and learning about their powers, they begin to worry about Daryl’s ultimate intentions.”

“It’s women who are the source, the only power. Nature. Birth. Rebirth. Cliché, sure, but true.” Based on a novel by John Updike and adapted for the screen by director George Miller (Mad Max, Twilight Zone) and [openly gay] screenwriter Michael Cristofer (The Shadow Box), The Witches of Eastwick seamlessly blends horror, drama, and camp together to create a sinfully delicious morsel. Over thirty years later, the film’s complex brand of feminism continues to be debated, but it’s the witchy, lead performances by queer icons Michelle Pfieffer, Susan Surandon, and Cher(!) that really make the film a queer cult classic for the ages.

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5. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

“When her great aunt dies, famed horror hostess Elvira heads for the uptight new England town of Falwell to claim her inheritance of a haunted house, a witch’s cookbook and a punk rock poodle. But once the stuffy locals get an eyeful of the scream queen’s ample assets, all hell busts out & breaks loose.”

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is the *too macabre* camp classic that catapulted Cassandra Peterson and her valley girl-inspired, horror-hostess persona to international stardom. In the film, the titular character embraces her sexuality, uncovers the sordid secrets of her past, battles her evil great-uncle Vincent, woos a hunky handyman, and even teaches the residents of a small Massachusetts town some valuable life lessons. All in 90 minutes, no less! Elvira is the perfect, queer-friendly combination of sexy, campy and scary. In 2001, a film sequel was released titled Elvira’s Haunted Hills, and there have been whispers of a new Elvira film being in the works. In the mean time, UN-pleasant dreams…

WATCH: Amazon (Prime Streaming)


6. Heathers (1988)

A girl who halfheartedly tries to be part of the “in crowd” of her school meets a rebel who teaches her a more devious way to play social politics: by killing the popular kids.

The darkly comedic Heathers comes from director Michael Lehmann (The Truth About Cats & Dogs) and writer Daniel Waters (Batman Returns)– with frequent Tim Burton partner, Denise Di Novi, producing. Starring ’80s ingenue Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice, Dracula) and bad-boy Christian Slater (True Romance, Pump Up the Volume), the film is still one of the blackest of teen comedies. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a studio greenlighting a film like this today (we won’t mention the recent, disastrous TV reboot). That said, discontent youths in the late ’80s ate up this little subversive, satirical gem about teen suicide and murder (yes, really). And given the film’s long legacy– including a popular off-Broadway musical adaptation— it seems safe to say Heathers isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. How very.

WATCH: Amazon (Prime Streaming), Hulu


7. Beetlejuice (1988)

“Thanks to an untimely demise via drowning, a young couple end up as poltergeists in their New England farmhouse, where they fail to meet the challenge of scaring away the insufferable new owners, who want to make drastic changes. In desperation, the undead newlyweds turn to an expert frightmeister, but he’s got a diabolical agenda of his own.”

DEEEEEH-YO! Late ’80s and early ’90s Tim Burton was really firing on all cylinders. This macabre little black comedy co-written by Warren Skaaren and [openly gay] Michael McDowell has everything, really. There’s Michael Keaton in the titular role having the time of his life, Winona Ryder as a death-obsessed teenage girl, camp queen Catherine O’Hara as an artist-turned-socialite, Geena Davis and [a near-unrecognizable] Alec Baldwin as recently deceased couple The Maitlands, and the late great Glenn Shadix really feeling his butch self. Jeffrey Jones is also there, but the less said about him the better. Overall, Beetlejuice is a strange, visually stunning and wildly inventive film with rewatch value galore. It also features one of the best spontaneous musical moments in film history.

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8. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

“A scientist builds an animated human being — the gentle Edward. The scientist dies before he can finish assembling Edward, though, leaving the young man with a freakish appearance accentuated by the scissor blades he has instead of hands. Loving suburban saleswoman Peg discovers Edward and takes him home, where he falls for Peg’s teen daughter. However, despite his kindness and artistic talent, Edward’s hands make him an outcast.”

After the commercial successes of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice and Batman, Tim Burton continued his winning streak with Edward Scissorhands, a SoCal suburban-set dark fantasy and satire. Winona Ryder re-teamed with Burton for the film, and a young Johnny Depp was cast in the titular role (the first of many Burton-Depp collaborations). Horror legend Vincent Price also appears in his final major film role as Edward’s father/creator. Given that Edward Scissorhands was filmed and released during the AIDs epidemic, it’s not difficult to interpret Burton & Caroline Thompson’s story as an allegory for the horrible way people with HIV/AIDs– many of whom queer– were treated during that time.

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9. Death Becomes Her (1992)

“Madeline is married to Ernest, who was once arch-rival Helen’s fiance. After recovering from a mental breakdown, Helen vows to kill Madeline and steal back Ernest. Unfortunately for everyone, the introduction of a magic potion causes things to be a great deal more complicated than a mere murder plot.”

Described by Variety as “Lifestyles of Rich and Famous meets Tales from the Crypt“, Robert Zemeckis’ Death Becomes Her is widely recognized as a queer cult classic. The film is a supernatural campfest featuring superstars Meryl Streep and Goldie Hahn as a pair of aging rivals who drink a magic potion promising eternal youth. However, the potion has major side effects, and the two eventually become walking, talking corpses. The film has been cited as an inspirational work by multiple RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants, including Season 5 winner, Jinx Monsoon. According to Drag Race producer Tom Campbell, “We root for the undead divas because they’re trying to win a game that’s rigged against them, and—to borrow an apocryphal quote from Ginger Rogers—they sort of have to do it ‘backwards and in high heels.’”

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


10. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

“Blonde, bouncy Buffy is your typical high school cheerleader: her goal is to “marry Christian Slater and die,” and nothing gets in her way when it’s time to shop! But all that changes when a strange man informs her she’s been chosen by fate to kill vampires. With the help of a romantic rebel, Buffy is soon spending school nights protecting L.A. from Lothos the Vampire King, his sidekick, Lefty, and their determined gang of bloodsuckers. It’s everything you’d expect from a teen queen in the Valley.”

“I’m the chosen one, and I choose to be shopping.” Writer Joss Whedon (The Avengers, The Cabin in the Woods) famously *hated* the way this film turned out. However, when viewed as a separate entity from his now-iconic television series by the same name, there’s quite a bit to appreciate here. Unlike the TV show, it’s clear the film was shot as a campy, vampire teen comedy. Given the poor commercial state of horror films in the early ’90s, it’s hard to blame the studio for wanting to keep things light here (regardless of Whedon’s intentions). Kristy Swanson puts her best foot forward in the titular role, and FOX deserves credit for hiring a female director to helm the project (Fran Rubel Kuzui). On a depressing note, both Luke Perry (heartthrob Pike) and Rutger Hauer (campy vampire villain Lothos) passed away recently. RIP.

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11. Addams Family Values (1993)

“Siblings Wednesday and Pugsley Addams will stop at nothing to get rid of Pubert, the new baby boy adored by parents Gomez and Morticia. Things go from bad to worse when the new “black widow” nanny, Debbie Jellinsky, launches her plan to add Fester to her collection of dead husbands.”

The first Addams Family film is fun, but Barry Sonnenfeld and Paul Rudnick’s sequel is transcendent queer art. Rudnick, an openly gay man, contributed to the success of several camp classics in the ’90s (i.e. In & Out, Sister Act and The First Wive’s Club). However, Addams Family Values is his Mona Lisa. The writing here is so sharp, satirical, and deadpan. Casting Joan Cusack as professional black widow Debbie Jelinsky was also an inspired choice on Sonnenfeld’s part, and Angelica Houston somehow manages to top her brilliant performance as Morticia from the first film. This also has to be one of the only films in existence that is simultaneously a summer camp movie AND a Thanksgiving movie. Somehow it *all* works.

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12. Serial Mom (1994)

“A picture perfect middle class family is shocked when they find out that one of their neighbors is receiving obscene phone calls. The mom takes slights against her family very personally, and it turns out she is indeed the one harassing the neighbor. As other slights befall her beloved family, the body count begins to increase.”

Multiple films by queer filmmaker extraordinaire John Waters could have been chosen for this list, but ultimately I picked the one that felt most appropriate here: Serial Mom (see the ‘Deep Cuts’ section of this blog post below for additional recommendations). In the film, queer icon Kathleen Turner (The War of the Roses, Peggy Sue Got Married) plays Beverly Sutphin, a suburban housewife and mother with few qualms about slicing and dicing anyone that disrespects her family. At the film’s time of release, critics lauded Waters’s style and savage satire of the US’s obsession with true crime (an obsession that has only grown since). Several queer icons appear in cameo roles in the film, including Patty Hearst, Suzanne Somers, Joan Rivers, Traci Lords, and Brigid Berlin.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


13. Ed Wood (1994)

“The mostly true story of the legendary “worst director of all time”, who, with the help of his strange friends, filmed countless B-movies without ever becoming famous or successful.”

It’s unfortunate that Tim Burton’s most grounded and personal film is also one of his least talked about films today. For the mid-90s, Ed Wood is a delightfully queer little biographical gem about the (in)famous B-movie filmmaker of the same name. Wood was best known for his ‘bad’ micro-budget films, cross-dressing, and working friendships with individuals whom society often shunned (i.e. LGBTQ+ folk, disfigured and disabled individuals, etc.). The film features many elements horror fans will appreciate– including Martin Landau’s performance as an aging Bella Lugosi (Dracula) and Lisa Marie as 1950s horror-hostess Vampira. Buffy fans will also instantly recognize Landau’s daughter, Juliet Landau (Drusilla in the Buffyverse).

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14. To Die For (1995)

“Suzanne Stone is a weather reporter at her small-town cable station, but she dreams of being a big-time news anchor. However, she feels that her middle-class husband is holding her back, so she decides to have him murdered. For this, she enlists Jimmy, a high school boy who is enamored with her.”

What’s the point of doing anything worthwhile if there’s nobody watching?” The New York Times described Gus Van Sant and Buck Henry’s To Die For as “an irresistible black comedy and a wicked delight that takes aim at tabloid ethics and hits a solid bull’s-eye.” The film– based on a real life murder case— is a mixture of styles, combining traditional drama with direct-to-camera monologues from the lead and mockumentary interviews with other characters. Queer icon Nicole Kidman (The Others, Eyes Wide Shut) won a Golden Globe for playing the deliciously narcissistic and manipulative main character, Suzanne Stone, alongside co-stars Matt Dillon (Crash, Drugstore Cowboy), and Joaquin Phoenix (Her, Signs).

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15. Practical Magic (1998)

“Sally and Gillian Owens, born into a magical family, have mostly avoided witchcraft themselves. But when Gillian’s vicious boyfriend, Jimmy Angelov, dies unexpectedly, the Owens sisters give themselves a crash course in hard magic. With policeman Gary Hallet growing suspicious, the girls struggle to resurrect Angelov — and unwittingly inject his corpse with an evil spirit that threatens to end their family line.”

Practical Magic has developed a particularly strong following within the queer community over the past two decades. Tonally, it’s a frenetic film– jumping between romantic comedy, soapy family drama, and supernatural thriller seemingly at the drop of a hat. It’s also a film where the protagonists drug and kill a violent abuser, resurrect him with dark magic, kill him again then bury his corpse, and finally proceed to be haunted and possessed by his vengeful spirit (culminating in a life-threatening exorcism). In terms of LGBTQ+ sensibility, it doesn’t hurt that the cast is heavy on queer icons, including Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in the lead sister roles– alongside Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest as their campy witch aunts. Oh, and let’s not forget the glorious and iconic midnight margaritas dance scene.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


16. Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)

“An annual beauty pageant in small-town Minnesota turns ridiculously competitive and ultimately chaotic in this biting comedy. Amber Atkins, the daughter of hard-drinking mom Annette, and Becky Leeman, who is motivated by her former beauty-queen mother, Gladys, are among the top contenders in the event. As Amber, Becky, and other local girls prepare for the big day, bizarre incidents occur, leading up to an ending with a bang.”

Drop Dead Gorgeous is an endlessly quotable, queer spectacle of a mockumentary from writer Lona Williams (Sugar & Spice, Scouts Guide) and director Michael Patrick Jann (The State). In the vein of Christopher Guest’s Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, the film examines a small-town teen beauty pageant through the eyes of said community’s quirky, idiosyncratic residents (all with thick Minnesota accents). Oh, and there’s a twist: the contestants start getting injured [and sometimes killed] in bizarre freak ‘accidents’. That wrinkle gives the plot a fun, whodunit mystery angle horror fans will appreciate. Though, perhaps the biggest selling point here is the all-star cast of queer icons like Kirstie Alley, Ellen Barkin, Allison Janney, Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Amy Adams, and the late great Brittany Murphy.

WATCH: Hulu


17. Jawbreaker (1999)

“3 of Reagan High School’s most popular girls pretend to kidnap their friend by shoving a jawbreaker into the victim’s mouth to keep her from screaming. Their plan goes awry when the girl swallows the jawbreaker, choking to death. Now the leader of the pack will do anything to keep the accident a secret.”

Jawbreaker owes a lot to similarly themed films that came before it like Heathers and The Craft, but Mean Girls borrowed elements from all three a few years later. So, we’re talking about a specific sub-genre and legacy here. Out-and-proud Darren Stein’s script and direction for Jawbreaker get the job done well, and MAN the actresses commit. For horror/genre fans of a certain age, this cast is also stacked. There’s Rose McGowan (Charmed, Grindhouse), Rebecca Gayheart (Urban Legend, Scream 2), Julie Benz (Buffy, Dexter), and of course Judy Greer (Cursed + Carrie & Halloween reboots). Like Carrie White, McGowan’s character even gets her own prom meltdown moment near the end of the film (minus the literal melting)

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


18. Psycho Beach Party (2000)

“Spoof of 1960’s Beach Party/Gidget surfing movies mixed with slasher horror films. A not-so-innocent girl in 1960’s Malibu becomes the first girl surfer at Malibu Beach, only she suffers from dissociative identity disorder and occasionally her alter ego, a sexually aggressive, foul-speaking girl, comes out. During her “episodes” several beach goers are found murdered.”

Psycho Beach Party is a sexy, sunsoaked black comedy film from openly gay filmmakers Robert Lee King and Charles Busch (based on Busch’s hit off-Broadway play by the same name). A wide-reaching parody and satire of 1950s psychodramas, 1960s beach movies, and 1980s slasher films, this very queer indie film wears its horror influences on its sleeve. Busch himself appears in drag in the film as Capt. Monica Stark– acting alongside some iconic young ’90s actors like Lauren Ambrose (Can’t Hardly Wait, Six Feet Under), Nicholas Brendon (Buffy), Matt Keeslar (Scream 3), and Thomas Gibson (Dharma & Greg). Oh, and a young Amy Adams(!). A fun, sexy film with plenty of eye candy and outlandish twists.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


19. Sugar & Spice (2001)

“When Jack and Diane find themselves in an unexpected adult situation, the A-Squad comes to their rescue. In order to help their friend Diane, the A-Squad goes where no cheerleader has gone before: taking on a little after-school project known as bank robbery. But the A-Squad does things their way — with sugar and spice — forever changing their friendship, their future and the nation’s notion of teen spirit.

The dark and delicious Sugar & Spice comes from all-female team Francine McDougall (Cow Belles) and Mandy Nelson. Except… ‘Mandy Nelson’ is actually a pseudoynm used by writer Lona Williams (Drop Dead Gorgeous, Scouts Guide). Williams wasn’t happy with the changes made to her original script and asked for her name to be removed from the final film. Despite that fact, this little black comedy about high school cheerleaders-turned-bank robbers has a ton of fun moments. While not as endlessly quotable as Drop Dead Gorgeous, Williams’s deadpan, sensibly-queer wit and humor still come through plenty. Extra personal points for the inclusion of a young, dreamy James Marsden (X-Men, Hairspray).

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


20. Seed of Chucky (2004)

“FEAR THE SECOND COMING. Chucky and Tiffany are resurrected by their innocent son, Glen, and hit Hollywood, where a movie depicting the killer dolls’ murder spree is underway.”

How does the FIFTH film in a long-running horror/slasher franchise end up on a list like this? When the film in question is Seed of Chucky. Recent questionable film reboot aside, the Child’s Play franchise has been driven by one [gay] man for the past 30+ years: Don Mancini. His fourth and fifth Chucky films both feature a particularly high amount of slapstick black comedy, but it’s Seed of Chucky that really cranks the camp up to an 11. There’s doll sex, femme-queen Jennifer Tilly playing a satirical version of herself, a John Waters cameo, a Britney Spears death scene, and so much more. The film also gets queer points for including a trans character (Chucky and Tiffany’s child, Glen/Glenda).

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


21. Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical (2005)

“This film tells the tale of the Harper Affair, in which young Jimmy Harper finds his life of promise turn into a life of debauchery and murder thanks to the new drug menace marijuana. Along the way he receives help from his girlfriend Mary and Jesus himself, but always finds himself in the arms of the Reefer Man and the rest of the denizens of the Reefer Den.”

Ever wanted to see Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, The Good Place) as a leather-bound dominatrix with a bullwhip? Here’s your chance! This outrageous, stoned-out-of-its-mind musical satire of the 1936 anti-marijuana propaganda film by the same name has developed a cult following over the years– and for good reason. Both the film and original stage adaptation– created by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney– feature murder, pansexual orgies, drug-induced hallucinations, zombie uprisings, BDSM sex scenes, and more. The film also includes a killer ensemble cast of queer and horror icons like Christian Campbell (Trick), Neve Campbell (Scream, The Craft), Alan Cumming (everything), Ana Gasteyer (SNL, People of Earth), Steven Weber (Jeffrey, The Shining TV), and John Kassir (aka The Crypt Keeper himself).

WATCH: Amazon (Prime Streaming)


22. Teeth (2007)

“Dawn is an active member of her high-school chastity club but, when she meets Tobey, nature takes its course, and the pair answer the call. They suddenly learn she is a living example of the vagina dentata myth, when the encounter takes a grisly turn.”

Combining a coming-of-age teen comedy aesthetic with creature feature, B-horror movie tropes, Teeth is a wholly unique beast of a film from [openly gay] writer and director Mitchell Lichtenstein (Angelica) and co-producer Joyce Pierpoline (In the Company of Men). On a superficial level, the plot is based on the ‘vagina dentata‘ folktale in which a woman’s vagina is said to contain teeth. That basis alone was enough to turn off certain straight male critics at the time, but today the film has a sizable cult following and is often considered a feminist classic. Ultimately, Teeth is about respecting women’s bodies and the paramount importance of sexual consent. Always a necessary reminder.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


23. Jennifer’s Body (2009)

“SHE’S EVIL… AND NOT JUST HIGH SCHOOL EVIL. A newly possessed cheerleader turns into a killer who specializes in offing her male classmates. Can her best friend put an end to the horror?”

Poorly marketed and unfairly maligned upon its initial release a decade ago, Jennifer’s Body has had a major rebirth of sorts over the past few years– with various critics and scholars now deeming it a feminst and queer cult classic for the #MeToo Era. Directed by Karyn Kusama (The Invitation) and written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Tully), the film skews more toward horror than most on this list– though with a campy, tongue-in-cheek streak throughout. The plot is about complex female friendships and the destruction of toxic masculinity. Cody herself describes Jennifer’s Body as, “a commentary on girl-on-girl hatred, sexuality, the death of innocence, and also politics in the way the town responds to tragedies. It’s also just about fun — I wanted to write a really entertaining popcorn movie.”

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


24. ParaNorman (2012)

“Young Norman has the ability to speak with the dead — and he often prefers their company to that of the living. Norman receives word from his strange Uncle that a centuries-old witch’s curse on their town is real and about to come true — and that only Norman can stop it. When zombies rise from their graves, Norman must summon all his courage and compassion and push his paranormal abilities to the limit to save his fellow townspeople.”

The sole animated film here. Sam Fell and [openly gay] Chris Butler’s dark-fantasy-comedy-horror film, ParaNorman, is pretty queer-friendly even before taking into account the film’s reveal that one of the main characters is same-sex oriented (watch to find out who). Many queer horror fans will relate to Norman, the young horror and death-obsessed protagonist who internally feels like an outsider both at school and at home. Then there’s the character Aggie, a young girl wrongfully persecuted for being different. Overall, the film is full of complex and relatable characters, references to classic horror films like Halloween and Friday the 13th, and overarching themes of tolerance and acceptance. Bonus: Unlike many animated films, ParaNorman doesn’t talk down to kids or pull back punches with the horror elements.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


25. Vamps (2012)

“The modern-day story focuses on two beautiful young vampires who are living the good nightlife in New York until love enters the picture and each has to make a choice that will jeopardize their immortality.”

Sadly, we may never see a sequel to the queer camp classic Clueless, but here’s the next best thing (with a supernatural twist!). In 2012, esteemed writer/director Amy Hecklering and ’90s darling Alicia Silverstone reunited for this little underrated, vampire black comedy. Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones, Don’t Trust the B) and Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey, The Guest) are also along for the ride. Oh, and long-time genre legends Sigourney f*cking Weaver, Malcolm McDowell, and Wallace Shawn (another Clueless carryover). The jokes throughout are a little hit-or-miss, but the film has charm for days. It’s clear Hecklering was working with budgetary constraints, and like the pro she is, she managed to do a lot with very little here. If you haven’t seen this campy supernatural gem, consider adding it to your Halloween season line-up.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


26. The Final Girls (2015)

“A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom’s most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film’s maniacal killer.”

The Final Girls deserved far more hype than it initially received, but thankfully the film has attracted a growing cult following over the past few years. On paper, it’s a comedic riff on the Friday the 13th series, but the film also has a surprising amount of heart and tenderness. Written by queer couple Joshua John Miller and M.A. Fortin (Queen of the South) and directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson (Isn’t It Romantic), the plot is partially inspired by the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The filmmakers cleverly utilize an ’80s slasher setting to tell a very human story about grief and friendship. There are some fun kills along the way, but as with the more widely-distributed Happy Death Day, The Final Girls is first and foremost a film about self-discovery and complex human relationships. It’s also funny as hell.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


27. You’re Killing Me (2015)

“Joe just told his boyfriend, George, that he is a serial killer. George thinks that his boyfriend, Joe, is hilarious… and he just saw Patricia Arquette at Target!!! In the horror/comedy hybrid, ‘You’re Killing Me’, we take a look at the life and death consequences of dating in the age of incessant chatter.”

You’re Killing Me is one of the least mainstream films on this list, but it’s also one of the most overtly gay. The film’s slasher-inspired plot revolves around a group of gay male friends, and the film itself comes from two openly gay filmmakers: Jim Hansen (Paragon School for Girls) and Jeffrey Self (Search Party, Gay of Thrones). A comedy first and foremost, You’re Killing Me does have a deeper underlying message. Ultimately, it’s a commentary about living in a tech-heavy world where no one listens to one another. As Self describes, “when someone tells you ‘I’m a serial killer’ or ‘I have a problem’, we don’t hear them because the world is built as a place where we document, rather than listen.” Seek this one out and support queer indie artists.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


28. Happy Death Day (2017)

“Caught in a bizarre and terrifying time warp, college student Tree finds herself repeatedly reliving the day of her murder, ultimately realizing that she must identify the killer and the reason for her death before her chances of survival run out.”

Openly gay writer/director Christopher Landon (Disturbia, Paranormal Activity series) spearheaded this little Blumhouse cult hit that has been described as Groundhog Day meets Scream. It’s a very fun, inventive spin on the ever-evolving slasher genre. While there are a few legitimate scares, this sci-fi black comedy never takes itself too seriously (nor should it). Landon also managed to work some queer-friendly elements into the story– including a gay character, a complex female lead played by the fabulous Jessica Rothe, and just enough campy one-liners to keep queer viewers happy. His follow-up sequel, Happy Death Day 2U, is equally fun and doubles down on the sci-fi elements from the first film.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


29. Tragedy Girls (2017)

“Following two death-obsessed teenage girls who use their online show about real-life tragedies to send their small Midwestern town into a frenzy and cement their legacy as modern horror legends.”

Tyler MacIntyre & Chris Lee Hill’s Tragedy Girls is a black-as-they-come comedy in the vein of fellow high school films like Heathers and Scream. Driven by the fantastic performances of its two lead actresses Alexandra Shipp (X-Men series) and Brianna Hildebrand (Deadpool), the film is a nihilistic and deadpan examination of teen life today. Make no mistake: the protagonists here are young, sadistic sociopaths. However, there’s something almost pure about a teen female friendship that transcends society’s traditional concepts of morality. And unlike films such as Heathers, The Craft, and Mean Girls, Tragedy Girls is ultimately more about strengthening a complex female friendship rather than tearing it apart. In that regard, the film is a triumph– not a tragedy.

WATCH: Hulu, Amazon (Rent/Buy)

30. The Favourite (2018)

“In the early 18th century, England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne occupies the throne, and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead, while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing, and Abigail sees a chance to return to her aristocratic roots.”

The Favourite might seem like an odd choice for a list like this, but past the artsy, surreal exterior of Yorgos Lanthimos’s ‘prestige’ hit is a female ensemble-driven black comedy not unlike Heathers and Jawbreaker. And while those films merely hint at unresolved sexual tension between lead characters, The Favourite features an actual lesbian love triangle at the center of its plot. From that triangle springs significant acts of violence, psychosexual manipulation, and Grade A cattiness. So, don’t be distracted by the period setting and artsy presentation here. At its heart, this is a black comedy/thriller many queer horror fans will appreciate on multiple levels.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


DEEP CUTS

  • Early John Waters films: Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Desperate Living, Polyester (1969-1981)
  • Harold and Maude (1971)
  • Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
  • Forbidden Zone (1980)
  • Night of the Comet (1984)
  • Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
  • She-Devil (1989)
  • Thelma & Louise (1991)
  • Batman Returns (1992)
  • So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993)
  • The Doom Generation (1995)
  • The Last Supper (1995)
  • Freeway (1996)
  • Citizen Ruth (1996)
  • The House of Yes (1997)
  • The Opposite of Sex (1998)
  • Election (1999)
  • Chuck & Buck (2000)
  • Drowning Mona (2000)
  • The Rules of Attraction (2002)
  • Die, Mommie, Die! (2003)
  • The Stepford Wives (2004)
  • Saved! (2004)
  • Sex and Death 101 (2007)
  • Dark Shadows (2012)
  • All Cheerleaders Die (2013)
  • Ingrid Goes West (2017)
  • I, Tonya (2017)
  • A Simple Favor (2018)

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