Queer for Fear, a new docuseries from Shudder, is prepared to reveal how deeply queer people have been in the genre since its inception. Kimberly Peirce, a docuseries interviewee/series consultant who directed Boys Don't Cry and the 2013 remake of Carrie, was thrilled to get to know some of the actors behind the upcoming docuseries.
From LGBTQ+ authors like Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, and Oscar Wilde bringing the genre to life, to homophobic fears about the pansy craze, the lavender scare, and the AIDS crisis ushering in Universal Monsters, alien invasion films, and 1980s vampire thrillers.
We discussed the importance of LGBTQ+ voices in media and some of the interviews featured in Queer for Fear, including comments from Peirce, Oz Perkins, the cast of Yellowjackets, and others; we talked about why horror, in particular, is so often queer; their favorite horror films; and why they tend to follow their own opinions.
COLLIDER: I'm so excited about this docuseries. I feel like it was created for me as a queer person who got married on Halloween last year. What motivated you guys to bring this monster to life, so to speak?
BRYAN FULLER: Yes, the monster was born from Shudder's desire to depict horror films from the perspective of marginalized individuals. They had this fantastic documentary called Horror Noire, which is about the history of Black people in horror films. They wanted to do a sequel about the queer community, so we must congratulate him.
From Jennifer's Body director, Karyn Kusama, there are a lot of exciting interviews in Queer for Fear. What are you most excited about for the series?
STEAK HOUSE: Kim Peirce was a joy to work with.
Yes, of course!
KIMBERLY PEIRCE: I am standing here. What are you going to say?
HOUSE: I mean, there are so many people out there. I think it's difficult to narrow it down. I think we had the cast of Yellowjackets. A lot of them came in and it was super fun. And I really enjoyed... Oh, shoot. My brain's blanking out on the name. James was an incredible interview.
FULLER: I think Oz Perkins's interviewees were the ones that we hadn't noticed previously. We were so honored to have that conversation about Anthony Perkins in a way that really gave dimension to his experiences as a closeted actor in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.
So as queer individuals, we're averse to genre fiction, sci-fi, and horror, if you will. What do you think makes horror so distinctively queer?
PEIRCE: Well, all being monsters, I don't know if I'll stand up for these monsters. However, when you do not fit naturally into that normativity, particularly in previous generations, when you're getting older, and you don't see a reflection of yourself, you become very adept at looking between the lines and figuring out, "Oh, I think that might be me."
So I can just say for myself that I'm trans, butch, genderqueer, homosexual, etc. I've been very much looking between the lines. I've found that by talking to these wonderful people who have done this fantastic documentary and seeing all these amazing interviews, I'm finding my tribe. You have a very creative audience-ship that's creating themselves in it. And then we can all identify which monsters and horrors we all encounter.
We look for representation wherever it isn't or where it's hidden between the lines, as you mentioned. Was there a specific moment in pop culture, a movie or television series, or a character that helped you realize your own queerness along the way?
HOUSE: It doesn't know if watching Scream helped me realize my own queerness, but I feel like this is something different from many of the other movies I've seen. And yes, Kevin Williamson is a gay writer, so it's just made me feel different. I'm seeing things that are different and maybe not so secret queerness, but you know?
PEIRCE: Yes, Jekyll and Hyde, but if you're what I was, it's a young, bisexual lesbian who was genderqueer, trans, butch, and the notion that I'm going to dress up one way and I'm going to be a successful doctor, but then I'll go out at night. Frankenstein, too, is a gorgeous monster, and a vulnerable monster as well, which is why we're so in love with these films and what
FULLER: A trans woman talked about the first time she saw herself in horror as a young girl whose body was taken over by a male presence in the form of puberty. And it took her 20 years to exorcise that presence and regain her true gender. So when you're looking at that sort of metaphor and interpretation of the text, it's really about what you're bringing to the table as an audience member.
When people finally see it, what would you say is the most exciting thing for them to take away from this docuseries?
HOUSE: I think I want people to think about what it is to have queer community and community around you and people you can relate to, and to also have this out there for people who are struggling in the world who don't have a community or a place to be and to enthuse everybody. Let's push some boundaries!
PEIRCE: I think it's really important to imagine yourself into existence. I think do that, because that's what we all had to do. And then I love the idea of the queer community. Because I've known [Bryan] for a long time. And it's just like, oh my God, this is so much fun. You keep mentioning Scream. It's so cool, because that wasn't my experience.
FULLER: I think our main aim with this is to provide an experience for the audience that acknowledges what they were feeling that may not be text, and to provide an opportunity to own the horror genre in a way that is sometimes quite horror bro-y and very heteronormative and kind of toxically masculine in a sense. But its roots and its foundations are all in the queer experience, whether it's Mary Shelley, or Oscar Wilde, or James Whale, or any of the many other artists who
Yes, I find myself saying all the time that horror belongs to homosexuals. So I am very excited for this series. Let's just end on a fun one.
FULLER: I'm torn between The Shining and Alien. Both films have a coding element. I think there's something very personal for a lot of people who identify as queer or special or abnormal, and Danny's experience dealing with an abusive father has always resonated with me.
PEIRCE: It's definitely The Shining and Scatman Crothers and Danny discovering... [Peirce is interrupted by a gust of wind] What a catastrophe! We've all been told that something's happened here.
There are definitely ghosts under the table.
PEIRCE: I don't know. When he talks about the shine, it's just this idea of these two people who seem very different, but nevertheless have this special ability and it's a perception. And it's a wisdom about the world, which is very much, I think, what it's like to be queer in a world that doesn't accommodate you and doesn't represent you. And that's what he's doing.
HOUSE: And I think I'm excited about now, where we're getting to see series that are made by women, with women in it, and clearly queer, like Yellowjackets and Killing Eve things that I didn't get to see as a kid, because most of it's written by men, and most of it's directed by men. But for me, in the last five years, they're suddenly becoming more enjoyable, because it's actually made by women.
Thank you so much for coming and chatting with us. I cannot wait to see the Shudder docuseries next autumn.
On September 29, Queer for Fear will launch on Shudder. You can see a sneak peek below: