Harry M. Benshoff wrote a book called Monsters In The Closet to show homosexuality, and concepts surrounding it in horror films. Horror Films have always had un-traditional relationships for as long as they have been around, however as time has gone on they have shifted and morphed into rela
tionships that are very possible in todays society. The only issue with that is that they are usually showing these “transgressive” relationships through repression and sexualization. Before the legalization of homosexual marriage and some transgender protection laws horror films were using these concepts in films to portray them as something that society was scared of. This happened heavily with films created in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s. In many cases they would have characters show subtle advances toward other characters of the same gender. And to take it a step further those characters would then be punished, seemly because of their unholy interest.
“In an 1984 study of ate-homosexual attitudes, the investigators broke heterosexual’s fears of gay and lesbian sexuality into three topic areas: 1.) Homosexuality as threat to the individual- that someone you know (or yourself) might be homosexual. 2.) Homosexuality as a threat to others- homosexuals have been frequently linked in the media to child molestation, rape, and violence. 3.) Homosexuality as a threat to the community and other components of culture- homosexuals supposedly represent the destruction of the procreative nuclear family, traditional gender roles, and (to use a buzz phrase) ‘family values'” (Benshoff, page 1)
To society throughout time homosexual relationships were monstrous, so it makes sense that they were incorporated into horror films. There were ideas that people like Mr. Hyde or Wolfman have a gay or lesbian inside that’s trying to get out. Similar to Frankenstein’s monster, homosexuals were thought to”claim innocent victims.” So writers placed LGBTQ tendencies in their monsters/characters. I find it interesting however that in many cases the characters are not labelled as actual homosexuals, in fact nothing about homosexuality is addressed in movies of these times. The culture was placed in the film on purpose to scare people, but even the writers were too scared to fully put it in the film. Most likely because society wouldn’t go see a film they actively knew included homosexuals, or was about homosexuals. They sneakily hint at it, enough so that the audience is scared by it, but is the audience aware of the fact that that is why they’re scared? I’m not so sure.
Benshoff really dives in depth talking about queer culture and how it is represented throughout horror, or isn’t represented. Though this was more relevant in past years, it is still extremely helpful to look back on since many of the horror films they mention are classics and still exist today! Even though times have changed a bit and we have become more progressive, society is still not comfortable with homosexuality, and we see these themes coming through in today’s horror films even!