The Dark Arts: 15 Horror Films for Lesbians
Fifteen spooky must-see gems for fans of the sinister side of cinema.
While dramas and psychological thrillers like The Kids Are All Right and Black Swan garner all the headlines (and awards) for their daring lesbian plots, it’s actually the horror genre that’s most deserving of a second look. Thanks to its innately subversive nature, the genre has been lesbian inclusive almost from inception. It’s gone from the Sapphically suggestive Dracula’s Daughter (1936) and implied lesbianism in The Haunting (1963) to the none-too-subtle seductresses of Hammer’s lesbian vampire films of the ’60s and ’70s, to present day films like High Tension, where subtext becomes plot and where lesbian characters and actors have found a genre ready to embrace and portray their queerness. So if in the past you’ve given horror a pass, it’s time to catch up. Here are 15 modern spooky gems that no lesbian should miss.
1. The Ward (Arc Entertainment): Staring openly bisexual bombshell Amber Heard, The Ward is the latest from master of horror John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing). The film opens with Heard setting a house ablaze and being forcibly committed for her trouble. She’s trapped with a group of unpredictable patients, cruel orderlies and worse: a ghost on who is hell bent on killing off the ward’s inhabitants. An effective little ghost story with a compelling central mystery and a solid performance from the always sexy Heard.
2. Stake Land (Dark Sky Films): In a post-apocalyptic world where vampires have decimated the population, small pockets of humanity cling together to fend off the ravages of vamps, nature and vicious religious cults. Stake Land stars Kelly McGillis as an ex-nun who joins a rag tag group of vampire slayers making their way north to the promise of safety. Beautifully shot, acted and achingly atmospheric, this film manages to terrify as well as take you on an affecting emotional journey through the cruel, unforgiving and deadly wasteland.
3. High Tension (Lions Gate): Sick, relentless and powerfully effective, this French import is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. It follows a lesbian tracking down the intruder who broke in and brutally murdered her best friend’s family and made off with her bestie (who is also the object of her affection). While it’s caught some flack for a twist at the end, it remains a tightly wound, ruthless, gorehound’s delight.
Photo: Joseph Lederer
4. Trick ’r Treat (Warner Home Video): An anthology with intersecting plotlines in the tradition of the fantastic horror anthologies of the ’80s. Starring out bisexual Anna Paquin, the film follows divergent stories that take place on Halloween night. Complete with tales of classic monsters, serial killers and local urban legends the film also introduces one of the best horror villains since the ’80s in Sam, a childlike mask-wearing demon who punishes through tricks and treats.
5. The Hunger (Warner Home Video): A modern classic, this is a contemporary interpretation of the lesbian vampire trope dating as far back as 1872 with the novella Carmilla. In this case, the role of the vampiric seductress is played by the divine Catherine Deneuve, and her female victim/lover is Susan Sarandon (sporting a super-dykey short do). A perfect blend of ’60s Hammer-style horror and ’80s New Wave. Haunting, melancholy and infinitely re-watchable.
6. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (Optimum Home Releasing): Horror aficionados first met the then closeted Amber Heard in this artfully made slasher. A group of teens head off to a remote farmhouse for a weekend of partying and hanky panky, only to find they are not alone—someone with a murderous agenda has followed them. This beautifully shot, convention-busting film is elevated above the standard teen slasher fare by its gritty and dreamlike delivery.
7. Jennifer’s Body (20th Century Fox): Written by Academy Award-winner Diablo Cody, directed by Girl Fight director Karyn Kusama and starring bisexual bombshell Megan Fox, there is a lot to sink your teeth into with this high school monster flick. Playing on themes of horizontal hostility and latent lesbian tendencies, it’s Heathers meets Night of the Demons punctuated with clever, cheeky dialog. Plus, the much-publicized make-out between Fox and Amanda Seyfried alone, is worth the price of admission.
8. Grace (Anchor Bay): How far will you go to protect the one you love? A car accident leaves the pregnant Madeline widowed and her unborn child dead. However, in what seems to be a miracle, baby Grace is born alive and healthy—but with an inhuman hunger. Subplots include breast milk fetishists and a lesbian love story. This take on the zombie baby theme is an emotional tour de force that will stay with you long after the credits of this indie shocker roll.
9. Sick Girl (Anchor Bay): This short film from Showtime’s Masters of Horror series is perhaps the most straightforward example of horror for lesbians. The lonely, shy and lesbian entomologist Ida Teeter (Angela Bettis) has finally found the girl of her dreams until a parasitic insect’s bite begins influencing her new girlfriend. Darkly comic and disarmingly sweet, this gross-out gem is an absolute must-see.
10. Aliens (20th Century Fox): This Academy-Award winning (yep you read that right) space horror film stars the female action hero mold-making Sigourney Weaver as Ripley. Despite surviving her first brush with killer aliens, Ripley soon gets pulled back into the fray when a group of colonists go missing on the planet where she first encountered the intergalactic baddies. As if Weaver in a tank top kicking ass isn’t enough, the film also features the über-butch space marine Vasquez that any lady lover will enjoy feasting their eyes on.
11. Alien: Resurrection (20th Century Fox): While all the films in the Alien franchise are worth a watch, it’s the fourth (and likely final) entry that gets our nod for all the Sapphic subtext between Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley and series newcomer Winona Ryder. Set hundreds of years after Alien 3, a cloned Ripley leads a group of rag tag fighters against the alien horde. Written by Joss Whedon (who confirmed that the subtext was indeed intentional and much less subtexty in his initial screenplay) its well-worth a watch for Alien completists and fans of Ryder’s lovely big brown eyes.
12. We Are the Night (IFC Films): This German import follows a group of sapphically inclined vampires who drunk on their own power recruit the wrong baby vamp. Visually stunning (and the lady vamps aren't to shabby either) with a fresh techno-tinged soundtrack, We Are the Night is The Craft meets The Hunger.
13. May (Lionsgate Films): Part horror film, part dark comedy, part tragedy, May is not easily defined—but it is unforgettable. Reuniting Sick Girl alums Angela Bettis (May) and director Lucky Mckee, the film follows the titular May a socially awkward and friendless woman who after a makeover suddenly finds herself to be the object of two people's affection: Adam (Jeremy Sisto) and her lesbian lothario co-worker, Polly (Anna Faris). However, when May’s utter social ineptitude leaves her friendless once again, she resorts to homicidal tactics in order to “create” a new friend from her old friends spare parts.
14. Grindhouse (Dimension Films): This drive-in styled double feature from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez may not feature queer characters (however keep an eye out for out bisexual popstar Fergie) but when it comes to eye-candy you really couldn’t ask for more! Starring Rosario Dawson, Sydney Poitier, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Zoe Bell, Lucy Punch and Rose McGowen get ready to swoon and swoon again as these lovely ladies do battle with homicidal stuntmen and zombie hordes, alike.
15. Resident Evil (Screen Gems): Zombie mayhem meets badass beauty brutality in this hugely successful video game to film adaptation. Staring Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez, this film follows a paramilitary team infiltrating an underground bunker only to discover that a virus released has turned the staff into a horde of flesh eating zombies. Both Jovovich and Rodriguez expertly pick up the female action hero mantle laid down by Sigourney Weaver in the Alien series.