Lessons From Gay Horror Filmmakers

If you don’t believe representation in horror cinema matters, go watch Horror Noire: A History Of Black Horror. Despite countless walks of life stamping this vibrant earth with their signature footprints, movies – especially mainstream studio products – are largely populated by the same faces, genders, you name it. More importantly, when themes or characters step outside “normality,” creatives in charge generally aren’t living what they’re shooting. None of this is to suggest such situations are automatic failures – they aren’t – but authenticity and representation matters. Seeing your likeness on screen is one thing, but seeing yourself depicted in a connective way is a freedom everyone should be granted.

Enter Into The Dark’s Midnight Kiss, an enthusiastic gay slasher focusing on a homosexually-centered New Year’s nightmare. Written by Erlingur Thoroddsen, a proudly gay Hollywood writer, and directed by Carter Smith, an equally in-touch gay Hollywood director. While this shouldn’t be groundbreaking or noteworthy, one has to respect Hulu and Blumhouse for buying into an exclusively gay horror feature without restriction. This showing of commitment means something to so many viewers, which is why I wanted to ask both Smith and Thoroddsen about navigating Hollywood from a queer perspective. Here are some lessons they’ve learned while making death sexy and horror fabulous.

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Into the Dark Midnight Kiss Review

(Blumhouse Television and Hulu have partnered for a monthly horror anthology series titled Into The Dark, set to release a full holiday-themed feature the first Friday of every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)

Ignoring any Into The Dark rankings and ratings thus far, Blumhouse’s ability to drive representation and diversity throughout their feature-length entries is a focus to be followed. Gigi Saul Gurrerro’s Culture Shock ended up a memorable 4th Of July fireworks display of borderland terror, with such a distinct cultural perspective. In tone, presentation, and presence, Gurrerro’s voice is never stifled – just like this January’s Midnight Kiss. Carter Smith’s decisively gay New Year’s Eve slasher is scripted by a gay Hollywood screenwriter (Erlingur Thoroddsen) and directed by a gay Hollywood director (Smith). Two filmmakers who are unafraid to create in a language known within their communities – experiences resonating throughout so many daily routines – and yet desperately underserved when it comes to on-screen horror opportunities.

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The 10 Movies That Saved Us This Decade

(This article is part of our Best of the Decade series.)

As 2019 nears finality, wrapping up decade-end lists across internet publications, I opt to close on a high note. Any other year I’d be dishing the “Most Disturbing Movie Moments” or “Best Kills” given my horror focus, but life’s about keeping things fresh. Ducking when your opponent thinks you’ll counter. This past decade has defined my life in ways never thought imaginable, and thoughtfully, movies have become an undeniable influence whether I’ve been actively conscious of their importance or not.

This list strikes a more personal tone than most “rankings,” so here’s what I hope my musings inspire. These are the films that “saved” me this decade, the movies that struck a lasting positive nerve with one particular writer. Instead of scoffing at how someone could find happiness and joy within the titles listed below, let me hear about which movies helped you through the last ten years. Dig deep and find answers within. We all deserve a smile sometimes, and here are the ten films this year that plastered a cheek-to-cheek grin on my face. At the end, why don’t you tell me yours?

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Into the Dark A Nasty Piece of Work Review

(Blumhouse Television and Hulu have partnered for a monthly horror anthology series titled Into The Dark, set to release a full holiday-themed feature the first Friday of every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)

Charles Hood, who’s been somewhat silent since his hilarious Night Owls, accepts Christmas damnation duty for Into The Dark’s second season. A Nasty Piece Of Work tunes into the director’s comedic frequencies, based on a corporate satire scripted by Paul Soter. While last year’s Pooka! hugged consumerism into submission, this holiday season is a challenge of professional greed. A CEO’s mansion halls are decked out in festive decor (lights, garland, etc.), as the holiday season is exploited by sinful company partying. Never as dangerous or deranged as Julian Sands’ tyrannical performance suggest, “nasty” might be an overstretch for this piece of December work.

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into the dark pilgrim trailer

(Blumhouse Television and Hulu have partnered for a monthly horror anthology series titled Into The Dark, set to release a full holiday-themed feature the first Friday of every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)

As a preacher of the good holiday horror word, Thanksgiving’s scant offerings leave my stomach rumbling. Last season’s November Into The Dark analysis began similarly; me lamenting over how Turkey Day has largely been ignored by genre filmmakers. Into The Dark’s Flesh & Blood popped out the oven dry and flavorless, but Marcus Dunstan’s Pilgrim charts a course for redemption. Guess that’s what happens when the minds behind multiple Saw sequels, three Feast flicks, and The Collector franchise take cosplaying to a disturbingly enraged level.

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Best Horror Movies of the Past Decade

Welcome to part four of our countdown of the 100 best horror movies the past decade. This final entry tackles entries 50-26. You can read part one right here, part two over here, and part three over yonderHere are the absolute best horror movies of the past decade.

We’ve made it. Homestretch time. The Crème de la Crème. This was the hardest feature I’ve ever had to order in my entire journalistic career because every single one of the films below will live on as an “all-timer” (in my opinion). I killed many darlings, fought countless internal disagreements, and gift unto you my selections for the decade’s “Top 25 Horror Films.” 

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The 100 Best Horror Movies of the Past Decade [Part Three]

Welcome to part two of our countdown of the 100 best horror movies the past decade. This entry tackles entries 50-26. Naturally, we’ll reach our grand climax on October 31. You can read part one right here and part two over here.

We’ve passed the halfway point and blaze onward! Here’s where things get interesting, as I’m sure some of you may notice the exclusion of some critical darlings. Let’s just remember my opinion is just one of many! But, also, yes I’ve seen the movies you’re going to call out and no I didn’t “forget them.” Moving on!

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Welcome to part two of our countdown of the 100 best horror movies the past decade. This entry tackles entries 75-51. Naturally, we’ll reach our grand climax on October 31. You can read part one right here.

Let’s keep this terror train rollin’ with the next 25 entries. Inching closer to the top half of this decade-spanning list and my inevitable “Top 10.” You can’t imagine how hard it is to rank personally adored films against one other, already causing me heart palpitations in this second “tier.” That said, a reminder, these are still the best horror films of the past 10 years. Nothing to scoff at coming in at #75. Have I hit on some of your favorites already?

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Red Letter Day Clip

Ah, suburbia. Where better to unleash a bloody massacre that chucks any sentiment of loving thy neighbor into a woodchipper? Cameron Macgowan’s feature debut Red Letter Day tells the story of a special event where letters in red envelopes are mailed to every citizen of Aspen Ridge, with instructions to kill a selected target or be killed. Early trailers indicate cul-de-sac warfare of the goriest variety, and now /Film has an exclusive clip that confirms Macgowan’s violent affair.

In the video below, you’ll catch up with divorcee Melanie (Dawn Van de Schoot) who finds herself stuck abiding by bloodthirsty “Red Letter Day” rules. Between Melanie and safety is a knife-wielding man of his household. From here…well, why don’t you see for yourself. Check out an exclusive snippet of the carnage that awaits. And as the very premise of the movie suggests, this clip is R-rated and NSFW.

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Best Horror Movies of the Past Decade

Welcome to part one of our countdown of the 100 best horror movies the past decade. This entry tackles entries 100-76. Naturally, we’ll reach our grand climax on October 31.

I cannot stress how much work over the last decade I put into covering the horror genre. I’ve watched and reviewed 100-plus new-release horror films per year, for 10 consecutive years, whether that’s theatrical, streaming, or straight video-on-demand. Entries 100-76 are no consolation prize. I’m starting my congratulations here, with the first batch of “decade’s best” coming in extra, super hot.

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