These horrors are queer, but it’s not always quite clear…at first. Let’s take a look at Christmas Presence, The Skin I Live In, and The Bad Man.
CHRISTMAS PRESENCE (2018)
The most blatantly gay horror film of this trio, Christmas Presence is like a queer holiday horror flick done Euro horror style, so it lands on both my holiday horror page and my homo horror movies page. I wasn’t really feeling it for quite a while, particularly because of some forced, heavy-handed political dialogue, but by the end it was just wacky and surreal enough to change my mind, even if it didn’t make much sense.
A group of friends, most of them seemingly gay and lesbian, gathers at an isolated house for the holidays. The lone gay guy is a total caricature, and he starts off the party by making everyone try on some sexual underwear he designed. Montage time!
Unfortunately, he isn’t the final gay. We get a main girl, who swears she’s not anti-queer, but is against the way the LGBTQ agenda is pushed by mainstream media, especially trans issues. WTF?
Meanwhile, she has her own issues, namely the disappearance of her sister from the woods nearby. She’s convinced her sister is still alive somewhere, so the psychic woman in the group offers to use psychometry to see if they can learn the truth.
This triggers most of the horror that unfolds.
The main girl becomes somewhat delusional, while the psychic starts seeing a freaky apparition that she believes they’ve accidentally unleashed.
There is some crazy shit going on in the final act, and while I love the horror of it all, I’m almost convinced that in the end the characters are all punished for their sexual practices…even though there isn’t one single sex scene in the whole movie.
THE SKIN I LIVE IN (2011)
The Skin I Live In is a pretty darn masterful film, but it isn’t a traditional “horror movie”.
It does, however, combine elements of various subgenres to create a twisting, turning narrative that is both horrific and tragic.
The film begins with a classic mad scientist plot—Antonio Banderas is trying to create a virtually indestructible, synthetic skin to use for transplant operations in burn victims.
His guinea pig is a pretty young woman he keeps locked in a room in his mansion.
The movie uses time jumps to tell its story as it progresses, so we eventually learn that the mad scientist is also keeping a handsome young man captive in an underground lair!
As the truth is revealed as to what the mad scientist is doing and why, the various subplots and timelines come together with a myriad of shocking aspects, including rape/revenge, body horror, incest, grief, Stockholm syndrome, and complex queer themes handled with disturbing effect.
THE BAD MAN (2018)
As always, director Scott Schirmer tackles the horrors within our minds and our libidos with The Bad Man.
A woman and her man (indie horror king Jason Crowe) are tying up loose ends at her late grandmother’s B&B when a previous guest shows up, not realizing the owner has died. He’s nice enough, so they let him stay overnight.
The first fifteen minutes or so of this film are exceptionally tense and eerie, with the woman convinced she keeps catching glimpses of a clown running around the creepy old place. Then the horror shifts as the couple is abducted by the clown…who has a gimp man servant by his side.
This turns into a film about the evil pair training the couple to become sex slaves so they can be auctioned off. It’s a nasty little study on breaking the human spirit, mind-fucking and torturing people into total submission.
The couple is drugged, raped, and humiliated. Most of the nasty situations are implied and not graphically shown, but there is a scene involving a penis and a needle…so beware.
Jason Crowe’s character is especially degraded and forced into man-on-man sex acts with the man servant, who takes a shine to him.
The final act feels like a grind house/exploitation flick with a hint of rape/revenge thrown in, but it’s also a disturbing look at the after effects of psychological and sexual abuse. The great performances by everyone in the cast really makes it that much more icky to watch.