Young and queer and trapped in a horror movie

It’s two more films for the homo horror movies page, and I found this queer double feature much more satisfying than the one I watched and posted about a week ago.

CUTIES (2020)

This low budget indie directed by Joshua Gratton manages to combine early 1970s acid trip horror, late 70s/early 80s Euro horror, and early 80s American slasher vibes to create an odd, rough around the edges but undeniably watchable gay horror slasher that had me mesmerized.

The peculiar plot sees a bunch of school kids that hang out together and appear to be predominantly queer getting picked off one by one by a killer.

One dude named Micah seems to be off in his own world. He’s desperate to have a boyfriend but too shy to go for it, and idolizes one gay couple he considers to be perfect.

Most of the other kids tend to shun Micah in one way or the other, and one really bizarre girl chips away at his gay ego while insisting he’s going to be her man someday.

But it’s not just her who is weird. Everyone is weird, and the quirky, almost disconnected performances add to the strange overall tone. For instance, I was seriously convinced for a while that the girl that’s preying on Micah was a ghost, because her presence just seemed otherworldly.

The kids hang out in the woods and smoke pot a lot, and any one of them could be the killer…right up until that moment when they get killed. Even their teacher is weird, and it’s not quite clear what class she’s teaching. I’d swear it’s a class on using a yarn spinning wheel, which is predominantly featured in several scenes.

It is all the quirky elements, including the hypnotizing, nagging score, that make this low energy movie (as in—stoned energy) so incredibly compelling and distinctly reminiscent of Euro horror. Most of the kills are somehow basic yet feature a little something extra unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, bringing to mind the execution of death scenes in giallos. Even the dialogue feels at times like it’s dubbed—just like the bad English dubbing in 70s and 80s Euro horror that gives those old films all their cheesy charm.

But the key ingredient that sets this apart from typical slashers is that Micah’s lack of self-worth is deepened by the fact that he becomes convinced the killer isn’t interested in taking his life because he’s not a “cutie” like all his friends that are dying off. It’s quite an interesting commentary on the pressure many feel in the gay community.

It should also be noted that a majority of the kills take place in gray daylight (very 1970s), and there’s no sexual exploitation at all. A butt during a skinny-dipping scene is as far as it goes.

Even the cast is very simple looking, without any stress on beauty or on objectification. They’re just normal looking high school kids.

This is how you do something different in the slasher genre while clearly revealing the types of movies that have inspired you without relying on constant meta cues. And the fact that it’s done with a queer cast of characters makes Cuties one I really want in my movie collection. As of now there’s no distribution deal for it, and we can only hope it can find its way to a wider audience and onto my horror shelves in either DVD or Blu-ray format.

SO VAM (2021)

Directed by Alice Maio Mackay, this short, 72-minute vampire movie is a perfect example of the kind of cathartic experience queer horror focused on bullied and bashed queers can be—unlike They/Them, which I just posted about the other day.

Triggering its plot with a gay bashing of our main male character, this film quickly establishes itself as a satisfying queer revenge horror flick. The main kid is saved by a group of young queer vampires that simply nourish themselves by targeting bigots. Awesome.

Rich with 80s Euro horror color lighting and swapping out montage scenes for drag performances, So Vam is like a queer horror Mean Girls.

Picked on by a bunch of tough girls at school, our main kid gets his chance for vengeance when he is turned into a vampire.

His new vamp clan, led by a trans girl with an emotionless, almost mechanical attitude (she brings to mind the singer Poppy), shows him the ropes of being a bigot killing vampire, making this an undeniably fun and darkly humorous film.

And just like Cuties, this is not a sexualized cast—everyone looks like a normal, everyday high school kid.

Intentionally self-aware of its “wokeness”, the movie also throws in some commentary on the traditional notion that queers identify with the monster in horror, with some dialogue that reflects on the classics Frankenstein and Dracula.

Even more satisfying for this queer positive film is that the main kid’s dad is not only a delicious daddy bear, he’s also not a total dick.

This makes two queer horror movies in one shot that I definitely want to add to my collection if they make it to physical media.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at
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