For the Love of Horror

Joe Vallese collects 25 queer reflections on formative films

Alvaro Tapia/Flickr
Alvaro Tapia/Flickr

Teenagers with knives, invading insects, vampire children, crazed surgeons, wronged actors out for revenge—the horror genre has a haunted house for everyone, no matter your taste. Despite treating women like disposable straws, or lumping the queer and disabled together as monsters, scary movies have long been celebrated by the people most likely to be killed before the opening credits are done. For this year’s season of scares, editor Joe Vallese asked 24 queer and trans writers to consider the horror movies that matter to them, from Halloween to Hereditary and all points in between. The resulting collection, It Came from the Closet, demonstrates the complicated relationship between the macabre and the marginalized.

Go beyond the episode:

Our host’s top horror picks, for every taste:

  • Not that scary if you’re trying to dip your toes into the genre: Les Diaboliques (1955), The Devil Rides Out (1968), A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014), The Cremator (1969), Cure (1997)
  • Mild scares that come with a side of laughter: Sugar Hill (1974),  An American Werewolf in London (1981), Throne of Blood (1957), Rare Exports (2010), Prevenge (2016)
  • Spooky silents, most memorably watched with a live score: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Häxan (1922), Nosferatu (1929)
  • Beloved classics: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986), The Thing (1982), The People Under the Stairs (1992), Candyman (1992), The Wicker Man (1973)
  • Modern favorites: The Babadook (2014), Get Out (2017), Raw (2016), His House (2020), The Witch (2015), The House of the Devil (2009), The Descent (2005)
  • Underrated gems: Possession (1981), The Appointment (1981), Onibaba (1964), The Lure (2015), Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971), Mother Joan of the Angels (1961), It Follows (2014)

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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