It Came from the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror
December 29, 2022 9:00 AM - Subscribe

Through the lens of horror—from "Halloween" to "Hereditary"—queer and trans writers consider the films that deepened, amplified, and illuminated their own experiences.

Horror movies hold a complicated space in the hearts of the queer community: historically misogynist, and often homo- and transphobic, the genre has also been inadvertently feminist and open to subversive readings. Common tropes—such as the circumspect and resilient "final girl," body possession, costumed villains, secret identities, and things that lurk in the closet—spark moments of eerie familiarity and affective connection. Still, viewers often remain tasked with reading themselves into beloved films, seeking out characters and set pieces that speak to, mirror, and parallel the unique ways queerness encounters the world.

"It Came from the Closet" features twenty-five original essays by writers speaking to this relationship, through connections both empowering and oppressive. From Carmen Maria Machado on "Jennifer’s Body", Jude Ellison S. Doyle on "In My Skin", Addie Tsai on "Dead Ringers", and many more, these conversations convey the rich reciprocity between queerness and horror.

"A brilliant display of expert criticism, wry humor, and original thinking. This is full of surprises." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A critical text on the intersections of film, queer studies, and pop culture that will appeal to both academic and public-library audiences." --Booklist, starred review

"Decades of being told they were the real monsters by people who are homophobic and/or transphobic, has uniquely situated queer people to discuss its indelible effect on the culture."--Library Journal
posted by johnofjack (4 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Listening to this now, about two hours in.

The introduction warns you that the authors will spoil all the films. Unfortunately, this comes after they have already spoiled Sleepaway Camp and Haute Tension/High Tension.

I'm about two hours in and they have already talked about Regan as butch feminist hero and exorcism as conversion therapy, about online community as séance and séance as coming out, and about monstrosity as a construct of supremacism. There's a lot to think about here, and I'm really enjoying it.
posted by johnofjack at 9:10 AM on December 29, 2022

It'll be a while before I'm in a position to read the book, and if you're here I'm probably not telling you anything you don't know, but if you enjoy the intersection of horror and queer film theory you may enjoy James Somerton's youtube channel.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:43 PM on December 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

Just reserved this at the library after seeing it here, sounds like particularly my jam. Thanks!
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:42 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]

I finished this today. I really liked it! There was one single essay where I felt like the author maybe hadn't given it enough thought, but on the whole I thought they were solid and consistently interesting.

What gets covered (and/or spoiled) when? A mostly complete list (I think I forgot a couple non-horror movies):
  • Introduction:
    • Sleepaway Camp
    • Haute Tension
  • Part 1 - A Demon-Girl's Guide to Life
    • Silence of the Lambs
    • Psycho
    • The Exorcist
    • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
    • Sleepaway Camp
    • Rosemary's Baby
  • Part 1 - Both Ways
    • Jennifer's Body
  • Part 1 - My Hand on the Glass
    • Hereditary
  • Part 1 - The Girl, the Well, the Ring
    • The Ring
    • Pet Sematary (original or remake? I forgot)
  • Part 1 - Imprint
    • Grace
  • Part 2 - Indescribable
    • The Blob
    • Society / Brian Yuzna
  • Part 2 - A Working Definition of the Monstrous
    • Godzilla
  • Part 2 - The Wolf in the Room
    • As Boas Maneiras (Good Manners)
  • Part 2 - Three Men on a Boat
    • Jaws
  • Part 2 - The Wolf Man's Daughter
    • The Wolf Man
  • Part 3 - Twin/Skin
    • The Parent Trap (original or remake? I forgot)
    • The Shining
    • Dead Ringers
  • Part 3 - Loving Annie Hayworth
    • The Birds
  • Part 3 - The Same Kind of Monster
    • The Leech Woman
  • Part 3 - Centered and Seen
    • Candyman (both the original and the Nia DaCosta remake/sequel; the other sequels are alluded to but not discussed much)
  • Part 3 - Blood, Actually
    • Friday the 13th, Part II
  • Part 4 - The Trail of His Flames
    • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Part 4 - The Me in the Screen
    • Us
  • Part 4 - Sight Unseen
    • The Blair Witch Project
  • Part 4 - Bad Hombre
    • ¿Eres tú, papá? (Is That You?) / Rudy Riverón Sánchez
  • Part 4 - Black Body Snatchers
    • Get Out
  • Part 5 - Long Nights in the Dark
    • Halloween
  • Part 5 - On Beauty and Necrosis
    • Eyes without a Face
  • Part 5 - Good Guy, Dolls
    • Nearly every Child's Play / Chucky film
    • The Conjuring
    • The Exorcist
    • Rosemary's Baby
  • Part 5 - The Healed Body
    • Dans Ma Peau (In My Skin) / Marina de Van
  • Notes on Sleepaway Camp
    • Sleepaway Camp

posted by johnofjack at 5:36 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]

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