Knife and hart
(Photo by © Altered Innocence / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

30 Essential LGBTQ Horror Movies

As long as there have been horror films, there have been queer horror films. Before homosexuality was formally legislated out of existence in Hollywood by the Production Code — commonly referred to as the Hays Code, which established mandates for “moral standards” in motion pictures and banned depictions of “sexual perversity” — the legendary filmmaker James Whale was building the foundation for American genre cinema with films like Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, and The Invisible Man. Here was Whale, a gay man, building horror in his own image and having astounding box office success as some groups were lobbying Hollywood to censor queerness out of existence. Fortunately, they weren’t creative enough to drive the big bad Other away.

In the century since America became the world’s leader in horror film production, the genre became a bastion for the outsiders, the marginalized, the people made monsters by self-appointed adjudicators of sin, and who saw themselves in the supposed “villains” at the center of stories like Dracula’s Daughter. On rare occasion, queer folks were given real protagonists to root for, like Theo in The Haunting, but it wasn’t until the Hays Code was abandoned in the late 1960s that sexuality outside the bounds of heteronormativity became more overt. (Not to say it was all positive representation, but the lesbian vampire wave of the 1970s certainly signified that the puritans were losing the culture wars in genre.) 

The Moral Majority reign of the Reagan Era slammed up against the AIDS crisis, and the excess and tumult of the ’80s gave rise to ultra-stylish and sexualized gore in movies like The Hunger and Hellraiser. The indie cinema boom at the turn of turn of the millennium coincided with the emergence of New Queer Cinema, and eccentric coming-of-age darlings like May and Ginger Snaps provided an alternative to the glossy studio slashers of the time.

Now in 2020, we can choose from a lesbian domestic drama involving a baby werewolf in Good Manners, a transfeminist vampire movie in Bit, or a French slasher set in a gay porn community with Knife + Heart. The monsters are out of the closet, and they’re never going back in.

Here are our 30 essential LGBTQ horror movies, in order of release.Jordan Crucchiola

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 58.495%
Critics Consensus: Dracula's Daughter extends the Universal horror myth in an interesting direction, but the talky script and mild atmosphere undermine its ambition.
Synopsis: A hypnotic woman steals the body of Count Dracula, and bloodless corpses start appearing in London again.... [More]
Directed By: Lambert Hillyer

#28

The Haunting (1963)
87%

#28
Adjusted Score: 91.262%
Critics Consensus: Both psychological and supernatural, The Haunting is a chilling character study.
Synopsis: Anthropology professor Richard Johnson investigates reports of psychic phenomena at a "troubled" New England mansion known as Hill House. He... [More]
Directed By: Robert Wise

#27

Night Warning (1983)
91%

#27
Adjusted Score: 91.15%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this off-beat slasher film, the over-coddled nephew of a sexually frustrated spinster aunt finds his life in jeopardy after... [More]
Directed By: William Asher

#26

The Hunger (1983)
52%

#26
Adjusted Score: 54.24%
Critics Consensus: Stylish yet hollow, The Hunger is a well-cast vampire thriller that mistakes erotic moments for a satisfying story.
Synopsis: The exquisitely beautiful Catherine Deneuve plays Miriam, a centuries-old vampire capable of bestowing the gift of immortality on her lovers... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#25
Adjusted Score: 53.609%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Though not a true sequel to Paul Lynch's derivative slasher-dud Prom Night, this Carrie-flavored horror film begins in 1957 with... [More]
Directed By: Bruce Pittman

#24
Adjusted Score: 53.573%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this horror sequel, murderous camp counselor Angela Baker (Pamela Springsteen) instructs the campers at Camp Rolling Hills on how... [More]
Directed By: Michael A. Simpson

#23

Hellraiser (1987)
71%

#23
Adjusted Score: 74.259%
Critics Consensus: Elevated by writer-director Clive Barker's fiendishly unique vision, Hellraiser offers a disquieting - and sadistically smart - alternative to mindless gore.
Synopsis: The directorial debut from horror novelist Clive Barker stars Sean Chapman as a man who buys a strange Chinese puzzle... [More]
Directed By: Clive Barker

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 20.801%
Critics Consensus: As disposable as its predecessor is indispensable, The Rage: Carrie 2 mimics the arc of Stephen King's classic story without adding anything of value.
Synopsis: In this film, the boys on the high-school football team compete to see who can seduce the most girls. When... [More]
Directed By: Katt Shea

#21

Ginger Snaps (2001)
89%

#21
Adjusted Score: 90.192%
Critics Consensus: The strong female cast and biting satire of teenage life makes Ginger Snaps far more memorable than your average werewolf movie -- or teen flick.
Synopsis: In this modern werewolf tale, sisters Ginger and Brigitte are ostracized by their town because of their morbid inclinations. Soon... [More]
Directed By: John Fawcett

#20

May (2003)
68%

#20
Adjusted Score: 69.211%
Critics Consensus: Above average slasher flick.
Synopsis: May has always been a bit of an outsider--you might consider her a quirky girl. If you passed her on... [More]
Directed By: Lucky McKee

#19

Seed of Chucky (2004)
33%

#19
Adjusted Score: 34.49%
Critics Consensus: Give Seed of Chucky credit for embracing the increasing absurdity of the franchise -- even if the end results really aren't all that funny or entertaining.
Synopsis: When the notoriously evil Chucky doll and his lover gave birth, they had no idea that their spawn would grow... [More]
Directed By: Don Mancini

#18

The Covenant (2006)
4%

#18
Adjusted Score: 5.841%
Critics Consensus: The Covenant plays out like a teen soap opera, full of pretty faces, wooden acting, laughable dialogue, and little suspense.
Synopsis: In 1692, in the Ipswich Colony of Massachusetts, five families with untold power formed a covenant of silence. One family,... [More]
Directed By: Renny Harlin

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 104.991%
Critics Consensus: Let the Right One In reinvigorates the seemingly tired vampire genre by effectively mixing scares with intelligent storytelling.
Synopsis: A 12-year-old boy befriends a mysterious young girl whose appearance in town suspiciously coincides with a horrifying series of murders... [More]
Directed By: Tomas Alfredson

#16
Adjusted Score: 42.354%
Critics Consensus: Otto, or Up with Dead People plays to writer-director Bruce LaBruce's provocative strengths, but proves frustratingly less than the sum of its parts.
Synopsis: An gay teenage zombie falls in with a pretentious experimental filmmaker who casts him in a politically themed porno while... [More]
Directed By: Bruce La Bruce

#15

Jennifer's Body (2009)
44%

#15
Adjusted Score: 50.22%
Critics Consensus: Jennifer's Body features occasionally clever dialogue, but its horror/comedy premise ultimately fails to be consistently funny or scary enough to satisfy.
Synopsis: When small town high-school student Jennifer is possessed by a hungry demon, she transitions from being "high-school evil" -- gorgeous... [More]
Directed By: Karyn Kusama

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 49.78%
Critics Consensus: All Cheerleaders Die sets out to subvert horror tropes, but ends up falling victim to many of the same trashy cliches it's trying to mock.
Synopsis: Teenage outsider Maddy is keeping some dark secrets and holding a serious grudge against the captain of the Blackfoot High... [More]

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 97.21%
Critics Consensus: Sexy, smart, and darkly humorous, Stranger by the Lake offers rewarding viewing for adult filmgoers in search of thought-provoking drama.
Synopsis: Frank (Pierre Deladonchamps) spends his summer days hopelessly searching for companionship at a popular cruising spot on the shores of... [More]
Directed By: Alain Guiraudie

#12

Lyle (2014)
100%

#12
Adjusted Score: 43.403%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Expecting couple Leah (Gaby Hoffmann) and June (Ingrid Jungermann) move into a Brooklyn brownstone apartment with their toddler daughter Lyle.... [More]
Directed By: Stewart Thorndike

#11

Raw (2017)
92%

#11
Adjusted Score: 99.598%
Critics Consensus: Raw's lurid violence and sexuality live up to its title, but they're anchored with an immersive atmosphere and deep symbolism that linger long after the provocative visuals fade.
Synopsis: Everyone in Justine's family is a vet. And a vegetarian. At sixteen she's a brilliant student starting out at veterinary... [More]
Directed By: Julia Ducournau

#10

Blue My Mind (2017)
78%

#10
Adjusted Score: 78.235%
Critics Consensus: A coming-of-age drama with unexpected twists, Blue My Mind transcends some clunky moments with fully realized characters brought to life by strong performances.
Synopsis: 15-year-old Mia is facing an overwhelming transformation which calls her entire existence into question. Her body is changing radically, and... [More]
Directed By: Lisa Ivana Brühlmann

#9

Rift (Rökkur) (2017)
93%

#9
Adjusted Score: 59.543%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Gunner receives a strange phone call from his ex-boyfriend, Einar, months after they broke up. Einar sounds distraught, like he's... [More]
Directed By: Erlingur Thoroddsen

#8

Thelma (2017)
93%

#8
Adjusted Score: 98.723%
Critics Consensus: Thelma plays with genre tropes in unexpected ways, delivering a thoughtfully twisty supernatural thriller with a lingering impact.
Synopsis: Thelma, a shy young student, has just left her religious family in a small town on the west coast of... [More]
Directed By: Joachim Trier

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 84.202%
Critics Consensus: Smart, stylish, and well-acted, What Keeps You Alive proves it's still possible to spin an engrossing horror yarn without fundamentally altering established formula.
Synopsis: How much can you really know about another person? The unsettling truth that even those closest to us can harbor... [More]
Directed By: Colin Minihan

#7
Adjusted Score: 84.331%
Critics Consensus: Debuting writer-director Bertrand Mandico's The Wild Boys impresses with the breadth of its ambitions -- and the skill with which they're often triumphantly realized.
Synopsis: The debut feature from Bertrand Mandico tells the tale of five adolescent boys (all played by actresses) enamored by the... [More]
Directed By: Bertrand Mandico

#6
Adjusted Score: 96.015%
Critics Consensus: Good Manners adroitly juggles disparate tonal shifts while taking a uniquely smart and sensitive look at female relationships.
Synopsis: Clara, a lonely nurse from the outskirts of São Paulo, is hired by mysterious and wealthy Ana as the nanny... [More]
Directed By: Marco Dutra, Juliana Rojas

#5

Suspiria (2018)
65%

#5
Adjusted Score: 78.896%
Critics Consensus: Suspiria attacks heady themes with garish vigor, offering a viewing experience that's daringly confrontational - and definitely not for everyone.
Synopsis: A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the troupe's artistic director (Swinton),... [More]
Directed By: Luca Guadagnino

#4

Climax (2019)
68%

#4
Adjusted Score: 75.357%
Critics Consensus: Challenging and rewarding in equal measure, Climax captures writer-director Gaspar Noé working near his technically brilliant and visually distinctive peak.
Synopsis: From director Gaspar Noé (Irreversible; Enter the Void; Love) comes a hypnotic, hallucinatory, and ultimately hair-raising depiction of a party... [More]
Directed By: Gaspar Noé

#3
Adjusted Score: 83.602%
Critics Consensus: Knife + Heart wrings giallo-inspired thrills out of a boldly challenging story that defiantly succeeds on its own stylish merits.
Synopsis: Paris, Summer 1979. Anne (Vanessa Paradis) produces third-rate gay porn. After her editor and lover Lois leaves her, she tries... [More]
Directed By: Yann Gonzalez

#2

Bit (2019)
90%

#2
Adjusted Score: 43.228%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A transgender teenage girl on summer vacation in Los Angeles fights to survive after she falls in with four queer... [More]
Directed By: Brad Michael Elmore

#1

The Perfection (2019)
73%

#1
Adjusted Score: 76.371%
Critics Consensus: Led by a pair of compelling performances, The Perfection is a smart, gripping thriller that barbs its wild twists with cutting wit.
Synopsis: When troubled musical prodigy Charlotte (Allison Williams) seeks out Elizabeth (Logan Browning), the new star pupil of her former school,... [More]
Directed By: Richard Shepard

Tag Cloud

MSNBC spanish language WarnerMedia Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt harry potter elevated horror See It Skip It Television Academy Tomatazos Character Guide Kids & Family Adult Swim disaster Nat Geo Hear Us Out Star Wars Video Games MCU FXX crime mockumentary DC Universe Britbox aliens TCA Winter 2020 joker cinemax 71st Emmy Awards Brie Larson Pixar CBS All Access USA Network police drama GLAAD BBC Watching Series GoT video crime thriller Podcast Animation christmas movies Netflix Arrowverse twilight Sneak Peek LGBTQ Comedy Cosplay Mudbound docudrama The Arrangement VOD stand-up comedy name the review Syfy Anna Paquin anime Toys CBS Crackle festivals cancelled television Disney Plus FX on Hulu Oscars E! AMC Set visit movie 24 frames Teen Ovation Endgame sitcom DGA Logo The CW Women's History Month psychological thriller Awards streaming Sundance Now New York Comic Con movies BBC America screenings Shudder films universal monsters ABC CMT Mary Tyler Moore Hallmark Black History Month documentaries GIFs The Walking Dead Red Carpet Pet Sematary Lifetime Christmas movies Fall TV Pop TV Universal Marvel Television news A24 Holiday TCA 2017 dramedy 20th Century Fox FOX RT21 sag awards green book SXSW APB HBO 4/20 Pirates Reality Interview Baby Yoda political drama HBO Go Mary poppins History Black Mirror Mary Poppins Returns Comic Book Columbia Pictures Funimation mutant crossover criterion space concert 21st Century Fox Hallmark Christmas movies Peacock Box Office quibi south america Awards Tour Binge Guide what to watch all-time spain Starz best DC streaming service NYCC cars Discovery Channel biography die hard travel ratings Lifetime golden globes breaking bad Countdown cops Netflix Christmas movies Food Network TCM Action Holidays game of thrones Best and Worst Creative Arts Emmys blockbuster Music Fantasy robots binge indie comiccon Shondaland sequel The Purge TV Dark Horse Comics Nominations Rocketman Chernobyl serial killer BET Awards adventure YouTube Red foreign Christmas Walt Disney Pictures chucky mission: impossible Infographic rotten movies we love stoner Avengers IFC Films TLC ESPN Emmy Nominations Showtime Cartoon Network tv talk Spring TV WGN comics free movies President series cooking Superheroes Spectrum Originals canceled TV shows historical drama Marathons Paramount spinoff cancelled Film Reality Competition Apple TV Plus YouTube Premium E3 Winners OneApp Western cats theme song A&E richard e. Grant franchise SundanceTV San Diego Comic-Con Valentine's Day 2018 directors Lionsgate Certified Fresh television Captain marvel Rock Musicals discovery facebook justice league Tubi unscripted IFC critics werewolf TCA Academy Awards video on demand 45 comic Stephen King Crunchyroll BBC One HBO Max Lucasfilm TBS Elton John independent Disney Channel DirecTV The Witch child's play science fiction FX 2015 Spike parents Writers Guild of America Star Trek dc casting YouTube Trailer Amazon thriller YA Disney streaming service Rocky politics true crime Classic Film El Rey 007 dogs Sci-Fi OWN miniseries romantic comedy TV Land Apple TV+ sports dragons zero dark thirty finale cults Chilling Adventures of Sabrina satire romance zombies book natural history animated cancelled TV series halloween First Look Drama Tarantino Fox News PaleyFest Amazon Prime Video based on movie USA dark TV renewals award winner game show Paramount Network Extras Sundance TV Ghostbusters SDCC transformers versus canceled composers asian-american Mystery boxoffice zombie PlayStation Freeform comedies hispanic Trophy Talk Biopics anthology witnail RT History BAFTA Apple CW Seed American Society of Cinematographers batman Super Bowl supernatural Turner spy thriller TruTV hist Masterpiece Nickelodeon ABC Family Cannes spider-man Rom-Com X-Men Trivia Marvel Studios singing competition Disney+ Disney Plus teaser toy story latino VICE Acorn TV jamie lee curtis war documentary nature 2019 Comics on TV Epix PBS Premiere Dates Schedule Vudu Amazon Studios DC Comics Amazon Prime Musical Mindy Kaling Turner Classic Movies Year in Review VH1 Quiz Thanksgiving Election period drama Polls and Games MTV National Geographic Warner Bros. scary movies 2017 Opinion TNT Emmys social media Film Festival Grammys cancelled TV shows 2020 a nightmare on elm street Tumblr 2016 Winter TV CNN reboot Comedy Central crime drama Disney slashers dceu Calendar adaptation Family Sony Pictures BET Photos Esquire reviews TIFF diversity vampires Marvel technology strong female leads medical drama children's TV talk show ghosts LGBT doctor who psycho Ellie Kemper Sundance Heroines Bravo cartoon screen actors guild revenge ITV Hulu Song of Ice and Fire Country Superheroe blaxploitation Pride Month indiana jones First Reviews Travel Channel Pop Martial Arts NBC renewed TV shows kids Horror Summer