Media & Communication Studies
According to Harry M. Benshoff in his book Monsters in the Closet, Hollywood has a long history of demonizing queer people in horror films with what he refers to as the “monster queer.” The monster queer can be read as a key fixture of most horror narratives as a destabilizing force to heteronormative society which must be vanquished. As a gay man and avid horror enthusiast, I find myself drawn to overt (rather than connotative) examples of monster queers, from Norman Bates to Buffalo Bill to Megan Fox’s Jennifer Check. I seek to analyze Hollywood horror films for the value they may pose to queer audiences. While adolescent males comprise the target demographic of most horror films, I question why queer viewers may be drawn to the horror genre and whether examples of transgressive monster queers exist. Ultimately, I advocate for a departure from the connotative “closet mentality” of queer depictions in horror, where identities beyond the heteronormative remain unspecified to shield mass audiences from queer themes. Suggestive queer elements charge viewers themselves to fill in the gaps left by narrative ellipses, creating a bigoted feedback loop which subconsciously equates queer identity with monstrous acts. Overt depictions of queerness, however, mean themes cannot be ignored or misinterpreted to the same extent as connotative ones.
Noecker, Miles D., "Let the Monsters Out of the Closet: Overt Queer Depictions in Hollywood Horror Films" (2022). Media and Communication Studies Summer Fellows. 28.
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