In case you hadn’t heard: We are living through a true horror renaissance. Critically acclaimed movies like Get Out, The Witch, It Follows, and, most recently, Hereditary, have been redefining the once laughed-at-and-dismissed-as-Hollywood-trash-for-seventh-grade-boys genre, and leaving fans sleepless and shook as a result.
This Thursday, you can celebrate Pride month and watch one of the classics that helped pave the way for the genre’s current golden age. Queer Horror, a bimonthly film series at the Hollywood Theatre, screens Wes Craven's 1996 blockbusting Scream, and attendees can expect a whole lot more than you’d find at your average movie-going experience.
Anthony Hudson, whose horror-inspired, slightly demonic “drag clown” persona Carla Rossi hosts the pre-show performances, created Queer Horror in March 2015 during a residency at the Hollywood. Before the opening credits roll at every Queer Horror installment, attendees get a drag show lasting anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, featuring all manner of off-screen entertainment. Just after the 2016 election, that included a kick line to an image of Trump on fire. The shows tend to sell out all 380-plus seats, so showing up early is highly recommended.
“Our audience is very devoted, very rowdy, and very wild,” says Hudson, who recently joined the Hollywood staff as community programmer (and just launched a new series, Mondo Trasho). “But it’s never grating or annoying, because it’s so earned and so collective. It’s like church!”
When programming films, Hudson looks for strong queer presence either in front of or behind the camera. (Kevin Williamson, the writer of Scream, came out as gay in 1992.) Such horror films are easy to come by. Some of the earliest, most influential horror films were heavily queer influenced; Nosfaratu (1922) and Frankenstein (1931), for example, were both directed by gay men.
“Horror is a coded queer art form that has been talking about what it means to be a monster and how to relate to society as a monster for literally 100 years,” explains Hudson. “And queers continue to dictate the shape of the genre because we understand it so well… We depower the scary thing. We celebrate it.”
Part of Hudson’s hope is that Queer Horror attendees use the opportunity to dive deep and explore the queer issues presented in these films. And guests are usually more than willing to do so, gathering in the lobby long after the credits have rolled to discuss the film. But it's also important to Hudson that the experience be celebratory, cathartic, and—above all—fun.
“A movie screening should never just be, the lights come down and we watch a movie,” Hudson says. “Why can’t we have more fun with it?”
9:30 p.m. Thu, June 21, Hollywood Theatre, $10