Sunday, June 30, 2019

Happy Pride! I'm Gay for Horror

It's the last day of Pride 2019 and I wanted to share an article I wrote for The editor put out a call for contributors on Twitter and I was selected for publication, my first outside of this blog! It's one thing to call yourself a writer and another to convince someone else you're a writer and have them publish you. Thank you Terry for giving me the opportunity to share my writing and my experience with your readers.

I'm Gay for Horror
by Señor Scary

Growing up in 80’s southwest Tejas, there were three things to do in my border town: sweep up dust, eat, and watch movies. You could also go to church and the good Catholics were eager to sit on your shoulders and shine a flashlight on your sins. I once asked a priest about sins. The greatest was not murder or adultery but being gay! Early on, I suspected that I might be different because I lingered in the JCPenney men’s interior fashions, my brother told me I held my books like a girl because they were clutched to my chest, and a gorgeous junior high bully, Brad Dunkadonk insisted on calling me faaaag… gettt… as he ran past me in gym class. I got to admire his assets so I guess we both won. I would get home from school and turn on the VCR.

Movies were my constant companion and my window to a Technicolor world. I didn’t know then, but horror movies in particular would help shape my identity in the decade to follow. We were a family who loved movies. In fact, we bonded mainly over movies. My earliest recollection is my father taking us to the palatial old theater, El Regalo, in Juárez, Mexico for a Sunday afternoon double feature. One was usually a thriller, but we rarely stayed for the second feature opting to get a torta de milanesa and agua de melon across the street. This is where I saw my first horror movie, Blood Beach, in which people were sucked into the sand by a monster. We also saw The Changeling since my father loved George C. Scott, and I vowed right there to never live in a house with stairs or red balls.

At home, my older brothers introduced me to Fangoria magazine, and my eyes bulged at the gruesome spectacle of an axe to the head in Friday the 13th. I was so in awe of special effects that I learned how to make blood out of everyday pantry ingredients so that I could permanently stain my mother’s bathroom tile with a grisly scene. Yet, my weary Mamá always encouraged my dark endeavors. She even allowed me to watch the TV-network edit of The Exorcist because she knew horror movies made me happy. I made good grades, never got in trouble, and stayed away from Maria Juana, so Mamá was also happy. This is when I understood that I could be myself and still be loved.

In high school, I finally understood what being gay meant, although I wouldn’t tell my intermittent girlfriend – or another soul – for 5 years. I felt like a misfit. I was soft-spoken, quiet, and yearned for acceptance. Then, suddenly, I made a new friend––and he loved horror movies! This guy had an odd, eggshaped head with puffs of curly hair, and he was markedly heterosexual. We watched so many movies together including Pumpkinhead, argued the merits of Stan Winston, and furiously yelled across the mall parking lot about man-in-a-monster-suit movies.

I was a master of horror movies and would debate them to death. Through this alliance, I finally managed to find a voice. It was a timid, sheepish, and reluctant voice, but I finally felt like I could express myself with a shred of confidence. Sadly, at graduation this friend told me he would kill me if I ever turned out to be gay. It was a real threat and he owned a lot of guns, so I believed him and we never spoke again.

My love of horror movies, introduced to me by parents, ushered by my brothers, and explored with my friends, helped me find my feisty voice. Horror movies instilled a survival instinct in me to overcome the adversity of judgmental strangers who condemn my passion. It’s also very encouraging to discover that a large community of outsiders and misfits devoted to the horror genre are also queer and queer allies. And if horror movies have taught us anything it is that the final girl who keeps her wits and her coif during extreme bloodshed, walks into the warm morning sunlight without a hint of shame.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

DemonHuntr Is Looking for a Few Good Souls

DemonHuntr is dying to bring diversity to the horror genre but it needs your help! Created by Tim O’Leary (Wolf Island, SGM seeks LTR in NYC), this web series will be casting a horror comedy spell with a Sabrina/Evil Dead/Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibe – but now featuring LBGTQIA and people of color as lead characters! We are in a new era and representation matters. “Everyone is getting a seat the table,” says O’Leary. The crowdfunding campaign is underway raising over $12K towards their goal of $36,666. To contribute, please visit today!

Mr. O’Leary was kind enough to answer some of my probing questions about his views on queer horror, sex, and, yes, even, theatre.

Señor Scary: I often hear that there are gay characters in almost every series now, so is targeted media like this really needed?

Tim O'Leary: There’s a world of difference between having a gay character in a show and having the leads almost exclusively be in the LGBT community, and that difference is whose story it is. When your lead is a gay man, as ours is, that means the world of the show is seen through a gay lens. We see his community, we see his relationships, we see his life in a way you wouldn’t if he were a side character. Right now, there are exactly zero shows in our genre with an LGBT lead, so I’d say Demonhuntr is absolutely needed.

Señor Scary: A year ago, Queer Horror was not something I’d heard much about. When I saw the first Horror Queers articles on I was delighted but also surprised. Why do you think Queer Horror is taking off now and how do you feel a series like this will shape its future?

Tim O'Leary: Great question! As it happens, there’s been a queerness in horror and horror fandom stretching back a very long time. The movie Gods and Monsters showcased how much gay sensitivity and humor went into Bride of Frankenstein.

The big difference now is the Internet. We’re able to find each other with an ease that is unprecedented. In the past, if you were an isolated LGBT person into horror, you’d have to ask around, talk to friends of friends, maybe try to start a group, just to see if anyone else was like you. Now you just do an Instagram search for #queerhorror.

I think the emergence of this fandom is fantastic, and my hope is we get to see a lot more inclusivity in the genre. And since the conventional wisdom in Hollywood is “write the show you’ve always wanted to see,” that’s what I’m doing!

Señor Scary: Your Instagram account led me to my favorite new artist Karl von Frankstein which included a scantily clad Jason, Michael and Freddy Krueger. Yet LGBTQIA media is often criticized for its overtly sexualized imagery. Is it that sex sells or does the queer community approach sex differently?

Tim O'Leary: I think, and this is solely my own anecdotal experience not based on anything official, that the queer community just has a little more fun with sex than our straight counterparts, and we don’t take it so seriously. And that particularly goes with sex in media and advertising. Straight men are conditioned to believe that all media is for them, and this is reinforced through most imagery we see on TV and film, particularly the exploitation of female bodies for the male gaze.

When I see things like a sexy pin-up version of Jason or Michael Myers, I’m much more likely to laugh than get turned on, because obviously there’s a joke there, but also I know that it’s most likely going to make straight men very uncomfortable... which I also enjoy. I could write a whole thesis paper about this.

Our show is frank in its sexuality – characters have sex, and we don’t shy away from that. But it’s also not exploitative or soft-porn-y either. As a writer, I’m much more interested in making people laugh than turning anyone on.

But if they do get turned on, that’s okay, too.

Señor Scary: I loved the pitch video and also read that you and several in your cast have a theater backgrounds. Will that world of spectacle, over-the-top, sing-out-Louise audacity inform the series? And more importantly, have you planned out a musical episode?

Tim O'Leary: We actually have a song-and-dance number! Well, hopefully. I wrote a very musical theater moment that actually fits easily into the plot. But song-and-dance numbers are expensive, so that’s one of our “stretch goals,” meaning if we make over the hoped-for budget, we can include that number. Which I really hope we can do.

There is a sense of grandness to the story, which probably is a bit informed by my love of musical theater, and also Shakespeare, fantasy novels, and video games. A lot of various media has informed Demonhuntr, for sure.

Señor Scary: For those who join the crowdfunding efforts, and every horror fan could for as little as $5, what is the timeline for production and debut of the web series. How many episodes are you hoping to get for the first season?

Tim O'Leary: Once we have our budget established, we’re going into pre-production and will most likely shoot in the fall. One thing you learn very quickly in Hollywood is that post-production always take twice as long and costs twice as much as you think it will going in, so I’d say we’d probably be looking at the summer of 2020 as the earliest release.

We’re hoping for seven episodes, but it all depends on the amount we make. The original slate of episodes we wrote numbered nine, and that doesn’t include outlines for even more episodes. I’m a long-form storyteller by nature so I can see this going for years. There are so many stories we want to tell, and we’re hoping we get to tell all of them!

Check out DemonHuntr on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and their YouTube channel featuring Monster Mondays, Trivia Tuesdays and Feature Friday clips!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Doctor Sleep Trailer is Finally Here

Director Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House, Oculus, Gerald's Game, Hush) revealed the first trailer for DOCTOR SLEEP, the follow up to THE SHINING today on Twitter.

If you haven't read the fantastic book, you might not know that it's not a direct sequel. Stephen King's book follows little Danny Torrance into adulthood (now played by Ewan McGregor) as he tries to fend off a tribe that preys on children with the shining. The tone is radically different, and fans looking for a return visit the bloody madness of the Overlook Hotel will be greatly disappointed. There are no ghosts here, only very bad people who hurt children.

I have full faith in Flanagan to capture the spirit of the book as he excels in intimate stories of personal adversity, family dysfunction, and quests for redemption. It opens November 8.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Crazy about "American Psycho: The Musical"

The trend of turning horror movies into farcical pop musicals continues with the mostly successful American Psycho: The Musical. You get to experience the film on stage, mostly, with the addition of a thumping 80s electronic score. The original songs by Duncan Sheik work well, but these are interspersed with tedious snippets of classic 80s songs, which take you right out of the moment. Presumably this was done to give the cast a chance to execute numerous costumes changes or wipe the blood from their bodies and stage.

The musical is fun, zippy, and brash, but the success rests squarely on the broad shoulders of the actor in the lead role of Patrick Bateman. In the  Ray of Light Theatre’s West Coast premiere production, the charismatic, tall and handsome Kipp Glass perfectly fills Patrick’s tighty-whities. He’s oozing cocky confidence and antsy lunacy by way of crazy bulging eyes, irritable intensity, and impeccable line delivery. His singing is on point and he truly embodies the character.

Having lived through the 80s, the references, visuals, and the costumes all made sense and the book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is quite amusing while retaining the serious storyline. The simple set is aided by projections which allow for vibrant, shifting visuals. The design smartly turns the room, showcasing a corner center stage, allowing for two opening panels that allow for entrances and scene changes. Then there’s some awkward choreography which involves the rather large cast, although most eyes are on Glass and his purposely cumbersome white boy dancing. It all seems chaotic and incoherent, which was probably a choice.

The second act drags a bit and the big reveal at the end was more of question mark than a statement. If they wanted us to feel as dumbfounded as Patrick Bateman, they certainly succeeded. Nonetheless, American Psycho was bloody fun, well-conceived, and didn’t teeter too far into gloominess or camp. I’m extremely excited to see what Ray of Light Theatre does next.