Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Injustice

Podcast Episode 119: Queer Horror

More LGBT filmmakers are choosing to work in the horror genre

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Regent Releasing

Paul Etheredge-Ouzts' "Hellbent" was billed as the first gay slasher film in 2004.

Episode 119: Queer Horror

Paul Etheredge-Ouzts’ 2004 film “Hellbent" was billed as the first gay slasher film. I speak with him and a quartet of new, young filmmakers to see how Queer Horror has evolved since "Hellbent." I also speak with FilmOut San Diego's programmer Michael McQuiggan about his first queer horror shorts block, FrightOut.

Subscribe to the Cinema Junkie podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcatcher.

Support the podcast at


FilmOut San Diego is hosting its first-ever block of gay horror shorts and it highlights how LGBT filmmakers are turning more and more to genre filmmaking. So I felt it was time to pay tribute to queer cinema and talk to some filmmakers about why they choose to work in the genre.

Queer horror is not anything new. Many will point to James Whale’s 1931 “Frankenstein” and 1935 “Bride of Frankenstein” as memorable early examples. Whale was an openly gay man in Hollywood when that was rare and both of his films readily lend themselves to being viewed through a queer lens.

But for this podcast I want to focus on some more recent examples of openly gay horror films that use genre tropes to make us rethink stereotypes and to make us consider social issues from a radically different perspective.

This year, FilmOut San Diego hosts its first block of gay horror shorts. That is something programmer Michael McQuiggan is thrilled to be doing. He is a dedicated fan of horror and every year he tries to bring genre films to the festival. Over his 13 years with FilmOut he has programmed the first gay slasher film “Hellbent;” brought LGBT monsters to town with “Bit Marks” and “ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction;” and showcased disturbingly dark dramas like “Drown” and “Down River.”

Attending FilmOut for the past two decades has introduced me to a wide array of queer horror. So when I was asked to co-sponsor this year’s horror block with the opportunity to interview all the directors, I jumped at the opportunity.

When filmmaker Jesse Klein mentioned the impact of Paul Etheredge-Ouzts’ 2004 film “Hellbent,” I decided that I also needed to track that director down to find out what it was like to make a film that was promoted as the first gay slasher film.

For this podcast I speak with McQuiggan about programming gay horror, with Etheredge-Ouzts about making “Hellbent” as his feature film debut and how that affected his career; and then with a quartet of young filmmakers (Dominic Haxton, Daniel Sterlin-Altman, Jesse Klein, and Blake Mawson) about what queer horror means to them.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Matheus Farias

"Room For Rent," from Brazilian filmmakers Matheus Farias and Enock Carvalho, screens as part of FilmOut San Diego's first ever queer horror film block on Saturday June 10 at 10:00 PM.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Blake Mawson

Blake Mawson's "Pyotr495" begins with a young man in Russia hooking up with someone online but the meetup takes a horrific turn.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Jesse Klein

Filmmaker Jesse Klein enjoys a Tarantino moment in his serial killer comedy "Demons."

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Daniel Sterlin-Altman

The poster for the stop motion animation film "Hi, It's Your Mother" fromDaniel Sterlin-Altman.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Beth Accomando

Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.