Off-Cuts: Gay Masculinities in Queer Horror Film and Television since 2000

Darren Elliott-Smith

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis highlights the limits of a metaphorical understanding of homosexuality in the horror film in an age where its presence has become explicit. Extending on Harry M. Benshoff’s work on homosexual representation in Monsters in the Closet (1997) this thesis argues that, post 2000, the horror genre has developed to include representations of gay masculinity that point to a queer horror aesthetic where homosexuality is often unequivocally referenced. My hypothesis is that queer horror and its representations of gay masculinity reveals more about gay male anxieties in the early twenty-first century than heterosexual ones. Queer horror focuses on gay men’s anxieties about their judgement by heteronormative standards and often encourage a homo-normative apeing of heterosexual culture, feeding further anxieties surrounding the cultural conflation of gay masculinity with a shameful femininity. In departing from the analysis of the queer monster as a symbol of heterosexual anxiety and fear, this study moves the discussion forward to focus instead on the anxieties within gay male subcultures.

Queer horror designates horror that is crafted by male directors/producers who identify as gay, bi, queer or transgendered and whose work features homoerotic, or explicitly homosexual, narratives with ‘out’ gay characters. The thesis considers video art horror (Indelible (Charles Lum, US 2004)); independently distributed exploitation films; direct to video, low-budget slashers (Hellbent (Etheredge-Outzs, US 2007)); pornographic gay zombie films (Otto, or; up With Dead People (Bruce LaBruce, CA/GE 2008)); and art house horror (Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, SE 2009)). Employing psychoanalysis (Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, and Julia Kristeva), critical cultural commentary (Leo Bersani) as well as close readings of classic and cult horror, this thesis argues that queer horror projects contemporary anxieties within gay male subcultures onto its characters and into its narratives, building upon the figurative role of gay monstrosity.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Merck, Mandy, Supervisor
  • Townsend, Christopher, Advisor
Award date1 Aug 2013
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013


  • Queer
  • Gay
  • Masculinities
  • Horror
  • Film
  • Television
  • Gothic
  • Monster
  • Royal Holloway

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