Queer Screams: A History of LGBTQ+ Survival Through the Lens of American Horror Cinema

McFarland. Aug. 2022. 237p. ISBN 9781476687421. pap. $39.95. FILM
Waldron, a scholar and queer historian, sees the horror genre as a means of catharsis and reclamation for the community, although representation is still marginalized in the medium. The author shows how political and social events helped influence queer depictions on screen. Beginning in the 1930s, when sexuality could not be mentioned due to the Hays Code, openly gay director James Whale used subtle references to acknowledge gay characters in such films as Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. The detriments effected by the Hays Code culminated in the 1950s when gay characters were frequently depicted as having mental defects or as a threat to society in such films as Suddenly, Last Summer. The topic of people who are transgender was explored by the introduction of the subject in Ed Wood’s 1953 campy, ultra-low budget classic, Glen or Glenda, and in later films, such as 1960’s Psycho, 1980’s Dressed To Kill, and Silence of the Lambs in 1992. The 1980s brought slasher films to prominence, and queer characters were portrayed as offensive or comedic stereotypes.
VERDICT This well-researched and thought-provoking analysis will be a welcome addition to film studies collections.
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