Queer Screams

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


In stock

About the Book

The horror genre mirrors the American queer experience, both positively and negatively, overtly and subtextually, from the lumbering, flower-picking monster of Frankenstein (1931) to the fearless intersectional protagonist of the Fear Street Trilogy (2021). This is a historical look at the queer experiences of the horror genre’s characters, performers, authors and filmmakers. Offering a fresh look at the horror genre’s queer roots, this book documents how diverse stories have provided an outlet for queer people—including transgender and non-binary people—to find catharsis and reclamation. Freaks, dolls, serial killers, telekinetic teenagers and Final Girls all have something to contribute to the historical examination of the American LGBTQ+ experience. Ranging from psychiatry to homophobic fear of HIV/AIDS spread and, most recently, the alienation and self-determination of queer America in the Trump era, this is a look into how terror may repair a shattered queer heart.

About the Author(s)

Abigail Waldron is a queer historian and horror film scholar whose work can be seen on horror sites such as Horror Press, Gayly Dreadful, and Rue Morgue. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Abigail Waldron

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 237
Bibliographic Info: 34 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8742-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4765-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction 7
Chapter 1. The Queens of Hollywood: Queer Roots, Censorship, and the Lavender Menace (the 1930s–1940s) 21
Chapter 2. Psychos, Aliens, and Ghosts: Mass Conformity, Gay Liberation, and the Underground Response (the 1950s–1970s) 44
Chapter 3. Villainization: AIDS and Casual Homophobia (the 1980s) 65
Chapter 4. Manifesting Monstrous Bodies: The Use of the Transgender, Intersex, and/or Non-Binary Body as Horror (1932–2001) 95
Chapter 5. Exposure: Queers and the Millennium (1990–2009) 119
Chapter 6. Queer Resistance: Representation and Trump’s America (2010–2021) 151
Chapter 7. Catharsis as Revenge 171
For Your Viewing Pleasure 185
Chapter Notes 191
Bibliography 205
Index 225

Book Reviews & Awards

• “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. …This well-researched and thought-provoking analysis will be a welcome addition to film studies collections.—Library Journal

• “One of the most engaging, well-informed analyses of queer representations in North American horror films.”—Rob Cover, professor of Digital Communication

• “A nuanced understanding of the importance of horror to queer audiences, especially with regards to the politics of representation.”—Natasha Patterson, Simon Fraser University

• “This book is a love letter…an ode to all the queer artists who paved the way for substantial representation in horror…Offering a fresh look at the horror genre’s queer roots, this book documents how diverse stories have provided an outlet for queer people to find catharsis for reclamation…This is a look into how terror may repair a shattered queer heart.”—Horror Press

• “A unique and informative cinematic history…exceptionally informative and highly recommended.”—Midwest Book Review