A queer horror space…
TOKEN HOMO is cruising the darkness for queer, cult & curious horror cinema. Join me on my encounters with badly-behaved genre movies, veering away from big-studio productions to embrace the “mess, muscle & wonder” (1) of the exploitation independents.
TOKEN HOMO is home of…
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Horror movies made me queer. Well, not quite… but they sure helped! My love affair with the genre cemented young with an illicit purchase of 3 classics from a VHS rental library fire sale – EXORCIST, TEXAS CHAIN SAW, & EVIL DEAD.
Owning these unapologetic films was my first act of rebellion.
Genre luminary Kim Newman said something – when guesting on the Evolution of Horror podcast about the history of horror – that, for me, captures the wider appeal of the genre to queer audiences:
“It’s a genre that was named by its enemies… It was called ‘horror’ by people who wanted to suppress it…”Kim Newman.
Sound familiar? Of course, as social acceptance of both queers & horror cinema has evolved, so must one’s sense of what remains genuinely transgressive. Watching badly-behaved genre movies has become my ritual of rebellion, a canary in the coal mine of “good taste” (2).
As Blossom Lefcourt puts it when writing about the big-busted films of Doris Wishman:
“I believe the true reason I watch & enjoy Wishman is for the simple fact that I’m not supposed to. She is a private rebellion, ironically found within the realm of filmmaking that I am supposed to be rebelling against.”Blossom Lefcourt (3).
And it’s this refusal to conform that keeps TOKEN HOMO lurking in the darkness… You’re unlikely to find too many mainstream horror titles here, or much of the cod-Freudian hand-wringing that plagues academic writing about queer horror cinema (I mean, stab me already…). And whilst it’s too easy to stew in your own privilege, dismissing issues that other people find truly harmful, my personal taste in horror centres on creature features – where men and women are often more equal meat – rather than the slasher and its sub-genres that dumbly rip women apart for ‘our’ pleasure…
What you will find here is a fascination with exploitation films unafraid to tread their own path & the DIY, independent filmmakers who shot them. My blog title was inspired by prolific queer auteur David DeCoteau’s background in the American exploitation industry:
“I was sort of the ‘token homo’ in the business, & most of the day I’d be filming naked women & crashing cars.”David DeCoteau (4).
‘Token homo’ reminds me of the solitary queers seen on horror screens (be they ‘the monster’ or ‘the best friend’, or both…) & that moment when you feel like the only angry/horny/overlooked queer in the audience…
My writing is further inspired by Boyd McDonald’s “unabashedly sexual & unapologetically political” film fandom (5), & Kim Newman’s completist urge for the over-looked & the under-appreciated (6). Carol J. Clover (7), Eric Schaefer (8), & Stephen Thrower’s (9) seminal books are trusted longtime companions as I make my way through the darkness.
READING (between the lines…)
- Bruce Hainley quoted in “Cruising The Movies: A Sexual Guide To Oldies On TV”, Boyd McDonald (1985/2015).
- “Incredibly Strange Films”, edited by V. Vale & Andrea Juno (1986).
- “TITTY-LATION: On ‘Double Agent 73’” by Blossom Lefcourt in “The Films Of Doris Wishman” edited by Peggy Awesh (2019).
- David DeCoteau quoted in “Meet David DeCoteau, the King of Homoerotic On Demand Schlock” by Will Sloan, Flavorwire.com, 28 OCT 2014.
- William E. Jones writing in “Cruising The Movies: A Sexual Guide To Oldies On TV”, Boyd McDonald (1985/2015).
- “Video Dungeon: The Collected Reviews”, Kim Newman (2017).
- “Men, Women & Chainsaws” by Carol J. Clover (1992/2015).
- “BOLD! DARING! SHOCKING! TRUE! A History Of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959”, Eric Schaefer (1999).
- “Nightmare USA: The Untold Story Of The Exploitation Independents”, Stephen Thrower (2007).
TOKEN HOMO is a RADIANT CIRCUS sideshow project & re-posts some of the horror content from that site.
Cover Image: IMMORTAL KISS: QUEEN OF THE NIGHT (2012).