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A Queer Celebration Of SORORITY ROW and MORE!
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The Bite #74
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A Queer Celebration Of SORORITY ROW and MORE!

September 4, 2019

In this Issue:


HORROR HISTORY: A QUEER CELEBRATION OF SORORITY ROW

By Joe Lipsett*

When Sorority Row was released a decade ago, the film appeared to be just another misguided, run-of-the-mill slasher remake among a glut of similar movies. It retold the story of 1982’s The House on Sorority Row, about a sorority house prank gone wrong that precipitates a revenge-oriented murder spree. A year after it premiered, Sorority Row was DOA with a less-than-enthusiastic response from critics and an opening weekend gross of just $5 million on a $12.5 million budget. It was labeled a flop and quickly forgotten.

Over the last ten years, however, the film has quietly gained a cult following among the LGBTQ+ community. This makes sense given that what the film lacks in originality, it makes up for in queer-friendly elements such as strong female characters, snappy dialogue, cameos from cult icons, sexually suggestive material and a high camp quotient. In fact, many of the elements that critics and audiences identified as negatives back in 2009 are hallmarks of canonical queer horror texts.

The film features a predominantly female cast, and what few men are present are all attractive himbos who are either stupid or emasculated (or both). Carrie Fisher has a cameo as a gun-toting, profane house mother reminiscent of Ms. Mac from Black Christmas(1974). The killer, meanwhile, has an unusual oral fixation, which results in a recurring visual motif that campily connotes fellatio. This fits right in with the deliciously mean-spirited script by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger filled with acerbic quips and catty rejoinders.

And then there’s the cherry on top: Leah Pipes’ performance as Jessica, delivering arguably the most iconic “bitch” performance in contemporary horror history. Jessica is cruel and sarcastic, her venom-laced one-liners simultaneously evoking a savage comedy roast crossed with a dismissive read from RuPaul’s Drag Race. She’s a character for the ages and Pipes’ performance, particularly her line delivery, is nothing short of perfection. Jessica may be irredeemably horrible, but Pipes is magnificent. There’s something to be said about rooting for the bad girl (see also: Gale Weathers).

Sorority Row may not have been a game-changer for slasher remakes back in 2009, but its campy mix of female backstabbing, bitchy dialogue and Pipes’ star-making turn has shifted the dialogue around the film from forgotten misfire to celebrated queer text.


*Joe Lipsett is a film critic whose work has appeared in Bloody Disgusting, Anatomy of a Scream, Grimm Magazine, That Shelf and The Spool. He is the co-host of Horror Queers, a podcast dedicated to analyzing horror films with LGBTQ+ themes, a high camp quotient, or sometimes both.


IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Miss American Vampire

No, this wasn’t an alternative option to the Miss America Pageant. Instead, it was a marketing tool for the release of House Of Dark Shadows in 1970. They held the competition all over the country, but New York and LA drew the biggest crowds, with Barnabas Collins himself crowning the New York Vampire at the Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey.


TINY BITES

HORROR LIT, LINDSEY WALLACE AND MORE

Filmtrepreneur revisited Guillermo del Toro’s first short. Before he explored the depths of love, a haunted gothic mansion, or even a Spanish orphanage, there was the Giallo-inspired horror-comedy short, Geometria.

While he arguably brought Mexican horror to the world stage, del Toro is just one of many brilliant names in the genre. So while you’re getting ready for Issa López’s Tigers Are Not Afraidgive these 15 Mexican horror films a watch.

Add these five haunted house books by female writers to your fall reading list for those cool, crisp nights with ghosts on the wind.

Sady Doyle, author of “Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear Of Female Power”, talks about puberty, patriarchy, final girls, and true crime in this fascinating Salon interview.

Horror literature is on an upswing, but why is it so hard to find? Because bookstores are getting rid of horror sections, and arguably have been ever since “Silence of the Lambs”.

What do werewolves and Jimmy Carter have in common? More than you think. The Los Angeles Review of Books takes an in-depth look at the year of the werewolf, 1981, and consumption culture by way of Emil Ferris’s graphic horror novel, “My Favorite Thing Is Monsters”.

CNN praises contemporary horror such as Get OutUs, Ready Or Not, and Parasite as “the best political commentary of our times“.

Halloween Kills will bring back little Tommy Doyle and Lindsey Wallace, the kids Laurie Strode and Annie Brackett were trying to babysit back in 1978.

Gizmodo put together a comprehensive list of some of the great sci-fi, fantasy, and horror titles coming to theatres this fall.

The cast and crew of IT: Chapter Two spoke to Vanity Fair about the film’s portrayal of the burden of trauma and the power of friendship.

The hot rumor in the food industry is that Cheetos may be bringing back its Bag of Bones skeleton-shaped snacks for Halloween.


THINGS WE LOVE: THE BLOOD IS THE LIFE

Dark Regions Press put together this incredible limited Transylvania edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Only 666 copies were made of these gorgeous, glow-in-the-dark books – complete with wooden stake bookmark – and we’re envious of anyone who was able to snag one.


HEY, THAT’S US! – SHUDDER IN THE NEWS

Pom! hive assemble: One Cut Of The Dead is finally coming to American movie theaters

How Mexican filmmaker Issa López defied expectations with ‘Tigers Are Not Afraid’

HORROR FILM REVIEW: BELZEBUTH (2017) (A SHUDDER ORIGINAL)

Best Movies and TV to Stream in September: ‘The Politician,’ ‘Transparent Musicale Finale,’ and ‘Wu-Tang’ (Creepshow)

Halloween and the 10 best horror movies to watch on Shudder


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