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“Those Kind” Saved Me, Big Frank’s Monster, Gothic Lamb And MORE!
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The Bite #115
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“Those Kind” Saved Me, Big Frank’s Monster, Gothic Lamb And MORE!

June 23, 2020

In this Issue:


HORROR HISTORY

Those Kind Saved Me

By Terry Mesnard

Queer horror is having a moment. Yes, horror has been queer from the beginning, stretching back to directors like James Whale and using queer subtext in a number of positive and negative ways. Recently, we’ve seen so much outspoken, textual queerness in horror that makes me excited to be a fan of the genre. So it’s weird to think back to 2011’s Chillerama where smack dab in the middle of rampaging sperm monsters and spoofs of zombie films was this little queer horror short called “I Was a Teenage Werebear.”

Aping the style of 60s beach musicals with the trappings of a werewolf movie, Tim Sullivan’s queer pop art short came at a time when people were fighting for gay rights across the United States. While some states were allowing civil unions or gay marriage, others were trying to revoke anti-discrimination clauses that protected the LGBTQ+ community. In a landmark move, the exclusionary policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed that September.

It was also the year I came out of the closet.

“I Was a Teenage Werebear” centers around Ricky (played by gay pornstar Sean Paul Lockhart), a teenager struggling with his sexuality. While he fights off the attention of Peggy Lou (Gabby West), he also denies his attraction to the local biker gang, led by Talon (Anton Troy). In a stereotypical turn, Lin Shaye plays Nurse Maleva (an obvious homage to 1941’s The Wolf Man), who, with a thick and culturally-insensitive-yet tongue-in-cheek accent, warns Ricky of the dangers Talon and his leather fetish buddies pose. “Stay away from those kind,” she hisses.

But Ricky can’t. After a literal wrestling match where Talon bites Ricky, Ricky finds himself (in song, of course) figuratively wrestling with his internalized homophobia. He’s become a lycanthrope and when he finds himself aroused he turns into a werebear with a leather fetish. Tim Sullivan smartly (and hilariously) uses the cinematic language of werewolves as a representation of man’s inner struggle with “the beast inside” as a way of explaining Ricky’s own struggles with his sexuality and internalized homophobia.

Ricky recoils from Talon’s advances and tries to convince himself he’s not “…like any of you!” but Talon knows better and asks whether his bite put the beast in Ricky, or let it out. It’s a question many gay kids struggle with as they try to understand their feelings. Ricky finds himself in a fight that the LGBTQ+ community faced themselves in 2011. He, too, must fight for acceptance and credibility while banishing the homophobic notions that he is a monster simply for being gay.

So, while Talon and his crew must be fought and defeated as is common in most werewolf films, Ricky remains himself and doesn’t retreat into the closet. In his final song, he sings “the times, they’re changing so don’t have a cow … So join my party / let’s have a ball.” His audience is not the characters in the movie, though. He’s looking straight into the camera, at the horror fans who had only signed up to watch a horror anthology about a killer sperm.

It’s not perfect; the short has some cringey moments of assault, its message is a bit muddled, and I personally would have preferred it if Ricky joined the werebears on their rampage. That said, in 2011, as I was coming out of the closet and the LGBTQ+ community had their lives and freedoms decided in courts and by governments and religious institutions, Ricky’s song was a rallying cry. Nurse Maleva might have warned him about “those kind,” but it’s Ricky’s response that stuck with me nine years later.

“Yeah, well,” Ricky replies. “Those kind saved me.”

They saved me, too.


*Terry Mesnard is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic and the owner of Gayly Dreadful, your one-stop shop for all things gay, dreadful, and sometimes gayly dreadful. He is also the co-host of Scarred For Life, the podcast devoted to exploring the films that traumatized the horror community as kids.


IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Image Of The Week #115 - Frank By Stormy - The Bite

Big Frank’s Monster

Artist Stormy makes gorgeous prints of some of your favorite horror characters, including this familiar fella. You can grab Frank’s Monster as a sticker from Stormy’s shop.


Shudder SHUTIN Promo

I mean, seriously. What are you waiting for? New members can try the platform free for 30 days when they sign up online with promo code: SHUTIN


TINY BITES

NIA DACOSTA’S CANDYMAN, HELLRAISER RIGHTS AND MORE

Candyman director Nia DaCosta gave us a profoundly moving glimpse at the upcoming reimagining by way of a unique trailer.

We also got a glimpse at footage from the upcoming second season of Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone.

SyFy Wire’s Fangrrls took a look at Slumber Party Massacre II and all of its campy glory.

We got a new trailer for Peninsula, the highly-anticipated sequel to Train to Busan

… as well as a full trailer for Dave Franco’s deeply unnerving feature directorial debut, The Rental.

Read about re-centering the Black experience in the horror genre in this interview with Tananarive Due, Robyn R. Means Coleman, and John Jennings.

Expand your horror reading list to include these 20 great horror novels by Black authors, including Tananarive Due’s The Good House, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl In The Ring.

Artist Jeremy M Raymer painted an incredible mural of SFX legend Tom Savini in Pittsburgh.

Entertainment Weekly explored 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon’s career in horror from Friday The 13th to You Should Have Left.

Clive Barker is suing to get the rights back to Hellraiser, which could mean interesting things for the future of the cenobites.

In this article, JSTOR Daily writes about the therapeutic value of horror gaming.

Empire ranked their top 20 zombie films with titles like Return Of The Living DeadOne Cut Of The Dead, and the delightfully spooky Paranorman among other classics.

David Koepp, the screenwriter of the upcoming Bride Of Frankenstein adaptation, promises we’re in for a “twisted little number”.


THINGS WE LOVE

Things We Love #115 - Gothic Lamb's Melanated Metalhead Tee Modelled by witchy_purple - The Bite

Gothic Lamb

We’re in love with Gothic Lamb‘s merch, and especially this “Melanated Metalhead” tee, modeled here by @witchy_purple on Instagram. They’re currently working on their website, but sign up for email updates so you can place your order as soon as they’re live.


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