“Those Kind” Saved Me, Big Frank’s Monster, Gothic Lamb And MORE!
In this Issue:
- Horror History: Those Kind Saved Me
- Image of the Week: Big Frank’s Monster
- Tiny Bites – This Week’s Best Horror Headlines
- Things We Love: Gothic Lamb
- Hey, That’s Us! – Shudder in the News
Those Kind Saved Me
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 In a landmark move, the exclusionary policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed that September.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
Big Frank’s Monster
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THINGS WE LOVE
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.