Lesbian Scary Movies: Our Top 7
Like all movie genres, most mainstream horror stories are often inscribed in a heteronormative world and do not have a lot of identifiable queer characters. Especially because most of the movie directors, and most of the movie directors who have received funding and acclamation for their work, have been white, heterosexual men (hi Hollywood). Did you know, for instance, that up to this year, all of Cannes’ famous ‘Palmes d’Or’ have been attributed to men? Because, even when women have received it, they have always been nominated alongside a man? Julia Ducournau in 2021 is the first woman to receive it alone for her film ‘Titane’. That is one ‘Palme d’Or’ over 82 years of the festival’s existence. 1 over 82.
However, and especially recently, there has been an upgrade in movie directors’ diversity and this has led to more diversity in movies. Buffy in the early 1990s has been a formidable breakthrough for wlw in mainstream shows and horror and it has become an unforgettable landmark of lesbian horror comedy. However, like many other lesbian horror stories, it has been created by a man. And I must confess, finding good lesbian horror stories directed by women is not easy. But I tried my best.
So, today, I am very proud to present to you a list of lesbian and sapphic horror stories that you can (re)watch for a queer Halloween. From heavy psychological thriller to vampire flicks, I hope you can find what works best for you. Ready? Let us dive in!
PS: I added trigger warnings to the presentation of the movies (for instance rape, suicide, mutilation, abuse, blood and so on) without revealing too much of the plot, so you can choose whether or not to watch the movie.
1. Fear Street (Leigh Janiak), 2021
‘Fear Street’ is a tryptic movie, meaning the story takes place over three different movies. The perfect compromise if you want something longer than a movie but do not have the time to embark for a 6 seasons TV show. I personally really loved the format!
What is it about?
‘Fear Street’ starts in 1994, in Shadyside. It is a small American town that seems to be cursed. Every decade, a new and particularly horrific serial killer makes TV news as they start a killing spree. Aside from the constant fear to see such gruesome murders happening again, the residents of Shadyside seem to struggle with their own issues, like illness, unemployment, addictions, suicides and death. And, on the other side of Shadyside, is bright, thriving Sunnyvale, where everything seems to go for the better. Rumor is, Shadyside is cursed because of a witch who was killed there and swore to get revenge. In 1994, as Deena and Sam’s relationship seems to fail, yet another serial killer emerges. But this time, he seems to pay extra attention to Sam... Will Deena be able to save her girlfriend? Is the witch’s curse real? Are all Shadysiders doomed? To discover it, the movies will take us from 1994 to 1978 and finally, 1666. Being a teenager is hard, but it is even harder when you are under the threat of serial killers and demoniac possession...
The + and –
I personally really loved the movie(s). It is just the right amount of gore and scary to keep you on edge, but not disgusting enough to scar you for life. The big plus is also that it has been directed by a woman, and it shows. Lead characters are women, and they have complex and realistic personality traits. The cast is not all white and no one throws random racist insults. For the matter, the movies do not have any sexist, fatphobic or racist undertones. There is a little... how to put this?... ‘resistance’ to lesbianism, but only in the 1666 part. And even then, the movie clearly takes the side of the lesbian love story. I will also add that Sam and Deena’s relationship is the focal point of the storyline, so there is no ‘brushing the lesbians to the side’. Their love story is just out there for you to enjoy.
The movie, however, does involve a good amount of blood and references to witches and the devil. If it is something that bothers you, I would strongly advise against you watching it. If you need more information on how scary it is, it is based on a novel by R.L. Stine, who is more famous for having written the 'Goosebumps' series. So, scary, but not too much. I think it might be my very favorite on this list!
2. The Haunting of Bly Manor (Mike Flanagan), 2020
‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ is a 9 episodes TV show and the second entry of Mike Flanagan’s ‘The Haunting’ anthology series. It features a large part of the cast of the first entry, ‘The Haunting of Hill House’. The story of the two series, however, is not connected.
What is it about?
Northern California, 2007. At a wedding rehearsal, the guests gather around a woman who has a story to tell. A ghost story. As she starts speaking, the series’ story unravels. ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ follows the story of Dani, a young American woman who seeks an au pair job in England, hoping to escape her traumatic past. She is hired by a wealthy man, Henry Wingrave, who needs someone to take care of his young nephew and niece, following the tragic death of their parents. But as Dani starts to get attached to the children and a witty, young gardener, she quickly witnesses the paranormal events that take place in the manor. Just like its predecessor, ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ does not follow a chronological timeline but takes you back and forth between past and present, leaving you guessing what may have happened and what will. Will Dani be able to escape her past? Will her tentative relationship with her favorite gardener develop into something more? What happened in Bly Manor for it to still be haunted today? And why did Henry Wingrave need a new au pair so quickly?
The + and –
I really loved the show but there are some real heartbreaking moments. You might need a tissue or two, or the whole box, if you are like me and tend to cry a lot over movies. Nevertheless, the story is gripping and still, very beautiful. It is good to watch if you like to be a little scared by ghost stories but tend to be squeamish over blood and gore. Also, I mean, Victoria Pedretti? Yes please! If you want my opinion (I mean, you are still here after all), far better to watch her in a lesbian romance than in the show ‘You’ (you can read on why I did not like the show here by the way: You, Romcoms and The Culture of Toxic Hetero Relationships). Although, I should warn you: the show contains mentions of suicide, harassment, alcoholism and harming children (but do not worry, they stay safe).
If you want more
If you like this kind of show, I would also recommend its predecessor, ‘The Haunting of Hill House’. It features the same kind of eerie atmosphere and may be even darker and scarier. And even if it is not centered around a lesbian relationship, one of the main characters is canonically lesbian. Despite the lesbian romance not being at the core of the plot, you still see the character developing a relationship with a woman. So, if you liked ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ and you liked the cast, it might be worth a watch.
In addition, Mike Flanagan has recently produced a new horror show, ‘Midnight Mass’. It tells the strange story of a little community isolated on a small island. Dark, eerie and scary, it questions people’s relationship to God and faith and also features a lesbian character. However, it is not part of the main storyline – but maybe it can be a refreshing change to see a queer character not defined by the fact that there are queer, sometimes.
3. Ratched (Evan Romansky and Ryan Murphy), 2020
Listen, we are team Sarah Paulson here. Of course, one of her works would have been featured here. She has blessed us with so many horror stories.
What it is about?
Northern California (Idk, apparently there is a thing about Northern California and horror?), 1947. Edmund Tolleson brutally murders six priests in their shared house. He is to be sent to the psychiatric hospital of Lucia State, in order to see if he is fit to stand trial. The governor is under a lot of pressure to have him executed and the hospital becomes an object of close scrutiny. Meanwhile, an unknown nurse, Mildred, blackmails her way into getting hired at the Lucia State Hospital. She slowly wins the trust of the hospital’s director and her destiny seems weirdly linked to Edmund’s. She also starts to be noticed by Gwendolyn, the governor’s press secretary. How is this interest going to develop? Why did Mildred want to be hired at Lucia State so bad she blackmailed a nurse? When will she kiss Gwendolyn??
The + and –
Ryan Murphy is not exactly a beginner at horror TV shows, nor at queer TV shows, for the matter. He has given us both ‘American Horror Story’ and ‘Pose’. If you want to be scared and disturbed by gore, multiple killings and torture, this is the right show for you. But if you are not at ease with the sight of blood or of sharp things getting thrust in human beings, maybe it is not the best idea to watch.
Also, be warned: this is a horror TV show and not exactly the kind that gives space for cuddly and cute relationships. Expect some (internalized) lesbophobia – even though we get to see a sneak peek of a fantastic lesbian bar. On top of that, the series takes place in a psychiatric hospital, where patients are physically and psychologically tortured. If this is something that triggers you, please take care of yourself and do not watch it. Plus, the representation of mental illnesses is not great. It is often presented as a dangerous thing, that almost always end up in murder, which is harmful for people living with a mental illness. Critics have for example pointed out how ‘Ratched’s representation of dissociative identity disorder (DID) is neither good nor accurate. To sum up, TW for lesbophobia, psychophobia, abuse, suicide, asylum, drug abuse and blood. Proceed with caution.
If you want more
If you still liked seeing Sarah Paulson in this dangerous environment and in a lesbian relationship, I can also suggest you ‘American Horror Story: Asylum’. Lana, journalist, wants to write a paper on a mental institution where strange things seem to happen and patients tend to disappear.
PS: Lana lives with her girlfriend, Wendy.
PS2: It is just as gory and horrific as ‘Ratched'.
4. The Perfection (Richard Shepard), 2018
‘The Perfection’ is an American psychological horror thriller film, written by Richard Shepard, Nicole Snyder and Eric Charmelo. And it does not take place in Northern California, so I guess it is a nice change – if you live there, I hope you can still fall asleep at night.
What is it about?
The movie starts in the USA, present day. Charlotte Willmore, a young cello prodigy, had left the music academy to come home and take care of her ill mother. After her mother’s death a decade later, she reaches out to her former teacher, Anton, and his wife, who are at the head of the Bachoff Academy – the very prestigious cello academy she used to study at. She takes the plane to meet them in Shanghai, where she will be a member of the jury electing the next student to receive a grant to study at the Academy. There, she meets Anton’s new protégée and incredibly talented cellist, Lizzie. Lizzie and Charlotte instantly experience a deep, magnetic connection. The evening, however, is slightly thrown off tracks as a man starts to feel ill and throw up in the concert venue – there are rumors that a strange epidemic has started in the South of China. After an intense night with Charlotte, Lizzie starts to experiment strange symptoms as well... Why does it seem like Charlotte knew a lot about Lizzie prior to meeting her? Why do they have the same music tattoo and what does it mean? What happened to Charlotte when she left the Academy? Oh, so many questions...
The + and –
The soundtrack is especially good and really gives the tone of the movie. I mean, it is about professional cello players, so it kind of had to. And it really lives up to the expectation. It is just the right amount of eerie and harrowing. The soundtrack is also used in a really smart way, cutting off to enhance dramatic moments. Not only that, but the acting is very powerful (special mention to Logan Browning who is incredible, and also have you looked at her? She is just gorgeous). It is also a great movie if you love plot twists and suspense. Plus, hot, good, steamy sapphic sex on a cello background? More please.
On the downside, the film can be pretty disturbing, so I will add TW on (auto)mutilation electroshocks, vomit, insects (and especially if you are scared of having bugs inside of your body), suicide and rape. Be warned, it can be intense! Masks and epidemics are kind of present in the background as well, although not linked to the COVID at all. But if you are tired of COVID and masks, it might not be the best watch.
5. Thelma (Joachim Trier), 2017
With this one, we are changing continents all together: Thelma is a Norwegian supernatural thriller.
What is it about?
Norway, nowadays. Thelma just started university and she is struggling to find her place. Growing up in a very strict Christian family, she is rather shy and has trouble making new friends – especially as her parents keep calling to check on her. But one day, as she finds herself sitting next to one of her classmates, Anja, she starts having a seizure. This phenomenon seems to occur more and more as she grows closer to Anja. Her seizures also appear to be linked to strange, paranormal phenomena and visions. Will Thelma accept her feelings for Anja, despite her family's strict religious beliefs? Will her seizures get worse? What is this strange power she feels growing in her? Is it possible these events occurred before?
The + and –
In this movie as well, the soundtrack is good and well used. I mean, once you play ‘Familiar’ by Agnes Obel, you have my full attention. But, as it is not a big Hollywoodian production, music is used more sparsely, and silence is an important part of the movie as well. I will also add that, just like in ‘The Perfection’, one of the main characters is not white so it is a good point if you are tired of being recommended lesbian movies that are exclusively centered on white, thin and conventionally beautiful characters. Unfortunately, these are still the major parts of lesbian movies (and particularly lesbian horror movies). I dream about the day we can get movies with women loving women that are directed by women and have full range representation: I want fat lesbians, I want lesbians in a wheelchair, I want lesbians living with a mental illness, I want non-white lesbians, I want asexual lesbians. Sorry, I got a bit derailed here. Back to the movie! It might be a watch for you if you like plots that are moving slowly, strange and inexplicable phenomena, and independent cinema. Be ready for mysteries and unsolved questions.
On the downside, Thelma has grown up with a lot of internalized lesbophobia, so the movie might be difficult or heavy for you to watch. There is some mentions of child abuse with candles and flames as well, and the death of a very young child. Oh, and snakes seem to appear quite often in her visions. Also, be careful if you are epileptic yourself; at some point during the movie, doctors suspect Thelma might be epileptic and they run a battery of medical tests, including flashing bright lights that are shown in the movie. So, if you have issues with violent and luminous flashes, as well as hospitals and medical tests, this movie might not be the best for you. I will also add that Thelma’s mother uses a wheelchair and seems pretty independent, which is nice. However, sadly, Trier does not avoid the ‘broken and to be fixed’ pitfall.
6. Mother May I Sleep With Danger? (Melanie Aitkenhead), 2016
If you like Halloween vibes but are too scared to watch true horror films, this one might be just for you. 'Mother May I Sleep With Danger?' is a lesbian remake of the 1996 eponymic movie. It is an iconic classic of lesbianism and vampirism with just a touch of early-2000 teenage comedy (if you do not believe me, just have a look at their ridiculously low-waisted jeans).
What is it about?
USA, present day. Pearl has been turned into a Nightwalker (a kind of vampire) by her ex-girlfriend. Indeed, there is a myth among Nightwalkers, that once you find your true love and change them into a Nightwalker, you can feed off of each other for eternity and do not have to murder anyone anymore. 6 years after the incident, Pearl meets Leah. The two women fall madly in love, much to Leah’s mother's dismay. She thus turns to Bob, a boy who has a crush on Leah, to help her shield Leah from Pearl. Will Leah and Pearl’s love be enough to keep them together? Will Pearl be able to reveal her secret to Leah, and protect her from the other Nightwalkers? To what lengths is Bob ready to go if he cannot have Leah?
The + and –
The film is directed by Melanie Aitkenhead and the script of the movie has been written by Amber Coney, meaning the movie has been written and directed by women. This is rare enough to make 'Mother May I Sleep With Danger?' an exception in the game of lesbian horror. And it shows in the movie: the lesbian characters are not here just to be pretty and please the male audience or characters. They exist on their own, for themselves, and their alchemy is extra good. There is also a good and positive questioning of gender roles. Also, I know I mention music a lot, but it is not my fault it is particularly good. If you miss rock and/or emo songs, give this movie a go because the music is so dramatic it is fantastic. Also, a hurdle of women vampires all dressed in black going for abusive men? I must admit this might have been a fantasy of mine, whoops. In short, if you feel the nostalgia of early 2000, low-waisted jeans, backward caps and high school and you want to see a highly powerful group of women kicking butts, this one is the right one for you. I will also add three words: epic sword fight.
Of course, a trigger warning for blood is necessary (like a lot; when the ladies eat, it gets messy). But I mean, it is a movie about vampires, so it is kind of expected. The movie also shows two attempted rapes, before the abusers get taken care of by the vampires, including one where the woman has been drugged. And the answer to the title is yes, so if you do not like to see sex scenes, maybe skip the part around 00:55:00.
7. Jennifer’s Body (Karyn Kusama), 2009
Ok, this one is not 100% lesbian. But it still is sapphic, so it counts for something. And how could we talk about horror movies featuring women loving women, if we were not to talk about this bisexual landmark?
What is it about?
Needy has been best friends with Jennifer since kindergarten. Despite Needy being a dorky grade A student, while Jennifer is a hot and popular cheerleader, their bond is really strong. So much so that when Jennifer invites Needy to go see a local band instead of spending time with her boyfriend, Needy follows her. But things do not go as planned and a fire burns down the concert venue, with Needy, Jennifer and the band barely escaping. To Needy’s disarray, Jennifer agrees to follow the band to their van. But when she shows up to Needy’s place in the middle of the night, covered in blood and growling, things take a turn for the weirder. What happened to Jennifer? Why are Needy and Jennifer so close? Could there be something more than friendship going on? Will they manage not to die?
The + and –
The movie is carried by young Amanda Seyfried and Megan Fox and, honestly, the view is something. They might be in a hate/love relationship, but their bond is deeper than any of their relationships with boys. Another good thing is that they never need any boy to help them out. In fact, at some point, Needy actually offers her sweater to her cold boyfriend – after all, she is a kicker. Kudos to you, Needy.
On the downside, despite the bond between Needy and Jennifer and the film heavily focusing on them rather than the boys who gravitate around them, it still depicts a lot of hetero flings – even though, to be honest, it is not exactly depicted in the best light. Plus, as many other movies on the list, the film features a lot of blood gushing and gory. If you do not like to see what is inside people’s body, it might not be a movie for you. Also, I will just put it out there and you can do what you want with this piece of information, but Megan Fox really is really not a good bisexual role model.
Wrapping it up
I have tried to be as diverse as possible with this list, so I hope you will find something that suits you. Of course, it is not exhaustive. So, if your favorite queer Halloween movie is not listed here, do not hesitate to share it on our Instagram. We are always looking for new inspiration!
And, in case horror movies are really not your thing, but lesbian movies are, here are a few projects that you might love:
'Kontrola': this Polish webseries follows the story of two ex-girlfriends who run into each other at the airport.
'Pauline': Céline Sciamma’s short film is about Pauline, a young girl struggling to find her place and facing lesbophobia from the people around her.
'Feel Good': this semi-autobiographic show, directed by Mae Martin, follows their romance with their girlfriend.
'Dracudate': an animated short film about a young trans vampire named Lilith who has a date with her crush.
Also, I would like to add a special mention for ‘The Scary of Sixty-First’, directed by Dasha Nekrasova and which came out just this year. It is not available online yet, but it looks like a great sapphic horror movie (it has won the Best First Feature at the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival), so keep an eye out for it! Here is the trailer for the curious cats among you:
Enjoy your Halloween and see you soon,