Screaming Queenz 2: Martin’s Revenge

Welcome to Series 2 of Screaming Queenz. Listen to our new episode on ‘Neon Demon’ and you’ll be surprised to find that bitch Martin Fenerty has stolen my slot and is hosting the show! I plan to claw my way back, maybe take him from behind with a straight razor and gut him like a little gay fish.

I’m just kidding. I wouldn’t dirty my blade on him. We decided that for our second series we’d change it up. You’ll be hearing a whole lot more from Martin, Jon and Stephen as we go along.

Why did I decide to break the show up into series’ (or seasons you might want to say – that’s fine if you’re American) you might ask? No reason in particular, other than it being an excuse to find some new soundbites for the opening music and give us a reset button moment. A way to start again, go bigger and better. When I was a kid one of the queer nerdy things I used to love was waiting to see the new opening credits on a new series of Melrose Place, or Buffy, or The X Files (which never happened, well not until I stopped watching it and they brought in replacements). So this was my way of creating my own version of that. God I’m pathetic. And I love it.

Keen-eared listeners will spot familiar soundbites in there. Some not so familiar. You can think of the opening credits as a mission statement, an action plan, a promise, or maybe a threat, of things to come in the new run of shows. We’ve barely scratched the tip of the queer horror iceberg in series 1. So much still to cover.

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Psycho, for instance, the ultimate in repressed sexuality brought to startling life in bloody monochrome. The cross-dressing Norman declaring that “a boy’s best friend is his mother”. Bless him. We all know where he’s coming from. Even the queens who’ve lost their mother, through fate or through design, find a best friend in a patriarch. It could be Cher cooing you to sleep through a vocoder. It could be Auntie Mame cuddling you close as she gives you your first sip of a dirty Martini. Or, indeed, it could be the malicious bitch you just poisoned, skinned and stepped into to create a better, more glamorous version of Mummy. We need to talk about Norman. And we will. Once that psychiatrist gets through explaining the ins and outs of this weird little perversion he calls transsexualism. Of course we don’t think it’s perverted. Or maybe we do and that’s why we identify with it so much? We all go a little pervy sometimes.

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Speaking of pervy, just how many jockstrap references did Victor Salva squeeze un-lubed into his Jeepers Creepers movies? I mean seriously, a serial killing demon who likes to sniff the soiled underwear of teenage guys before ingesting their vital organs to make himself whole again? Anyone would think this stuff was written by a letchy old dirtbag. Oh. Wait. Either way we’re covering Jeepers Creepers 1 and 2 at some point down the line and we will leave no stone unturned in the debate that rages now in the horror community. Is watching these movies – and the imminent sequel – immoral in the wake of the scandal that surrounds their creator? Or should art be judged on its own merits and not those of the dirty old man behind the curtain? Which leads nicely to a love of mine I want to explore in the coming year.

Childhood horror the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Dorothy returned to Oz. When little Fairuza Balk – before she tore up the screen as uber-bitch-in-charge Nancy in The Craft – was strapped to a table about to be pumped full of electro shock therapy, the target audience cowered. The parents complained. The popcorn was ditched and eyes were shielded. But little horror-loving queens like me sat up and took notice. The promise of horror from Wizard of Oz’s Miss Gulch never quite delivered. I wanted her to track down Toto and make a little hot dog too. Anyone else? Just me? Okay I’ll take that. But what did you love as a child? What horrors crept out of that screen and thrilled you when all your friends were crying in the corner? And what went too far? That episode of ‘Hammer House of Horror’ with the hitch-hiker doppelganger and the long black fingernail STILL haunts me to this day. As does the phone-call to babysitter Jill asking if she’s checked the children in ‘When a Stranger Calls’. But it didn’t land me in therapy. It landed me in bed with my aunt and uncle terrified of the shadows but wanting more!

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If you’re reading this then I want you to send me your favourite childhood horror – whether it thrilled you or terrified you I want to know. So tweet me at @jonnylarkin, or email screamingqueenz@gmail.com. Or just comment below.

There’s a fabulous line in the new opening montage. “Ursula Andress belongs with the transvestites, not the perverts!” It is, of course, an excerpt from the giallo ‘Bird with the Crystal Plumage.’ Giallo is something we all discovered quite recently at Screaming Queenz. We dipped our toe last year and our downloads went through the roof. Since then we’ve covered more gialli and the new series will be no different. In fact we’ll be covering so much Italian crime horror that we thought it only fitting to include the afore-mentioned snippet in our theme song. Not only did we find a subgenre oozing style and slightly misogynistic charm, we found a wading pool overflowing with campness and complex, sometimes problematic queer chops.

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For the uninitiated a giallo is an Italian pulp thriller with heavy gothic horror overtones. Mainly from the 60s and 70s and then petering out in the 80s, and hailing from Catholic, macho Italy, it’s no surprise these films are laden with women being sliced and diced and often falling into the category of victim, pervert or predator. Nothing scares a macho 70s heterosexual male more than a woman he can’t fuck, a woman he can’t save, or a woman who wants to bump him off!  But scratch the surface and there’s a much more complicated narrative to explore. To write these works of art off as cheap sleazy exercises in bigotry and misogyny would be lazy. And also a travesty if you like your horror camp, kitsch and genuinely shocking. You’d be missing out on so many treats – and one of the few subgenres of horror to feature gay men and women – and trans characters – in prominent roles. Admittedly the roles range from vacuous to offensive but there are gems to behold. And we’re here to pick them out just for you.

So we hope you’ll stick with us into our second series. I don’t want to give too much away at this point but we’ve got surprises planned, although we won’t be messing with the formula too much. If it ain’t broke, don’t cut the fucker up. But as ever want your feedback. Email, tweet, whatever. Get mad.

We all go a little mad sometimes…

(JL)

 

 

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