Thrillin' & chillin' — The Lavender Tube on Elvira, hauntings and Halloween hilarity

  • by Victoria A. Brownworth
  • Tuesday October 17, 2023
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The mystery killer in 'Hellbent,' Cassandra Peterson as Elvira, and Natasha Lyonne in 'All About Evil'
The mystery killer in 'Hellbent,' Cassandra Peterson as Elvira, and Natasha Lyonne in 'All About Evil'

Halloween is fast approaching with all its queer delights and every streaming service and some networks are luring viewers with horror classics old and new, so be sure to check out your favorite streaming services. There's also a slew of queer horror on Netflix and Amazon, so I'll just list some movies I think are fabulous so you can settle in on a chill night for some thriller viewing.

Remember when we were kids and Elvira introduced our scary movies? Two Halloweens ago, Elvira — Cassandra Peterson — broke everyone's brains by coming out at 70 and reminded everyone that it is never ever too late to be your authentic un-closeted self.

In an interview with "ET Canada," Peterson reflects on her decision to come out in her new memoir, "Yours Cruelly Elvira." The TV icon also talks about the "fantastic" support that she has received from the LGBTQ community. That's the shot.

The chaser is "Elvira Mistress of the Dark," starring Peterson as eccentric horror hostess Elvira, from "Elvira's Movie Macabre." Elvira inherits a house nestled in the heart of an overtly prudish community. What could possibly go wrong?

Not Elvira making a special dinner from what she thinks is a cookbook, but is actually a spell book! Summoning demons by accident is always a reliable horror trope. For good camp and queer fun, it's on Tubi and Pluto for free and Amazon Prime.

'The Haunting of Hill House'  

Haunts, hoots and Hell
A supernatural horror drama and the first in The Haunting anthology series, "The Haunting of Hill House" is loosely based on the classic 1959 novel by Shirley Jackson. The plot alternates between two timelines, following five adult siblings whose paranormal experiences at Hill House continue to haunt them in the present day. Oh, and it's quite queer. You will never look at gloves the same way. With Michiel Huisman, Elizabeth Reaser, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, Victoria Pedretti, Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas and Timothy Hutton, it's on Netflix.

"The Haunting of Bly Manor," also on Netflix, continues the Haunting saga with yet another take on Henry James's classic ghost and erotic possession story, "The Turn of the Screw," always scary in every new iteration. When a governess comes to care for two young children, bad things happen. With Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Henry Thomas, Amelia Eve and T'Nia Miller, it's even more queer than "Hill House."

"All About Evil" is fun. "Russian Doll's" Natasha Lyonne headlines this campy bloody horror flick in which a mousy woman inherits an old movie house and starts making a series of grisly Herschell Gordon Lewis-style splatter flicks, in which, unbeknownst to her fans, the gruesome on-screen murders are actually real.

With horror and queer icon Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira; John Waters regular Mink Stole; and writer-director Joshua Grannell's drag alter ego, horror hostess, San Francisco's own Peaches Christ, the cult fave was filmed mostly in SF's Victoria Theatre.

"Hellbent" is that rare slasher film with a group of entirely openly gay characters. A group of gay friends is celebrating Halloween in West Hollywood, which is being prowled by a killer wearing a devil's mask. One of them, Eddie (Dylan Fergus), who works for the police, brings the others through some woods to check out a recent murder scene. They ignore the mask-wearing killer. Uh oh... With Bryan Kirkwood, Hank Harris, Andrew Levitas, Matt Phillips, the late Kent James, Nina Landey and Samuel Aarons, its' good bloody fun; on Amazon Prime.

Queer horror abounds on AMC's Shudder this month, so be sure to check out the schedule. We loved this new item. Starring trans actress Hari Nef, "Bad Things," a Shudder original horror thriller, follows a hotel trip for a weekend getaway that might not turn out as this group of friends thought it would.

"Bad Things" is what happens when Stephen King's "The Shining" gets a super queer retelling. With Gayle Rankin, Molly Ringwald, out queer actor Rad Pereira and Annabelle Dexter-Jones, it's on Shudder, Amazon Prime, YouTube and Roku.

And there's this interview with "Bad Things" director Stewart Thorndike that's pretty fabulous as she discusses her horror oeuvre.

You can also watch Thorndike's "Lyle," her totally gay iteration of "Rosemary's Baby," with a spectacular Gaby Hoffman, Ingrid Jungermann and "SNL's" Michael Che. This is an incredibly creepy film and did we mention that Hoffman is spectacular? It's on Shudder and Amazon Prime.

The Strings
In this Shudder original "The Strings," the classic horror trope of a deserted locale and a scary house combine with queerness for a very satisfying slow build to terror.

In the dead of winter, Catherine (musician and actress Teagan Johnston), a talented musician who, having recently broken up her successful band, travels to her aunt's remote coastal cottage to work on new material in solitude.

Once there, she and local photographer Grace (Jenna Schaefer) spark up a budding romance while visiting an abandoned farmhouse with a disturbing past. Soon after, strange and seemingly supernatural occurrences begin to manifest at the cottage, escalating each night and dangerously eroding Catherine's sense of reality; also on Amazon Prime and Roku.

Fellow Travelers
Since it's also LGBTQ history month, there are a couple new historical series that are must see.

The much-hyped "Fellow Travelers" is immensely watchable as it explores a decades-long chronicle of the risky, volatile and steamy relationship between the charismatic and ambitious Hawk and the pious and idealistic Tim, two political staffers who fall in love at the height of the 1950s Lavender Scare.

Created by Oscar nominee Ron Nyswaner ("Philadelphia," "Homeland"), and based on the novel by Thomas Mallon, "Fellow Travelers" is both love story and political thriller, chronicling the romance of two very different men who meet in McCarthy-era Washington. Matt Bomer is handsome, charismatic Hawkins Fuller, who maintains a financially rewarding, behind-the scenes career in politics.

Hawkins avoids emotional entanglements — until he meets Tim Laughlin (Jonathan Bailey), a young man brimming with idealism and religious faith. They begin a romance just as Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn declare war on "subversives and sexual deviants," initiating one of the darkest periods in 20th-century American history. Out actors Bomer and Bailey bring true verisimilitude to their respective roles.

Showtime writes, "Over the course of four decades, 'Fellow Travelers' follows five main characters — Hawk, Tim, Marcus (Jelani Alladin), Lucy (Allison Williams), and Frankie (Noah J. Ricketts) — as they cross paths through the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s, the drug-fueled disco hedonism of the 1970s, and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, while facing obstacles in the world and in themselves."

Lessons in Chemistry
Based on the best-selling novel, "Lessons in Chemistry" is the story of Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant chemist-turned famous TV host. Set in the early 1950s, "Lessons in Chemistry" follows Elizabeth (Brie Larson), whose dream of being a scientist is put on hold in a patriarchal (and homophobic) society. When Elizabeth finds herself fired from her lab, she accepts a job as a host on a TV cooking show, and sets out to teach a nation of overlooked housewives, and the men who are suddenly listening to her, a lot more than recipes.

It also stars Lewis Pullman, NAACP Image Award-winner Aja Naomi King ("How to Get Away with Murder," "The Birth of a Nation"), Stephanie Koenig, Kevin Sussman, Patrick Walker and Thomas Mann; on Apple TV+.

Real horrors
When we posted this clip from nine years ago on "The Daily Show" on Twitter (we'll call it X when Elon Musk calls his trans daughter Vivian) it went viral. In it, Jon Stewart tries to have a calm discussion about Israel's ground offensive in Gaza, but he is quickly thwarted by The Best F#@king News Team Ever. The final line is a prescient gut punch.

Finally, this is a horror and history column, and there's no worse intersection of those two things than the current Israel-Hamas conflict. We wrote about it for PGN in our other role as reporter. It's a rapidly changing and worsening story in which there are only terrible scenarios for millions of innocents.

In such a conflict, one needs as much inclusive perspective as possible, which is why MSNBC's decision to take their hosts with Middle Eastern and Palestinian roots out of rotation for the duration is a shocking one. Ali Velshi, Mehdi Hasan and Ayman Mohyeldin have been relegated to consultants on others' shows. It's a bad look. Velshi, who is not a war correspondent, was sent to report on the ground briefly. (

Some stellar and thoughtful reporting on the ground has come from CNN's Clarissa Ward, who is quite brave, and Anderson Cooper, who got his start as a journalist as a war correspondent. Raf Sanchez at MSNBC has been extraordinary. James Longman, who casually came out on "Good Morning America" a week before the war while covering the Synod at the Vatican and Pope Francis's latest pro-gay decisions, is a long-time war correspondent for ABC and he's superb, as is ABC's Ian Pannell.

There is much to say about this war—too much. For me, with family in the war zone, the slaughter of innocents — Israelis or Palestinians — will always be an horrific wrong. Whether from the unelected authoritarian regime of Hamas in Gaza or the Netanyahu government that was widely protested by thousands for 40 weeks prior to the Simchat Torah attack, collective punishment is both immoral and a war crime. These are things everyone should be able to agree on.

In the cold open of the "Saturday Night Live" premiere Oct. 14, former cast member Pete Davidson addressed the Israel-Hamas conflict with a stunning statement. You need to watch it for the full effect.

So for the real horrors and the ones that are just for fun, you know you really must stay tuned.

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