In It Came From the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror, 26 queer and trans writers ruminate on selected horror movies which have left their mark and helped them gain a better understanding of themselves and others.
Horror film aficionados know that these movies are rarely as simple as they may appear, often working on a number of levels that even their makers would find surprising. Jaws is not simply about a shark, no matter what Steven Spielberg may say (as Jen Corrigan demonstrates beautifully in her essay ‘Three Men On A Boat’).
The book is split into five parts – ‘An Excellent Day for an Exorcism’, ‘Monster Mash’, ‘Fatal Attractions’, ‘Whatever You Do, Don’t Fall Asleep’ and ‘Final Cuts’, and although you may be tempted to jump to a favourite film or theme, this is a book which should be read from cover to cover as every chapter deserves your attention.
It Came From The Closet isn’t really about the films, but the experiences and lives of the authors, and though each essay is intensely personal, they all work together to create a wonderfully diverse whole. It’s all too rare to read a book which engenders a greater understanding of others in such an open, honest, and informed manner.
As an (admittedly lapsed) horror fan there are some of my favourite films featured, but also films which I now feel compelled to seek out, such as Sleepaway Camp, which gets a number of mentions. There are also a few which I never will. Sarah Fonseca’s chapter ‘Bad Hombre’ is visceral. Depictions of domestic violence and abuse feature both in real life and fiction – the latter in the form of the Cuban film Eres Tu Papa? (Is That You?). The chapter jumps between the two with parallels so closely that they begin to mirror and bleed into each other. I doubt I’d be able to watch the film without being reminded of the real thing.
At times this is not an easy read, and nor should it be. The foreword, and a chapter on the film Raze, are by Scottish writer Kirsty Logan, but the vast majority are American-authored. Though they are all essential, I would have liked to read some more responses from this side of the Atlantic, if only to have greater relatability in terms of references (It Came From the Closet was first published in 2022 by Feminist Press in New York, which explains the situation). But perhaps that points towards a sequel. After all, the best horrors usually have one.