Collage of the covers of some of the books and films listed in the article

What We’re Reading: Queer Fear! Our Favorite LGBTQIAP+ Media for Spooky Season

It’s that special time of the year when the trees are losing their leaves, there’s a chill in the air, and all your sweaters emerge from their dark hiding place in the closet . . . that’s right, it’s the best time of the year—it’s spooky season.

The tie between queerness and horror is one that has been around for centuries. Traditionally, horror (especially slasher films) reinforced societal norms by showing us what will happen if we break them (i.e., if you are a woman who has sex before marriage, you will die). Society rejects and villainizes what it cannot understand, which leads to many of us seeing ourselves in the very monsters we’re supposed to fear. Though, in recent years, the horror genre has been evolving into a space of exploration of fear instead, whether by presenting them as physical entities or vicarious experiences for viewers.

So whether you’re looking for the next book to haunt your dreams or the best movie to scare your friends, the Lambda Literary staff has 19 queer book and movie recommendations for you to sink your teeth into this Halloween season!

Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle

From beloved internet icon Chuck Tingle, Camp Damascus is a searing and earnest horror debut about the demons the queer community faces in America, the price of keeping secrets, and finding the courage to burn it all down. –

Recommended by Parrish, Office Administrator.

Get your copy here!

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988), directed by James Signorelli

Upon arriving in a small town where she has inherited a rundown mansion, a famous horror hostess battles an evil uncle and townspeople who want her burned at the stake. – IMBD

Recommended by Jamie, Awards Intern.

Flicker by L.D. Lewis, from Out There Screaming, edited by Jordan Peele

Resting in the anthology of Black horror Out There Screaming is the work of Lambda’s own L.D. Lewis! In her short story Flicker, Kam has just met up with two friends when the world goes dark and the apocalypse begins.

Recommended by Chloe, Retreat Manager. “This story actually gave me nightmares.”

Get your copy of Out There Screaming here!

The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez

An instant lesbian classic when it was first published in 1991, The Gilda Stories has endured as an auspiciously prescient book in its explorations of blackness, radical ecology, re-definitions of family, and, yes, the erotic potential of the vampire story. –

Recommended by Morgan, Review Intern. “Thoughtful, original, and biting (ha!), this is one of my favorite takes on the vampire trope that I’ve encountered.”

Get your copy here!

The Haunting (1963), directed by Robert Wise

Hill House has stood for about 90 years and appears haunted: its inhabitants have always met strange, tragic ends. Now, Dr. John Markway has assembled a team of people who he thinks will prove whether or not the house is haunted. – IMBD

Recommended by Reginald, Learn with Lambda Contractor. “There’s a lot of suggestion and creepiness, and sometimes you’re not sure if there really are ghosts or if it’s all in one character’s mind–and then something unexplainable happens. With Claire Bloom as the ‘unnatural’ Theo, from back in the day when you couldn’t say ‘lesbian,’ but could imply a lot, and come as close to it as the censors would allow.”

Hellbent (2004), directed by Paul Etheredge

Halloween in West Hollywood, two guys making out in a park are interrupted by a serial killer. Later that night, a group of gay kids decide to visit to the site of the murders. – IMBD

Recommended by Jamie, Awards Intern.

Hellraiser (1987) directed by Clive Barker

A woman discovers the newly resurrected, partially formed, body of her brother-in-law. She starts killing for him to revitalize his body so he can escape the demonic beings that are pursuing him after he escaped their sadistic underworld. – IMBD

Recommended by Jamie, Awards Intern.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction. –

Recommended by Morgan, Review Intern. “I often describe this collection as ‘a series of stories about the horrors of living in a female body.’ It’s a deeply disturbing book, one that has caused many a nightmare, the only book that has ever made me physically ill, and my absolute favorite.”

Get your copy here!

The Hunger (1983), directed by Tony Scott

A love triangle develops between a beautiful yet dangerous vampire (Catherine Deneuve), her cellist companion (David Bowie), and a gerontologist (Susan Sarandon). – IMBD

Recommended by Monica, National Director of LGBTQ Writers in Schools. “Sexy vampires.”

Jack and Diane (2012) directed by Bradley Rust Gray

Diane’s feelings for Jack — the girl she met over the summer — begin to manifest themselves in terrifying ways when she learns that her friend will soon be moving away. – IMBD

Recommended by Emma, Retreat Intern. “A weird queasy coming-of-age one for anyone who enjoys disquieting girlhoods and glorious entanglements >:)”

Jennifer’s Body (2009), directed by Karyn Kusama

A newly-possessed high-school cheerleader turns into a succubus who specializes in killing her male classmates. Can her best friend put an end to the horror? – IMBD

Recommended by Jamie, Awards Intern.

Lost Girl (2010-2015), directed by Michelle Lovretta

When a succubus finds it difficult to adapt with her unusual traits in spite of being born in a human family, she sets off on a journey to find out the truth of her origin. – IMBD

Recommended by Iyana, Executive Office Manager. “Growing up, I loved Charmed and other supernatural shows, so when I was introduced to Lost Girl, it felt validating to see queer representation on a sci-fi show.”

Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin

When a virus rips its way across North America, transforming anyone with an “excess” amount of testosterone into a feral and ferocious monster, society fractures. While Beth and Fran spend their days hunting the infected and harvesting their organs to keep their hormones in balance, they also must dodge the separatist TERF militia, which is set on destroying them. – Ian Kirkland

Recommended by Ian, Review Intern. “My copy happens to be especially close to my heart, as I picked it up at Gay’s the Word during a day out on the town with my closest friends here in London. We spent the day bookshop- and cafe-hopping and ended up at London’s oldest LGBT bookshop. We then went home and watched Pride (2014), a film that features Gay’s the Word during its countercultural heyday, when the activist group “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners” would meet and raise funds for the striking Welsh miners during the National Union of Mineworkers strike of 1984-85. Not only am I getting my thrill-fix, but every time I pick up my copy, I’m reminded of a great day.”

Get your copy here!

Multiple Maniacs (1970) directed by John Waters

The traveling sideshow ‘Lady Divine’s Cavalcade of Perversions’ is actually a front for a group of psychotic kidnappers, with Lady Divine herself the most vicious and depraved of all, but her life changes after she gets raped by a 15-foot lobster. – IMBD

Recommended by Jamie, Awards Intern.”It’s very graphic and gross, but it has Divine and is by John Waters!”

Night of the Living Queers: 13 Tales of Terror & Delight, edited by Shelly Page & Alex Brown

This collection of YA-queer horror stories is written by exclusively queer writers of color and brimming with spooky fun.

Recommended by Suzi F. Garcia, Review Manager: “So excited to see this fun book out here, hitting all the good spots in my dark queer heart. Perfect gift for the young queer goth in your life too!”

Get your copy here!

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), directed by Jim Sharman

A newly-engaged couple have a breakdown in an isolated area and must seek shelter at the bizarre residence of Dr. Frank-n-Furter. – IMBD

Recommended by Morgan, Review Intern. “Obviously, Rocky Horror [Picture Show] is a must for any list of queer Halloween media. Highly recommend that you go see it in a theater near you with a shadow cast. Make sure you don’t forget your props!”

Sleepaway Camp (1983), directed by Robert Hiltzik

Angela Baker, a shy, traumatized young girl, is sent to summer camp with her cousin. Shortly after her arrival, anyone with sinister or less than honorable intentions toward her gets their comeuppance. -IMBD

Recommended by Jamie, Awards Intern. “This one is offensive, as the plot twist is that the main girl is trans, but a lot of queer fans have reclaimed this film and see it as very campy.”

When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll

Like many before her that have never come back, she’s made it to the Countess’ castle determined to snuff out the horror… but she could never be prepared for what hides within its turrets, what unfurls under its fluttering flags. Emily Carroll has fashioned a rich gothic horror charged with eroticism that doesn’t just make your skin crawl — it crawls into it. –

Recommended by Mai, Program Coordinator. “Very gay.”

Get your copy here!