Lesbian vampires and Queer almost-horror at Reel Eerie

Written by Makyla Smith, The Ubyssey

Pride Month 2022 had no shortage of Queer-oriented art; some funky, some flamboyant and some straight from the surreal Salvador Dalí playbook. In Vancouver, the world-renowned Queer Arts Festival (QAF) provided all of the above.

On June 26, QAF put on a showcase of Queer-created horror films called Reel Eerie, curated by CS Fergusson-Vaux and Ben Siegl. Between monster-fucking and more monster-fucking, the showcase was wildly entertaining — despite the fact that most of the shorts could be better described as “lightly-macabre” than “horror.”

Monsterdykë , described to the audience as a “portrait of desire examining trans-lesbian love and longing,” started the showcase off with a bang (pun intended). Directors Kaye Adelaide and Mariel Sharp established from the outset that “there are only two genders: monsterfuckers and cowards.” While that bold claim might lose other crowds, the QAF audience’s reaction was an enthusiastic applause.

What followed was essentially black and white gothic tentacle porn, filmed on 16mm film. Monsterdykë was seemingly a fan favourite, bringing a blush to even the most closeted monster-fucker. Its humour, horror and outrageous sexuality combined the greatest aspects of films like Haxan, Nosferatu and maybe even some Deadpool if you squint.

Next came Tj Cuthand’s You Are A Lesbian Vampire: a short which was essentially Dracula, reimagined as a satirical commentary on the insularity of the lesbian community. However small Vancouver’s lesbian community can feel when you run into three exes in one awkward night out, it stands to reason that the immortal lesbian community would be even smaller.

Similarly, U-Haul lesbians are infamous for going in hard on commitment, but for vampires “forever” really means… forever. It really makes you think: instead of turning your girlfriend into a vampire, you might want to turn your cat into one instead to save yourself hundreds of years of drama.

Audience roars of applause followed Joshua Lam’s Monkey See, Monkey Do, a suspenseful whirlwind of Queer Asian longing — featuring a boogeyman, a hilarious fictional magazine called “Hunks of Vancouver” and all the campy horror thrills of a Wes Craven classic.

A personal favorite was Monika Estrella Negra’s Bitten, A Tragedy, which explored racism in the Queer community. The film follows Black vampire Lydia’s mission to eradicate racism within the bloodlines and legacies that intertwined with her own. Lydia’s long memory as an immortal served as a creative allegory for intergenerational trauma.

When she comes across a micro-agressive rave-goer, Lydia is taken back to a moment of violence and murder between her ancestor and a white woman. A macabre and enthralling depiction of human sacrifice ensues. Murder, deceit and witchcraft come into play, as does a strict callout to those who believe that their Queerness negates their white privilege.

Bitten, A Tragedy‘s creative and poignant integration of horror tropes with social commentary made it one of the more captivating films of the evening.

Representation in Queer media has and always will be a battle, with white and cis men monopolizing mainstream narratives. When Queer media chooses assimilation over pride, non-binary, lesbian and POC narratives lose out. Showcasing diverse, weird and freaky Queer art in such a well-known outlet as QAF gave me hope for a new era of Queer films as creative explorations into rich experiences of our broad community.

Reel Eerie’s journey of almost-horror and monster porn showcased the importance of Queerness in media and reminded all of us that, much like lesbian vampires, Pride Month never really ends.