Horror drag in performance, music, and books

Charity Kase horror dragThroughout the years, drag and horror have not paired off as much as one might like. At least, not unless the pairing springs from comedy. But that may be changing.

When they aren’t awing us with the illusion of a real woman, drag artists traditionally serve as clowns, their exaggerated attitude rooted in camp and satire. I remember watching a humble drag version of Brian de Palma’s Carrie during the late 90s in San Francisco. Hilarious. So I appreciate the clowning around. Especially when, like Lear’s fool, the queen helps us discover some profound truth about the world.

But there’s now a richer world of drag horror waiting to be unleashed. The humor hasn’t necessarily been bled from it completely, but the horror element has a more prominent role. And the drag queens themselves are taking control of the narrative, dissatisfied with being portrayed simply as victims or villains. So let’s take a look at the history of drag and horror. Continue reading →

Top 13 best horror movies of all time

Top 13 horror moviesI admire horror movies that create a sense of horror with subtlety and artistry. Ten years have passed since I created my “Top 13 Horror Movies for Halloween” list. For that list, I included whimsical and comedic movies to offer a range of moods. This time, I want to focus on truly unsettling movies. I’ve also had second thoughts about one film on the list (which I’ll go into below). And some excellent movies have come out in the intervening years. So it’s time to offer a new list based on updated impressions. We can debate what qualifies as a “horror” movie, but each of those in this list thematically deals with horror. Continue reading →

Midsommar could be the best horror score since Psycho

Scene from MidsommarI’ve rarely been as enthused about a film score as I am about Bobby Krlic’s score for the horror movie Midsommar. Not since Bernard Hermann’s biting strings in Psycho has background music given me such goosebumps. Krlic, who goes by the name The Haxan Cloak on his solo projects, has composed a powerful, visceral score that blends dark dissonance, ancient folk music, and ambient sounds. And Krlic’s relationship to the film may be a unique one. Director Ari Aster wrote the screenplay while listening to The Haxan Cloak’s music. Continue reading →

Top 15 British and American horror composers

Halloween poster, horror composersParanormal historian, writer and publisher Paul Adams has written a superb post for Spooky Isles on the top ten British composers of horror music. He includes three composers renown in classical music circles as well as a woman—a delight to see in a male-dominated profession. All ten composers hail from the twentieth century. Adams’ article includes sound selections so you can get a taste of each composer’s style. His list got me thinking about a similar list of American composers. So here are the two lists. Continue reading →