Before the role of the gay best friend became standard rom-com fare and the cowboy-on-boy action of Brokeback Mountain made everyone think twice about buddies pitching tents in the wilderness, there was a slightly less thoughtful depiction of gay people rampant in Hollywood. From Psycho's Norman Bates to Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs, limp-wristed characters were for decades perceived as evil -- and even if a gay character wasn't completely rotten, more often than not he was dead before the credits rolled anyway.
But while there are still ogres among us, these days a cinematic gore-fest is more likely to wink at homo horror fans -- from the strapping, often-shirtless lads of recent thrillers like The Cabin in the Woods and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to the undeniably queer vampire energy on True Blood -- than to paint them as monsters. This month's offerings are particularly ripe, from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, the final installment in the series about young werewolves removing their shirts and cavorting with sparkly vampire waifs, to Jack & Diane, writer-director Bradley Rust Gray's shape-shifting take on budding gay love (starring Juno Temple and Riley Keough) and Vamps, the supremely campy reunion of Clueless star Alicia Silverstone and director Amy Heckerling.
Silverstone, for one, thinks monster movies and their gay fans have plenty of common ground. "There are deep, heartfelt undertones about difficult themes," she says of her fang-baring flick. "It's about dealing with vanity and how long the party lasts and the changes you go through as you get older. I think it's incredibly relevant."
Juno Temple's Diane has her share of secrets in Jack & Diane, yet the director scoffs at the idea that her dual personas -- one a dazed dykeling, the other a vicious beast -- have anything to do with the character's sexuality. "The focus was always on the idea that I wanted this to be a love story; I didn't want someone who was coming out," he says. "It has to do with Diane's inability to communicate love. She can't say 'I love you,' so it comes out as this creature. So maybe it's symbolic of her sexual awakening, but not in the homosexual sense. It's not like they're holding hands and people are turning heads because they're gay."
In fact, the director adds, the idea that coming to terms with homosexuality could be seen as hiding a monster wouldn't work for today's younger moviegoers. "These girls are about 20, and being gay's not a big deal for young people."