Case 018: The Creatures Who Queered Christmas Cinemasfiled December 23, 2019
In celebration of the holiday season, The InQueery has surveyed queers in all 50 states (and Puerto Rico) on the Christmas movies they revisit year after year. Our team was stunned to discover that though gay viewers are happy to rewatch films about good will and cheer, they’re absolutely devoted to the horrors who come down the chimney to terrorize otherwise happy families.
“Krampus was the first time I felt seen by a Christmas movie,” said Veruca D’Andrea, 29, a tattoo artist from Asheville, North Carolina. “My family always makes me feel like a beast when I walk through the front door on Christmas eve, so why not embrace that?”
For queers made to feel like outliers by families who subscribe to a heterofascist ideology, representations of monsters and cryptids blowing the yuletide to smithereens can be liberating. To further assist in holiday healing, The InQueery has rounded up the most essential cinematic queer beasts of the season.
Oogie Boogie, The Nightmare Before Christmas – While the emaciated, emo-identifying Jack Skellington tries to make Christmas work, no matter the cost, he leaves a bound-and-gagged Santa Claus in the care of this boogeyman. A sentient mass of insects bound by a burlap sack, zaftig party girl Oogie Boogie spends his Christmas gambling with Santa’s life. In terms of high-stakes theatrics, he’s a regular Julie Taymor!
The Mothman, The Mothman Prophecies – When marooned in a dumpy West Virginia Town, what’s a fabulous winged demon supposed to do? While flying around looking for a queer holiday swap, our lofty harbinger of doom spots none other than Debra Messing (!), and incidentally kills her with his blood-red eyes. What can we say, he got excited! The Mothman then sets out to terrorize Laura Linney and Richard Gere as December 25th draws near—likely a pre-emptive strike on her character’s bullshit in 𝘓𝘰𝘷𝘦, 𝘈𝘤𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 just one year later; now that’s a prophecy! After some last-minute holiday shopping, Linney’s car takes an icy plunge into the river courtesy of the Mothman, leaving her floating among beautifully wrapped holiday gifts This demon knows the power of a gay fucking tableau!
The Penguin, Batman Returns – After being born a little different, the young Oswald Cobblepot was tossed in the river on Christmas Eve by his blue-blood parents. Decades later, Cobblepot returns, as the Penguin to repeat the crimes done against him writ large, upon all the first born children of Gotham. And who among us hasn’t been there? With three fingers, black bile, and a taste for raw fish, Danny DeVito’s Penguin is a hero for those of us who have never quite fit in at the family dinner table. And though he’s cursed to wallow forever in the sewers, he elects for underground life in style—with giant rubber ducks, colorful weaponized umbrellas, and a delightful crew of homicidal carnies. He’s still getting our vote for mayor!
Krampus – Whenever queer icon Toni Collette tries to play a good, heteronormative mom, you know some dark shit is about to go down. In The Sixth Sense, it was dead people; In Hereditary, it was that pesky Paimon; and in Krampus, it’s the cloven-hooved shadow sibling of Saint Nicholas. Just as the Babadook emerged as the queer icon of 2017’s pride season, so has this film’s incarnation of the Bavarian folk story inspired legions of gays to be out and proud at their family celebrations. With a long beard, rippling abs, chains and a loincloth, he’s more fit for a BDSM dungeon than a midnight mass—and he’s not ashamed to show it!
The Gremlins – Released in the wild west era of the early 80s before the implementation of the PG-13 rating, Gremlins is that rare children’s movie featuring satanic elf monsters who torture and murder women and children with glee! The Gremlins exposed generations of children to the dark animus to Christmas consumerism. Along with Phoebe Cates’ character, who confesses that her father, dressed as Santa, got stuck in a chimney and died, the Gremlins ensured that no child would ever sleep soundly again come Christmas Eve. And that’s how we like it!
Meredith Morton, The Family Stone – Crashing like a wrecking ball into Diane Keaton’s idyllic New England Christmas is this Manhattanite battle axe, “the bigoted bitch from Bedford,” played with ice-water chill by Sarah Jessica Parker. Totally misplaced and absolutely sinking herself deeper, Meredith is the ultimate outsider. But, by the sheer force of “I’m Still Here” chutzpah that any queer can celebrate, she sticks around, helps the Stone family cope, and bed-hops from Dermot Mulroney to Luke Wilson, both in their primes. Sure, her rant about gay adoption is unforgivable, but her heart was in the right place, which can’t be said for her shady sister Claire.
Our Conclusion: Until Elsa can go homo for the holidays, we’ll keep putting out the milk and cookies for this lot of naughty Noel miscreants.
Rating: Molly Shannon’s hot chocolate headdress in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Reporting by David Odyssey and Greg Kozatek