October is totally packed with scream-worthy streaming delights. Here’s what you need to put in your viewing queue.
October is the month of scares, culminating in Halloween and the Day of the Dead. Streaming services and TV networks are all about ghosts and goblins and all the things to set the hairs on the back of your neck on end. So it’s fitting that September ended with the horrifying GOP debate and some of the most disturbing commentary yet about LGBTQ people from Millennial billionaire Vivek Ramaswamy.
While the GOP is frightening enough to make you keep the lights on and hide under the covers, more benign—and fun—scares await LGBTQ viewers this gayest of holiday seasons as well as some historical tidbits for LGBTQ history month.
A Discovery of Witches
AMC and Max are partnering to re-release several spooky series in advance of Halloween. Deadline reports, “AMC Networks and Warner Bros. Discovery have struck a deal for a ‘programming pop-up’ that will see more than 200 episodes of seven titles launch on Max, formerly known as HBO Max. The shows will be available through October 31.”
A Discovery of Witches is a fantasy series based on the similarly-named novel of the `All Souls’ trilogy, written by Deborah Harkness. Teresa Palmer portrays Diana Bishop, an historian who discovers a bewitched manuscript in the Bodleian library. Diana is a “reluctant witch” who was raised by her aunt Sarah Bishop (“Doctor Who’s” Alex Kingston), a witch who lives with her long-time partner and fellow witch Emily Mather (Valarie Pettiford). The pair taught Diana how to use her powers to fight in a centuries-old struggle between supernatural beings.
As AMC explains Diana’s quest: “As Diana attempts to unravel the secrets this book holds about magical creatures, she is forced back into the world of magic, full of vampires, daemons, witches and forbidden love.”
Diana forms an alliance with geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont (The Crown’s Matthew Goode) who helps Diana to attempt to protect the book and solve the riddles within, while at the same time dodging threats from the magical creature world.
Very queer, very well-acted with a complex, multi-faceted story arc that is compelling and beautifully shot and full of surprises and scares. The series takes place in a series of eras. All three seasons are available for streaming till Halloween.
Interview with the Vampire
In addition to A Discovery of Witches, Interview with the Vampire is also available for the month and is a must-see. This highly erotic and super sexy iteration of Anne Rice’s iconic novel is set in post-Fin de Siècle New Orleans in 1910, but begins in the present. Vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) lives in Dubai and wants to tell the story of his undead life to renowned journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian).
Louis’ story follows his relationship with the vampire Lestat du Lioncourt (Sam Reid) and the family they have created with their teen fledgling Claudia (Bailey Bass). There are several significant changes from the book: Louis is Black and Claudia is a teenager rather than a child. (Bass is superb in that teen vampire role.) And the homosexuality is very overt–and very hot.
Season 3 of “Chucky,” the super queer horror series is available just in time for Halloween. Out gay director and showrunner Don Mancini created the popular USA/SyFy series as a spin-off from his “Chucky” film franchise and it is a camp and thriller classic.
The series begins at a yard sale in a New Jersey suburb when Jake Wheeler (Zachary Taylor) buys a Good Guy doll to use in his contemporary art project during the Halloween season. Zach discovers that the doll is possessed by the soul of serial killer Charles Lee Ray, known as Chucky, (voiced by Brad Dourif).
Jake is having a tough adolescence–struggling with his sexuality while also being pressured by Chucky into committing violent acts, he soon finds himself the number one suspect in some gruesome murders involving the doll. Jake wants to stop the mayhem. His love interest, Devon (Bjorgvin Arnarson) has a serial killer podcast and is happy to help Jake.
Chucky also has a parallel BDSM lesbian story involving Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly) and Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) who are also involved with Chucky. Tilly, a mainstay of the Chucky films, is spectacularly over the top.
Like a big tub of buttered popcorn in the movies, Chucky is compulsively watchable. Watch all three seasons in order. Available on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and VUDU.
Down Low is described by Sony Pictures as “an outrageous comedy about one wild night, a deeply repressed man, the twink who gives him a happy ending, and all the lives they ruin along the way.”
It’s absolutely hilarious with a soupcon of poignancy (get out of the closet!), stellar acting and over-the-top hijinks that will leave you howling. It’s a charming, raunchy, raw love story and murder mystery and is so, so, so much fun. Like a 1930s screwball comedy only totally, completely, ineffably gay af.
Starring out gay actors Zachary Quinto and Lukas Gage. With Simon Rex, Tony-winner Audra McDonald and Tony- and Emmy Award-winner Judith Light.
Available to buy or rent Oct. 10.
Living for the Dead
Narrated by out lesbian actor Kristen Stewart who also executive produced the original docuseries, “Living for the Dead” follows five fabulous, queer ghost hunters that Hulu says “roam the country, helping the living by healing the dead. Our gay ‘Ghost Hunties’ explore infamous haunted locations while pushing past boundaries with both the living and the deceased.”
Kristen Stewart says of the series, “It’s so cool and enlivening that me and my best friend CJ Romero had this funny idea and now it’s a show. It started as a bit of a hypothetical silly pipe dream and now I am so proud to have shepherded something that is as moving and meaningful as it is truly a gay old time. Our cast makes me laugh and cry and they had the courage and heart to take us places I wouldn’t go by myself. And it’s a super cool maiden voyage for the company I’ve started with my partners Dylan Meyer and Maggie McLean. This is just the beginning for us and for ‘Living for the Dead.’ We wanna one day have traipsed across the entire spooky ass country. Maybe the world!”
With Alex Le May, Juju Bae, Ken Boggle, Logan Taylor, Roz Hernandez as the ghost hunters. Streaming on Hulu starting Oct. 18.
Perry Mason, Raymond Burr and The Lavender Scare
We were watching old episodes of Perry Mason on Sundance TV and thinking how extraordinary it was that just a few years after the Lavender Scare set in motion by President Dwight Eisenhower signing Executive Order 10450, which barred gay and lesbian Americans from being employed by the federal government, on “Perry Mason” a gay man was headlining one of the most popular series on TV for nearly a decade.
There’s a different kind of gay history in the roles gay actor Raymond Burr played on network TV for near two decades, first as the original and iconic “Perry Mason” character. The drama series was broadcast on CBS from 1957 to 1966.
Emmy Award-winner Burr starred as Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Perry Mason, a character created by American author and attorney Erle Stanley Gardner. As Screen Rant explains, “’Perry Mason’ is one of the most popular and enduring television series of all time, and one of the most influential on the format of most every legal-based show that followed.”
Burr and Perry Mason were immensely popular. In 1959 Burr received his first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series at the 11th Primetime Emmy Awards. 1960 Burr received the first annual TV Guide Award for Favorite Male Performer. Burr played the character in 271 TV episodes and 26 TV films and was the first gay actor to star in a TV series.
Burr lived with a younger actor and Korean War veteran he met on the set of Perry Mason, Robert Benevides, from 1960 until his death in 1993. In addition to Benevides being a consultant and producer on Burr’s TV series, the couple ran an orchid business (could that be gayer?) that developed 1,500 new orchids and owned a private island in Fiji. Burr bought the island because of another hobby—collecting seashells—and the island was a collector’s dream.
Burr was outed several times in the Hollywood tabloids like “Confidential,” but the rumors receded and it never impacted his career. Burr also starred in the Emmy-winning legal drama “Ironside” from 1967 to 1975 and more than two dozen Perry Mason movies in the 1980s and 1990s until his death. Burr was a fabulist about his personal life as he tried to keep the tabloids at bay, but was also well-known for his generosity to fellow actors, was a philanthropist and with Benevides had sponsored several dozen foster children.
You can watch “Perry Mason” on fuboTV or Paramount+ or stream for free on Pluto.
Fellow Travelers is a fictionalized mini-series about the Lavender Scare, starring out gay actors Matt Bomer (Hawk Fuller) and Jonathan Bailey (). The an eight-episode drama starring Bomer, Bailey, Jelani Alladin, Noah J. Rickets, and Allison Williams premieres October 27 on Paramount+ with SHOWTIME.
Created by Oscar-nominee Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia, Homeland) and based on the novel by Thomas Mallon, SHOWTIME describes the story as an “ historical romance political thriller” which centers on the decades-long romance between two men who first meet during the height of McCarthyism in the 1950s.
SHOWTIME says, “After a chance encounter in Washington D.C. in the 1950s, Hawkins Fuller (Bomer) and Timothy Laughlin (Bailey) start a volatile romance that spans “the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s, the drug-fueled disco hedonism of the 1970s and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, while facing obstacles in the world and in themselves.”
As a coda on the perilous closeted world in which the story takes place, in real life Bailey says he is “committed to visibility and representation,” saying, “if I can fill spaces that I didn’t have growing up then I feel like that’s a really brilliant thing” and “something I’ll always strive to do”.
And since it’s LGBTQ history month, the PBS documentary The Lavender Scare is the actual non-fiction story of the harrowing, heartbreaking reality of what that executive order wrought and illumines all that lesbians and gay men were subjected to in the 1950s—often leading to suicides.
You can watch “The Lavender Scare” online https://watch.eventive.org/thelavenderscare/play/626334114494dc005a3010ad or on PBS Passport. But don’t ever let anyone tell you Eisenhower was a moderate Republican. He allowed Sen. Joseph McCarthy free-rein with the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings that dogged lesbians and gay men among others, blacklisted writers and gave rise to queer quisling Roy Cohn. Eisenhower also executed the Rosenbergs for espionage.