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Queer Fantasy Films

7 min read

When you hear the word Fantasy, what comes to mind? The most obvious images would be anything magical, extraordinary or even exotic. In fact, IMDb notes that Fantasy films contain numerous scenes that give off the effect of a magical and/or mystical narrative, usually with elements of magic, supernatural events, mythology, and folklore. But it’s NOT Sci-Fi (which is more based on science and the advancement of science towards a potential future).

So when paring down the fifty or so Fantasy films within my collection, these five films stood above the rest – and not just because their peer ratings were some of the highest! One is a clear winner – a fantastical epic drama written for the stage but filmed not once, but twice! With an iconic angel and ghosts from the past, there’s no doubt that it’s a queer fantasy. Another takes on more of the supernatural. In fact, it’s a recent foray into superheroes.

The remaining three films flesh out a general realm of fantasy. One uses ghosts again, but in a comedic way that’s actually quite humorous! The other two are a bit harder to define, as they fall into drama territory but use a heightened sense of awareness and a bit of the fantastical for self-expression for the protagonists.

Overall, I think you’ll enjoy this month’s fare of Five Queer Fantasy Films. If you’ve seen them, which one is your favourite?

[Note: Not all of these films have full reviews yet – but they’re added to the quickly growing list of films I plan to tackle soon!]

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God has abandoned Heaven. It’s 1985: the Reagans are in the White House and Death swings the scythe of AIDS. In Manhattan, Prior Walter (Justin Kirk) tells Louis (Ben Shenkman), his lover of four years, he’s ill; Louis bolts. As disease and loneliness ravage Prior, guilt invades Louis. Joe Pitt (Patrick Wilson), an attorney who is Mormon and Republican, is pushed by right-wing fixer Roy Cohn (Al Pacino) toward a job at the Justice Department. Pitt and Cohn are in the closet: Pitt out of shame and religious turmoil, Cohn to preserve his power and access. Pitt’s wife Harper (Mary-Louise Parker) is strung out on Valium, aching to escape a sexless marriage. An angel invites Prior to be a prophet in death. Pitt’s mother and Belize (Jeffrey Wright), a close friend, help Prior choose.

“”Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes” is an award-winning play by Tony Kushner, with both Part I and Part II taking the Tony Award for Best Play and Part I winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. With an complex intertwined story told via an ensemble cast, the play poetically captures the political and social atmosphere of AIDS and Homosexuality in America during the 1980’s. This 2003 HBO TV Mini-Series adaptation takes the play to an entirely new playing field with a powerful cast! With a screenplay adapted by Kushner himself and directed by Mike Nichols, this queer fantasy film is quite an endeavour to watch all six hours – but it’s worth it! Visually stunning and with a beautiful score, it’s captivating even when the script waxes a bit too philosophical. If you somehow have missed watching this epic queer fantasy, find yourself a copy today. “Angels In America” is among the great queer classics that every LGBTQ person should watch at least once in their lifetime!

A fresh take on the coming-of-age story, this surreal tale follows the artistically driven Oscar (Connor Jessup) hovering on the brink of adulthood. Struggling to find his place in the world after a rough childhood and haunted by images of a tragic incident, Oscar dreams of escaping his small town.  After he meets a mysterious and attractive new co-worker, Oscar follows the guidance of his pet hamster Buffy (Isabella Rossellini) and faces his demons to find the life he wants.

Wow – “Closet Monster” is quite a powerful film! It is also most certainly a queer fantasy film as well; after all, gerbils don’t really talk to us in real life. Yet this film also hides a darker secret, one that gives a unique twist on childhood trauma and the angst of trouble homes. It’s also classified as a Drama & Mystery, yet it’s actually a bit more of a thriller as well. I won’t reveal the twist, though. And even while we learn early on about the traumatic incident at heart, the full consequences don’t sink in until the end of the film. However what makes “Closet Monster” really pop is the vivid colours and how all of the cinematic elements blend together to create a captivating film! If you haven’t seen this queer fantasy film yet, I strongly encourage you to give it a watch. Just be advised that some scenes may be a trigger for some folks.

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Emma (Julie Depardieu) and Marc (Clovis Cornillac), two young lovers, move into a house which has been uninhabited for thirty years. What they don’t know is that in 1979, in a cave under the house, there was a gay disco, which burned down when a foam machine short-circuited, and five bodies were never found. Today, the house is haunted by five gay ghosts. However, only Marc is able to see them, and his visions drive Emma away.

This French film is definitely a queer fantasy film, but it’s also quite a funny comedy! The story is rather absurd – yet it creates a handful of comedic irony since Marc (and a couple other men) are the only ones able to see the very flamboyant and 70’s “fashionably” dressed poltergeists haunting their home. Overall, it’s actually a decent film for what it aims to be and has a couple decent special effects that work perfect for ghosts. The only quirk I have is that the ending is a bit… eh. It works, but the film ends leaving you without an adequate ending for all. If you enjoy French films, can understand French, or simply don’t mind reading subtitles, “Poltergay” is an enjoyable queer fantasy film!

The Eternals are a team of ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. When an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows, they are forced to reunite against mankind’s most ancient enemy, the Deviants.

I must confess that I am not a huge fan of the current superhero film trends. (Though you can give me the Christopher Reeves as Superman or any other of the original DC films any day!) Given that Marvel is shoving out a massive multi-phase release of films that both standalone and interconnect… and then seem to produce their own sequel “offspring”, it’s really difficult to jump aboard their speeding train. However, “Eternals” had unique advantage of being the MCU’s first openly gay superhero – so I had to give the film a watch!

While I will leave the detailed review of “Eternals” to those more knowledgable about the MCU and superhero films, I was not that impressed. The plot gets very outer-worldly right from the start, and introduces not only ten new superheroes! but also brings into play the Eternals and other cosmic beings into the conflict. While I appreciated the attribution to some classic Greek mythology, I frankly was lost in a story that felt bigger than this single film. “Eternals” held my attention adequately, however the sole reason that I watched the film was because of Phastos’ gay character. In this regards, I was utterly disappointed.

Aside from the scene where we meet Phastos, his husband, and their son – and the brief (almost missed if you aren’t looking) kiss between them – it feels like Phastos is straight-washed for the rest of the film. While I can give some kudos to showing that a character’s sexuality is irrelevant to the actual story, there is a clear imbalance between the amount of love, affection, and even romance shown among the straight superheroes that makes the actual important same-sex kiss within the MCU even less significant. I applaud the director and studio for insisting that the scene not be removed for international censorship, it feels like the scene could be cut and very little is actually missed. If you’re a fan of the MCU, give it a watch. Personally, I probably won’t bother watching this queer fantasy film a second time.

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A 14-year-old boy, Ulysses (Luka Kain), struggling with gender identity and religion, begins to use fantasy to escape his life in the inner city and find his passion in the process.

“Saturday Church” tells a heartfelt coming out and acceptance story within a safe environment. In fact, there really is a Saturday Church in NYC! With a unique blend of musical numbers that touch deep in our souls, this is quite an incredible queer fantasy film! The fantastical element is quite unique itself, as it’s within Ulysses’s creative mind that he finds escape which aids his own escape from a difficult home environment. However, it’s Kain’s amazing performance that really makes “Saturday Church” a film to watch! (There’s also a strong influence of the trans & queer black community, along with some great voguing & ballroom scenes.) If this queer fantasy film got skipped on your radar, find yourself a copy today and enjoy this fantastical adventure!