There are so many queer horror aficionados. What's the appeal?
I think part of the reason is that the lead character, the hero, is often not popular — not the cheerleader or the jock. Many LGBT kids feel like outcasts. Most gay fans also have a favorite “final girl” from a film franchise — all the gay men love Amy Steel from Friday the 13th Part 2 because she’s a tomboy. She’s really pretty but also smart and tough. Films always allow us to project our hopes and dreams, and having outsiders triumph really resonates.
There's certainly been a lot of lesbian or gay writers behind horror films — Rita Mae Brown and The Slumber Party Massacre, Silvio Horta and Urban Legend, Kevin Williamson and Scream.
I’m actually good friends with Kevin, and like me, he was a huge fan of horror films from a very young age. I think the gay connection drew us to these films, but what we bring to the table is the fact that many gay men have a thing for strong females. Kevin does this very well, and I’ve tried in my work to not write a straight-male version of what a tough chick is — a woman with a big rack, an hourglass figure, and wearing spandex. I think we’re more mindful of creating full-blown female characters, who are usually the leads in these films.
Did you consider having gay characters in your films?
In the first film I didn’t. Even though I worked at the studio, writers don’t have a lot of say in casting. But in the first one I was more interested in making sure there was a racially diverse group of teenagers, and I wrote that intentionally because it took place in New York. Of course, they cast the film and it was all white. I told the producer about it and they added a bit of diversity. I think as part of the tapestry of the films, it would be great to have gay characters. I tried to make sure there were no gay stereotypes or bashing in the film — that riles me. I worked on the first two films, and there were a couple of goofy comments in the later films that irked me.
Any future projects on the horizon?
I have a supernatural horror script that’s making the rounds that I’m excited about — it’s about sleep paralysis. I have another project where you’re not sure if it’s supernatural or a straight-up thriller. I’m also working on a TV series with [writer and producer] Gale Anne Hurd that’s in the supernatural genre — she's having a lot of success with The Walking Dead, so I’m excited about that.
Sounds like supernatural is where you’re headed.
Nightmare on Elm Street is my favorite movie of all time. That kind of supernatural horror, with that fantasy element that deals with the subconscious and fears and insecurities, has always intrigued me.
Have you thought about how you’d like to die?
Peacefully and painlessly and later in life.