When we first launched PopHorror a few years back, one of our first screeners was for Blessed Are The Children (read our review – here) by director Chris Moore. One of our writers, who isn’t easy to please, absolutely loved it and we’re glad to see others enjoy it as well. We have continued to follow Chris’ work and that’s why I chose to reach out to him for Horror Pride Month.
Learn more about Chris’ career, how he feels about representation in films, how he goes about creating characters, upcoming projects, and more.
PopHorror – Thanks for talking with me, Chris! What does Pride Month mean to you?
Chris Moore – Thank you! I think it’s a chance to celebrate how far we’ve come and figure out how much further we have to go. It’s a time to honor the ones who fought for us to have the rights we have now. We owe so much to the ones who came before us. It’s also a time to just let loose and have fun (however you might define that). Have a parade, a party, a dinner, a talent show, a drag show…whatever. Let’s face it – the world would be a lot more boring without LGBT folks in it.
PopHorror – Couldn’t agree more! You are a member of the LGBTQ plus community. Do you think it’s important to represent LGBTQ characters in your films?
Chris Moore – I think it’s terribly important. And it’s important to not have them do the same old things in every story. I was talking to someone about this recently and it’s amazing to me how easy it is to put minority representation in film, but a lot of people don’t know it or feel like they have to rewrite everything to “gay it up.” If you put a character like that in your work, they don’t have to be struggling with their sexuality, in the process of coming out, being beaten up for it, or dying of AIDS. We’ve seen those stories. I’m not saying there might not be other worthwhile versions of those stories out there, but we’re so much more than that. All one would have to do is take a character who is written as straight and change a few pronouns here and there. Don’t feel like, to have a LGBT character, you have to rewrite everything and make it all about their sexuality or gender identity or turn it into some preachy political statement. Nobody wants to be lectured at for 90-120 minutes and they certainly don’t want to pay for it. I always think it’s best to show us going about our day to day lives. We have the same problems with our lovers, families, teachers, friends, etc. The more people see that, the more they’ll realize we’re really more like them than they initially thought.
PopHorror – Thanks for that insightful answer. Do you ever feel pressure to add specific characters to a story/film so that it will appeal to the public?
Chris Moore – Of course. I’m working on a script right now and 60/70% of the characters are gay men and I got to thinking “will this just be a little niche movie that only gay men will want to see? And what if they don’t even want to see it? Then I’m really screwed.” I always have LGBT characters in my work in some capacity, but it’s usually balanced out with a nice helping of straight characters as well for the straight audiences to identify with. I get nervous when there are too many LGBT characters in there at once, because I wonder if heterosexual audiences will be able to relate. I like to think they’ll be able to relate if it’s a good, interesting character and their struggles are real. At the end of the day, the only difference is they’re going home to a member of the same sex, so that shouldn’t be a huge deal.
PopHorror – Exactly. Do you think the horror genre slacks in portraying members of the LGBTQ community?
Chris Moore – Sometimes, I do. If we are depicted, we’re usually killed off or we’re the killers (a la Windows, Cruising, Sleepaway Camp, Dressed to Kill, etc.) This might be controversial, but I don’t really mind any of those films. I don’t think they set out to harm and I do believe intention matters. I don’t think these films should be banned or never seen again. That’s just silly censorship plain and simple. I do think we should try to do better now that we know better. As I was saying earlier, just take a pre-existing straight character in your script and add a few words about how they might be gay or trans and don’t change anything else. Trust me, when it comes down to being chased by a chainsaw wielding serial killer, all of us, gay or straight, are going to probably have the same reactions.
PopHorror – Exactly. I love them too but we can do better! Do you have any favorite films, horror or not, that have strong LGBTQ characters?
Chris Moore – There’s a great TV movie that John Carpenter made right around the time he made Halloween called Someone’s Watching Me. In that film, Adrienne Barbeau plays the best friend of Lauren Hutton’s character and she’s an out, proud lesbian. They literally say a sentence or two about it and move on. To me, this movie (and a TV movie nonetheless) from the 70’s has a more progressive and positive portrayal of a gay character than just about anything I’ve seen in the last 20 years. She’s just allowed to be a human and not a political mouth piece. They treat her with dignity and respect. That’s the gold standard for me.
As for non-horror, Edge of Seventeen was really good. I love Sordid Lives. It’s such a funny and truthful look at the south. G.B.F. was incredibly sweet and charming. Other People has a great gay character. Bound and Mulholland Drive are excellent films. Victor/Victoria always brings a smile to my face. It’s not a movie, but right now, I’m loving Schitt’s Creek for its portrayal of LGBT characters.
PopHorror – I haven’t seen a lot of these and I’m definitely intrigued by Someone’s Watching Me, so I’ll have to check it out. What would you like to see happen in the future for horror and the community?
Chris Moore – I think what’s happened for people of color thanks to people like Jordan Peele. Get Out, Us, and Ma all have black leads and they’re not reduced to stereotypes or just being the token minority. I think people should try to do the same things with LGBT characters. Maybe we could be treated like (gasp) human beings. They’re not just coming in for sassy one liners and getting decapitated on their way back to their cars. I can’t imagine how wonderful it must be for minority kids to grow up being able to see themselves properly represented on their movie and TV screens. It’d be nice if we got to a point where it was just a given and that everyone is able to see themselves on screen in some capacity.
PopHorror – Up until recently, I never used to even think about how differently people from the LGBTQ community grew up for me. Seeing little representation of themselves in media. It’s sad but I’m glad we’re moving forward. Do you do anything special during Pride Month?
Chris Moore – I’m not a big party or parade guy, so I cheer everyone on from afar. I mostly just think about what great leaps we’ve made just since the 80’s and 90’s. We have a little bit further to go, but if you think about how far we’ve come in 20/30 years time, it’s unbelievable. Even in the south, I think it’s getting a bit better. I wouldn’t have dreamt of coming out when I was in middle school, but you hear about all these kids who are doing that now and a lot of their classmates just shrug and are like “eh. Whatever.” It’s beautiful. Of course, there are still places where it’s quite the opposite and coming out could endanger their lives, so we still have some work to do.
PopHorror – Any other projects you’d like to talk about?
Chris Moore – Blessed Are the Children is streaming on Amazon Prime now and that’s my pro-choice slasher movie which features a large lesbian role. Triggered (read our review – here) is hitting VOD/Digital on July 9th (and DVD later in September) and that’s a dark slasher comedy which features a gay male lead and a female lead who kinda pretends to be a part of the LGBT community to make her feel special and more unique, but I’m not sure if that counts. Right now, I’m in post-production of A Stranger Among the Living, which is a spooky mood piece like Carnival of Souls or The Innocents. It’s really creepy and I can’t wait for everyone to see it. That features a gay character, too. I’m also writing a few new scripts and concepts here and there. I’m always trying to plan or come up with something. It’s hard for me to sit still.
Very thoughtful interview. I like that Chris says he doesn’t want cinema banned because it doesn’t fit into our current social perspectives, but rather we try to improve upon it. Nice job.