By now, we all know that queer films, especially queer films made before the 2000s, can often be trash-piles of all the worst gay stereotypes. There are some queer movies that just make you want to crawl into a hole and wait for the apocalypse because they’re so shameful. We want our media to be reflective of who we are! But when it isn’t, it really just isn’t.
It begs the question, what do we do with those movies that are just plain bad? My suggestion: Watch those bad boys one more time! I say lean into the horror! What else can we do but reclaim the parts of our culture that make us want to gauge our eyes out? There are so many terrible lesbian movies that give me so much pleasure just because they’re so bad. I feel so strongly about this that I decided to compile a little list of some of the quirkiest lesbian fails I could find in hopes that you might find them spectacularly bad too. Without further ado, I’ll send in the clowns.
Not gonna lie, “Kissing Jessica Stein” is one of my all-time favorite feel-good movies. But that opinion didn’t happen overnight; it took work. I’ve probably watched it at least 100 times since I was in high school. I’m also painfully aware just how many lesbians desperately hate this movie because it’s a decidedly straight depiction of lesbian romance. I’m also also blithely aware of the fact that the lesbianism depicted in the movie totally operates as a sensationalized vehicle with which to propel the plot forward. I mean, I’m not an idiot. I know when I’m being mocked. But for some reason, it just works for me. It’s so early 2000s and the characters are adorable. The entire cast is crush-worthy, particularly Helen, the woman the title character falls in love with. Honestly, between the two of them, I could probably get just as much excitement from the film by watching the whole thing on mute.
I know what you’re thinking: A sympathetic movie about a definitely illegal romance between a Catholic high school poetry teacher and her underaged charge merits a resounding “sacré bleu!” But before you start bombarding me with a host of “wtf?!” emojis, hear me out. I’m one of you! My take is, of course, “Loving Annabelle” is an awful, creepy, and super dumb movie. That’s why I’ve seen it 10,000 times. It’s horrible. In my opinion, it’s truly the worst lesbian movie of all time. That’s why it’s such a marvel. It stands as a shining example of just how bad lesbian films can be, and I periodically watch it just to relish in the horror of it all.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel like the whole lesbian rom-com genre is really hard to swallow from time to time. In my head, I imagine us queers to just be too complicated for a “girl meets girl, girl falls in love, minor conflict, and then it all works out” type of storyline. The thing about queer love that’s so fantastic is that it is often so messy and complicated and mired in all the cyclical ways we justify ourselves and forge random gay paths in this crazy world. The thing about this film is that it’s a lesbian rom-com that actually gets the messiness of queerness. Where it goes wrong is more or less in it’s delivery. It’s a decidedly cheesy film trying to comedically pack a pretty real occurrence in lesbo culture. Being a flake myself, I totally relate to Elsie (our serially monogamous lesbian protagonist) and her psychosexual dilemma. I’m not going to say that it has a satisfying ending or that it’s written in the most interesting way because I’d be L-Y-I-N-G, but it is, all in all, a totally cute movie with some pretty solid one-liners and a reasonably attractive cast of characters.
I’m sure we can all agree that the lesbian vampire trope is one that consistently promises us the world but usually delivers ketchup blood and the most deeply subtextual, faith-based suggestions of lesbian innuendo and desire. I’ll level with you: I’m not going to say that “Daughters of The Darkness” isn’t one of those movies. A newlywed straight couple is passing through a vacation resort when they cross paths with a gorgeous lesbian countess and her long-haired, presumedly young lover and aide. It’s the exact type of premise we’ve come to expect of the very worst lesbian movies where the fact that they’re gay in and of itself is a large portion of the terror factor. THAT BEING SAID, I urge you to watch “Daughters of the Darkness” not because it is the most incredible lesbian screenwriting you will ever witness, but because it is aesthetically gorgeous, very 70s, has an amazing musical score, and is fantastically bad in every other way possible. Plus, it might just end up inspiring you to take some sexy vampiric risks in the bedroom.
Are you a little weird and even more awkward? Do have a collection of Target brand cat-themed items strewn about your otherwise lamely decorated home? Are you super into Harry Potter in a way that is antithetical to your age? The “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same” may just rock your world. Moderately engaging high-jinks ensue as a lesbian space alien falls in love with an unsuspecting Earthling. If you’re anything like me, this will be the film you put on every time you need to declutter your tax receipts or clean the house. There’s something vaguely useful about a mildly entertaining movie that you don’t really have to pay attention to to enjoy. It’s also an excellent feature to watch on mute with subtitles if you’re having a party and need some cinematic texture to pepper your parlor room with all the signs of life. It’s kind of like an Andy Warhol film but less. Much, much less.
“LYLE” is a total lesbian hipster “Rosemary’s Baby.” You’re aware the entire time that you’re just watching a film that’s the lesbian version of another, much more potent film, and that, seemingly, what you’re viewing was likely fleshed out over the course of a single evening and a couple of medium strength craft beers. That being said, it’s a pretty good movie to watch while inebriated. It’s not exactly scary, but it does have some M. Night Shyamalan-esque twists. It’s also a good date night movie, because it’s super easy to turn off if you’re bored and want to just make out the rest of the night. No harm, no foul. Cards on the table, have I watched it more than once? Yes. Will I watch it again if nothing better is on Netflix? Probably.
Well, that’s my list of awful lesbian films! Hopefully you enjoy these flops as intended: under the influence and in groups of 3 or more! I guarantee that if you don’t take them too seriously, then you’re in for a night of good ol’ lesbian silliness.