Dave Hastings Interview Part Two
This is part two of the Dave Hastings interview. To read part one, click here.
Walsall for All (WfA): You’ve mentioned your obsession with horror and how it led you into filmmaking, and in our email exchange how that genre has always had a strong LGBTQ following - that wasn’t something I was aware of.
Dave Hastings (DH): For me as a kid, films were escapism. I mean I grew up on Hammer horror films and Halloween, Friday 13th and all that sort of stuff, and for me felling like an outsider as a kid, these films were that pure escapism I needed. But the more I looked at films, the more I wanted to learn more about them. I started to notice certain themes, like the final girl – if you want to get theoretical – is an outsider. So this girl, or person, who faces up against the monster at the end is this outsider, the ones who have been very reserved throughout the plot so far, are bullied or don’t have a lot of confidence in themselves.
So there are a lot of studies that have gone on in the last few years about that and with the advent of social media, there are lots of LGBTQ horror groups that have sprung up because for years I never really thought much about it, I just thought it was me, but actually, seeing them and meeting other LGBTQ Horror fans, I wasn’t surprised so much as just glad that I wasn’t the only one feeling like this. People identify with the monsters … like the monster from Frankenstein, he was created out of spare parts, he’s a freak of nature, he doesn’t know who he is and he just wants to fit in and belong – those kind of ideals - the outsider, the monster, the feeling of being on the fringes of society and looking at what is supposed to be ‘normal’. A lot of Gay people, people from that community, identify with that more. It’s almost like us looking in at what’s supposed to be acceptable, and coupled with a similar fictional character that personifies how you’ve felt for so long - you’re drawn to it. It took me a few years to get it but yeah.
WfA: Is it a conscious thing do you think?
DH: In some films it is, I think the one everybody talks about the most is Nightmare on Elm Street 2 - it’s called ‘Gay Nightmare on Elm Street’ basically. There’s so much talk about it, there’s been documentaries made about it and everything. At the time, they say they didn’t know they were making a film that was so overtly homo-erotic, but it is, there’s some stuff in there that … yeah [laughs].
So the main character is not a girl, it’s a guy, Jesse, but he’s questioning himself you know and if you look online -- Mark Patton is the guy who played him and he’ll talk about this a lot better than me, but I’ve met Mark a couple of times and he’s lovely. It’s a big thing now, Elm Street 2 is seen as the big Gay Freddy Kruger film and the fact that Freddy wants to ‘get inside him’ and stuff like that is just amazing. We went to a screening of it a few years ago, they did a marathon in London of all of them, and the second one, everyone just had so much fun with it. It wasn’t like a condescending thing at all, or anything remotely homophobic, it was just, wow this was there all along, this is amazing, this is something we need to celebrate.
I think with the horror community as well, even heterosexual horror fans that I know and am close friends with, they know what it’s like to be outsiders as well because people are like, “Oh horror fans are all freaks and weirdos” so they understand being that outsider too from a differing perspective. I’ve had so much love and support, as a Gay man and I know other Gay people have as well, from friends in the horror community because we all know what it’s like just to feel a bit different sometimes for liking this stuff. You like Freddy, you like Michael Myers, but you’re not going to go out and kill someone, it’s just entertainment at the end of the day, but for us it was escapism, it was a way to relate – some of these characters were the outcasts, they didn’t quite fit in with their friends and stuff and we felt like that as well.
Whether you’re heterosexual or you’re homosexual, the whole community just comes together and I’ve never had a bad experience with my friends who’ve come from this fanbase because they’re just so accepting. And yet if you look at newspapers and stuff, they’ll say these horror fans are weird and dangerous and stuff and I’m like, “Well, weird and accepting rather than normal and boring. And not constantly belittling other people because of who they’re sleeping with or what they like.” So I’m forever grateful to the horror genre, not just for the films it makes, but just because it’s so accepting on so many different levels and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
WfA: I can definitely empathise with that feeling of being an outsider and taking solace in the escapism of science fiction, horror, comic books etc.
DH: A lot of the horror films now play it up to it so if you look at Creepshow for instance, the parents are saying you’re not to have these comics they’re too violent and stuff.
WfA: There was a book written by a psychologist [Dr.Fredric Wertham] in the 1950s, Seduction of The Innocent I think it’s called, that linked horror and crime comics in particular with delinquency in young people.
DH: I usually find that when someone writes something like that, it comes out about a year or so later that they’ve been doing something naughty themselves, more so in the last two years than anything. These books that are written about horror causing problems, I’d argue that most of the time it’s religion. I’m not religious, my parents are, but I don’t mind if people believe in a God/s - go for it. I wish I did to be honest, but I find most of the problems the LGBTQ community face are from religion … that and BREXIT, the amount of homophobic attacks that have happened since BREXIT has risen, my partner won’t hold my hand in public still and we’ve been together for near 13 years -- unless we’re at somewhere like PRIDE.
WfA: There are certainly a significant number of hate crimes directed at the Gay community, many of which go unreported sadly.