Trans and non-binary vampires who feed on bigots and abusers? Sounds fun! So Vam is an 80s style LGBTQIA vampire movie where the whole is better than the sum of its parts. The vision and theming is distinctly 80s in look and feel (a decade that ended at least fifteen years before the filmmaker was even born) and even features a Walkman and cassette tape. The message that bullies will get what’s coming to them in the end – be they high school homophobes or Nazis – is timeless. And the main idea, that no matter who you are or what family you’re born into, you can find a family that will love and support you, no matter what, is beautiful and important.
The Shudder exclusive So Vam is directed, produced, and co-written by 18-year-old South Australia based transgender filmmaker Alice Maio Mackay and also her feature film debut. It premiered at Salem Horror Fest 2021 where it was an award winner. Her second queer horror feature film, Bad Girl Boogey, which features a cameo appearance from horror icon Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects, House of 1,000 Corpses), is premiering (this week) at the international Popcorn Frights Film Festival 2022. Her unique style and fresh voice make her an exciting up-and-comer in the the niche horror genre.
So Vam stars Xai, an Adelaide-based drag artist, as Kurt – a pariah in his conservative town because of his sexuality who dreams of becoming a famous drag queen in the city. One night, after going out alone, he catches the eye of a predatory old vampire named Landon who takes him to the brink of death, but he’s saved by a young clan of queer and nonbinary vampires who teach him the ways of his new “life”. Grace Hyland, a Melbourne-based actor and trans activist, plays April, the head of their brood and Kurt’s main teacher. Kurt’s first lesson in being a vampire involves feasting on the counselors of a Christian “pray away the gay” camp.
So Vam is clearly low budget, but that’s part of the fun
As a vampire, Kurt finally feels empowered and sense of belonging, but his killer is still out there creating new henchman (his bite creates ghouls who rot from the inside) out of Kurt’s former bullies. Landon and his ghouls have a vendetta against Kurt’s new clan and threaten both Kurt’s vampire and human families.
So Vam was a labor of love shot in just seven days by a passionate and dedicated cast and crew, and features cameos by Rupaul’s Drag Race’s Etcetera Etcetera and BenDeLaCreme. With a quick run time, fun drag numbers, and a history lesson about the inherent queerness subtly encoded in vampire literature such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula – one can overlook the film-school quality of So Vam and enjoy what it COULD be with better acting and a script that’s had a chance to fully explore all of its themes. So Vam is a worthy addition to the Queer Horror lexicon.
So Vam will be available to stream on Shudder August 23rd.
What Queer or Trans Horror movie is at the top of your must-see list? Let me know in the comments!