Name: Christopher Landon
Birth Place: Los Angeles, CA
Notable films: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014), Scout’s Guide to the Apocalypse (2015), Happy Death Day 2U (2017), Happy Death Day 2U (2019)
When did you know you were queer? When did you come out?
Christopher Landon: I knew I was different from an early age. Like a lot of queer little boys, I loved my sister’s Barbie dolls, I loved movies like Mommie Dearest and Big Business. I had boy-crushes in high school but I dismissed them as “a phase.” I finally came out when I was 22 after meeting my first boyfriend. I didn’t want to lead a double-life so I just did a big-ass coming out tour and told everyone in my orbit within about a week’s time. LOL.
How did you get into filmmaking?
CL: I have always been obsessed with movies. Especially horror. I made short films as a kid and studied film in college. I took an internship at Disney when I was about 18 and that’s where I really began to see a path to becoming a filmmaker.
Why do you make horror films?
CL: Horror has always been a genre that intrigues me. It’s so versatile. You can Trojan-horse so many themes and ideas in a horror movie. I love the genre’s renegade status no matter how mainstream it seems to be now. It’s still punk rock and dangerous.
What films (queer or not) have made a significant impact on you and your work? In what way?
CL: If I had to choose two filmmakers that have influenced me the most I would say John Carpenter and John Hughes. They’re totally different Johns but each made an equal and profound impact on my childhood and my creative sensibilities. Carpenter is the master of suspense. I have seen The Thing and Halloween a million times and they never stop educating me. John Hughes captured something so few filmmakers ever can – the pain and awkwardness of adolescence. But even in a movie like Trains, Planes, and Automobiles he could make you laugh and cry – often within seconds of each other. I love the quirk and heart he brought to his work.
You’ve worked on two high profile projects with Blumhouse (the Happy Death Day films). What is it like to helm a franchise for a major studio? How progressive or welcoming is the industry for queer creators right now?
CL: I’ve been in this business for a minute now and I would say we’re living in a good moment as far as change and diversity go. My sexuality hasn’t played too great a role in my work, in terms of being marginalized, but I have always strived to bring a queer perspective to my movies. That’s not to say I haven’t encountered resistance in the past, but I think people in general are just looking for good stories no matter where (or who) they come from.
That said, we still need more diversity. When I was growing up, I didn’t see people like me in movies unless they were the brunt of a joke. That’s changing, but it can change a lot more.
Do you believe that your sexuality informs your films? If yes, in what way? If no, is that a conscious decision?
CL: OH FUCK YES. Hahahahaha. I mean, I made a studio zombie movie with a Britney sing-along and a horror set-piece while Dolly Parton’s 9-5 blared. My shit is G-A-Y. But I also think growing up queer and feeling like I didn’t quite belong really reinforced a strong sense of empathy in me. My characters are often misunderstood and stand a little outside of the world around them.
When Trace Thurman and I covered Happy Death Day for the Horror Queers podcast, we found a really sweet story about a gay fan thanking you for including the character of Tim because it normalized gay people. Have you interacted with many other queer horror fans of your films? What has that experience been like?
CL: Absolutely. I love interacting with queer horror fans. There are SO many of us out there. I feel a kinship to them. It’s so important to be seen.
With Happy Death Day 2U now out on VOD and Blu, what’s next for you?
CL: I have a really fun movie I’m about to go shoot. I can’t say what it is yet, but it has the best gay character ever. He is out, proud and fucking badass. I can’t wait to make this one.
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