March 2021: A Month in Horror

This month saw an early contender for the most controversial horror film of 2021 courtesy of rapper Little Nas X: the music video for his song “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” depicts him being cast out of Eden and sent to Hell, where he kills Satan and steals the Devil’s crown for himself. There’s little here that hasn’t been done by countless metal bands, with the significant exception that the video is overtly gay — the star even gives Satan a lap-dance prior to snapping his neck. Tying in with the release are Little Nas X’s “Satan Shoes”, actually modified Nikes that reportedly contain small quantities of human blood and are limited to 666 pairs. Between them, the video and footwear sparked a backlash from various conservative commentators.

A less amusing controversy centred on drector Richard Stanley, whose films include the 2019 release The Colour Out of Space. Stanley was publicly accused this month of domestic violence, assault and battery by his former partner Scarlett Amaris. Spectrevision, the production company behind The Colour Out of Space, responded by cutting ties with him, while Arrow Video cancelled plans to release Blu-Rays of his earlier films Dust Devil and Hardware.

Not strictly related to the horror genre, but relevant to anyone keeping an eye on debates over media violence and censorship, is a petition launched this month in an attempt to prevent the release of Six Days in Fallujah, a video game set in the Iraq War. Addressed to President Biden and UN Secretary General António Guterres, along with Sony, Valve and Microsoft CEOs, the petition currently has more than 6000 signatures.

Finally, this month saw the presentation of the 2021 Lord Ruthven awards, which celebrate vampire fiction. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix won Best Fiction; The Global Vampire: Essay on the Undead in Popular Culture around the World took the prize for Best Nonfiction; the BBC reworking of Dracula by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss received the Special Honour; and Special Recognition went to the newly-launched Journal of Vampire Studies.

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