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WATCH: This campy queer vampire flick puts a stake through the heart of old horror tropes

Screenshot: ‘So Vam,’ Shudder

For years, gay horror fans have been reading between the lines to find the subtext in the likes of NosferatuThe Lost Boys, and, yes, even Twilight. But a new Australian indie reclaims the vampire as one of our own, tapping into the queerness that’s been an essential part of the character since the very beginning.

So Vam makes its aims clear early on when it proposes that Bram Stoker—credited for popularizing the creature with his 1897 novel Dracula—was himself queer. “He was so afraid of his own desire that he had to turn it into an evil vampire.”

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But the horror-comedy doesn’t just raise that monster metaphor from the dead; it flips it on its head, turns it inside out, and puts a stake right through its heart.

Its all in service of a campy, tongue-in-cheek coming-of-age tale about a young student named Kurt (Australian drag artist Xai) who’s just trying to survive high school when he comes in contact with a particularly lecherous bloodsucker. Left for (un)dead, Kurt is rescued by a group of young, queer vampires (Grace Hyland, Iris Mcerlean) who take him under their wing.

As he comes into his newfound abilities and learns to control his insatiable bloodlust, Kurt realizes he just might be able to use his vampiric powers for good. He just has to survive high school first.

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With razor-sharp humor, a deep knowledge of the genre, and cameos from Drag Race royalty (BenDeLaCreme and Down Under‘s Etcetera Etcetera among them) you might be surprised to learn that So Vam comes from teen filmmaker Alice Maio Mackay. The trans writer/director has already cut her fangs on a number of short films, but her first full-length feature has been hailed by the horror community as an “extraordinary achievement.”

After debuting last fall at the renowned Salem Horror Festival, So Vam arrives to streaming this Thursday, August 25, exclusively on Shudder. You can watch its official trailer below.