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From 'My Policeman' and 'TÁR' to 'White Lotus,' October's must-see queer films and TV

Nothing quite says fall, or queer-inclusive, like a watchlist filled with stylish Oscar contenders and spooky remakes of campy and queer-coded content.

Now that they’ve made their way through many of the year’s film festivals, “TÁR” and “My Policeman” are finally coming to theaters, giving fans a chance to drool over their respective stars. But things are no less titillating on the small screen, with a very steamy, very gay series remake of “Interview With the Vampire” ushering in the month. There are also retoolings of ‘80s cult horror classics, with a new season of “Chucky” and a “Hellraiser” film reboot.

Luckily, if all that entertainment-induced panting and shrieking gets to be too much, a new comedy special about lesbian culture and the highly anticipated second season of “The White Lotus” are waiting in the wings to give viewers a good laugh.

‘Interview With the Vampire’

Anne Rice’s most famous novel, first adapted into the 1994 film starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, returns to the screen in an AMC series remake. And delightfully, this time, there’s no beating around the bush about what’s going on between its dashing male stars. In the new version, set in 2022, Sam Reid takes on the role of Lestat, the charming but temperamental vampire that turns Louis, played by Jacob Anderson of “Game of Thrones” fame. As the centuries-old Louis recounts his story to journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian), his narrative is populated with details of his and Lestat’s passionate romance and many lovers’ quarrels, which they try to resolve by adopting an undead daughter, Claudia (Bailey Bass). Although Rice initially said the queer subtext of “Interview With the Vampire” was unintentional when the novel published in 1976, she quickly embraced the reading, which solidified her status as a gay icon later in life. She even signed on to be a producer of the new, much gayer adaptation, a role which her son, Christopher Rice, stepped into after her death in 2021.

“Interview With the Vampire” season one premieres on AMC and AMC+ on Oct. 2. 

‘Chucky’

Season one of Don Mancini’s “Chucky” series earned the “Child’s Play” franchise creator overwhelmingly positive reviews for breathing new life into his demonic creation: a possessed, redheaded doll with a penchant for sharp objects. The new season will pick up amid the murders set off in season one, when Jake Wheeler (Zackary Arthur), a gay, 14-year-old doll enthusiast, discovers Chucky at a garage sale and unwisely takes him home. Also returning for season two are veteran “Child’s Play” stars Brad Dourif, who has voiced the doll since the original film, and Jennifer Tilly, who reprises her recurring franchise character, Tiffany Valentine.

“Chucky” season two premieres on USA Network and Syfy on Oct. 5 and on Peacock on Oct. 6. 

‘TÁR’

After more than 15 years, filmmaker Todd Field makes a triumphant return to cinema with “TÁR,” a film he wrote specifically for star Cate Blanchett. Despite a perhaps purposefully misleading official description, the film’s central figure, “the iconic musician Lydia Tár,” is in fact a fictional character. And that’s far from the only surprise Field has cooked up. As Blanchett’s titular, internationally renowned composer, who is almost equally as famous for being a womanizer, readies her orchestra for a history-making performance, the story transforms into an elusive psychological thriller that keeps audiences guessing until the end. In addition to Blanchett’s tour de force performance, the film features stellar turns by co-stars Noémie Merlant, who plays Tár’s assistant, and Nina Hoss, who plays her wife. And, while it’s still early, there’s already plenty of chatter about the cast’s awards season prospects, especially after Blanchett took home some of the top honors at the Telluride and Venice film festivals.

“TÁR” opens in U.S. theaters Oct. 7.

‘Hellraiser’

Out of reverence for the original, director David Bruckner (“The Night House”) has been very clear about the fact that his new “Hellraiser,” starring Jamie Clayton as Pinhead, is not a remake — it’s a reboot. Specifically, it’s a new adaptation of Clive Barker’s novella “The Hellbound Heart,” which served as the source material for the first film in the franchise, from 1986. For anyone who missed the previous 10 films, the “Hellraiser” franchise hinges on a puzzle box that opens a portal to a hellish dimension, populated by a group of pain-obsessed sadists, called Cenobites. While in the past, Pinhead — the Cenobites’ bone-chilling leader and the franchise’s lead antagonist — has been played exclusively by men, Clayton, a transgender woman, is an inspired homage to the character’s queer cult status. While the villain is largely portrayed as an adrogynous character in the films, the characterization in Barker’s book is even more female-leaning and gender-fluid. That, coupled with the Cenobites’ S&M-club wear, has made the franchise a permanent fixture atop the towering canon of queer horror.

“Hellraiser” premieres on Hulu on Oct. 7.

‘Easy-Bake Battle’

Fab Five culinary expert Antoni Porowski’s new Netflix series “Easy-Bake Battle” is, well, very Antoni. Drawing on the “Queer Eye” star’s love of a good kitchen hack, the knockout-style, home-cooking competition challenges its bubbly contestants to create appealing dishes, using limited ingredients and very limited kitchen equipment. As the harried home cooks attempt to make miracles with air fryers and a giant Easy-Bake Oven, Porowski and his co-host for the episode mine them for cooking tips and offer up a few of their own. When time is up on an episode’s two rounds, someone walks away with $25,000 and the hopes of adding even more money to their bank account the following week.

“Easy-Bake Battle” season one premieres on Netflix on Oct. 12.

‘High School’

Queer, pop duo Tegan and Sara’s 2019 memoir, “High School,” makes its way to the small screen in an Amazon series adaptation starring TikTok-famous twins Railey and Seazynn Gilliland. In the series, the Canadian sisters Tegan (Railey) and Sara (Seazynn) navigate high school, their burgeoning sexualities, their often-difficult relationship with each other and turning their shared love of music into a Grammy-nominated band. As a nostalgic bonus, all of the falling-outs and first loves take place against the backdrop of ‘90s grunge, a perfect fit for co-creator and executive producer Clea DuVall. The series also stars Cobie Smulders as the twins’ era-accurate, hands-off mom.

“High School” season one premieres on Amazon Freevee on Oct. 14.

‘My Policeman’

Right off the chaos surrounding “Don’t Worry Darling,” Harry Styles is back on the big screen as the star of yet another headline-grabbing film, “My Policeman.” Styles plays opposite Emma Corrin (“The Crown”) and David Dawson (“The Last Kingdom”) in the period piece about a love triangle between police officer Tom, schoolteacher Marion and museum curator Patrick. The story takes place in two timelines: in 1957, when homosexuality is still illegal in the U.K., and in 1999, when the trio deals with the choices, and betrayals, of their younger selves. Playing the older versions of the star-crossed lovers is Linus Roache as Tom, Gina McKee as Marion and Rupert Everett as Patrick, who, along with their young co-stars, became the first ensemble to win the Tribute Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it premiered in September.

“My Policeman” debuts in U.S. theaters Oct. 21 and Amazon Prime Video on Nov. 4.

‘The Return of Tanya Tucker’

A new documentary from Brandi Carlile demonstrates why the country star is beloved for more than just her music. “The Return of Tanya Tucker,” which premiered at South by Southwest earlier this year, charts the rise of its titular subject as she records her 2019 comeback album, “While I’m Livin’.” A longtime fan of Tucker, Carlile took it upon herself to write the album, which is about the musician’s life. And the film documents Carlile cajoling Tucker back into the studio after years out of the limelight, following her very public experiences with substance use and a toxic relationship with fellow musician Glen Campbell. Ultimately, “While I’m Livin’” won Tucker her first two Grammys, for best country song and country album, and earned Carlile praise for her altruistic streak, which was seen in full force during a tear-filled, rare public performance by Joni Mitchell this summer.

“The Return of Tanya Tucker” opens in U.S. theaters Oct. 21

‘Fortune Feimster: Good Fortune’

Maybe it’s lingering trauma from Hannah Gadsby’s devastating “Nanette” or the wealth of recent comedy controversies, but Fortune Feimster’s new stand-up special, “Good Fortune,” seems almost too delightful to be true. In just over an hour, Feimster relates anecdotes about her relatively mild pandemic traumas, recent happy marriage and most disastrous (but hilarious) stand-up show, all the while eliciting cheers from the audience of the packed Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The set’s running jokes poke fun at lesbian culture in a way that’s good-natured and refreshingly casual, handing queer women a rare opportunity to hear themselves talked about on a comedy stage and laugh about it.

“Fortune Feimster: Good Fortune” premieres on Netflix on Oct. 23.

‘Wendell & Wild’

The visionary director behind “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” Henry Selick, is putting his spooky spin on a new animated story about childhood, “Wendell & Wild.” The stop-motion film, written by Selick and horror master Jordan Peele, is about a young girl, Kat (Lyric Ross), who gets roped into helping two demon brothers, Wendell (Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Peele), return to the land of the living to face their nun arch-nemesis. Joining the horror and comedy legends are stars like Angela Bassett and James Hong, and newcomer Sam Zelaya, a transgender actor who voices Kat’s best friend, Raul, who is also trans.

“Wendell & Wild’ premieres on Netflix on Oct. 28.

‘Please Baby Please’

Amanda Kramer melds 1950s musical, seductive thriller and neon-lit camp-fest in her fearless new film starring Andrea Riseborough, Harry Melling, Karl Glusman and forever bombshell Demi Moore. Based on a script from Kramer and Noel David Taylor, “Please Baby Please” is about seemingly straight newlyweds Suze and Arthur (Riseborough and Melling), whose lives are turned upside down when they witness a murder and become involved with a leather-clad gang known as the Young Gents. The couple’s growing fascination with the greasers, led by an alluringly gaunt Glusman, leads them to question their sexual leanings — and who can blame them — which doesn’t help Suze’s situation with her upstairs neighbor (Moore).

“Please Baby Please” opens in U.S. theaters Oct. 28.

‘The White Lotus’

An almost entirely new cast of haves and have-nots is headed to the White Lotus hotel’s Sicilian outpost for season two of creator Mike White’s hit comedic thriller. The season’s premiere comes shortly after the series’ impressive showing at the Emmys, taking home five awards, including first-time wins for White and stars Murray Bartlett and Jennifer Coolidge. Coolidge and actor Jon Gries return for the Italian iteration, joined by an ensemble cast that includes Aubrey Plaza, F. Murray Abraham, Haley Lu Richardson, Theo James and Leo Woodall. A hilariously exacting Sabrina Impacciatore plays the White Lotus’ put-upon hotel manager, the role previously pioneered by Murray, who to her chagrin is the ringmaster of the five-star accommodation’s perpetually chaotic guests and ominous comings and goings.

“The White Lotus” season two premieres on HBO and HBO Max on Oct. 30.

In case you missed it…

‘Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’

Although no stranger to a disturbing story, “American Horror Story” regular Evan Peters ups the stakes as the titular character in Netflix’s new Ryan Murphy series about the infamous gay serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Starring alongside Peters is Niecy Nash as a neighbor who repeatedly tries to alert the authorities to the suspicious late-night sounds and smells emanating from down the hall. The real-life Dahmer was found guilty in 1992 of killing 16 people (though confessed to killing 17), many of them queer men of color, between 1978 and 1991. He was killed in prison by a fellow inmate in 1994 at age 34 — outliving all of his known victims, who ranged in age from 14 to 33. Part disturbing historical lesson and part justice-system critique, the highly controversial series is definitely not for the easily unsettled.

“Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” is available on Netflix.

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