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The 10 Best Horror Movie References in RuPaul’s Drag Race Herstory

The 10 Best Horror Movie References in RuPaul’s Drag Race Herstory

The 10 Best Horror Movie References in RuPaul’s Drag Race Herstory
Courtesy of World of Wonder

The season 15 premiere added another iconic horror lewk to the runway to the Drag Race canon.


From Hellraiserto A Nightmare on Elm Street, here are the ten gaggiest horror movie and TV references to ever haunt the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise.

Since the beginning of time, there has always been a mighty cross-section between the art forms of drag and horror. These days we’re even lucky enough to have The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula, an entire drag competition series dedicated to the Venn diagram of gore and glamour.

But the Dragula queens aren't the ones having all of the spooky fun. There have also been countless terrifying looks and scary pop culture references on RuPaul’s Drag Race ever since the dawn of the long-running series.

Today I’m counting down the ten absolute best horror movie and TV show references in RuPaul’s Drag Race herstory, so let’s get to werk…

Irene Dunois - Season 15 - Alien

Irene Dubois is a queen of many firsts. First in the work room, first on the runway, and first out the door. However, during the main stage category of Who Is She?, Dubois appeared looking gorgeously sci-fi in a tightly crafted all-black look.

Irene explains that this signature sexy ensemble is inspired by the psychosexual world of artist H.R Giger and his work crafting the Xenomorphs of the Alien franchise. Equal parts sexy and scary, Irene Dubois took this look to a whole new level of interstellar eleganza.

Tayce - UK Season 2 - Bride of Frankenstein

On the second season ofRuPaul's Drag Race UK, Tayce continuously shut down the main stage with editorial caliber runway looks. On the fourth episode’s Monster Mashup runway, Tayce wowed audiences with a vampiric Bride of Frankenstein hybrid that’ll make your hair stand on end.

Part Elsa Lancaster, part Mina Harker, and all glamour, this look will stop you dead.

Aiden Zhane - Season 12 - The Silence of the Lambs

On her second to last runway appearance, season 12’s spookiest contender Aiden Zhane paid homage to director Jonathon Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. More specifically, she actually referenced the iconic movie poster for the Jodie Foster crime horror classic, and the look still has me fluttering to this day.

Draped in mostly black, Zhane saunters down the main stage wearing the immediately recognizable Silence of the Lambs moth plastered to her lips, evoking the 1991 Oscar-winning film’s eerie and beautiful poster art.

While some of the season 12 queens could have been nicer to Zhane, she still lasted beyond Snatch Game and served up a plethora of interesting looks.

Various queens - All Stars 6 - American Horror Story

One of the strangest moments of All Stars 6 was the standout Rumerican Horror Story: Coven Girls challenge. Jan, Ra’Jah O’Hara, Eureka!, Pandora Boxxx, Kylie Sonique Love, A’keria C. Davenport, and Trinity K. Bonet all joined forces to create a bizarre acting challenge that will not soon be forgotten.

A direct parody of American Horror Story: Coven, nearly all of the queens were delivering at a ten. One of the most striking performances here came from Kylie Sonique Love, who took on the mantel of Jessica Lange’s character Fiona Goode.

Love’s southern charm is weaponized in spades, making Coven Girls one of the season’s first moments to showcase just how exciting of a queen she really is.

Danny Beard - UK Season 4 - Little Shop of Horrors

The fourth season of Drag Race UK was treated to the groundbreaking, gender-blending, and often hilarious world of contender Danny Beard. The queen, who indeed often sports a beard while looking monstrously femme, would go on to earn the crown her season.

Beard also happened to produce my favorite runway look of the UK4 with an outrageous costume paying homage to Little Shop of Horrors creature Audrey II, an evil alien in the shape of a sassy flytrap who intends on taking over planet Earth.

Beard managed her own intergalactic domination with this look, out beating a similar outfit worn by Nina West on Drag Race Season 10.

Various Queens - Season 6 - Drag Me To Hell

A reference in title alone, the Season 6 acting challenge Drag Race Me to Hell is one of the most memorable in all of Drag Race Herstory. The scenes were compartmentalized into two mini films, the original black and white version, and the less creatively successful 1980s continuation, Drag Race Me To Hell 5. What can I say? You just can't out beat the original.

This challenge showcased performances to die for, including a winning role by Darienne Lake as a ghoulish, but ultimately misunderstood, head in a box. “Gasp!” And who can forget her signature line, “Your mother darns socks in hell!” Honorable mentions go to Courtney Act and Bianca del Rio as a sapphic couple who meet an untimely demise during the opening slay.

While this challenge has virtually nothing to do with the outstanding namesake Drag Me To Hell, it’s still one of the best horror moments from the franchise.

Raja - Season 3 - Carrie

Raja is a legacy queen who takes her pop culture references very seriously. Colliding fashion, sculpture and beauty into one very unlikely Stephen King homage, Raja’s Carrie look is one of the most inventive and exciting from season three.

“Anyone else on their period?” Raja asks as she opens her episode 8 standup routine with a bucket of blood spilling out onto her blonde wig. She uses her glamorous vision of King and Brian De Palma’s murderous protagonist to set up the jokes for her silly, raunchy, and ultimately successful comedy routine. “The last time I moved anything with my head was in a motel room.” Slay.

Crystal Methyd - Season 12 - A Nightmare On Elm Street

“If you stay Freddy, you don’t have to get Freddy.”

During a dual Fall/Spring fashion runway, Crystal Methyd appears in a full gown inspired by iconic A Nightmare On Elm Street villain Freddy Krueger. The look is a serve, and while it’s a glamorous elevated vision of Mr. K, the reference is clear as day when Crystal skips down the Drag Race runway purse-first, sporting a jack-o-lantern to collect some well-deserved candy.

This was not the last time Crystal summoned the Freddy look. The queen has also sliced up the Freddy couture on her Instagram since, and I pray it’s an October perennial.

Alaska and Alyssa Edwards - All Stars 2 - Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

In one of the most unforgettable Drag Race moments ever committed to screen, dream team Alaska and Alyssa Edwards crafted a parody sequel to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane titled Wha Ha’ Happened To Baby JJ?

Alaska shines like a red dwarf while evoking Bette Davis’ Baby Jane performance. Clearly, a fan of the material and understanding the references to every fine detail, Alaska tramples this challenge like she did so many others during her All Stars 2 run.

Alyssa Edwards is also impossible to look away from as she gives one of the strangest performances of the season. And watch out for a killer cameo by Big Freedia. Does queer culture get any better than this?

Gottmik - Season 13 - Hellraiser

Gottmik had such sights for the Season 13 grand finale runaway. The top three contenders stormed the stage in a crystallized look inspired by the world of Clive Barker's Hellraiser.

Recreating horror icon Pinhead, Gottmik was a vision of sparkling goth madness in a costume designed by Marco Marco. Mik later revealed this look caught the eye of the producers behind Hulu’s 2022 Hellraiser reboot, earning the season 13 superstar a chance to audition for the film.

The runway also arguably inspired Megan Thee Stallion’s gorgeous interpretation of Pinhead. Given the talent here, there’s no wonder this look is my favorite horror reference in Drag Race Herstory.

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Josh Korngut

Josh Korngut is a writer and filmmaker based in Toronto. He's also the managing editor of Dread Central, a web publication that covers all things horror. Check out his podcast, Development Hell, wherever you listen, and say hi to him on socials via @joshkorngut.

Josh Korngut is a writer and filmmaker based in Toronto. He's also the managing editor of Dread Central, a web publication that covers all things horror. Check out his podcast, Development Hell, wherever you listen, and say hi to him on socials via @joshkorngut.