Some of you may remember an article a few months ago about a couple of guys who were making horror parodies under the banner of Enemies of Dorothy. Their names were Ryan Leslie Fisher and Christopher Smith Bryant, and they’re making a name for themselves and their own brand of comedic horror.
Fisher and Bryant, a couple who have been together for three years, sat down to chat with me as part of iHorror’s Horror Pride Month series and, of course, the first question is when did you become horror fans?
“I’m about a 50% horror fan,” Christopher laughed. “Ryan is more 95%. I’m a horror fan but I’m not a fan of gore. I also have a huge clown phobia so when Ryan talked me into seeing IT I nearly ran out of the theater crying.”
“I grew up watching horror movies,” Ryan said. “My mom was showing us The Shining and Halloween when I was still way too young for it, probably. It’s always been a part of my life, though and I love them.”
Christopher, a stand-up comedian, and Ryan, an actor/producer/writer, were like many other artists in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election. They were frustrated and looking for the best way to express those raw emotions.
It wasn’t long before their sketch comedy group, Enemies of Dorothy, had been formed, and in just a couple of months, they would have their first viral hit with their “engagement video” for the Babadook and Pennywise.
“We fell in love with the Babadook being a gay icon because of the absurdity of it all,” Ryan explained. “It just made no sense! At the Pride parade last year there were so many Babadook signs and costumes and I told Chris I’d love to be the sketch group one day that was expected to do something like make a Babadook/Pennywise engagement video.”
It was at that point that Chris asked him why they needed to wait.
With that, they were off to the races, but neither was prepared for how much of a hit they would have on their hands.
“There’s this underlying market that we didn’t anticipate,” Christopher said. “The queer community finds something they relate to in horror. I also think it’s an escape from the real life horrors that many face just being LGBTQ today.”
The short, which has been viewed thousands of times on YouTube alone, is hilarious and it was only a matter of time before they took on another horror parody.
This time, it was the popular home invasion horror film The Strangers.
“These ideas come out of nowhere,” Ryan laughed. “You’re at a party and someone says, ‘What if it’s The Strangers but they’re worried about whether they’re being homophobic?’ And we’re like, ‘That’s just dumb enough to work!'”
“That’s where we started writing that sketch, anyways,” Christopher said. “It’s weird why there’s a lack of representation in horror because there’s a huge queer audience for them. I think a lot of it comes down to writers who are afraid to put those characters in horror situations so some of Social Justice Strangers came out of that dialogue.”
What they created was one of the best parodies I’ve ever seen as each person becomes more and more uncomfortable about what was going on in the room until they finally unite against a common foe.
The little nuggets of truth you can find in their videos is what really interests me about their work, and our conversations turned to what they found in horror that appealed to them.
“My therapist and I were talking about this recently. I have a strong sense of justice, and I think that comes from being in a minority group,” Ryan explained. “If you’re queer, you’ve been bullied at some point in your life. You can identify with characters like Carrie White. There’s that desire to see the bullies punished and there’s catharsis in that.”
“I love horror that’s really campy or that has some kind of social relevance,” Chris added. “The Babadook was horrifying because it wasn’t just a monster. It was a whole portrayal of mental illness. For so long, being gay was called a mental illness and I think in claiming the Babadook as an icon in a weird way we were re-claiming some of those years.”
The conversation became deeper still, though, when we turned to the very real horrors that are going on every day all over the world and have been for a very long time with both Fisher and Bryant really driving home the point of their love of horror and the commentary they can make while using the genre.
“Trans women are being murdered so often in this country,” Ryan pointed out. “You think about what happened to Matthew Shepard, or you hear stories about young boys in the Middle East being murdered in the streets because they’re gay. Enemies of Dorothy was born out of this political environment. Film is an art form. Even when it’s bad art, movies have the power to make us feel things so intensely so it’s the perfect medium for us to do our part to help change that political environment.”
“It’s already opened a lot of doors,” Bryant explained. “We’ll keep writing things that are politically effective to us. We’re looking for the things that aren’t being said, and we’re going to keep saying those things.”