The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Resurrection
Directed by Nathan Noyes & the Boulet Brothers.
Written by the Boulet Brothers.
Starring the Boulet Brothers, Frankie Doom, Kendra Onixxx, Loris, Priscilla Chambers, Saint, & Victoria Black.
Not Rated / 124 minutes
Documentary / Horror
The following article contains SPOILERS re: certain looks & content in Dragula: Resurrection.
Turn back, lest ye be spoiled!!!
I’ve known I was queer for the better part of my life. I only publicly came out last year, at thirty-four years old. A significant aspect of why I felt comfortable telling everybody I’m queer is due to discovering the joy of drag performances, feeling confident in my queer identity via the magic of drag. I’ve never done it myself, but the past few years I’ve gravitated more and more towards seeking out new drag artists the same way that, being a film lover, I’m constantly on the lookout for new films.
I was a teen in the late ’90s. RuPaul, long before Drag Race, was already a part of pop culture, though the series was eventually what started my foray into experiencing everything drag performers have to offer. From there I started paying attention to the local drag scene in my own city. St. John’s has many talented queens, such as \garbagefile, Irma Gerd, Herpaghonna, and others. Drag Race is great, and I love many queens who’ve stomped that runway, but it doesn’t represent all drag. Seeing your local queens—and kings, and those who don’t define themselves either way!—can often give you the best representation of what drag’s all about at its core.
The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula is where my love of drag as an art form and my lifelong adoration of horror came together. I enjoyed it right from the start, only more so as time has gone on and the production values have gotten better; the quality of the show’s performers has never been any issue. What’s so exciting about Resurrection is that the Boulet Brothers have given twofold insight into drag performance as an art form. On one hand, the filming of floor shows due to the COVID-19 pandemic looks at what life is like in the current landscape for drag queens. On the other hand, it also gives us a more intimate look at the individual processes queens go through when they’re working at home, like they normally might before getting ready to do a show at a club. Plus, it’s Dragula: the show was made for Halloween! This special’s a cross between documentary, reality TV drag competition, and a horror flick.
And there’s a few beefcake concubines, obviously.
“If you cannot change with the times,
you will get lost in history.”
The queens brought back to potentially get resurrected for Season 4 were amazing choices. Some highlights for me: Kendra Onixxx opening up about her fiery accident, which was horrifying, then saying “You can‘t burn a real witch” and bringing her fire talents back from the dead for the competition; Priscilla Chambers’s sex worker ghost, I’ll circle back to that later; Frankie Doom talking about working at a haunt and the wonderful quote “You never stop scaring“; and hearing Saint speak about herself.
In general, Resurrection brought a lot of heart, and it matched heart with style. The music was so good, it kept me dancing and vibing to the queens at home alone in my living room. All the bits with Swanthula and Dracmorda showcasing their looks in brief horror vignettes were perfect VHS era creeps. The special’s atmosphere feels perfect for Halloween, it’s something I’ll watch again on the night of, to get into a spooky groove. Naturally it’s the work of the Boulet Brothers’ “cunty little cadavers” that makes Resurrection such an eerie, disgusting treat! In a time where many drag queens have been relegated to online shows and virtual brunches, seeing this group of monsters working from home gives better appreciation for their vast talents.
Many already wonder why I and so many others around the globe love horror, and there are far more than enough repressed straight people mortified by the art of drag. Put the two together and a major cross-section of society is just dumbstruck. I mean, fuck them if they don’t get it. But if they’re at all interested in art they’d have to admire seeing the work the queens do throughout Resurrection. Victoria Black’s set construction was particularly impressive, I feel like she should be working on indie horror films doing practical effects and set design, OR just making her own short drag horror films. Just the level of detail queens like Saint and Dahli bring to the table is artistry in a deep, pure sense; Saint’s take on the ghost was my #1 look of the special. All the performers are talented, winner or not.
Below are my choices for Top 5 Looks in Resurrection.
I don’t mean to parallel Dragula with Drag Race because the queer community can be richer for having both, it doesn’t have to be one or the other, and I do enjoy both shows for different reasons. However, Drag Race is largely a show for relatively conventional queens who do certain styles of mainstream drag. Not knocking anybody, either. I love plenty of so-called pageant queens, and I love me a proper glam queen! I’m simply a sucker for the weird, wild, and scary. There are only so many off the beaten path queens that make it to Ru’s stage, from Sharon Needles to Yvie Oddly and a handful of others over the course of twelve whole seasons. Dragula offers a spotlight for the queens who like to do the strange, the creepy, the filthy, yet who can be glamorous at the same time. The personalities of performers showcased by the Boulet Brothers do good work for the LGBTQ2IA community, too. People get to see queer people aren’t a monolith, there are many different identities and personalities. I’m also a wrestling fan, so I tend to think of Dragula and Drag Race existing at once being beneficial for drag the same way I see a company like AEW being good for the wrestling business because Vince McMahon won’t have a stranglehold on an entire industry. Dragula‘s another avenue for drag artists labelled controversial, unconventional, or weird, and another platform on TV for queer people alongside the one offered by Ru currently.
That’s not the only major reason the show’s great for queer representation.
It was a joy to see Priscilla Chambers representing for trans drag queens—her swamp witch was my favourite performance in Resurrection because she looked like she was having an absolute ball getting creepy and filthy and witchy. Trans drag has been a somewhat touchy subject over on RuPaul’s Drag Race, where there have been openly trans queens but there’s been much more discord—and discourse—between Ru and the many queens who’ve graced his stage who either later transitioned or are major supporters of their trans brothers/sisters. Dragula has offered a space where gender/gender expression has been free to be whatever the contestants make of it, not what the Boulet Brothers decide. Unlike Ru’s contentious relationship with the trans community in the past couple years, deciding who can or can’t be what he deems a drag queen. An important thing to remember: we don’t need gatekeepers. Queer people have been kept outside the gates enough by white heteronormative society, we don’t need queers gatekeeping each other to make life any harder.
Ru’s really come to represent a definitively Baby Boomer perspective on the queer community. I’m not trying to dismiss the obviously great work Ru has done in the past for drag and queer people. However, we can’t ignore Mama Ru’s major blindspots (i.e. trans drag performers, hydraulic fracking). Because such a major, and important, platform for drag has been complicated by Ru’s questionable statements, as well as his obvious neoliberalism, it feels like more now than ever before that Dragula, and artists like Priscilla, are so, so badly needed in the queer community during 2020 and beyond. Priscilla’s sex worker ghost strolling the block then rolling out the trans flag with a Black fist over it was a powerful moment that I certainly won’t forget.
Resurrection was perfect to me. The Boulet Brothers knocked things out of the park in terms of Halloween and paying tribute to the horror genre. The opening is a first-person POV shot with the audience as protagonist in a horror movie, peeking through a Gothic house where Swanthula and Dracmorda are lurking, along with plenty of fresh, beefy meat. There’s a great Clockwork Orange-but-make-it-gay shot of a dude being forced to watch movies. All throughout the special we get 1980s-style film stock shots, specifically exteriors for the various locations; one of my favourites has the Boulet Brothers standing at the end of a dark street like Michael Myers. The title screen itself is ripped straight from VHS, complete with tracking adjustments, harking back to the golden age of slashers.
Dragula is necessary in today’s America. And, yes, again with the Drag Race: Dragula‘s necessary in a world where many people are under the impression that RuPaul dictates the terms of professional drag. We need diversity in the queer community as much as diversity everywhere else, in terms of gender, race, sexuality, and class. The Boulet Brothers have given a voice to the otherwise voiceless monsters who don’t get to be seen on a more mainstream show, and who may even struggle at home in their own scenes where non-conventional drag isn’t thriving.
Resurrection showcases the best aspects of Dragula, and helps stake the queer claim to Halloween. This is a season during which queer people have long been able to express themselves without (as much) fear of reprisal because Halloween is a time when makeup and costumes, even gender-bending, is generally acceptable. October’s a time of year for those considered Other by society, from queers to witches to horror lovers. Dragula: Resurrection is a visual anthem for all creepy queers who love a good scare, no matter if you’re a monster for a day or all year round.