This is an excellent book and the only full volume on the subject. Horror reveals our collective cultural fears, things we find threatening even if we cannot explain why, things we consciously or unconsciously identify as "Other." Much has been written about how horror films illustrate fears concerning race and gender, but our culture's obvious prejudices toward queer (non-hetero) sexuality and their representation in the genre have never been this directly and thoroughly addressed.
Benshoff moves through the material chronologically dealing not only with the films, but the evolving medical and social approaches to the subject. The chapters on classic horror are especially thorough and entertaining. Moving into the era of the Production Code, censorship forced audiences and filmmakers alike to read/write between the lines. Some changes forced by Code officials unintentionally made the material more lurid and suggestive than before. As Benshoff gets into our current postmodern era, things become much more complicated, and the author is not as elaborate as he might be, but by then we've already been through a substantial volume of material, not to mention the difficulty of writing about movements and trends still playing themselves out.
Reading this book will change how you watch movies. If you look at "The Lost Boys," for example, and substitute "queer" or "homosexual" for "vampire," you get a very different movie loaded high with innuendo. When you consider that director Joel Schumacher is openly gay, "The Lost Boys" becomes a subversive queer film made for straight people. Sure, the vampires die at the end, but Benshoff argues here that their attractive image of raw sexual power lingers with audiences more than their destruction.
Most of the negative reviews here cite problems with the author's lack of "proof." Benshoff clearly states in his introduction that this is a subjective analysis. He reads the films from the perspective of a queer audience. While directors like James Whale intentionally coded queer figures into their films, many did not. It is precisely the unawareness of these filmmakers that makes their representation of situations and figures that can be read as queer so telling about the attitudes and underlying feelings of the culture at large. Also, queer filmgoers, like everyone else, look for themselves in the films they see and are sensitive to such representations, regardless of intent.
Overall this is a highly intelligent, entertaining book that opens a dialogue we need to be having both inside and outside the academic community. If you're interested in horror, film analysis or queer theory, this is definitely a book to pick up. For myself it's up there with Carol J. Clover's "Men, Women, And Chainsaws" as a modern milestone in film theory.