All the Gay and Gay-ish Movies Van on “Yellowjackets” Should Catch Up on After Getting Out of the Wilderness

We know Teen Van loves movies, but now that we’ve met Adult Van in season two of Yellowjackets, we know for certain she’s a verifiable Film Gay. She owns a video rental store called While You Were Streaming that rents out retro VHSs, and she’s out here giving the gays great movie recs like The Watermelon Woman and Party Girl. So, I had to investigayte: What movies did Van miss out on while she was busy surviving in the wilderness? What should be on her watchlist for when she gets out?

First, a timeline: We don’t know exactly when the plane crashed, but it’s reasonable to assume it’s late spring or early summer. The soccer season hadn’t ended yet, and the wilderness wasn’t frozen over yet. Let’s go with May? In addition, we don’t know exactly when they get out of the woods beyond it being 1998, though I’m guessing it’s early 1998 since someone makes reference to them being out there for 1.5 years. To keep matters simple, I’m going to constrain this list between the beginning of 1996 and the end of 1998. Even though the plane didn’t go down until spring, let’s assume Van was too busy between school, soccer, and her secret relationship with Tai to get to the movies as much as she would have liked to. And even though Van likely got out earlier that year, let’s give our cinephile a little breather to recover from the horrors of the wilderness before she settles into some good gay programming.

The first section of the list includes movies in which the queerness is overtly textual and we get to see girls kissing girls. The second section includes all the queer-adjacent films Van would probably enjoy. The list is not meant to be exhaustive (for example, Chasing Amy is not to be found).


Van’s Post-Wilderness Watchlist Part 1: Explicitly Queer Movies from 1996-1998

These are the movies Van should prioritize immediately after getting out of the wilderness (okay, so maybe after some therapy sessions, sure):

The Watermelon Woman (1996)

Cheryl Dunye and Guinevere Turner sitting on a bed with wine glasses in The Watermelon Woman

Ranked #5 in Autostraddle’s 50 Best Lesbian Movies of All Time list and a personal favorite of mine, Cheryl Dunye’s groundbreaking film that blends queer film history, personal narrative, and lesbian romance is beloved by most lesbian cinephiles — and deservedly so. We already know Van digs this movie, as she’s quick to rec it to a cutie who comes into her rental store. But did that love form before the crash or after? It’s probably safe to assume after, as I doubt this suburban Jersey town would have been on the gay & lesbian film festival circuit. The movie aired on the Sundance Channel in 1998, so here’s to hoping someone gifted Van a premium cable package as a post-wilderness gift!

Hide and Seek (1996)

three young girls on a bench in the movie Hide and Seek

Notably the only “documentary” on our top 50 list, Hide and Seek actually doesn’t fit the constraints of nromative genres and instead creates its own form to explore lesbian childhoods, and I think Van would appreciate the experimental nature of this film!

Foxfire (1996)

Angelina Jolie's face is held by another woman, the colors are purple and rust and pink, in Foxfire.

I feel like Van had an unhealthy obsession with Angelina Jolie — OR AM I PROJECTING? I bet Taissa has read the Joyce Carol Oates novel this movie is based on and would point out any and all discrepancies/changes if watching it alongside Van.

Fire (1996)

Van does strike me as the kind of cinephile who is quick to remind people that a survey of queer film is incomplete if it does not consider international releases. Perhaps that coupled with a burgeoning interest in Canada after being stranded there would lead her to this Indian Canadian Hindi-language movie from Deepa Mehta about sisters-in-law who fall in love.

I Shot Andy Warhol (1996)

Lili Taylor at a desk in I Shot Andy Warhol

Van has loved Lili Taylor ever since seeing Mystic Pizza, I just know it.

Bound (1996)

Corky and Violet in Bound

Okay, obviously. Van probably develops a tradition of watching Bound AT LEAST annually, if not quarterly. I can’t say I’ve ever desired to watch a movie with a fictional character — until now. I wish more than anything I could watch Bound with Van.

Crash (1996)

two women having sex in a car in Crash

I do like to think Van would also love my personal favorite Cronenberg movie. Perhaps the title would be triggering for a survivor of a plane crash, but I would be quick to assure Van like “nooooo babe it’s about CAR crashes and specifically people being sexually aroused by car crashes, don’t worry bout it!”

Set it Off (1996)

The cast of Set It Off — Queen Latifah as Cleo, Kimberely Elise as TT, Vivica A. Fox as Frankie, and Jada Pinkett Smith as Cleo — sit together laughing on a roof.

This is the movie that will place Van on the right side of history (believing all heist movies should feature AT LEAST one lesbian).

MURDER and murder (1996)

Autostraddle’s 18th best lesbian movie of all time, MURDER and murder is an effervescent experimental film on longterm partnership that Van would find lots to love about.

All Over Me (1997)

Leisha Hailey with pink hair in a still from All Over Me

I meeeeean this movie, which comes in at #13 on our top 50 list, is dykey as hell, and I feel like Van would have listened to any and all of Leisha Hailey’s various music projects back in the day.

It’s in the Water (1997)

two women embrace in It's In The Water

The 90s energy of this movie is, frankly, unparalleled. I feel like Van and Tai would develop a drinking game to play with it.

Gia (1998)

Angelina Jolie in Gia

Again, I’m getting Angelina Jolie Ruined My Life vibes from Van. And who can blame her? She was a gay teen in the 90s. I’m also getting My Comfort Movies Are Sad As Fuck vibes from Van, and as someone whose comfort movie is The Hours, I can relate!!!!!

Wild Things (1998)

Neve Campbell and Denise Richards kissing in Wild Things

I bet Van had the same reaction to this kiss the way I did when I saw it while closeted!!!!!!! If only I could go back in time and tell Van all about the fact that Denise Richards eventually becomes embroiled in bisexual drama on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills!!!!!!! I’d first have to explain to her that Bravo isn’t really for pop culture countdowns anymore and has evolved into a reality television empire ruled by the whims of Andy Cohen, but it would be worth it.

Fucking Amal / Show Me Love (1998)

Elin and Agnes in Fucking Amal

Beloved here at Autostraddle as one of the best coming-of-age lesbian movies of all time, this 90s classic holds the fuck up! I’m positive Van has it available to rent on VHS at her shop.

High Art (1998)

Ally Sheedy and Radha Mitchell, High Art, 1998

Who doesn’t love a movie about an age gap relationship with questionable work/personal boundaries! Surely Van is not immune to the appeal of messy queer characters — she and Taissa both fit the bill!


Van’s Post-Wilderness Watchlist Part 2: Queer-Adjacent Movies from 1996-1998

Once Van has inevitably made her way through all those movies with a quickness, it’s time for the time honored queer cinephile rite of passage: obsessing over movies that aren’t technically gay but feel gay. Here’s what she missed when she was busy doing bear heart blood sacrifice ceremonies with Lottie and taking care of her sleepwalking possessed girlfriend in the wilderness.

Romeo + Juliet (1996)

claire danes and leonardo dicaprio in Romeo + Juliet

It is one of the great cultural traditions of 90s dykes to become ferally obsessed with this movie.

The Birdcage (1996)

Can you not picture Teen Van rocking this entire Armand getup?

Harriet the Spy (1996)

Michelle Trachtenberg in Harriet the Spy

Van is such a Harriet!

The Craft (1996)

the girls of The Craft

Maybe the gothic ritualism of The Craft would hit a little too close to home for poor Van — or maybe it would be healing and transformative.

The First Wives Club (1996)

the women of First Wives Club — Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton — dressed in all white

Not only does Van love this movie, but her karaoke song is “You Don’t Own Me.”

Scream (1996)

Billy and Stu in Scream

Can I in good conscience recommend a slasher to someone who survived a cannibal cult? Probably not! And yet! I can easily see Van becoming a horror girlie — like she has lived through that shit. And she’d be a total sucker for the meta comedy at play in this gamechanging movie!!!!

Practical Magic (1997)

Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic

I feel like Van would be very drawn to the aesthetics of this movie. Perhaps it even inspired her small-town life.

Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion (1997)

Romy and Michelle

Oh you KNOW Van is constantly quoting this movie in everyday conversation!

The Faculty (1998)

Famke Jansen in The Faculty

I just think Van would take a…uh…special interest in Famke Janssen as a schoolteacher possessed by a horny alien in this movie.

Strike! (1998)

the cast of Strike! (1998)

Despite being a lover of Kiki Dunst AND all-girls school-set movies, I have not seen this film! But queer movie nerds Drew Burnett Gregory and Riese Bernard both suggested it for this list, and I trust them!


Okay, that’s more than enough to get Van started on her movie catchup after the wilderness! What else do you think she should watch?

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 841 articles for us.

12 Comments

  1. Ok Kayla the fact that you haven’t seen Strike has perhaps… broken me? Personally? So I took the liberty of looking it up and you can stream it on Paramount+ or on Starz.

    I genuinely think you will love any movie that includes Kristen Dunst saying “up your ziggy with wah-wah brush!” and was based on Glenn Close‘s time at an all-girls boarding school.

  2. I have thought about films and pop culture from early 1998 SO MUCH re: the Yellowjackets getting rescued

    my main obsession is the fact that Titanic would probably be showing in cinemas. can you imagine if Shauna went to see it? a character called Jack, dying a freezing and preventable death?? my poor girl

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