I was not previously aware of Women in Horror Month until I stumbled upon it on Instagram. It’s easy to say I’ve fallen in love with the idea. For too long women have been portrayed in horror films as the victim, whether it be sinister or not. I’m happy to have found some amazing horror films that credit the female of the species and break the conventions of horror. Not only do these films have amazing actresses, the powerful portrayals of emotion, lunacy and evil seen in them are truly a credit to the modern age of film.
- Carrie, 1976, with Sissy Spacek.
This is probably the worst first period story out there folks, based off the Stephen King novel, Carrie tells the story of a young, shy teenage girl and the horrifying experience of getting her first period.
After being abused by her peers at school and her religious nut of a mother for years, she finally cracks at Prom night when all hell lets loose. Carrie is badass. She spares no one, not giving a second thought to who you are and fucks shit up.
Not only is she accused to be a satanic witch by her mother (which would be super cool), Carrie is a master at killing people in some pretty horrific ways.
- I Spit on Your Grave, 1978, with Camille Keaton
This film is gruelling to watch with a total of 30 minutes of rape scenes, but this film has a whole lot of girl power in it. After being gang raped, leading lady Jennifer Hills gets her revenge on these disgusting men.
Using the power of seduction, Jennifer lures the men in one by one and kills them. And these aren’t quick and easy deaths like being shot. No, no, no. Jennifer is creative. For example, she castrates one of the men, and simply lets him bleed out. Cool right? By the end of the film, you no longer see her as a victim, but as a fierce woman who knows how to take revenge properly.
This film has actually been called feminist by a lot of critics for these reasons, making Jennifer Hills one badass horror lady.
- 28 days later, 2002, with Naomie Harris.
I am in love with 28 Days later for a number of reasons, Danny Boyle directed it and one of my favourite screenwriters Alex Garland wrote it, but there is also a strong female character with a very important role in this film.
Selena is everything I want to be, ok? She’s cool, strong, and knows how to survive a Zombie Apocalypse. She doesn’t take shit from no one, saves Jim (Cillian Murphy) and acts as a big sister for Hannah.
- The Descent, 2005, with Shauna MacDonald
This film is great purely for the amount of gore in it, as well as the all-female cast. With a variety of strong women all dealing with their past, they take a holiday caving in unexplored cave.
The main character Sarah (Shauna MacDoanld) is dealing with a troubled past after a car crash killing her husband and daughet. The Descent explores her path to overcoming her anxieties and killing a bunch or mutants undergoround at the same time. Granted, she never escapes, but she looks pretty sick covered in all that blood as she fights for her life.
- The Exorcist, 1973, with Linda Blair
Ahh, The Exorcist. One of my favourite horrors, and one of the best child actresses there ever was (sorry Lindsay Lohan). 12 year old Regan is played by Linda Blair, who was just 14 at the time of filming, making her portrayal of Regan even more impressive. How many 14 year olds could grasp such an understanding of evil and give such a convincing performance? I mean, The Exorcist is scary, and playing this role must have had its difficulties for young Linda at times.
Sometimes, you probably forget that Regan is a real human child, with that demonic face and intense language. You go Linda Blair.
- The Loved Ones, 2009, with Robin McLeavy
This film is great because, just like Carrie, the woman is the monster. She is not the victim, she is in control. Lola Stone is in love with Bret, and one night kidnaps him and subjects him to torture and made to take part in an at-home prom put on by Lola and her father.
Whilst it’s Lola’s father doing mos of the torturing, Lola herself is still extremely creepy and I wouldn’t want to get her on my bad side in case her dad decided to kidnap me too and pour boiling water in my brain. Ouch.
It’s very refreshing to see a male victim in horror, discarding the damsel in distress archetype that has existed for too long.
- Corpse Bride, 2005, with Helena Bonham Carter
You may be thinking that Corpse Bride isn’t technically a horror, but it has some strong overtones of it and the iconic Tim Burton weirdness that makes it creepy. Emily plays the lovely yet sad Corpse Bride, who is deprived of love and seeks this from recently deceased Victor.
Emily is so important in this film, she helps Victor return to the living and finds peace within herself at the end of the film. Whilst a bit cutesy for horror, Emily is a strong-willed character that should be looked to as a role model for young girls. She reminds us it’s ok to not marry, and is the embodiment of the phrase ‘If you love someone set them free’.
- The Aadams family, 1991-1998, with Anjelica Houston and Christina Ricci
The ultimate family goals, Morticia and Wednesday are horror’s favourite mother-daughter team. Cool as fuck, the Addam’s family girls are my style icons, I want to dress like them every day,
It’s the scene in The Addam’s Family Values film which I’m sure you all know. ‘Wednesday is at that very special age when a girl only has one thing on her mind.’ ‘Boys?’ ‘Homocide.’ Yeah, that one. Wednesday obviously stands out from other girls at camp, and does so excellently.
Morticia is a powerful woman with effortless sex appeal, amazing outfits and the mannerisms of a Queen. For this badass duo, it’s clear to see that Morticia and Wednesday have helped defined generations of women into feeling comfortable in being different to the societal expectations set for women.
- Misery, 1990, played by Kathy Bates
Now this is one woman I would not like to anger. Kathy Bates is a favourite of mine, and her performance in the Stephen King thriller Misery is where it all started.
One of the most iconic female villains of all time, Annie Wilkes is absolutely psychotic and reminds me of those crazy girls on Tumblr that name themselves ‘MrsBenedictCumberbatch’. With such a powerful performance, Annie goes from being a friendly nurse to a lunatic criminal. The most famous scene which you may be familiar with is the hammering of Paul’s feet so he can’t escape.
With an evil identity that trumps any male villain in horror, Annie Wilke’s character is truly chilling.
- Silence of the Lambs, 1991, played by Jodie Foster
Clarice Sterling, played by a young Jodie Foster, is one intelligent woman. A trainee FBI agent, it’s obvious that all the men around her doubt her abilities (apart from Hannibal) and see her as an object of sexual gratification. This is so frustrating to watch, but it’s all worth it in the end when Clarice captures Buffalo Bill and saves Catherine.
Not only is Clarice physically strong, she is a mentally strong and talented FBI officer who manages to converse with Hannibal Lecter in seemingly normal manner. Severely underrated by the male of the species, Clarice is everything that proves men wrong.
So, who do you think the best woman in horror is? Is there anyone you think should have been on this list? Comment below to let me know!