I grew up being deathly afraid of horror movies. I’d flip quickly through channels that had anything horror related on to prevent nightmares.
As I grew up my taste for horror began to shift–I watched Are You Afraid of the Dark?, read R.L. Stein’s teen horror series Fear Street and watched the edited for TV version of Carrie with my mother, who shares the same name as the titular heroine (or villain depending on how you see it).
I voraciously began consuming horror movies in bulk–developing a taste for the bloody, the grisly, the scary and the corny.
Despite my love for horror, much of the genre’s relationship with women is fraught at best. Sidney Prescott, in Scream, may have put it best when asked if
she likes scary movies.
What’s the point? They’re all the same. Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can’t act who is always running up the stairs when she
should be running out the front door. It’s insulting.
Women can be shown as mere sex objects, flashing their breasts and then dying in grisly ways for doing so. They can also be used as disgustingly ornamental
trophies for the killer. But horror has also brought some excellent female characters to the forefront, Prescott, Laurie Strode, Carrie White, Nancy
Thompson, the entire cast of The Craft. In many horror films, women dictate the narrative–Jason wouldn’t be Jason without his mother in Friday the 13th.
Throughout October, Women and Hollywood will be running a series exploring women, feminism and horror films. Pieces will look at tropes including: coming-of-age, killer
women, the revenge sub-genre, women and horror television. We will examine both the potential for subversion of gender roles and the negative depictions within.
We will also run interviews with women in horror alongside reviews of upcoming women-centric horror films and TV shows.
We hope you enjoy this special feature.