Horror Movies Directed by Women
Women’s History Month made an impact last month, and a majority of people are taking to social media to discuss equal opportunities in Hollywood for both men and women. Similarly, the hashtag #FemaleFilmmakerFriday has been gaining some popularity on Twitter. With Disney using the hashtag to help promote Ava DuVernay’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and Marvel using the hashtag to promote season two of ‘Jessica Jones’ on Netflix.
As a fan of the mischief, the macabre, and all things horror, I couldn’t help but think of some women in the world of horror movies. Female characters play a role in scary films, but they are not always playing the helpless victims running away from the masked killer.
Actresses such as Jamie Lee Curtis and Heather Langenkamp helped pave the way for women in the world of horror by being heroines instead of helpless victims. However, it’s quite common to find more males than females behind the camera, especially in scary movies. This is why these horror movies directed by women are worth celebrating and viewing.
- Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
Directed by – Rachel Talalay
Rachel Talalay worked on two previous ‘Elm Street’ movies as a producer and 1991’s ‘Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare’ was her directorial debut, which saw Freddy Krueger’s daughter fight for her life. According to a 1991 ‘New York Times’ interview, Talalay says she was constantly told, “Don’t be too girly and don’t be too sensitive”- Whether you enjoy the movie or not, bringing in $35 million, working on a classic horror franchise, and a classic character is a huge accomplishment for anyone.
- The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
Directed by – Amy Holden Jones
Novelist Rita Mae Brown helped to write the script, and the sequels were also written and directed by women. Deborah Brock worked on the sequel for a 1987 release, and Sally Mattison, with screenwriter Catherine Cyran, on 1990’s part three. At times this movie made me laugh, even though I don’t think that was the original intent. It feels like a parody of slasher movies, with blonde haired women wearing skimpy clothing, the killer shows up, the phone isn’t working, you get the idea.
- Pet Sematary (1989)
Directed by – Mary Lambert
Lambert was known for directing ‘MTV’ music videos for Madonna and Janet Jackson back in the day before she adapted the eerie Stephen King story. Lambert is also responsible for creating one of the cutest kiddie maniac serial killers the big screen has ever seen. According to IMDb, ‘Pet Sematary’ also ranks as one of the top 100 highest grossing horror movies of all time with a domestic box office of $57.4 million. Lambert continued her success by directing an episode of ‘Tales from the Crypt’ and a sequel to ‘Pet Sematary’.
- American Psycho (2000)
Directed by – Mary Harron
Stylish, violent, and at times funny, Christian Bale couldn’t have possibly been a perfect choice for the deranged, rich, Phil Collins loving character, Patrick Bateman. A blistering satire on American capitalism and the privileged with a fine touch of horror and humor. Bateman’s character loves music, and the music adds to the creepiness of the film. I personally had a great time seeing Christian Bale listening to the song “It’s Hip to be Square” while having to choose between a chainsaw or a butcher knife for his next victim.
- Near Dark (1987)
Directed by – Kathryn Bigelow
Bigelow would later go on to be an Oscar-winning director, but before she gave us ‘The Hurt Locker,’ Bigelow gave us the horror cult classic ‘Near Dark.’ This film gave us one of Bill Paxton’s best performances, and I love the take on a film combining genres, in this case, horror, vampires, and a Western movie all meeting in one.
- Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Directed by – Karyn Kusama
‘Jennifer’s Body’ is about a high school horror tale about a cheerleader, played by Megan Fox, who transforms into a demonic boy eating demon. I was really looking forward to this film when it came out. The script came from Oscar-winner Diablo Cody, known for ‘Juno’, and you had Megan Fox doing something different from ‘Transformers’ at the time. This movie didn’t exactly light me or the world on fire, on the other hand, it’s smart, funny, a blend of ‘The Lost Boys’ meets ‘Mean Girls’, and I believe it will become a cult-classic in years to come.
- RAW (2016)
Directed by – Julia Ducournau
The movie that made stomachs turn made people vomit, and pass out during a screening. This movie about peer pressure is a smart flick filled with symbolism. The main character is a vegetarian and turns into a bloodthirsty cannibal. The film has a current rating of 90% on ‘Rotten Tomatoes,’ and it’s a fantastic example of women making a great horror film, blood splatter gore, and can produce work as good if not better than male horror directors.
- A Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Directed by – Ana Lily Amirpour
An Iranian black and white vampire movie became a film festival favorite, and director Ana Lily Amirpour earned several awards for this film. I didn’t know much about this film until I saw it on Netflix, and it became a film that breathed new life into the vampire genre that has gotten so stale the last couple of years. It’s a vampire movie, it has romance, some details you’d see in a Western movie, and I had a blast with the soundtrack.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
Directed by – Fran Rubel Kuzui
Most people know ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ as a television show, but it first started out as a film. The film was written by the up-and-coming talent ‘Marvel’s Avengers’ director Joss Whedon. The show starring Sarah Michelle Gellar became way more popular than the film with Kristy Swanson. I dig the tone of this movie, and it’s a little lighter than the TV series. The cast that includes Donald Sutherland, Hilary Swank, Rutger Hauer, and Pee-Wee Herman all doing a good job and they seem to be having some fun in their roles.
- The Babadook (2014)
Directed by – Jennifer Kent
The first time Australian filmmaker delivered one of the best horror films in ages with, ‘The Babadook.’ Kent was the writer and director of ‘The Babadook,’ and it’s a beautifully told story of a mother and son having to deal with Mr. Babadook, a top-hatted, black-cloaked, razor-sharp claw ghoul that comes out of a children’s book. The story may seem simple, of a mother and son dealing with a boogeyman. On the other hand, this is a great psychological thriller with a surprise twist for an ending. For a first time filmmaker, Kent makes an old story something new and refreshing.
From ‘Raw’ to ‘The Babadook,’ there’s never been a better time for women to take more control of horror movies both onscreen and behind the scenes.