Being a horror fan and being a feminist are often a conflicting business, because violence against women is a real life horror. And don’t even get me started on the “all sluts must die” thing that is implied when they kill off the girls that like to bone and leave the virgins til the end. Ugh. But every once in a while a horror movie will come along with a completely bad-ass female lead or a morality tale that violence against women is not okay. Horror movies that are feminist friendly are out there. Here are a smattering of some of my favorites.
Ginger Snaps, 2000, dir. John Fawcett
One of my all-time favorite horror movies, period. And if you’ve seen it, you’ll totally get that pun. If not, well, there’s a definite correlation between menses and lycanthropy in this series. Two weird and macabre sisters experience how “the curse” can change you and make you someone even your own flesh and blood doesn’t recognize. Later installments have a more historical bent, which is fun. But the first film is perfect.
Teeth, 2007, dir. Mitchell Lichtenstein
Vagina dentata. You heard. Teeth. All up in your lady biz. Teenage Dawn has a sexual awakening, with less than perfect results, especially when the boys she’s fucking around with go to far and force her to do things she doesn’t want to do. I know it’s wrong but… it’s incredibly satisfying to watch a rapist get his dick lobbed off. I mean, homeboy fucking deserved it.
I Spit on Your Grave, aka Day of the Woman (original title) 1978, dir. Meir Zarchi
Speaking of tormenting rapists, we’ve got I Spit on Your Grave. Jennifer, a writer, goes to a remote cabin to work on her novel. Four local hicks find her and torture and rape her. These scenes are really fucking hard to watch. I was working on a sewing project when I saw this movie and I was pretty thankful to have something to look at during these parts, because they are devastating. But then she brutalizes them, which is, let’s face it, also pretty devastating. Moral of the story: sometimes a monstrous act makes the victim a monstrous person.
Jennifer’s Body, 2009, dir. Karyn Kusama
I love this film. Written by Diablo Cody -of Juno fame -Megan Fox stars as Jennifer and Amanda Seyfried as Needy, her “uggo” best friend (you can tell she’s an uggo because she has glasses. And a ponytail. Yuck!). When the ladies have a night out at a band’s show and Jennifer after-parties with the band, she comes back, well, different. She’s now a she-demon who eats boys for both funsies and to look hot. And Needy needs to figure out how to save her frienemy and her boyfriend! Classic!
Alien/Aliens, 1979, dir. Ridley Scott/Aliens, 1986, dir. James Cameron
If we’re talking about bad-ass women crushing adversaries (in this case, slimy homicidal aliens) we are talking about Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley. She’s no one to fuck with and she protects her own with a fierce wrath.
The Babadook, 2014, dir. Jennifer Kent
Being a single mom is fucking hard. And if you’re kid is a little unusual and has behavioral issues it’s downright impossible. So when single mom Amelia’s son Samuel finds a pop-up book warning that the Babadook is coming and the child becomes convinced the boogie man is real, everything falls to shit. And when Amelia herself begins to believe in The Babadook is it her exhausted mind playing tricks on her or is it for real?
You’re Next, 2011, dir. Adam Wingard
A young couple, Erin and Crispian, join Crispian’s family for a weekend at the country home, only to be picked off one by one by psychopaths in animal masks. What no one saw coming was Erin’s survivalist upbringing, making her the only one with the skills to outsmart the killers. Seriously, she breaks a blender and uses the blades to pulverize a dude’s head. It’s rad as hell.