In case you weren’t aware, February is the month of women in horror. For years, the only role that females had in horror flicks was to portray countless final girls, scream queens, horror babes, and whatever else you like to call them. Eventually as the world progressed, we began to see more and more women working behind the camera and in various places throughout the production process. And while that’s awesome, women are playing another pivotal role in our beloved genre–as fans. According to www.ew.com “women buy more tickets to slasher pics than men”. However, this wasn’t always the case. So what is it that makes women crave the macabre so much more? And what changed around the genre that lead to this existing guy to girl ratio? Maybe it’s the shift in power.[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#B20000″ class=”” size=””]…women are playing another pivotal role in our beloved genre–as fans.”[/pullquote]
When analyzing lead female characters in genre films, there are typically three character types: The heroic final girl, the girl with animosity towards men, and the good girl gone bad. I mean when you think about it, Horror is a uniquely empowering genre for females. In Slasher flicks, approximately equal number of men and women die, but it’s typically a lone female survivor that makes it out alive. A lot of people affiliate the final girls of horror with the 1970s and 80s. After all ,these are the decades that gave us Laurie Strode, Alice Hardy, Kristy Cotton, Ellen Ripley, Sally Hardesty, and many more. Then the 90’s continued the trend with Sidney Prescott of Scream and Julie James of I Know What You Did Last Summer.
All of that said, the final girls of modern horror tend to get overlooked. But if we look at the last 15 years you’ll undoubtedly see the birth of some amazing female characters. Think about Erin Harson from You’re Next. This character single-handedly kills five antagonists in one night. Or Jenny from Eden Lake. Jenny shows unbelievable courage and strength while attempting to save her husband from murderous teenagers. But perhaps the most unique case is the reboot of The Evil Dead. The legendary main character of Ash Williams is completely replaced by another character–a female character. Mia might not have the same arrogant and cocky attitude as Ash, but she sure as hell has the same formidable fighting techniques. These final girls are not only fortuitous, but they use their brains and often conjure up a clever strategy to not only survive, but to outsmart the antihero. Of course, women aren’t always portrayed as the victim-turned-heroine.[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#B20000″ class=”” size=””]Horror is a uniquely empowering genre for females.[/pullquote]
Killer women are nothing new, but things really started to pick up in the 2000’s. The female characters from this era are often downright evil, and there’s one trait that they typically share with each other–the resentment of men. Jennifer from Jennifer’s Body is our prime example. When Needy tells Jennifer “you’re killing people”; Jennifer replies with “no, I’m killing boys”. Abby from Nurse 3D is another great example. She specifically targets cheating husbands and uses her sexuality as bait. And don’t get me started on Lola from The Loved Ones. She’s by far the craziest. If you don’t want to find yourself kidnapped, tied to a chair, and preparing to have your head drilled at an awkward family dinner; all you gotta do is take Lola to the dance.
Finally, we have our good girls gone bad. These are the fragile female characters that transform into revenge seeking nightmares. Jennifer from I Spit On Your Grave and Mary from American Mary just might take the cake in this category. These are two characters that get raped and come back to exact revenge in the most painful of ways. If you’re still not convinced that horror gives women the upper hand; just think about the movie Teeth. After being raped, Dawn realizes that she has teeth in her lady parts. So what does she do? She uses these new-found nippers to seek vengeance upon pigheaded men everywhere. Ouch… Direct rape and/or assault is not always the cause of turn in these characters, though.[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#B20000″ class=”” size=””] If you’re still not convinced that horror gives women the upper hand; just think about the movie Teeth.[/pullquote]
In Sympathy for Lady Vengeance Geum-ja Lee serves her time in prison after being falsely accused of the kidnap and murder of a six year old boy. Upon leaving prison, she plots her revenge against the men that should rightfully be held accountable. And trust me when I say things get disturbing. And what about Hayley in Hard Candy. Hayley isn’t really a victim, but she stands for girls that have been prey to predators. She doesn’t physically hurt Jeff per se, but she psychologically manipulates and tortures him throughout the duration of the film. I mean if you can make a guy believe you castrated him… that’s some serious mental warfare.
Whether it’s badass final girls, notorious villains, or the fragile girls turned psycho killers; it’s refreshing to see the horror genre go against the dumbed-down persona that society tends to give women. As the anemic gender, the female population can take pleasure in watching movies where an assaulted woman takes the ultimate vengeance. It’s not that we love seeing men in pain – well, maybe a little – but it’s more about the power being handed to us. Remember the aforementioned article from EW? According to their findings “even the movies popularly known as torture porn, in which hot babes in hot pants are often subjected to medieval torture devices, hold an appeal for young women as well.”
So while it’s amazing to see increase in number of women working on horror productions both behind and in front of the camera, today we’d like to take just a bit of additional time to acknowledge all of you awesome ladies that love and appreciate horror movies as much as we do. Let’s all be weird together.