February is Women in Horror Month! The 8th annual, in fact, though I first heard about it two years ago.
WIHM is intended to bring attention to women in all aspects of horror, whether writers, directors, or any number of other artistic ladies who like it scary-style. As one of these women, I figured I'd do my part and tell you about some other ladies in horror that you may not have heard of.
The Soska Sisters (Twisted Twins Productions) are a relatively new discovery for me. You can catch them on Netflix with their show Hellevator, a "reality" show that puts people in a horror setting and makes them solve puzzles of different types or they get locked up in the dungeon. With snakes. And spiders. And showers of blood. All while these two giggle malevolently at the torture. Imagine my surprise when I realized they were also responsible for the film American Mary, starring Katharine Isabelle of Gingersnaps fame. Not only that, but they had a piece in the short film anthology ABCs of Death 2. Now I know they've got other films, which I look forward to watching. Starting with Dead Hooker in a Trunk.
If you'd like to check out more female horror filmmakers, here's a great Rolling Stone article featuring a few, including Jennifer Kent (Babadook) and Karyn Kusama (Jennifer's Body and The Invitation).
Just want movies with female protagonists? Check out this list from Dazed. Or go watch Teeth, American Mary, Gingersnaps, Housebound, Scream, Cabin in the Woods, Resident Evil, or Alien. Sygourney Weaver, Milla Jovovich, and Katharine Isabelle are three of my favorite bad-ass ladies from this list. (Fun fact: I'm watching an episode of Rosewood while I type this up, and Katharine Isabelle is making an appearance on this show.)
As far as TV, if you have Netflix, I highly recommend Santa Clarita Diet, starring Drew Barrymore. This isn't one for scares, but it's a fantastic horror comedy. American Horror Story (also available on Netflix, though not a Netflix original) is also female-centric in many ways. Scream Queens and Crazyhead are both horror comedies out right now.
Also, be sure to check out horror anthologies, like The ABCs of Death, V/H/S, and others. These often feature shorts by female directors, and at least one of these was produced by a woman.
Despite what you may have heard, there's no shortage of female horror authors. We number fewer than the guys, but we're here. Some better known horror authors include Joyce Carol Oates, Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, Kathe Koja, Lisa Tuttle, Gemma Files, Tananarive Due, and Poppy Z. Brite. Here are a couple longer lists: Hellnotes, Goodreads.
For specific books I'd recommend, try Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale for some classic stories to get you started. Then look up some of the lists out there of best new horror in 2016.
Since it's also Black History Month, here's a great list (plus links within it to other lists) of black women in horror put together by Sumiko Saulson. (Also check out the Graveyard Shift Sisters, who are doing 28 Days of Black Women in Horror, which includes actresses, writers, and more.)
There are two wonderful female editors who put together horror anthologies: Ellen Datlow and Paula Guran. Check out any anthology put together by these two, and you're sure to find a ton of great horror fiction, much of it written by women. Both do Best of anthologies that I highly recommend to help you jump in and discover the current best horror authors.
Nightmare Magazine did an all-female issue entitled Women Destroy Horror. It's still available for purchase HERE.
This should be enough to get you started. And, of course, check out my publications tab if you'd like to read something of mine!
Do you have a favorite female-driven horror film? A favorite female horror author? Please post your favorite women in horror, whether they be actresses (scream queens), directors, producers, authors, or editors, in the comments!
May you find your Muse.