Okay, so I hate horror films. Why anyone would want to put themselves through fear and pain is beyond me.

However…

Horror films are immensely popular across film lovers everywhere from a variety of ages. This means that this genre is worth looking into when discussing the way that women are presented on screen and the women behind the camera.

Therefore I thought I would bite the bullet, watch some horror films and learn about the role women play in the genre.

 

To source online information I used an interactive site called ‘Paper.li’. Paper.li is an online newspaper platform that pieces together various articles and weblinks revolving around topics interested by the user. After signing up as the WIFE project heaps of interesting and helpful articles arrived in my inbox in the form of the latest edition of The WIFE Project.

This platform has helped me in finding various amounts of online sources that include social interaction with various different views. This will contribute massively to our project.

 

February is ‘women in horror’ month, which means that in the horror community celebrate women’s contribution to horror. And so many people have been getting excited and were celebrating on social media.

An article posted by promotehorror.com included an interview with Sarah Giercksky, who is a woman in film as an actress, writer and director.

In the article, Sarah talks about how ‘women in horror’ month is so important for recognising and celebrating women in a male-dominated industry.

The same website also conducted an interview with Kendall Keeling, a producer of horror films. She talks about how she doesn’t see herself as a ‘woman filmmaker’ but as a ‘horror filmmaker’, this shows how she is seeing how her equality should be to all genders and minorities.

She also mentions how as more women get behind the camera in horror certain stereotypes about women in the horror genre like the ‘damsel in distress’ is starting to change. This has taught me that in general to get a more realistic representation of women in film, more women need to be involved in making them.

(In other words please Hollywood get more women to make things and have their input – thank you!)

 

Moving this into how women on screen in horror films are seen. I found a website that broke down the evolution of women in horror films. Below I’ve done a summary of this and some thoughts about it.

In the early 1900s the horror genre was born with films like ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Dracula’. This set the president that the woman was the object of the creature’s desire, this very much sexualised women. And with films like ‘King Kong’ they were also show as a damsel in distress that needed men to save them.

Going into the 1960s, Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ showed a woman having sexual freedom for the first time for the genre. This could have been a result of the 2nd wave of feminism and the introduction of the pill (article regarding when the pill came out ). This also began the idea of women being killed for having sex.

Next was the 1970s and 1980s with popular iconic films like ‘Halloween’ furthering the horror convention that if girls having sex they will be killed and also followed the concept of the final girl (I’ll explain this more later on!).

Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween 1978

And then the 1990s was when women in horror were shown as more than just a plot device when in Scream the ‘final girl’, Sidney, has sex and still ends up surviving the film.

Sidney Prescott in Scream 1996

This changed the way women could be seen in horror films as heroes rather than just people to be saved.

However, women are still divided into “two categories: the sexually promiscuous who will die and the virginal heroine that survives”. This is because so many horror films are still following this same convention.

 

 

After watching films with others and having discussions with friends I was brought the idea of the ‘final girl’ theory.

Carol Clover’s Men, Women, and Chainsaw is a book that explores gender in horror films. A renowned part of the book is the spectatorship theory called the ‘final girl’. I thought that this idea was very interesting and look into more and found this article.

Whilst researching I found a few videos that I found interesting too.

I also found a video that replaces women in horror films with male actors. This is an intriguing take on showing how gender is presented in horror films.

 

I have learnt so much about this genre of film in terms of gender through talking to different people, watching films and researching.

Thank you so much for reading, follow our links on the sidebar to check out our social media!

~ Alice