February is Women in Horror Month, and I'm Celebrating With Some of My Favorite Female Horror Characters and Creators

"If it's in a word, or it's in a look, you can't get rid of the Babadook."
Publish date:
February 19, 2016
movies, scary movies, horror films, Women In Film, The Babadook

My Uncle Barry was the first person in my life to tell me that girls could love monsters.

Uncle Barry is my godfather, and has two daughters of his own who would become my first babysitters. One fateful summer, my Mom brought myself and my siblings over to my Uncle Barry and Aunt Mary Anne's house. Uncle Barry and Aunt Mary Anne had a pool, and a huge backyard where I could go on bug hunts. Because I was a burgeoning Nosferatu and loathed the sun, I refrained from splashing around in the pool and would stay inside.

I specifically remember looking at all the VHS tapes that lined Uncle Barry's family room wall. I read their names: Dracula, Frankenstein, and Kingdom of the Spiders. Obviously, my uncle is a huge horror fan himself. When I was sitting inside one day, Uncle Barry asked me if I would like to watch Them!, and my love of horror was born.

When I was young, Uncle Barry assured me that there was nothing wrong with a little girl who loved horror, who wanted to be a werewolf, or who rooted for Dracula and not Van Helsing. Uncle Barry not only encourage my love of monsters, he created one, morphing me into the horror fiend that I am today.

This February marks the 7th annual Women in Horror Month. From the Women Horror Month website:

"Women in Horror Month (WiHM) is an international, grassroots initiative, which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. Whether they are on the screen, behind the scenes, or contributing in their other various artistic ways, it is clear that women love, appreciate, and contribute to the horror genre."

The first thought that came to mind after reading the WiHM statement was "FINALLY." In the spirit of what the hardworking individuals over at WiHM have created, here is a compilation of some of my favorite female creators and female characters in horror. For the sake of not being redundant and repeating myself in multiple articles, I refrained from including female characters that I've already talked about on xoJane. I'm sorr, Selena and Lucy Westenra!

Creators of Hideous Progeny

Mary Shelley originally published Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus anonymously due to the belief that such a ghastly tale would not be well-received by an audience if they knew a woman wrote it. Shelley eventually revised her work and published the second edition of Frankenstein under her own name. She started a tradition of female writers and architects of horror, one that continues to this day.

Jennifer Kent, Writer and Director, The Babadook

"If it's in a wordOr it's in a lookYou can't get rid of the Babadook."

The Babadook is one of the best horror films to come out this decade. It follows the story of Amelia, a mother, who is raising her son, Samuel, while still grieving her husband's death. One day, Samuel asks Amelia to read him Mister Babadook as a bedtime story. This is the catalyst to a nightmare for both the family and the viewer.

The Babadook is a cinematic and horror triumph. Kent clearly loves the horror genre herself. In an interview with NYMAG, Kent defines horror as being a "pure form of cinema." I couldn't agree more.

Ana Lily Amirpour, Writer and Director, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

"Don't leave me. Don't leave me alone."

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night breathes life into a genre that has been sucked dry by glittery vampires and mindless gore. Salon famously touted this film as a "feminist-romantic Iranian vampire movie." Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night brings the vampire genre back to its brooding roots, with a dash of sartorial elegance for good measure.

Killer Female Characters

I was sorely tempted to add the Chess Machine (voiced by Adrienne Barbeau) from The Thing (1982) to this list, but I abstained. Ripley (the Alien series), Laurie Strode (Halloween), Kirsty Cotton (Hellraiser), and Lisa (The Omega Man) are all perennial favorites, but it's time for some fresh blood. Below is are some of my favorite killer female characters in horror from 2006 onward.

Laurie, Trick r' Treat

"My, my what big eyes you have."

Trick r' Treat is one of my favorite horror films ever. It's also a needed reminder of how great Anna Paquin is when she's not playing Sookie. (Unrelated: when Pam in True Blood snarled, "Sookie... I'm so over Sookie and her precious fairy vagina, and her unbelievably stupid name. Fuck Sookie," I cheered). Paquin shines as Laurie, a nervous virgin who is preparing to attend a Halloween party in the woods. Trick r' Treat's vignette with Laurie undertakes constructions of gender smartly and has feminist undertones. For that, Laurie had to be included on this list.

Hyun-seo, The Host

The Host is a South Korean movie that depicts a man named Gang-du and his family struggling to locate his daughter Hyun-seo, after she is abducted by a river monster. Hyun-seo herself is proven to be scrappy, and refuses to give up hope—even when she is being held captive in the sewers by a mammoth, human-eating abomination of an amphibian. Hyun-seo makes the cut for this list because of her sheer grit.

Michonne, The Walking Dead

"Have you ever had to kill people because they had already killed your friends and were coming for you next? Have you ever done things that made you feel afraid of yourself afterward? Have you ever been covered in so much blood that you didn't know if it was yours or walkers or your friends? Huh? Then you DON'T know."

Michonne is a character in the television series The Walking Dead. Michonne is a bad ass, katana-wielding walker-slayer, but with a little-seen softer side. This is made evident by Michonne's occasional vulnerability and appreciation for art. Rich and complex, it's no surprise that Michonne is a fan favorite among viewers of The Walking Dead.

Jaime "Jay" Height, It Follows

In It Follows, Jaime "Jay" Height is fleeing a supernatural curse that is spread by sex. The curse manifests itself via a human form, and chronologically kills those who have been infected by it. By facing the impossibly horrific (and buoyed by a fantastic performance by actress Maika Monroe), Jaime "Jay" Height will undoubtedly one day join the pantheon of horror greats.

So readers, I ask you to share your favorite women in horror. Are you perturbed that I left Let the Right One In and Martyrs out? Did you have a relative that introduced you to horror? Who are some of your favorite female horror creators and characters! Sound off below!