This February marks the 8th annual Women in Horror Month. I figured I should remind all one or two of my readers that I myself am a lady horror fan. I recently watched the fun documentary Why Horror? which follows super fan and horror journalist Tal Zimerman as he explores the many reasons why people love the genre. “Horror journalist” sounds like a dream job. In the documentary, Tal gets to talk to a LOT of very cool people like George Romero and John Carpenter which fills me with both infinite delight and stark raving jealousy.
An early part of the documentary investigates the reasons why watching a horror movie is a great first date, presumably because it stimulates us and gives straight dudes an excuse to put their arms around a chick. A particularly obnoxious experiment during this segment entails a woman who goes on dates with several different guys and is instructed to have different reactions to a horror movie. The experiment found that (hetero) dudes perceive women who are afraid of the movie to be much more attractive than ladies who really dig the scares. Then they did the experiment in reverse and (hetero) women reported that they found it more attractive when a man didn’t seem fazed by the film. To which I kindly say, “FUCK. THAT”.
Women who love horror are the BEST dates, girlfriends, and wives. We are cool as shit. We can have thoughtful discussions about werewolves, disembowelment and cannibalism! C’MON. On the flip side, men who have authentic reactions and genuine feelings are sexy as hell. I would rather laugh along at a ridiculous blood bath scene or share a jump scare together than be with someone who can’t show any emotion. Thankfully, my wonderful boyfriend supports my horror fandom and encourages the hell out of it – even though he doesn’t love them as much as me.
Luckily the documentary goes on to support girls who love gore and features a bevy of kick-ass women in horror, like the Soska Sisters, Barbara Crampton, and Karen Lam. These women, along with hundreds of others, are my soul sisters. Literally. I want to steal their souls like Shang Tsung.
Women who make horror movies have made tremendous strides in the 2000s. Karyn Kusama, Roxanne Benjamin, and Jennifer Kent are only a few examples of ladies making quality horror. I hope this trend continues but starts featuring one of many amazing black women who are creating horror.
There are countless reasons why women enjoy horror movies, but I guarantee that they’re pretty much the same reasons that men like them. Like my fellow fans of fear, I love horror for many different reasons. I love the thrill of feeling scared. I love the creativity of the genre. I love gore and special makeup effects. I find it entertaining when people jump and gasp and clap and laugh at the theater. Plus, watching horror movies reminds me of growing up. Women can and do enjoy a good scary movie (or an awesomely bad Z movie like “Honky Holocaust“) just as much as men. I would put my passion for horror up against the mightiest meat(cleaver)head. Why does this constantly surprise people?
What you may not realize is that we are everywhere. Women who love horror are not always the goth girl next door – although those gorgeous ladies are my heroes. Lady horror fans and creators are every type of woman. For example, I enjoy monogrammed sweatshirts and know way too much about most of the Real Housewives. Can’t believe it? Care to test my horror credibility? Bring it on and I’ll go toe-to-toe with any naysayer while simultaneously dismembering said toes one by one.
So this February, I first command you to learn and celebrate all you can about black history. If you’re white like me, I particularly challenge you to examine your privilege and to demand more diversity in horror. Support horror movies and books made by women, directors of color, and foreign artists. Fear is subjective and including diverse perspectives will only promote creativity within the genre, which is something that horror fans obviously crave.
After you feel sufficiently ‘woke’ (ha), remember all of the bad ass ladies of horror this month. Love and thank your fiancee or sister or neighbor who lives for splatter and the macabre. We’ll probably be pretty handy to have around when the zombie apocalypse actually happens.