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Women in Horror have always shined in front of the screen, but it’s the unsung women behind the stories who are changing the face of the genre.

There are only amazing actresses and characters in horror, but also the people behind the camera or the words on the page that conduct the grim and gory stories.

This list focused more on modern women in film and literature, so unfortunately horror queens like Mary Shelley and Shirley Jackson won’t be included.

FILMMAKERS

Jennifer Kent

Rumoured to have been on the list to direct Wonder Woman, Jennifer Kent is a director, screenwriter, actress and producer based in Australia. Her first film The Babadook not only earned her and her crew praise and attention, but also several awards and a box office of 7.5 million (in comparison to its 2 million budget).

Kent has also spoken out about the lack of female directors in horror, stating:

“It will shift, as the world shifts. Women do love watching scary films. It’s been proven, and they’ve done all the tests. The demographics are half men, half women. And we know fear. It’s not like we can’t explore the subject.”

Notable Works:

  • THE BABADOOK (2014 – feature film), director and screenwriter
  • TWO TWISTED (2006 – television series, episode 13 ‘Love Crimes’), director
  • MONSTER (2005 – short film), director and screenwriter 

Awards:

Mary Harron

Harron’s most famous work, American Psycho is considered not only a cult classic but also a landmark in horror films. Her talent in mixing gore with a grim comedy is what arguably made the flick so successful, along with her expertise in screenwriting. She has continued to work not only in horror but in films that unlike American Psycho feature powerful female characters such as The Moth Dairies and Alias Grace.

Notable Works:

  • AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000 – feature film), director and screenwriter
  • THE MOTH DIARIES (2011 – feature film), director and screenwriter
  • ALIAS GRACE (2017 – miniseries), director

Awards:

Rachel Talalay

Talalay’s career has spread over the past three decades with her resume including sequels of the famous Nightmare on Elm Street. She is also (like many filmmakers) a jack of all traits with talent and experience in film and television directing, producing and screenwriting.

Notable Works:

  • A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988 – feature film), producer
  • FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE (1991 – feature film), director and screenwriter
  • GHOST IN THE MACHINE (1993 – feature film), director
  • SHERLOCK (2017 – television series, episode 4.1 ‘”The Six Thatchers”), director

Awards:

  • Women in Film & Television Vancouver’s Spotlight Awards (CA)
    • WINNER: Woman of the Year (2016)
  • Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival
    • Nominated: Best Film for Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

Find her on Twitter: @rtalalay

Kathryn Bigelow

Bigelow’s horror, crime and thriller themed filmography is filled with award-winning and critically acclaimed works. She is also a history-maker as she was the first woman to (and collectively, the only woman) win the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing, the BAFTA Award for Best Direction, and the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Director.

Notable Works:

  • NEAR DARK (1987 – feature film), director and writer
  • THE WEIGHT OF WATER (2000 – feature film), director
  • THE HURT LOCKER (2008 – feature film), director and producer

Awards (a selective list):

Honourable Mentions

Ana Lily Amirpour

  • Veronika Franz – Goodnight Mommy (2014)
  • Stephanie Rothman – The Velvet Vampire (1971)
  • Ana Lily Amirpour – A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

AUTHORS

Joyce Carol Oates

Oates’ first piece dates back to 1964, continuing to release novel after novel on almost an annual basis, including under the pseudonyms ‘Rosamond Smith’ and ‘Lauren Kelly’. Her work comes in the form of novels, novellas, short stories, young adult and children’s fiction, essays, memoirs and poetry.

Notable Works:

  • Mudwoman (2012)
  • With Shuddering Fall (1964)
  • Beasts (2001)

Awards (selective list):