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The Importance of Women in Horror Month From a Male Perspective

The importance of celebrating WOMEN IN HORROR shouldn’t be confined to just one month. It should be celebrated year round! As a man who loves horror just as much you faithful readers, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t stress the importance of Women being the heart, soul and backbone of our beloved genre.

The unfortunate truth is Hollywood still doesn’t play by the equal rights rules when it comes to pay scales between genders. Women usually aren’t top billed, unless it’s a quote unquote chick flick. However, in the horror and sci-fi genre, women are not only treated as equals, they are the star of the pictures. Yes, in the beginning, women in horror were nothing more than damsels in distress, waiting for a man to save them from the monster. When Hitchcock released PSYCHO, that all began to change. No longer were women seen as just eye candy or needing to be rescued. Now the woman was capable of breaking the law and getting her comeuppance from a meek motel owner who has severe mommy issues.

WOMEN IN HORROR “SLASHED” THROUGH GENDER BARRIERS

While BLACK CHRISTMAS is one of the earliest horror films to feature a predominantly female cast going toe-to-toe with a killer, Tobe Hooper’s immortal classic THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE gave birth to the FINAL GIRL. The Final Girl, by definition is as follows: The final girl is a trope in horror films (particularly slasher films). It refers to the last woman alive to confront the killer, ostensibly the one left to tell the story. While the late Marilyn Burns might have inadvertently given birth to a legacy, a few years later it would be cemented.

John Carpenter created and directed what is considered not only one of the greatest horror movies of all time, but also the blueprint of what a horror film should contain in its DNA. That film of course is HALLOWEEN. Co-written by the late, great Debra Hill, HALLOWEEN was a complete game changer in every sense of the word. It puts women front and center, from co-producer/co-writer Hill to the strong female characters portrayed in the film. The casting had to be just right for audiences to believe that these girls were the real deal, and I think we can all agree that Hill and Carpenter nailed it! Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Myers and PJ Soles all play their roles perfectly and you truly want these girls to survive. While not the official first Final Girl or the last, Laurie Strode is often seen as the most relevant, even to this day. Her journey from somewhat shy and pensive to making a stand against the evil that is trying to kill her and her young charges, Laurie is the ultimate Final Girl and a true role model for women.

Not to be outdone, FRIDAY THE 13TH has its own set of strong female characters that also make the stand against the villainous Jason Voorhees and his deranged mother. Now let’s take a second to explore that in the original film, Jason is merely a jump scare at the end of the film. The person behind the madness was Jason’s mother, Pamela Voorhees. Again, while not the first time there has been a female villain or killer on film, Betsy Palmer‘s portrayal of Mrs. Voorhees is also considered the blueprint of female slasher antagonists. While some cheered her demise (and it’s still awesome to this day), can she really be faulted by her actions? She was merely being a good mother and making sure what happened to her son doesn’t happen to other people’s children. In fact, Betsy Palmer might be one of the strongest Women In Horror as her actions are 100% justified. True, Adrienne King‘s Alice is the Final Girl of the film, but Mrs. Voorhees is the strong female character in that film. In fact if there were any other strong female leads in the entire franchise next to Palmer, it’s absolutely Amy Steel as Ginny in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II. Steel’s Ginny is not only a fan favorite (and considered THE Final Girl of the entire franchise), but she is one of the toughest characters from the word go.

Heather Langenkamp and Lisa Wilcox are brilliant examples of strong female characters in horror films. Both have gone up against the Dream Demon himself, Freddy Krueger, twice (OK, so technically speaking, Heather battled him 3 times and was killed off in DREAM WARRIORS only to return as herself in NEW NIGHTMARE) and both exhibited the shy, girl next door type transforming into an ass kicking, tough and smart woman that vanquishes the evil…for now. These 2 are so popular, they usually have the longest lines next to Robert Englund at conventions.

Felissa Rose and Danielle Harris are prime examples of two women who were but children when they entered the industry and are now well known in the horror genre. The following these two have speaks volumes not only about the loyalty, but the importance of Women In Horror. I know Felissa Rose personally, and I’ve been her assistant at a show as well. I can tell you first hand how much people love her and her role in SLEEPAWAY CAMP. People always thank her for playing that character, because they felt like for once someone understood what it was like to be and feel different. Danielle Harris is more than a “Scream Queen”… she is an Icon in the horror genre. Her contributions and her positive attitude are the reasons why people stand in line for hours at a con just to say hi to her and get a picture.

The SCREAM series is a total play on strong female characters, as usually it’s Neve Campbell‘s Sidney Prescott and Courtney Cox‘s Gale Weathers that always have to defeat the men and women behind the Ghostface mask. Sidney and Gale are polar opposites, however, when it’s a life or death situation, they stand tall together to end the reign of terror.

I know this may seem like a one sided article, where it’s only giving praise to slasher films, but I promise this is going to cover much more women in horror shortly.

WOMEN IN FRONT OF AND BEHIND THE LENS

The Slasher Film gave way to having women in the forefront, so much so, that other sub-genres of horror opened up to women. Amanda Bearse and Jami Gertz are known for their work in MARRIED