Darlings, we’re wrapping up Women in Horror month here on TYoH with a few last posts on the subject. This week, Acadia and Choo shared a few of their favorite female horror icons from the big and small screens. For today’s post, I’d like to take a moment to recognize women on the other side of the camera with these five great horror films by female directors that you can check out right now on Netflix Instant.
1. Pet Sematary (1989)
Directed by Mary Lambert, Pet Sematary is, in my opinion, one of the more successful adaptations of a Stephen King novel to the big screen. Who can forget little Gage, sweetly, evilly, looking to find someone to play a game with him, or Zelda, that shambling horror who lingered in the nightmares of more than a fewer viewers?
2. American Mary (2012)
Film-making sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska have been making quite a splash on the indie horror film radar in the last few years, first with their 2009 feature-length debut, Dead Hooker in a Trunk, then with 2012’s American Mary. With an almost magical realism approach to body horror, the film requires some suspension of disbelief and falls apart a little towards the end. However, the approach is a fresh one and the characters intriguing enough to make this worth a watch.
3. American Psycho (2000)
Although Christian Bale had plenty of screen time before the aughts, it was American Psycho, directed by Mary Harron, that introduced the world to Bale as an actor with the no-holds-barred versatility to transform from calmly terrifying to screaming, blood-drenched psychopath in the blink of an eye. Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s original novel holds is as mesmerizing today as it was at its Sundance release nearly a decade and a half ago.
4. Silent House (2011)
Based on a Uruguayan horror film released in 2010, the 2011 remake of Silent House co-directed by Laura Lau and Chris Kentis is a rare example of a remake that got nearly as much positive buzz as the original. While the film will definitely not be every horror lover’s cup of tea, it features an interesting directorial approach (some would say gimmick) borrowed from the original that will be of interest to fans of technical film-making.
5. Humanoids from the Deep (1980)
Produced by Roger Corman, Humanoids from the Deep was directed by Barbara Peeters, one of the few female directors working on the exploitation horror films of the 70’s and 80’s. The film is an interesting one to watch, as there are quite effective moments of horror interspersed with the hilariously gratuitous explosions and sexual violence that were the hallmarks of a Corman flick. The unevenness of the film is explained by the controversial addition of a number of scenes shot after production and added against the wishes of director Barbara Peeters and without the knowledge of the original cast and crew. Still, if you are a fan of exploitation horror, hilarity, or practical monster effects (well done by visual effects artist Rob Bottin, who would go on to create memorable monsters in The Howling, An American Werewolf in London, The Thing, and Legend), this one is worth a Saturday afternoon watch.
One final thought on this subject, kittens: we welcome filmmakers of every stripe and form here on TYoH, as long as they are putting out good horror. Why spend a whole month focusing on women in the industry? Because there is a cult of belief in Hollywood and beyond that women are not consumers of horror, and part of the fall out of that is fewer work opportunities in the industry for women as horror creators. Women make up just 5% of Hollywood directors, and the proportion of female directors in horror is even lower. Horror only works if it resonates with the viewer, when it deeply connects with what is primal and full of dread. That’s not to suggest that women as a gender somehow create a different type of horror, just that fewer viewpoints across the board narrow the opportunity for fans to experience and connect with new and interesting approaches to horror. I will always be a supporter of something that brings fresh voices of any type to the horror genre, and if that means a month of focusing on women in horror, I consider it an effort to improve the genre for all horror lovers, regardless of gender.