Women of Horror: A Tribute

Janet Leigh in Psycho © Paramount Pictures

What was once a black and white scene with chocolate syrup trickling down the drain is now a glorious red rain as it comes pouring down on our heroine. Horror movies have been here since the birth of cinema, constantly evolving as other genres have, and they will be there with its death. Whether they are old or new, campy or dramatic, the horror movies we know and love are always doing something unique. The genre is known for reinventing itself, such as the found footage era, and for classic tropes such as the POV shot of the killer or the final girl. What has always stuck out to me is not only the “final girl,” but women in general in the genre. 

Horror can at times be harshest to the women in its movies. They are beaten, raped, sexualized, and oftentimes killed. But other times they survive. Regardless of whether the women in a horror movie are the ladder kind, I always tend to enjoy horror films featuring women. The genre allows women to be almost anything, sometimes exploring themes of female rage, revenge, or sexuality. Not that other movies can’t do this, but with horror movies comes a heightened reality and a different way of portraying these themes.

 In past decades, women characters often were treated poorer than they are now, or at least not as self-aware. It seems like there has been a renaissance in recent years regarding women in horror films. Movies like The Witch, Hereditary, or The Babadook feature women at the helm and not only do they tend to survive, but they overcome something at the end of it all. However, we could not have the women characters we do today without respecting the ones who came before them. Either way, women in horror can mean something different to each and every person who watches their film. To the women we love… and sometimes love to hate, thank you. 

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