Female Filmmakers Rockin’ the Horror World!

By on October 31, 2013

1374976_10153443626835157_905498653_nI am a HUGE fan of the horror genre.  And yes, to the left is a picture of me as a zombie on a bike. But my love of post-apocalyptic zombie tales will need to be discussed in more depth another time….

The first film I remember seeing was “Firestarter” with Drew Barrymore.  I’d seen all of the “Nightmare on Elm Streets”, “Halloweens”, and “Friday the 13ths” before I was a teenager, and I was addicted to the “Fear Street” pre-teen novel series as well as all of Lois Duncan and Christopher Pike’s novels.

With today being Halloween I thought it would be great to feature a few fun horror/thriller films made by both established and newcoming female filmmakers. Filmmaking is a male dominated arena especially in the horror genre, so why not spend some time on this spookiest of spooky days supporting some fantastic female filmmakers!  I haven’t seen all of these films yet, but they are now on my must watch list! 

I decided to put this list together after filmmakers Marcy Boyle and Rachel Holzman of  “Nobody Can Cool” (see #6 below) wrote to me and brought up some very important points on the topic of female directors in the horror genre.  This is what got my attention:

“Women directing big budget genre movies are scarce, [and] many women are making low budget horror/thriller films but they dpyx marcy boylerachel holzmanaren’t getting the attention they need to advance to big studio movies or bigger profile independents. As Heidi Honeycutt noted regarding the ABC’s of Death 2 (a horror film anthology in production using a different director for each letter of the alphabet) only 2 women were hired to be part of the anthology of 26 horror directors participating in the project. In a response to Heidi’s article, the producer of that film, Ant Timpson, acknowledges that  the invisibility of women directors (with a few famous exceptions) is a problem, and he basically says that the boy’s club of horror directors was the hiring pool.

The perception by studios/financiers is that genre movies are made by fanboys for fanboys. This misconception that women do not like genre movies is now being challenged by female moviegoers contribution to recent successes of horror/suspense films (see Johanna Schneller article). However, women who find outside financing and make low budget indie genre films need more attention and exposure for their films that would allow them to move up to bigger, career building film jobs.”

I agree.  We all need to raise each other up if we want to see women make real strides in this business.  So if you are a horror lover like I am, start by watching these films and supporting all of the female filmmakers around you!

Note:  The horror genre brings up a lot of different issues around sexism, feminism, and how women are portrayed in film.  This list is not meant to be a representation of my views on the depiction of women in horror movies, but instead is purely a compilation of films whose filmmakers have jumped onto my radar recently.  

Also…this list highlights only a few of the female filmmakers working in the horror genre. There are more out there with spooky tales to tell… 

1. American Mary 

Jen & Sylvia Soska (Writers/Directors)

from the website: “American Mary is the story of a medical student named Mary who is growing increasingly broke and disenchanted with medical school and the established doctors she once idolized. The allure of easy money sends a desperate Mary through the messy world of underground surgeries which leaves more marks on her than the so-called freakish clientele.”

2. Among Friends

Danielle Harris (Director) 

from the website: “AMONG FRIENDS is a twisted horror about a dinner party gone wrong. Set against an 80s backdrop, the good time takes a dark turn when one in the group hijacks the evening in an attempt to help the others come clean about their secret betrayals against one another–and is willing to cut through the bone in order to expose the truth.”

3. Truth or Dare

Jessica Cameron (Writer/Director/Producer)

from the website: “6 college kids find Internet stardom when they make “Truth or Dare” videos with violent twists. It’s all fun and games until their number one fan decides he wants to play…”

4. the CLASSIC film Near Dark 

Kathryn Bigelow (Director/Writer)

from Wikipedia: “Near Dark is a 1987 American vampire/Western horror film, written by Eric Red and Kathryn Bigelow, and directed by Bigelow. The story follows a young man in a small midwestern town that becomes involved with a family of nomadic American vampires.”

5. The Rage: Carrie 2

“Ms. In The Biz’s” own Katt Shea (Director)

(Please excuse the video quality, this was the only trailer available on YouTube)

from Wikipedia: “The Rage: Carrie 2 is the 1999 sequel to the 1976 horror film Carrie. Directed by Katt Shea, the film starred Emily Bergl, Jason London and Amy Irving.”

6. Nobody Can Cool

Marcy Boyle and Rachel Holzman (Writers/Directors/Producers)

from the website: “NOBODY CAN COOL is the suspenseful story of a young couple, Susan and David, who travel to the mountains for the weekend where they find their borrowed cabin already occupied by Len, and his pregnant girlfriend, Gigi, who have overstayed their welcome. Reluctantly, they all agree to share the cabin for the night. An uncomfortable evening amongst strangers turns ominous when Susan and David discover they’ve been locked in their bedroom by desperate fugitives. As Susan and David struggle to escape, Len and Gigi try to violently contain them while dealing with the aftermath of a mysterious crime. Tensions and secrets fueled by fear, greed, and suppressed hostility bubble over within the couples, and the pending arrival of an unknown danger becomes a test of survival in this graphic novel and film noir influenced thriller.”

UPCOMING SCREENING:

Nov.8th @8:30pm
RIP Horror Film Festival
Nov. 8-10th
Auditorium Cal State Long Beach

Oh and while you’re at it, here is Indiewire’s list of 40 Female Filmmakers to follow on twitter. Check out: http://www.indiewire.com/40-female-filmmakers-twitter

and a BONUS film for this list would be…

Home Sweet Home

Produced by and Starring “Ms. In The Biz’s” own Alexandra Boylan!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!!

xoxoxo helenna

About Helenna Santos

Helenna Santos is an actor, producer, writer, and the founder of Ms. In The Biz. She has appeared in a wide variety of projects from feature films such as Universal's American Reunion, to high profile digital productions like "BlackBoxTV", as well as a number of network television series. Helenna can often be found on panels and in appearances at conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con. She has produced and starred in numerous projects including the short horror film "The Infected", the digital series "Henchmen" to be released in 2015, an LGBT experimental short film, and at the time of publishing is in development for the sci- fi creature feature "Specious" and the neo-noir heist comedy "Snatched", both of which she is producing with her husband Barry W. Levy through Mighty Pharaoh Films.

  • Clint

    What about American Psycho by Mary Harron?

    • http://www.helennasantoslevy.com Helenna Santos-Levy

      Hi Clint! Absolutely! It’s one of my favorite flicks. As I say in the piece this wasn’t meant to be a complete list, but instead filmmakers that have recently come on to my radar ;)
      Many thanks for checking it out! – Helenna

      • http://jennifers-bodies.blogspot.com Jennifer Cooper

        This is a great little feature, and perfectly illustrates some of the amazingly talented women out there working in the genre today. :)

  • http://www.thehouseofreed.com LesterP

    Ursula Dabrowsky should also be mentioned here. Here first film, Family Demons, cam e out a few years ago and she’s currently in post on her second, Inner Demon.

    • http://www.helennasantoslevy.com Helenna Santos-Levy

      Thanks Lester! I’ll definitely check her out!

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