My Top 10 Feminist Horror Movie Picks for 2011

Every year in our house we watch at least thirty horror movies during the month of October.  Of those, very little are what I would consider feminist, or at least having a feminist agenda of some sort.  So, why not seek some out and recommend them to you?  I am also getting them out super early this month so that you can enjoy all Halloween season long!

Here’s the straight dope: this task turned out to be a lot more difficult than I thought–there are about a million and one horror films out there, if you didn’t know.  While sifting through the plethora of bloody thrillers, teen screams, zombie flicks and vampire love stories, directed by both men and women, I came across a few that stood out as notable films ranging from masked and subtle to overt feminist themes.  I narrowed my list down to ten and are in alphabetical order.

Enjoy you feminist sickos!

(Brian De Palma, 1976)

This movie is the ultimate revenge fantasy for any girl who was picked on in high school by the popular girls.  Carrie is tormented by both her uber-Christian mother and the nasty girls in school, but gets her comeuppance with the help of her telekinetic powers.

Cat People
(Jacques Tourneur, 1942)

The women of the Dubrovna clan in Serbia turn into large, angry cats when they become jealous or angry and attack the threatening man, or woman.  Young Irena, now transplanted to New York, has brought her family history with her, along with her deadly kiss!  (Also refer to my Cat People blog post under the Movie Reviews tab.)

The Descent
(Neil Marshall, 2005)

With the exception of a brief appearance during the first five minutes of the film, this all female cast entails a descent, if you will, of both the physical and psychological kinds.  A group of six women go spelunking in North Carolina where they encounter a group of ravenous, bloody thirsty creatures, leaving them to rely only on themselves as the heroes.

In My Skin
(Marina de Van, 2002)

I saw this movie for the first time this year and was intrigued because it was compared to Polanski’s Repulsion.  Though this flick delves heavily into body horror; one could argue that she is exercising autonomy over her own body, making the conscious decision of whether or not to mutilate herself. Where others may find her mutilation deplorable, she finds comfort.  In all, it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat and biting my fingers nails throughout most of the movie…though my definition of biting my finger nails is quite different than how the lead in this film would bite hers…

(Antonia Bird, 1999)

Antonia Bird’s Ravenous encompasses Guy Pearce, westward expansion, war, physical and mental seclusion, and oh, don’t forget, cannibals!  This film has subtle sprinklings of a feminist woman’s touch, including the female Native American who seems to be the only character with any sense amongst the all male cast.

(Roman Polanski, 1965)

Catherine Deneuve.  A woman repulsed by all men.  Enough said.

Rosemary’s Baby
(Roman Polanski, 1968)

This year, Roman gets two films on my top 10.  Though slightly predictable to be on many horror lists, nothing scares me more as a woman than a group of men having literal control over my uterus, not to mention giving birth to Satan.

Sleepaway Camp
(Robert Hiltzik, 1983)

This movie has one of the most shocking endings I’ve ever seen, along with some hardcore gender bending that will blow your mind!

The Slumber Party Massacre
(Amy Holden Jones, 1982)

Written by Rita Mae Brown and directed by Amy Holden Jones, this horror flick has a feel all its own and in many ways sets itself apart from the typical B-Horror film of the 1980s.  Though the premise of an all-female crew alone with the parents away on vacation may seem run of the mill, but it dares to confront such issues as youth, virginity, masculinity and fear all in one swoop.

 I give Slumber Party Massacre this year’s top Feminist Horror Film award for being my favorite new discovery!

(Mitchell Lichtenstein, 2007)

Vagina Dentada.  Look it up.

If only we all, men and women, could instantly react against our aggressors in such an assertive manner.

For more recommendations, see the list for my 2012 Feminist Horror Movie Picks and 2013 Feminist Horror Movie Picks

11 thoughts on “My Top 10 Feminist Horror Movie Picks for 2011

  1. Tina says:

    Awesome topic!! I’ve seen only two, but now I NEED to see the other 8. Also, I want to say that I think your blogs are very interesting and creative. Keep it up!!!!

  2. Danielle says:

    Slumber party massacre is not a feminist film. I would fist fight you on this. Just because Rita May Brown screen wrote it, null point. Just because you enjoyed it and you’re a feminist does not make it a feminist film – nor does having a female lead. And seriously, teeth? Finding amusement in repeated sexual assaults (even though she “wins”) is just a fucked up thing to stomach multiple times in a film. Too bad real women without “teeth” suffer other fates when it comes to rape. Not cute, not fun, Not silly to ANYONE who has been assaulted, i’ll betcha.
    Sleepaway camp ALSO contains a brutal rape scene.

  3. jilliemae says:

    Danielle, I completely respect your opinions and they are totally valid. The point of my site is to “explore feminisms”, meaning what may be “feminist” to one may be completely offensive to another. Is one of us right or wrong? No. Everyone has their own interpretation of what feminism is, and there is no one feminism depending upon the person, or the subject matter. I am constantly teasing out what exactly feminism is because I definitely don’t have all of the answers. In Slumber Party Massacre, I don’t think it’s a feminist film just because it’s directed, written and starred by a woman. I see the power drill of the psycho as a metaphor for him wielding his manhood as a destructive tool and at the end when the lead cuts it off, it takes away his power. In Teeth, I keep in mind that it’s a silly plot, first and foremost. Do I approve of rape? Obviously not, but because it has rape in it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have feminist elements. Teeth is a revenge fantasy flick, much like Inglorious Basterds. It’s saying, what if this were real? What if women could strike back against their aggressors in this very instantly gratifying, and also sickening way? We go along with it as viewers with a grain of salt because we knows it’s a movie.

    What’s important is that we discuss what we think so that we can keep the concept fluid. I don’t think that you necessarily need to “fight me on this one”, I accept that you disagree and we can both have differing opinions about what we consider films to have feminist elements.

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