13 Horror Films Directed by Women
Article By: Giaco Furino
The Academy Awards are upon us again, and as usual, the Best Director nominees are a group of dudes. But while the Oscars may not sufficiently appreciate female directors, the horror genre does! And if you think the best contributions to the horror genre have all been by men, you’re dead wrong. Whether it’s Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein on a stormy night, or Anne Rice freaking people out with her sexy vampires, women have been a part of the horror genre since it first began. These 13 horror movies were all directed by women and prove that men are the only ones who know how to make audiences scream in fright.
1. Near Dark (1987)
In what is considered one of the best vampire flicks of the 1980s, Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow serves up a wonderful mix of genres. Part-blood sucker, part-Western, Near Dark oozes with blood, burns, and grit. If you’re a fan of The Lost Boys and Tombstone, you’ll love Near Dark!
2. American Psycho (2000)
Mary Harron did what many thought impossible. She brought Bret Easton Ellis’s novel about 1990s yuppie Patrick Bateman and his penchant for torture to the big screen. American Psycho is almost as nasty as the novel, but Harron cast Christian Bale in a performance so troubling it’s still talked about today. Don’t have the stomach for it? Don’t feel bad, you’re not the only one.
3. Slumber Party Massacre
Warning! Trailer contains brief nudity and may be NSFW!
The Slumber Party Massacre is about exactly what it sounds like. This movie isn’t known for its depth of plot, it’s not known for asking tough questions, what it’s known for is naked people getting murdered by a killer with a drill. Director Amy Holden Jones took on the script by Rita Mae Brown, and the two set out to create a parody of the common slasher film. Unfortunately for both director and writer, the big wigs in charge decided it had to be shot as a straight-forward slasher flick. As such, what could have been director Jones’ critique on the objectification of women in horror was forced into another by-the-numbers splatter-fest. It’s a fun one, for sure, but we have to ask ourselves: what if she wasn’t held back?
4. Jennifer's Body (2009)
This steamy, raunchy horror comedy, written by Juno writer Diablo Cody, screamed into theaters a few years back. The film, about a possessed cheerleader who kills all the boys who leer at her, carries all the wit and blood one would expect from the genre. This fabulous film, directed by Karyn Kusama, is infused with Third Wave Feminism, giving the character Jennifer a villainous role that’s more complicated than just “succubus”. She’s evil, she’s hot, and she’s going to kill you.
5. Blood Diner (1987)
In a very relaxed sequel to the 1963 schlock-fest Blood Feast, two brothers set out to awaken an ancient evil. To do so, they have to kill people, stitch together body parts, listen to a brain in a jar, and serve up food in their vegetarian diner. Sound like fun? It is! This bloody, goofy mess of a movie by Jackie Kong must have made Feast director Hershell Gordon Lewis quite proud. What’s for dinner? More gore than you'd have thought necessary!
6. Pet Sematary (1989)
This Stephen King adaptation is one of our personal favorites. Starring the impeccable Fred Gwynne (that’s Herman Munster to you) as Jud, this movie makes the statement "Sometimes dead is better." We couldn’t agree more! As evil pets come back to life (once buried in the "Pet Sematary") the chaos and carnage ratchets up. Add to that the fact that director Mary Lambert charged this movie with emotional punch and enlisted an original song by The Ramones, and it’s an instant horror classic. Often overlooked, this movie definitely deserves wider appreciation.
7. Mirror Mirror (1990)
Director Marina Sargenti weaves a classic teenage horror story with Mirror Mirror. When a goth girl moves to a new town she’s constantly picked on by her peers. Slowly, she realizes that an old mirror in her new house has the power to grant her special abilities. As the mirror urges her to use these powers for evil, our heroine resorts to taking revenge on those who teased her. This movie’s been swept under the rug, but give it a watch again... it’s perfectly 1990.
8. Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
Rachel Talalay worked as a production manager on all of the early A Nightmare on Elm Street films. When it was finally time to put an end to Freddy, New Line Cinema decided to hire from within for their director. Rachel Talalay made Freddy funnier than ever in this would-be finale (of course he’s been back since), and she went on to direct the kinetic Tank Girl among many other credits. The movie delved into the backstory of Freddy Krueger like it had never been explored before... right down to his (very) messed up childhood.
9. Among Friends (2013)
Scream Queen Danielle Harris started her career as a little kid in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. As she’s grown into adulthood she’s starred in tons of great slasher flicks. And with Among Friends, Danielle Harris made her directorial debut! When a murder mystery game of “whodunnit” turns from dinner party to terror, everyone’s dirty secrets are revealed. The movie shocks, screams, and will make you cringe... it’s the perfect directorial debut from a director who’s been screaming since she was eleven.
10. Organ (1996)
Blood is flying. Students are missing. Organs are torn from live bodies. This Japanese cult classic, written and directed by Kei Fujiwara, is as brutal as it sounds. The director also stars in this splatter-fest as one of the organ thieves. This movie’s not for everyone, but the gore-hounds will definitely get a kick out of it. Did we mention it’s bloody?
11. Ravenous (1999)
Do you like your movies about cannibalism to have a wry sense of humor? You do? Really? Well then we recommend Ravenous, directed by Antonia Bird! This movie takes place during the mid-1800’s in Texas, and follows actors Guy Pearce and David Arquette as they navigate the troubled waters of human meat addiction. Talk about an addiction we never want to get hooked on!
12. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is billed as the first Iranian Vampire Western. Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, the movie is set in an Iranian ghost town and features lots of moody, atmospheric scenes. It killed and received a limited release in 2014, but now it's currently on Netflix for your viewing pleasure!
13. The Hitch-Hiker (1953)
The oldest movie on this list, The Hitch-Hiker follows a couple of fishing buddies as they pick up a hitch-hiker. That’s never a good idea, as the two men pick up a psychopath named Emmett Myers (hmm... interesting last name!). Director Ida Lupino keeps the tension amped up in this paranoid black and white masterpiece, and many attribute this as the first major film noir directed by a woman. Thanks for paving the way for future thriller, horror, and schlock, Ms. Lupino!