ITOL’s Top 10 Female Focused Horror Films

What does “Suspiria”, “Carrie”, “The Witch” and “The Hunger” have in common? Well, these horror films are not only directed by a male director and are terrifying to watch, but they also pass the Bechdel Test. If you have managed to make it through our 31 Days of Horror countdown and you’re still looking to be well and truly creeped out, then ITOL recommends these horror films which see women at the centre of their plot. The films included on this list aren’t necessarily directed by a female filmmaker, but they are unique because they all pass the Bechdel Test.

The films below all meet the criteria set out by the test: (1) it [the film] has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. So, without any further ado, here are some must-see horror films this Halloween. Enjoy! Continue reading ITOL’s Top 10 Female Focused Horror Films

Halloween H20: Laurie Strode, the OG Scream Queen Getting Even this Halloween

It is tragic that this year’s Halloween season has seen barely any worthwhile horror shaking up the box office. Sure, Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse” is being released here and there, but if what I’ve seen on #FilmTwitter is anything to go by, the film is still quite inaccessible to quite a substantial amount of people. So, if like me, you’re spending your Halloween on the couch of a friend’s house, with some pumpkin spice–allow me to suggest you revisit Steve Miner’s “Halloween: H20”.

Only two (arguably three) of the six “Halloween” films released prior to this are worthy of a recommendation. This film–set 20 years after the events of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) barely escaping the hospital with her life on that fateful Halloween night–seems to have capitalized on the cultural zeitgeist of the “Scream” films (also worthy of a Halloween slasher binge). Continue reading Halloween H20: Laurie Strode, the OG Scream Queen Getting Even this Halloween

31 Days of Horror, Day 25: American Mary

“American Mary” (2012) is a criminally underrated dark comedy and horror film directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska. Due to its subject matter and gore, it was not widely released. It was released to V.O.D. and DVD quickly, though, helping the film amass a cult following. “American Mary” is often left out in discussions about women in horror. It’s overshadowed by more popular cult classics like “Jennifer’s Body” and “The Descent”  — both of which are vital to discussions about women in horror — but it’s a mistake to ignore “American Mary.” The film is disgusting, cathartic and creative. It deserves to be ranked amongst the best body horror and rape revenge films of the past decade. Continue reading 31 Days of Horror, Day 25: American Mary

31 Days of Horror, Day 18: Prevenge

Horror is often an exquisitely wild genre, taking us to dark depths of the civilization and worlds far from Earth. The genre can equally thrive hiding in plain sight, acknowledging our fears of everyday life. Moving to a new town (“The Stepford Wives”), meeting your partner’s parents (“Get Out”) and sexual health (“It Follows”) are things most of us will deal with at least once in our lives, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be scary. In 2016, “Prevenge” was released, instantly becoming one of the finest maternal-horrors around. The woman behind this twisted, bloody romp: Alice fucking Lowe. Continue reading 31 Days of Horror, Day 18: Prevenge

The Haunting (1963): Repressed Women and the Supernatural

“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson has often been described as the perfect ghost story. Due to all of its acclaim it was inevitable that it would be adapted for the screen, but it must have posed some challenges. For one thing, director Robert Wise opted to shorten the title. There were more complicated matters of subplot that would need to be addressed to make a film from this genuinely scary story. For the most part, Wise succeeded and “The Haunting” (1963) is worthy of its source material. Unfortunately, along the way some of the subtext of the story was muted or cut out altogether. This leaves the audience with questions regarding how mental illness as well as how one character’s sexuality was depicted. Continue reading The Haunting (1963): Repressed Women and the Supernatural

31 Days of Horror, Day 11: Near Dark

There’s a scene in the fantastic 1984-set film “Pride” where a young gay man – keeping his sexuality a secret film his suburban London family – sits watching the TV with his boorish brother-in-law. On the telly is a government message about AIDS. “Arse Injected Death Sentence” guffaws the idiot, referencing the homophobic myth that AIDS was a gay problem (even if the LGBTQ+ community was hit devastatingly hard by the disease in the 80s).

As “Pride” illustrates, the epidemic saw those diagnosed with the disease ostracised from much of society. Cinema of the 80s and 90s tackled the issue both directly, with films such as “Philadelphia”, “Kids”, and “An Early Frost”, as well as indirectly, with movies like “Return Of the Living Dead”, “The Fly”, and vampire neo-Western “Near Dark”. Continue reading 31 Days of Horror, Day 11: Near Dark

31 Days of Horror, Day 10: Berlin Syndrome

Whilst passing through the German capital looking to get a taste of the city’s life, Australian traveler (Teresa Palmer) meets Andi (Max Riemelt), a charming Berliner and a holiday romance ensue. The morning after a night of intense passion the backpacker finds herself locked in the abandoned apartment. a locked front door is quickly revealed to be something more sinister than a simple mistake. In Cate Shortland’s Psychological-thriller “Berlin Syndrome” (2017) the stuff of tourist night terrors manifests in ways far worse than a lost passport or an S-Bahn fine. Continue reading 31 Days of Horror, Day 10: Berlin Syndrome

Nice is the New Summer Scare

The problem can’t be solved if it can’t be found, and this summer, we found some problems lurking in soft-spoken packages. “Midsommar” (2019) takes familial and romantic trauma and moves it outside, into the light of the unceasing Swedish sun; “Ready or Not” (2019) takes a bright new beginning inside, into the cloistered, candle-lit mansion. Over the course of each film, our final girls find the true nemesis is not within themselves, but without: their lives have taken an unexpected turn because of the men who are closest to them. How could these guys ever hurt anyone? They have the best intentions, and they never mean any harm! They’re nice guys! Continue reading Nice is the New Summer Scare

31 Days of Horror, Day 9: The Love Witch

“The Love Witch”, Anna Biller’s 2016 comedy horror film, opens with Elaine (Samantha Robinson) driving along America’s west coast, fleeing from the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of her husband. Elaine is the titular love witch, and embarks on a quest of murderous seduction as she searches for her perfect man. The film is a heady combination of sex magic, glamour and feminist critique that also serves as a love letter to Hitchcock, Hammer horror, and the most lurid cinema of the 1960s. Under Biller’s direction and meticulous attention to detail, “The Love Witch” is itself a glamour spell; as well as directing, writing and producing the film, Biller is responsible for its art, set, costume and sound design. Continue reading 31 Days of Horror, Day 9: The Love Witch