Okay, I'm dropping a list of as many feminist horror films I could find. Keep in mind, I'm finishing post production on my own film so I don't go very deep with my commentary. If you're looking for a more in depth examination, I highly recommend Kate Hagen's blog.
This blog is about making a list that satisfies me. I'm leaving off films from other lists that I believe tried to have a feminist message, but ended up saying something else. I also added films that get left off of other lists for whatever reason.
SPOILER ALERT, I might spoil some shit or else my commentary will seem really cryptic if you haven't seen it. I don't want to get into my reasons for putting these films on my list, I want to encourage everyone to watch these and form their own opinion. This is gonna be down and dirty, since I did not have much time to work on it. There very well may be mistakes and typos. These are in no particular order. I came up with about 40 films, but I didn't get to watch everything I wanted, so I will probably have to amend this list later. Enjoy.
Brian de Palma
Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt
I had to rewatch this one and I'm glad I did because I completely forgot that the main character is not Margot Kidder. It's Jennifer Salt, the pushy journalist who is the only one who knows what is really happening, but the cops don't believe her because she's a "busy-body broad". Even her own mother doesn't understand why doesn't she just settle down and meet a nice fella and get married.
#Trouble Every Day (2001)
Vincent Gallo, Tricia Vessey
If you break into a boarded up house and you find a half naked woman trapped in one of the rooms and she looks like she's just gotta have it. Run. You've been warned, dummies.
Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen Paul-Waru
One of my favs. The main character, Kylie feels like that stereotypical bitchy female character with a chip on her shoulder that you've seen a thousand times, but she's so much better. I like her, then I love her.
Mike Flanagan, co-writtern by Kate Siegel
Kate Siegel, John Gallagher jr.
Should not have watched this home alone. I did not sleep well that night and when the delivery guy knocked on my door because he had the wrong address, I nearly shit my pants. There was a scene with the two female characters in the beginning that was so well done, I forgot that it was a setup and for a moment forgot I was watching a horror movie. Don't worry, I was very quickly reminded.
*Ginger Snaps (2000)
John Fawcett, Written by Karen Walton
Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle
I recommended this to a friend and she texted me a few minutes into it that she almost vomited. My take away for this was that it was really great to see this sister relationship in this coming of age moment when one is going through a change that the other doesn't understand. Also crass and gross in the best possible way. And Mimi Rodgers.
Director: Leigh Janiak Writers: Phil Graziadei | Leigh Janiak
Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway
Yeah, pretty much sums up marriage. You're all smitten with each then you go on your honeymoon and suddenly you're enslaved by aliens and now you have to hide your husband. Kind of a cliche really.
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Yeah, sure. Guess it's a feminist horror film.
**The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
Director: Amy Jones Writer: Rita Mae Brown
Michelle Michaels, Robin Stille, Michael Villella
It was kitchy and ridiculous in that way that 80s slasher flicks are, but all the while winking at the audience.
**Jennifer's Body (2009)
Karyn Kusama Writer: Diablo Cody
Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons
Totally relatable. Everyone has that one friend who keeps you around to make themselves feel better, then they literally become a soul-sucking demon. Was that not everyone else's high school experience? Okay never mind. It's just a movie.
Under the Shadow (2016)
Barges Rashid, Avin Manshadi, Bobby Naderi
Everything about this film reminds me that as tough as it is to be a mother, at least I'm not trapped in a war torn country that wants to punish me just for working out to Jane Fonda videos. In all seriousness, the mother daughter relationship hits close to home. The mother is tough in a way that I (hopefully) will never know and the father, as my smarty-pants husband mansplains it, is an intellectual progressive, but spineless when it comes to standing by those values. This film embodies the expression "elevated genre".
**American Mary (2012)
Jen Soska | Sylvia Soska
Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk
This wasn't what I thought it would be at all, but I liked that the filmmakers could speak to the world of body modification in a way that didn't exploit it.
Valerie and her week of Wonders (1970)
Jaroslava Schallerová, Helena Anýzová
I'm still not sure whether this is a.) feminist and b.) a horror film, but I will say that sexual awakening is actually a little terrifying and you really don't know who to trust as a young Czech girl.
Had to rent this at Videotheque
The Final Girls (2015)
Writers: M.A. Fortin | Joshua John Miller
Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman
This one is kind of an ODDBALL. I wouldn't really classify this as horror necessarily since it seems to be a direct parody of the Friday the 13th films, but it definitely turns the slasher on it's head by calling out every cliche, including of course the "Final Girl" trope. The battle preparation montage - I think I joyfully said out loud "oh my God, what are they going to do with the tampons?" I was by myself.
Eyes WIthout a Face (1960)
Georges Franju Writer: Pierre Boileau
Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli
A very disturbing look at what happens when we value beauty above everything else. Still holds up and probably the best Halloween costume ever. I call dibs. Nobody steal that.
The Entity (1982)
Sidney J. Furie Writer: Frank De Felitta
Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver
Don't get entitied. Spoiler alert, that is code for being brutally raped by a ghost. Considering this film was made in the early eighties, it is a very chilling and accurate depiction of rape culture. I don't know whether I believe in ghosts, but this woman is clearly being assaulted and no one else helps or even believes her.
It was hard to find this. I had to go to Videotheque
The Invitation (2015)
Logan Marshall-Green, Emayatzy Corinealdi
Ummm, If you ever join a cult, make sure it’s not the suicide kind. Those are a bit of a bummer.
The Witch (2015)
YES!!! Black Philip, take me away! Please, I want to live deliciously. Hello?
#The Babadook (2014)
Ugh, finally someone articulates the way in which motherhood unhinges the mother. The way children can be creepy and disturbing in such mundane ways. Every time the little boy grinds his teeth in his sleep, it sets me on edge.
#A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Ana Lily Amirpour
Beautiful, fun and brilliant. The subversion is in the title. It's dangerous for a girl to walk home alone, so you know the tables will be turned. Ana Lily Amirpour delivers on that.
The Loved Ones (2009)
I watched a film last year that promised to be this feminist revelation and just wait until you get to the big twist, but it just wanted to be this movie. OMFG, the guys I crushed on back in the day are sooooo lucky I came out of that weird time in my life when I did and that I didn't have a power drill.
It's interesting that this film about the rape of a young woman makes everyone's list (including mine) when Roman Polanski is stilled excommunicated from this country for statutory rape.
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
I love it when you see the other side of pregnancy, especially the feelings of ambiguity and doubt. At its core, this film is just a story about a woman having a baby. When you look at it that way, it's brilliant.
Let the Right One In (2008)
Director: Tomas Alfredson Writer: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Technically not a subversion because according to the book the little girl isn't actually a girl. It's a boy who has had his penis bitten off. I'm gonna allow it as a feminist film. I would have to defer to the trans community here, but I don't think "used to have a dick" gets you better treatment in society.
Under the Skin (2013)
Director: Jonathan Glazer Writers: Walter Campbell | Jonathan Glazer | Michel Faber
The defining feminist moment in this film was with ScarJo and the screaming baby. It stuck with me, probably because it defies expectations in that situation. I don't want to say more because if you haven't seen it, you need to.
James Cameron and a bunch of dudes.
Aliens is usually everyone's number 1 pick when it comes to feminist horror. You can't despute the fact that Ripley is an iconic character and a fucking badass.
Director: Brian de Palma Writers: Stephen King / Lawrence D. Cohen
I mean, this is why I didn't go to prom. To my High School Senior class, "you're welcome".
Director: Ben Wheatley Writers: Alice Lowe | Steve Oram | Amy Jump
One of my favorite films. Such a perfect examination of romantic relationships. If you haven't seen Ben Wheatly's other films: Kill List and A Field in England, watch them. They are disturbing in the best possible way.
*Black Rock (2012)
Director: Katie Aselton
Kate Aselton, Lake Bell
This may be more of a thriller than a horror film, but what's the point in splitting hairs. It's a feminist movie, it's thrilling and it's good. PS - if you haven't already, check out Lake Bell's film "In a World".
The Descent (2005)
I have to say it. I didn't love this movie the way everyone else did. I loved the characters, but I hated the ending. Still counts as a feminist film though.
The Stepford Wives (1975)
Director: Bryan Forbes Writers: Ira Levin (Novel) | William Goldman (Screenplay)
Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss
Pretty much sums up my suspicion of men. They just want sexy robit wives.
#Near Dark (1987)
Director: Kathryn Bigelow Screenwriter: Eric Red
Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen
Don't know if this qualifies as a feminist film since Kathryn Bigelow comes with the testosterone.
**American Psycho (2000)
Director: Mary Harron Writers: Bret Easton Ellis (Novel) | Mary Harron (Screenplay) | Guinevere Turner (Screenplay)
I haven’t seen this in a long time, so I’m on the fence about whether this is a feminist film, but it was written by one smart lady and directed by another.
Director: Rob Reiner Writers: Stephen King (Novel "Misery") | William Goldman (Screenplay)
Just a nice lady and her sledge hammer.
Blair Witch (1999)
Daniel Myrick | Eduardo Sánchez
Ummm, for God sakes why is this the only recollection I have of a female charater in a film that wasn't hyper-sexualized in ANY film in 1999, let alone horror films in 1999.
The Awakening (2011)
Director: Nick Murphy Writers: Stephen Volk (Screenplay) | Nick Murphy (Screenplay)
I really appreciated the fact that the Rebecca Hall character was atheistic and skeptical, but still human and reaching out for human connnection more than anyone.
#Kiss of the Damned (2012)
Sexy vampire story set in a vamp society that is way too hip for me. Thought I would hate it, but I was sucked into this world.
Director: Neil Jordan Writer: Moira Buffini
Another sexy vampire film, but this one is based around a mother/daughter relationship.
Cat People (1942)
Director: Jacques Tourneur Writer: DeWitt Bodeen
Such a beautiful metaphor for the way that marriage traps women and sometimes prevents them from being who they really are. In this case, a large cat.
The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)
Director: Nicolas Gessner Writer: Laird Koenig
Jodi Foster is a little girl living completely on her own and has to outsmart a creepy child molester. I felt in fear for and empowered by this character.
Ms. 45 (1981)
I know the revenge film is a trope and that isn't feminist. I really like this character. Watch and decide for yourself.
Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)
Writers: Rosemary Ritvo, Alfred Sole
Don't know if this is a feminist film, but multiple people texted me to ask me if If had seen it, so I'm throwing it out there. You be the the judge.