Four faves for Women in Horror month

Photo: Darcy the Mail Girl in The Last Drive-In.. Image Courtesy Shudder
Photo: Darcy the Mail Girl in The Last Drive-In.. Image Courtesy Shudder /

"In honor of Women in Horror month, I have put together a short list of women who I personally feel have been important to the genre. These women play a variety of roles in horror, and two of them have only been in the forefront for the past few years."

For the most part, women in horror have primarily appeared in the films themselves, usually playing the victim or the final girl. But, a few well-known horror movies have been directed and even written by women. And women have long been writers of horror fiction, so we are going to dip a toe in that pool as well.

Speaking of which, let’s start with the writer of one of my favorite horror/ghost story novels The Haunting of Hill House. Shirley Jackson wrote that one, as well as the short story The Lottery, and the novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle (also one of my favorites, and also a film).

If you doubt her influence on the horror genre, you must have never read Stephen King’s non-fiction book Danse Macabre, in which he refers to The Haunting of Hill House as one of the finest horror novels of our time. He admits that the novel was the inspiration for his 2002 mini-series Rose Red, and the Marsten House in King’s novel ‘Salem’s Lot is a dead ringer for Hill House.

Women in Horror
Photo: The Haunting of Hill House.. Courtesy Steve Dietl/Netflix /

Although Mike Flanagan’s Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House is almost entirely different from Jackson’s novel, there are dozens of Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the ten episodes. Characters share names, and many spoken lines are taken directly from the book.

Tragically, Shirley Jackson died at the age of 48, but her influence as one of the most important women in horror lives on in her novels and short stories, which I highly recommend for anyone who loves to read horror.

If you think you have never heard of Mary Harron’s work, you are probably wrong. She both wrote and directed 2000’s cult classic American Psycho, as well as directing an episode of Kevin Bacon series The Following, an episode of Fear Itself, and short-lived Quibi’s series The Expecting.

Those are only her horror credits, and she has also directed a handful of other films as well. If you didn’t get the chance to watch The Expecting, I am crossing my fingers that Roku’s acquisition of Quibi’s catalogue will give everyone the chance to experience the deep creepiness for themselves.

Harron has also delved into true crime, with her direction of I Shot Andy Warhol, the story of Warhol’s attempted assassination by Valerie Solanas, and with 2018’s Charlie Says. The latter is the story of Susan Atkins, Patrician Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, all of whom were followers of Charles Manson.

My next choice for notable women in horror is Diana Prince, AKA Darcy the Mail Girl on Shudder series The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. Darcy is not Briggs’s first “mail girl”, but she is the first to actually be a horror fan, and he gives her a lot of the credit for his current series.

Let’s start with the obvious: Prince has appeared in adult films. She is stunningly pretty and voluptuous, and fans didn’t know quite what to think about her at first. But she quickly won them over with her somewhat geeky love of horror, and by the fact that she and Joe Bob have great chemistry. Over time, her role on the series has become more significant, and she even appears at horror conventions with Briggs. As a female horror geek myself, I feel like she is a kindred spirit of sorts.

Of course, internet trolls abound, and when one of them hid behind his computer keyboard to disparage her looks last year, something magical happened: fans came out in droves to defend her. Then, after a few days of social media silence, Prince wrote a moving and gut wrenchingly honest blog about the experience titled Fake Parts, Real Heart.

It was a brave admission of her body dysmorphic disorder and insecurities, accompanied by a photo sans makeup (for the record, she still looked gorgeous), and it made her fans love her even more. Happily, the experience did not make her quit The Last Drive-In, which is set to begin its third season this year, and we can still experience the delightful back-and-forth between her and Joe Bob; just two passionate fans of horror, bringing us movies we may never have watched without their guidance.

Women in Horror
Samara Weaving in the film READY OR NOT. Photo by Eric Zachanowich. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved /

So, now we have discussed a novelist, a writer/director and a horror co-host, all of which leads us to the actor category of women in horror. And, yes, I fully understand the domination of Jamie Leigh Curtis in this category. But, all horror fans are aware of her importance, due to her portrayal of Laurie Strode in numerous films in the Halloween franchise, as well as her performances in The Fog, Prom Night, Terror Train, and even the series Scream Queens.

So, while leaving Curtis firmly in her first place position, I am instead going to focus on an up-and-coming actress who has given us bloody, gutsy realness in some recent horror films. Anyone who has seen Netflix’s The Babysitter and The Babysitter: Killer Queen knows that Samara Weaving has some serious horror chops.

Haven’t seen those two fun, bloody flicks? Well, she also lent her quirky sense of humor and signature warbly scream to Mayhem and my favorite horror film of 2019, Ready or Not. Mayhem was the reason I subscribed to Shudder, and I dug its wild and crazy action-packed bloodiness, but Weaving really blew me away in Ready or Not.

Her character, Grace, starts out as a giddy, happy bride in a pristine white lace wedding gown, and by the end of the film, the gown is ripped and filthy, and Grace herself is covered in blood. It’s a no-holds-barred performance by an actress who deserves a chair at the table of important women in horror.

The women I have written about are, of course, not even remotely the ONLY important women in the genre. My long list included women such as Kathryn Bigelow (Near Dark), Mary Lambert (Pet Semetary), Daphne DuMaurier (author of Rebecca), Anna Biller (The Love Witch) and the entire cast of The Descent. But, I hope that at least most of our readers agree that the short list I have compiled includes great representatives for Women in Horror month.

Next. Shudder's February schedule: Vampires, nightmares and love. dark

Who do you think are great women in horror? We want to hear all about your picks in the comments section.