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Horror Show: Feminist Horror Films to See This Ladyween

This post originally appeared on the site in October 2010, but it's so good, we thought we'd revisit it. Happy Ladyween!

It is really hard to find a horror film that is unequivocally feminist. So hard, in fact, that when I went to a local video store that specializes in cult and hard-to-find films and asked the dude working there if he had any suggestions for feminist horror, he hemmed and hawed for a while, suggested some rape-and-revenge films, and then pretty much gave up. Sometimes it feels like there are so few horror films out there that can be considered feminist that we've talked them all to death (heh). Not true! After scouring the internets and various video stores, I've managed to come up with a list of horror films with solid feminist themes. Take that, you unkillable misogynist slashers!

I decided to leave some big titles off this list. So you won't see Scream, Carrie, the Halloween movies, Jennifer's Body, or Teeth. Although, if you haven't seen Teeth, let me tell you now that it is very perplexing but very worth watching, and that the eponymous teeth are not in somebody's mouth.

And now, the list!

Ginger Snaps (2000) Ginger and Brigitte are sisters who are into faking their own deaths and avoiding high school homogeneity. When Ginger gets her period for the first time, she and Brigitte are a little worried that puberty might transform them into the normy girls they love to hate (Ginger: "If I start simpering around tampon dispensers, moaning about PMS, shoot me, okay?"). Turns out Ginger has no reason to worry about becoming "average," because just as she starts bleeding for the first time, she gets chomped by a werewolf. Lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty (in this film a dreaded transformation) is what makes Ginger Snaps awesome, along with its discussion of the complexities of relationships between girls. It has a less-compelling sequel (Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed) as well as a prequel (Ginger Snaps Back). The best campy feminist horror film you can see.

May (2002)

May is about May, who has a lazy eye as a child and wears an eye patch. Her mother tells her that if she wants to make friends, she'd better cover the patch with her hair, but May has a hard time keeping her hair in her face and thus makes no friends. As an adult, she still has no friends, except a super creepy doll in a glass box which she can NEVER TAKE OUT, OR ELSE. May thinks that people have "beautiful parts, but no beautiful wholes," she's really good at sewing, and she thinks it's no big deal when the limbs of animals are chopped off, sooo I'll let you guess where this is going. What's feminist about this? Well, like Ginger Snaps, May is about a woman struggling to exist outside of socially acceptable boundaries, although unfortunately for May, that existence is extremely difficult and ultimately impossible. It's also interesting that May's feeling of rejection isn't gender-specific: she wants the love of both men and women. If you can't get behind those as feminist themes, perhaps you'll take your enjoyment in May as a lady character who isn't squeamish about chopping people up.

Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

If it were 1982, you were like 14 years old, and you and some buddies decided to settle down to watch Slumber Party Massacre, you might think it a pretty standard slasher film. The plot is straightforward and easy to follow and the story has absolutely no twists. What happens is this: a bunch of pretty teenage girls played by actors in their mid-twenties get together for night of giggling in their jammies, and a not very scary older guy with a power tool comes and kills them all. What makes this film interesting from a feminist perspective is its subtle critique of the slasher genre. This isn't quite parody: you have to pay attention to see the incongruities that act as clues. Director Amy Holden Jones knowingly leaves windows wide open and has her characters run into closets when they have plenty of room to run out of the house. She gives the killer absolutely no mystery: he's just some guy with a big drill, no mask or anything. The phallic nature of his weapon is consciously highlighted: one shot from behind shows the drill between his legs as he gets ready to kill a victim. But as other critics have mentioned, SPM doesn't leave its genre. For example, the boobs and butts and legs on gratuitous display are meant to please, just as they're meant to comment on their own presence. Did I mention the script for this film was written by Rita Mae Brown? Lucky for you, the Slumber Party Massacre trilogy was just rereleased on DVD.

The Company of Wolves (1984)

Based on the story by Angela Carter, who also co-wrote the screenplay. The Carter story, in turn, is based on Little Red Riding Hood, so what we've got here is a film that takes the latent sexual messages in the fairy tale, illustrates them clearly, and then subverts the shit out of them. Red Riding Hood, named Rosaleen in this film, carefully navigates the "forest" of puberty, having been warned by her grandmother to watch out for the sexy men-wolves. I watched this film with my roommates, who insisted that it's actually fantasy, not horror, I guess because it isn't scary enough. And it's true that aside from a handful of weird and bloody lycanthropic scenes, the film is more a spooky meditation on the fear of the unknown than a graphic illustration of the things we're afraid of. But what's a horror movie about anyway, if not fear of the unknown? The Company of Wolves, with its labyrinthine story-within-a-story structure, considers that unknown (darkness, the animal world, and most importantly for its teenaged protagonist, sex) without yanking it out of its hiding spot. Lots of metaphor and loaded imagery here, which sometimes verges on the obvious: in a scene straight out of Are You Afraid of the Dark, a bunch of creepy dolls crash to the floor to signify loss of innocence. I'd expect nothing less from a film that Carter was involved with. Bonus: Angela Lansbury plays the grandmother!

 

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Comments

44 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Remember Degrassi's feminist horror movie?

When I saw the title of the subject,the first thing I thought was the 'Degrassi High' episode where Lucy makes a feminist horror movie. Anyone else remember 'It Creeps'? I couldn't find the episode online, someone made a fake trailer for it though,here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5qcjtfbz-U

heres the episode.

Ladyween costumes

Lisa Simpson. The costume would be cheap to make and would be recognizable. But more importantly, I don't think there is a more awesome and long lasting feminist character in pop culture than her. Lisa is always true to herself and trying to better the world no matter how many people find her annoying! Check out this clip compilation from Jezebel: http://jezebel.com/5012847/lisa-simpson-feminist-hero. Shoot, I think I found my costume!

If I weren't totally lazy,

If I weren't totally lazy, I'd dress up as a Handmaid from Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale.

I did that costume my

I did that costume my freshman year of college. I wore a red blouse and red skirt with a red graduation robe over it, and red gloves and red sneakers. I also had a white cloth that I tied over my hair. I think you could pull it off.

Good picks, I'll definitely

Good picks, I'll definitely be watching Ginger Snaps and May if they have them on Netflix. One question, though- are they trying to pass the girl playing Ginger off as prepubescent? If the lighting was bad, she could buy beer. Hell, she could probably buy beer in daylight. Odd pick for a 15 year old girl.

Two French horror films that

Two French horror films that star women and are great (don't know if they are necessarily feminist) are High Tension and Martyrs. Check them out!

High Tension is a really

High Tension is a really well-made horror movie, but I wouldn't necessarily call it feminist, especially because of it's SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER repressed lesbian killer.

I am not sure if SPOILERS

I am not sure if SPOILERS MASSIVE MASSIVE HUGE SPOILERS DO NOT READ THIS

I am not sure if having a female character as the villain really makes this non-feminist, nor that (another person said this) that being torture porn makes a film non feminist.

I think Anatomy of Hell would be a good choice, its horror in the same way that My Son My Son What Have you Done is horror.

I wouldn't call either of

I wouldn't call either of those feminist. Martyrs starts out with very promising female leads . . . . and then dissolves into torture porn.
In The Company of Wolves is a GREAT movie! I hardly ever see it mentioned! It may be more fantasy than horror, but there are certainly some shocking and cringe-worthy moments.

Also a possible candidate for feminist movies: The Descent, where every main character is a female, and some very tough ones to boot.

Horror Film's "Final Girls" as Feminists

I love Ginger Snaps and it is definitely a feminist film for me. But I was surprised that the article didn't consider Laurie Strode from the film, "Halloween." She actually successfully fends off Jason using typical household items like a knitting needle and a clothes hanger. What is awesome about Laurie is that she uses these items that are aligned with domesticity as weapons that actually slow Jason down. Laurie is a way more effective a fighter than the Dr. Loomis who is ineffectual at stopping Jason. Even though she is crying and panicking while using these weapons, she doesn't let these emotions paralyze her. It is awesome that she can express such emotion and still be an active agent that slows down and physically harms this monstrous figure which is much more than any of the male characters in the film do. So Halloween actually depicts a monstrous patriarchy that gets its ass kicked by a woman wielding the very domestic trappings that it uses to confine women.

My apologies, you do mention

My apologies, you do mention the Halloween movies. Sorry about that. I just think that it is still an amazing film with a kick ass feminist lead in it.

Michael Myers, Not Jason

Sorry in the above about Halloween, I meant Michael Meyers not Jason. Sometimes I conflate the two.

Wait, "Jason"? Are we

Wait, "Jason"? Are we discussing Halloween or Friday the 13th?

Maybe I'm not remembering

Maybe I'm not remembering this correctly, but wasn't Halloween the one where teenagers get killed after having sex/being sexual and/or when they're naked?

Death as Punishment

Yes, that is that Halloween. Michael's first victim is his sister who he kills after she has sex. And then he kills another woman and puts his sister's headstone at the head of the bed he lays her on for Jamie Lee's character to find. That is one of the problematic ideological messages of the film that Jamie Lee's character is successful at fighting back because she is sexually innocent or pure. Nevertheless the film depicts a woman who successfully fights back against a psycho that kills sexually active women. It's not perfect but a lot of films, even feminist ones, are not. Sometimes it is hard when there are competing ideologies at work in a film that creates shades of grey and ambiguities which can actually be the most pleasurable and painful moments of a film.

Cat People

Also I recommend Jacques Tourneur/Val Lewton's Cat People. The original not the remake. It is about a woman from Serbia who believes that she is descended from a long line of cat people. At first, she refuses to marry her boyfriend out of fear that her sexual desire will devour him. Nevertheless, she marries him but refuses to be intimate with him. Frustrated by the lack of affection and sex, he sends her to a predatory psychologist who puts the moves on her rather than help her with her problems. Meanwhile, her husband looks to another woman to satisfy his sexual desires. Irena kills the psychologists, and then makes an attempt to eliminate the woman who is attempting to take her husband from her. Yet, Irena's attack on the "other woman" isn't successful, but rather she stalks the other woman which actually mirrors the sexual predatoriness of the psychologist. So the film suggest that Irena's lack of affection toward her husband is her resistance to not only the confines of marriage and domesticity, but heterosexuality. Of course the ending of the film is problematic as is its depiction of female-female desire, but for me it is still a feminist horror film.

Dracula's Daughter also very good. It is interesting what sexual politics are at work when it is a female vampire rather than a male vampire.

Val Lewton

Pretty much ANYTHING Val Lewton is feminist and gorgeous. They all have sensationalist titles (demanded by the studios), but I find myself sucked into the characters and the story every time as if it was my first experience with his films. He's astonishing.

"I Walked With a Zombie," a retelling of Jane Eyre, would be another fine example. "Bedlam" shouldn't be missed, either.

I think Hubby and I will be spending the weekend enjoying a hefty handful of feminist horror.

LOVE Ginger Snaps to, ahem, death

Ginger Snaps is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I'm not generally big on horror. Not only is it genuinely scary; it's hilarious, and very overt about exploring the topic of gender. (I can't get behind Teeth or revenge flicks that are chock-full of rape imagery.) I'd argue that the follow-up movies are compelling as well but less strong from a feminist perspective, plus sadly lacking in the element of colorful suburban camp.

As for a Ladyween costume, I have two ideas:

1) The Madonna/whore complex. The possibilities are wide, especially if you sew: one half of your clothing is stereotypically "pure;" the other stereotypically "slutty," divided either waist-up/waist-down or left/right. (If you're prepared for controversy, you could opt for abstinence-only garb, like the "True Love Waits" shirts, for the pure half.) With red paint or construction paper, letter out "THESE ARE NOT A WOMAN'S ONLY OPTIONS" in a way that goes across both halves. This may be particularly striking if the halves are white and black.

2) Miss Piggy. Okay, I know she's not overtly feminist, but I think a case could be made. The costume is easy enough: red dress, fake pearls, heels, pig nose and ears from your local kids' toys or costume shop. If you wish to get ambitious, you could also make or look for some sort of frog trinket, eg. a cut picture of Kermit on a locket or a stuffed frog corsage.

Weeee I love Halloween!

Vagina Dentata?

Probably as far away as you can get from the omni-present sexy fillintheblank costumes.

I don't know whether they

I don't know whether they would measure up to everybody's definition of feminist horror, but I highly recommend "Let the Right One In" (the original Swedish version of the American adaptation "Let Me In") and "Drag Me To Hell" directed by Sam Rami who gave us the "Evil Dead" trilogy. While it's not really horror, "Red Eye" directed by Wes Craven is a great feminist thriller.

hm

i'm not stepping for a fight, but i'd like to hear how you saw drag me to hell as a feminist flick.

i thought it was well done in terms of directing and comic-horror scares, but i didn't personally like it. i thought that it preyed on roma stereotypes and fear of exotic cultures. on the other hand, it did object philosophically to a system that values profit over humanity, so i can see part of it.

what's your take on it? i'm genuinely interested, i like sam raimi's work overall, despite his flaws as a director so i would really love to read about what you think!

I knew I was going to have to

I knew I was going to have to defend my nomination to somebody. It certainly wasn't my favorite movie of all time, but I enjoyed it a lot more than Ginger Snaps (after I heard so many great things about it, I was really disappointed) Yeah, I'm did not appreciate the stereotypical "scary old Gypsy woman" reference, but I didn't think that was meant to perpetuate a fear of Roma culture or old women in general.

A) The fact it had a female main character (Christine) who wasn't portrayed as a bimbo that gets hacked to death during or after sexual intercourse, B) Christine is struggling to get ahead at her work despite male co-workers who get promotions that she worked harder to get, C) a class struggle is shown between Christine and the parents of her boyfriend who think she's not socially suitable for their son, and D) Unlike other movies that have been mentioned, such as "Teeth", there is no rape-revenge storyline that I find hard to stomach sometimes.

Essentially I like the character development of Christine over the cameo Roma stereotype. Yes, it's important to call out racism, ageism, cliche stereotypes as we see them, but I don't think the entire movie needs to be written off because it's not typical to have such strong character development for female characters in horror movies.

Another recomendation

I totally forgot to mention another good horror movie is "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon". It's shot as sort of a mock documentary about a burgeoning serial killer named Leslie who not only studies his idols, Freddy, Jason, and Mike Myers, he studies and shares and deconstructs the metaphors behind typical slasher movies and exposes the anti-woman themes behind them. It's really interesting and funny for the most part. Plus it's got Robert Englund (AKA Freddy Krueger) and Zelda Rubinstein from "Poltergeist" as cameos! Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t432rePirH8

How could you miss these gems!?

You missed some great feminist horror, though most of it was made prior to 1980 and in countries that don't speak English as a primary language, so I suppose far too many people aren't exactly aware of these classics. But most true horror aficionados should know and appreciate at least a FEW of these titles!

A few breathtaking examples:

"The Witch's Mirror" ("El espejo de la bruja") Mexico, 1962
TWO women taking power (cooperatively from each other), though in this case, another woman has to suffer as a result, primarily for the sin of being too naive to believe in the evil of her husband. But talk about GIRL POWER! The "witch" is loaded with it.

"Black Sabbath" ("I tre volti della paura") Italy, 1963
This one, not to be mistaken with "Black Sunday," another Bava film (with an amazing female protagonist--but she loses, as so many strong women of horror inexplicably do), is not necessarily entirely "feminist," in that not all the characters take power as they probably could. But its stories, though sometimes rather tongue-in-cheek, say so much about the struggles of women at this time. In the tradition of the original gothic genre, the woman may "lose," but she forces both the men and women in the audience to identify with her anguish and terror.

And, my absolute favorite:
"Daughters of Darkness" ("El espejo de la bruja") Belgium, 1971
This one is amazing. A honeymooning couple seeks refuge in a seaside resort off-season before meeting the husband's mother, an event he seems to be avoiding at all possible costs. The husband is a boor and continually attempts to minimalize (to the point, in one scene, of raping) the women around him. They encounter the compelling Countess Bathory, the only other hotel guest, and the Countess proves her strength of spirit and power.

And this is where I suggest as the source for your Samhain costume: Countess Bathory. THIS countess Bathory. The strong woman who lives eternally by changing faces. The soul too strong to die.

There are some more "Anglican" examples, too, especially if you want to talk about the truly gothic areas of horror--that which illustrates the struggle of women, where at some times they're more successful than others. "The Haunting" (1963), "Descent," "The Bride" (featuring none other than Sting himself), and even a few episodes from the "Masters of Horror" series, such as "Deer Woman" and "Haeckel's Tale."

We also can't forget some modern foreign goodies as well, such as "The Orphanage" ("El orfanato"--Spanish) and "Pan's Labyrinth" ("El laberinto del fauno"--also Spanish).

I have more, but I'll restrain myself (for now).

Horror is, first and foremost, a feminist vehicle. We used it first to illustrate our struggle, and we use it still. We are, after all, the Other!

On second thought, there's also this:

From the Minneapolis Institute of Arts blog.

http://www2.artsmia.org/blogs/blog/2010/10/15/lichtenstein-inspired-hall...

Lichtenstein did some amazing things with women in his art. If I thought I could pull something together in two weeks, I'd be doing this myself.

Exorcist winner!

Hi saraswati,
Thank you for your input into global feminist horror movies, and for your Ladyween costume idea! Your comment was our fave this week, and we'd love to send you your prize copy of "The Exorcist." Please email me at newmedia (at) b-word (dot) org with a mailing address, and we'll get this sent to you right away.
Thanks again, and keep commenting!
Katie

"Horror is, first and

"Horror is, first and foremost, a feminist vehicle. We used it first to illustrate our struggle, and we use it still. We are, after all, the Other!"

I couldn't agree more! I loved the Orphanage too btw. Thanks for the other recommendations, I'll definately be filling up my Netflix queue with these immediately. I think horror films in our time are like the stories about witches, hauntings, and other unnatural occurances that people used to tell in history. These stories demonstrate something unnatural and unbalanced in society, that something needs to be corrected in order for the disorder to stop. Granted for some people, the solution was to burn the "witch" but to me it's an indication that society's perception of women needs to change.

I think Teeth sucked for the

I think Teeth sucked for the most part. Here's my review of it:

This movie had a lot of potential... and I'm very disappointed. I'll just list what I did and did not like about this movie. (Warning: spoilers)
What I liked:
1. This movie took the sexist vagina dentata myth and twisted it in a way that it gives the female character (Dawn) power.
2. It showed that, contrary to what some people believe, rape victims aren't attacked for "dressing provocatively" or any such nonsense, and they're often not attacked by some stranger in a dark alley--they're often acquaintances, someone you know, or even someone you trust (which is also appropriate for a horror movie...scary truth).
3. Showed a little bit of the ridiculousness of abstinence only education.
4. Although she is a victim at first, later she has power--unlike a lot of horror movies that demean women.
5. Dawn attacked Ryan after he very rudely picked up his phone while they were having sex and talked crudely about her, like she's just some piece of meat.
6. It's kinda funny in some parts.

What I did NOT like:
1. The number of times Dawn is attacked and taken advantage of is excessive.
2. The idea that a man will rape because he's "not getting any."
3. That, even though she was drugged and just endured some very traumatizing events, Dawn "consented" to having sex with Ryan. And even called him her "hero." It's as if the director doesn't think date rape is actually rape.
4. This goes along with number 1. The amount of terrible, despicable men is excessive. The only man that doesn't seem to have any evil intentions is Dawn's father.
5. Some of the messages and characters weren't very consistent.
6. It can be very uncomfortable, and even excruciating, to watch.

I'm pretty sure that Ryan's

I'm pretty sure that Ryan's date-rape of Dawn was actually viewed as such--at least, it was clearly rape to me, since he got bitten along with the violent rapist, the gyno who assaulted her, and the incestuous brother who molested her as a kid. Dawn called him her hero because she (temporarily) bought into the anti-feminist ideology that her scary genitalia needed a "hero" to "conquer" it, and he was there and seemed to be taking care of her. When she realized that he was using her, she chomped. I'm not certain that the *character* had any way of knowing that she was being raped since she's steeped in patriarchal culture, but the fact that it was rape was pretty clear to me, and Dawn herself didn't seem too het up about biting his dick off.

I do agree, however, that it's a hard movie to watch because you have to see Dawn get assaulted over and over and over again, and it kind of leaves one with the impression that all men are rapists. (Did she live in Rapesville, USA or something? No wonder she went on the move after the film.) The entire premise of the film requires that a) her vagina is her only power, and b) her power is only accessible when she's already being raped. But, I do love that it's a horror film specifically about patriarchal sexual mythology and female rebellion against it.

I think that Elizabeth Bennet

I think that Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies would be great. Interesting feminist character, plus gory Halloween-ness.

I hope to get round to seeing

I hope to get round to seeing ginger snaps, it's been on my to-watch list forever.

And I'd love to find some people to dress up with me as Pratchett's witch coven: Ganny Weaterwax, Nanny Ogg, Margrat and Agnes/Pedita. Or as Cheery Littlebottom, or as Susan or... I want a Discworld-themed halloween party!

Costumes!

I had a friend who went as Tank Girl last year--rocket boobs and all! I also like the idea of going as a female Prospero from Shakespeare's Tempest, in anticipation of the Julie Taymor movie that's about to come out. Also, if you had a little sister to dress up with, you could go as Ramona and Beezus Quimby. (Can you tell I love Halloween?)

Somebody mentioned "The

Somebody mentioned "The Haunting" already, but that's definitely an incredible example of an atmospheric, suspenseful horror film with strong, nuanced female leads. One of the female protagonists, a psychic named Theo (no last name) is a chic lesbian whose relationship to the main character is by turns sisterly, flirtatious, and antagonistic. You never "see" anything, it's all a slow build-up of psychological terror while unearthing the demons of the main character, Eleanor.

"The Innocents" 1961 based on The Turn of the Screw, is a poisonous little tale starring Deborah Kerr as a governess who's convinced the children under her care are being haunted/possessed. Child molestation and sexual abuse are hinted at, but it's a very ambiguous film based on a very ambiguous novel.

"The Seventh Victim" is an incredible Val Lewton film about a young woman's search for her missing sister. There's a lot of interesting play with gender roles, and a really amazing scene where Jackelyn, the missing sister, insists on her right to decide when and how she dies.

I also really love "Shadow of a Doubt," a Hitchcock movie about a girl named Charlie who discovers her beloved uncle (also Charlie) is a serial killer when he comes for an extended visit. Uncle Charlie strangles rich women for their jewelry, and there's a really chilling scene where he delivers a deeply misogynist speech directly to the camera before being interrupted by young Charlie. Once Uncle Charlie realizes young Charlie knows about him the movie becomes a cat-and-mouse game between them where he attempts to kill her (and make it look accidental) and she feels unable to expose him for fear of breaking her mother's heart and shattering the family. (Interesting parallels to the pressure on victims of domestic/sexual abuse to keep quiet) A tense thriller with a heroic female lead= fabulous!

Seconding Shadow Of A Doubt!!

Seconding Shadow Of A Doubt!! Amazing film.

No time to read all of the

No time to read all of the comments, so my apologies if I repeat anyone's suggestions, but I have actually taught a course on Feminism & the Horror Film, so I had to weigh in! I would add several of the Nightmare on Elm Street films (especially the third), and the prototypical feminist horror film: Alien! The role of Ellen Ripley was written gender-neutral, and they didn't change her character/dialogue at all when they cast a woman in the role. Her character is more gendered but still distinctly badass in Aliens, Alien 3, and Alien 4 as well. Cabin in the Woods is debatably feminist too (after all, it's co-written by Joss Whedon), to the extent that it has a strong female lead and its entire narrative is a meta-commentary about horror tropes. Night of the Comet - an amazingly '80s-tastic post-apocalyptic zombie film featuring some badass Valley girls - also definitely belongs in this list, and I'd say that 28 Days Later probably does too. I would also include Hellraiser. Carol Clover's influential article about final girls questions whether they are necessarily feminist figures, but in the cases you've listed and those that I've added here, I think that they are. This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are two more for the road: Let the Right One In (with its transgender antihero who both is and is not a girl), and the original Friday the 13th. One could argue that the latter is at least a wee bit feminist because [SPOILER ALERT!] the killer turns out to be a mother, thereby challenging our gender expectations.

What about Halloween H20?

What about Halloween H20? Laurie pretty much terrorizes Michael in that movie. And A Night Mare on Elm Street. Heather was a very awesome final girl in that movie and even sets up traps for Freddie.

So, it isn't "horror"

Not really a "horror" film as much as it is a murder mystery (and not a terribly good one at that ), but I'm going to throw out "The Bat" from 1959. Stars Agnes Moorehead as a mystery writer who rents a creepy old house where a series of grisly murders took place at the hands of a criminal known as The Bat who not ONLY rips his victims' throats out with specially made claws, but also sets rabid bats free to infect people. Moorehead outwits the killer and keeps a cool head about her the whole time (she arms herself AND calls the police when she suspects there's a prowler on the premises, which horror movie heroines rarely do). Also features Vincent Price being a weirdo, which is always thoroughly watchable.

Oh, and in the 1942 'Phantom of the Opera' while she DOES get kidnapped and rescued by some dudes, Christine also chooses her career over either of her rescuers.

I would recommend Silent Hill

I would recommend Silent Hill and Resident Evil as feminist horror films (although Resident Evil can get all action-movie on you at times).
The Descent might classify as one as well...

Really?

I'm shocked at the films this contains, without a trigger warning. Just because a feminist (rita may brown) Made the film, does not a feminist film make. It was a film made to exploit the shit out of youth sexuality, and cross the wires of sexuality/murder for cash. I'm no stick in the mud, but the sexual assaults on Dawn in Teeth are fucking alarming, and triggering. Last house on the left? Preying on women's greatest fears - rape. I'm totally grossed out by you,right now, Bitch! I've been a long time reader and supporter, but the "analysis" of these films is scarier than the films themselves. I can't understand why this piece of "feminist" fluff was reposted.

At least be responsible and add a trigger warning, becuse even these trailers can mess with a rape victim's head and well being.

If you wanted to post a piece that was actually good, and fucking scary, the analysis of the rape revenge from an old issue was remarkable, and well thought out - not reading into some meaning that never existed.

Feminist Horror Films

My list for 2011 is very similar and agree with your picks! For more ideas, I've included my lists of feminist horror for 2011 and 2012:
http://exploringfeminisms.com/2011/10/01/my-top-10-feminist-horror-movie...
http://exploringfeminisms.com/2012/10/02/my-top-10-feminist-horror-picks...

Feminist Horror Films

My list for 2011 is very similar and agree with your picks! For more ideas, I've included my lists of feminist horror for 2011 and 2012:
http://exploringfeminisms.com/2011/10/01/my-top-10-feminist-horror-movie...
http://exploringfeminisms.com/2012/10/02/my-top-10-feminist-horror-picks...

glad i stumbled upon this

I frankly havent seen any movie mentioned here or in the comments...must get on it. (aside from halloween, friday the 13th, etc classics i saw as a kid that i dont remember well).

as for a feminist character costume, this year i went as Shosana Dreyfus from Inglourious Basterds.
She constantly rejects Zoller and kills nazis without hesitation. now thats a bingo.

Gingersnaps is the first

Gingersnaps is the first movie I think of when I hear "feminist horror movie". :D