February 2015 was the first time I decided to put a lot of effort into promoting Women in Horror Month. Not that I was against the idea previously, but I never found time to work it into my posting schedule. This year, though, I published over a dozen pieces promoting women who work pre-dominantly in horror cinema behind-the-scenes. It was only through doing so that I realized why Women in Horror Month is so important.
Truth be told, there is still a huge gap between the number of men working in horror films and the number of women working in horror films. I struggled, and I mean struggled, to find women who have brought so much to the genre outside of those who are a household name. There are so many talented women working in different departments of differently budgeted films, I strongly believe that everyone deserves a little shine, a thank you for their contributions. The problem is/was – it was hard to find a female director, a female writer, a female producer, a female anything who worked almost entirely in horror and/or science fiction. I don’t believe that women frown upon working in the horror genre in any way, but there is still a noticeable gap in numbers.
I’m not going to even go into the mind-blogging lack of support from mainstream horror sites and figures as well as the community that supports them. That’s a whole other issue entirely.
This got me thinking. What is the reason for this, especially in an era when the idea of equal rights and equal opportunities for all is really being championed? Despite what a miniscule fraction would have you believe, it’s not because women are less talented and intellectual than men. To joke for a moment, us men always have a hard time duping you women because you’re always ten steps ahead in your thought processes! One brain, no matter if it belongs to a male or female, will always work differently than another brain. It goes without saying that women have achieved success in all areas of career paths. If not for a false and pre-conceived notion of inequality, why aren’t more women heavily involved in the horror community as stunt choreographers, gaffers, production assistants, or script supervisors?
I think this is partially because of a double standard that has slowly formed since Psycho arrived on the scene in 1960. After Janet Leigh’s iconic shower death scene, women became sex objects in horror films, and if they weren’t they had to be the damsel in distress. Eventually, the term scream queen formed and although it is currently a very prestigious title, it’s mostly what the majority of women aspire to become. Instead of pursuing their passion behind the camera, they opt for some screaming and boob showing in front of it. Where is the creativity in that when you have so much more to offer? When you presume that women can only be scream queens in horror movies, how can you even imagine them as anything else? As with high school, no one wants to be the nerd (editor) when you can be the head cheerleader (lead actress).
Another thing standing in the way of more women gaining traction in the horror film industry behind-the-scenes is the risk factor that most directors and producers aren’t willing to take. I can’t speak on cycles I wasn’t around for, but it seems like the generation of film makers right now like to work in clusters of people they’ve already performed well with in the past. This is fun, more-so comfortable and familiar, but it also robs others, especially women, of the opportunity to really show what they got. This is why I’m so thrilled that WWE Studios gave The Soska Sisters the reigns on See No Evil 2. They took two women they had never worked with before, gave them what was needed, and together the twins churned out one of the best selling straight-to-DVD titles of 2014. Why can’t we give more women that opportunity? What do we have to lose?
Next year I want it to be easier for me to find women leading the charge towards, well, death. I want to see more women kicking ass in the director’s share or winning awards for their screenplays. Although I know this may not be the reality, it starts with simple steps of progress, simple steps that you’d provide any associate or acquainted in your community – which is what we are as horror fans, a community. It starts with spreading the word, letting others know that someone is doing something great and recognizing them for their efforts. Giving chances and opportunities. Even within the last few years we have made terrific strides towards boosting the plight of women working behind-the-scenes in horror as scorers, transportation supervisors, craft servces, and special effects artists, but there is still so much more to do. There are still hundreds of bloody and brutal stories left to be told. And the fact of the matter is – not all of those stories are n the minds of men.
Here’s all the amazing women I profiled this February:
- Rachel Talalay: director: Freddy’s Dead – The Final Nightmare
- Marti Noxon: producer, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” writer, Fright Night remake
- Amy Holden Jones: director, Slumber Party Massacre
- Kelly Wagner: casting director, The Grudge, Hostel II, Shark Night 3D
- Tricia Lee: director, Silent Retreat
- Elise Robertson: director, Donner Pass
- Sophia Crawford: stunts, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “The Originals”
- Carmela Hayslett: editor/writer, Eliza’s Diary, Death Follows
- Ve Neill: special effects/make-up: “Face Off,” Constantine, Priest
- Kristine Peterson: director, Critters 3
- Maria Olsen: producer, Folklore, Live-In Fear
- Noelle Bye: cinematographer: Chill – The Killing Games, Kandie Land
- Aieisha Li: costume/wardrobe, Leprechaun: Origins, See No Evil 2
- Krista Johnston: rights and clearances, Jennifer’s Body, Grave Encounters