I listen to film scores…recreationally. I would say this is just a thing I do when writing, but it’s also when I’m driving, coloring with my kids, at work–it’s often, okay? I remember hearing one composer and thinking wow but not recognizing it because I hadn’t seen the movie. The composer was Rachel Portman (the song was the main title for Chocolat). I looked into her and found a massive body of magnificent work. I realized I had not heard of her because female composers in film are a rare breed–whether there really aren’t that many or that it’s hard for them to break through in a field dominated by men.
Women in horror presents and simultaneously disproves a similar statistical situation. But that’s another endeavor entirely. THIS post is about celebrating women in horror across a variety of mediums. Last year, in honor of Women in Horror Month, I wrote a post on my experience reading 44 books by only women authors in 2017. This year, I’m recommending some contemporary (and one classic) works by women in horror for you to sink your teeth into.
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage was an unexpected read last year. It was an audiobook I chose on a whim, and I’m glad I did. Gabra Zackman did a phenomenal job of narrating. I feel like the blurb is a little reductive of the sophisticated exposition and themes at play in this psychological horror. The end culminates in a different revelation than the reader carries from the beginning, leaving awe and sharp discomfort in its wake.
Actually, it reminds me of a short story I recently read by Annie Neugebeauer–
“That Which Never Comes” by Annie Neugebauer appears in the first volume of Tales from the Shadow Booth, edited by Dan Coxon. This story is all about painful anticipation, but, there was something at the end, that really, truly terrified me and it had nothing to do with that which never comes. This story is such a full representation of a difficult, often deliberately misunderstood genre. You should also read her manifesto on why women in horror month matters.
This article on 15 female horror directors revealed the director of my favorite horror film, American Psycho, to be another woman in horror to celebrate, Mary Harron. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a black comedy and psychological horror. My husband and I always reference it as the movie which you can play at any moment and it’s a good and/or hilarious part.
The article also reminded me of Honeymoon, a film that has stuck with me since watching it five years ago. The acting is seamless with tension that builds and builds to a gut-twisting crescendo.
A more recent achievement for women in horror was Toni Collette’s complex, layered performance in one of the most startling, horrifying films I have ever seen, Hereditary. I can’t even say anything about this film. You just have to see it.
One of my absolute favorite mediums of horror is art. Dappermouth is an artist I discovered on tumblr a couple years ago. Every one of her pieces is so evocative and makes me feel things I don’t understand.
Another artist who dabbles in horror is the author and musician, Maggie Stiefvater. Her tarot cards, The Raven’s Prophecy, are stunning. If you’re just beginning with tarot reading, the images are extremely emotional, making them easier than some decks to connect with.
I want to recommend two artists, Meg Myers and Banks, with music in this genre.
The first video I saw for Meg Myers was Desire and I kinda fell for her. Her music is something that is waning in a very self-conscious field: it completely gives in. This song and video is so dark, she revealed in an interview, that a boyfriend broke up with Myers after experiencing it.
Banks is another phenomenal artist–I like earnest female artists, okay? She writes electronic, contemporary R&B-inspired confessionals. Her song “Fuck With Myself” examines the interplay and imbalance between self-love and self-hate. The video, in which Banks abuses a bald effigy of herself, is a horror gem.
Do you have an women in horror recommendations? Favorites? How will you celebrate the month?