4 Sinister Moments of ALTER Short Horror Films

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Featured Indie Horror Scary Movies and Series

What makes a horror story so scary? We believe it really depends upon the person and what they may have experienced in their lifetime. Some people are easier to frighten than others, but we believe everyone is afraid of something. Hopefully we found something here in Alter’s short horror films that will frighten you!

3:36 (2020)

Do we know when we’ve passed on? Or, if it’s a violent, painful, or emotionally traumatizing death, do we relive the moments that surround it? We’ve talked a lot about ghosts here at Puzzle Box Horror, we’ve tried to figure out what they are, why they come back, if they’re really ghosts or if they’re demons in disguise. We’ve also discussed their roles in ancient societies, how ghost stories still thrive in a world of skepticism, and whether or not mirrors can be portals to ghostly realms. We haven’t discussed too much about how or why ghosts are really scary, or why–maybe it’s because they show us a point in time where we may no longer be able to follow our dreams, or tell our loved ones how we feel before it’s too late. We think ghosts are fascinating regardless–we love a good haunted tale that makes our blood pump, or our breath catch in our throat.

Check out this ALTER horror short film that shows how pain, grief, and death all play into the horror that we feel in our own mortality. Let us know what you think about it below!

Now that you’ve seen this original horror short film about ghosts, take a look at some of our own original short stories where we tackle haunted locations!

Still (2020)

This next horror short film also deals with a certain level of grief, but that’s not where the horror lies–instead this story deals with monsters in the night, what we might think are just night time terrors, but are really true nightmares. Sleep paralysis is a real phenomenon in our world and has been studied throughout the ages, so we can perhaps have a medical understanding of what we go through at night. Are the monsters real, or is it just our minds trying to cope with the disturbing images that we absorb throughout the day?

Check out this ALTER horror short film about the monsters that prey on us in our sleep, then let us know what you think about it below!

Here There Be Monsters (2020)

We love paranormal and supernatural horror here at Puzzle Box Horror, perhaps because reality can be scary enough without the creatures in our collective imagination running wild. The real monsters in our world are bullies, the people that take advantage of the weak, pick on the underdog, or kick an injured person while they’re down. It’s always interesting to see how the victims to life’s real monsters end up being the ones who stand up the strongest against the most nightmarish creatures of horror.

Check out this ALTER horror short film about the monsters we face not only in the shadows, but the ones we face on a daily basis, and tell us what you think about it below!

We’ve taken a look at other ALTER shorts before, one in particular which was about nighttime phobias and the monsters that we face as children (and sometimes well into adulthood, to our own dismay). In Here There Be Monsters (2020) the bullies are external tormentors, but in La Noria (2018) the bullies are our own fears and the deception of the shadows at night. If you haven’t seen this horror short, it’s a great time to check it out now!

The Armoire (2019)

When you’re looking curiously at that eBay listing for a haunted doll, or a sealed dybbuk box, just remember the victims of haunted objects in horror cinema. These objects are no joke, folks! What happens though, if you stumble upon a haunted or possessed object unwittingly? What do you do then? Well, hopefully, you figure out that it’s haunted before it’s too late–otherwise you may end up like the woman in The Armoire (2019).

Check out this ALTER horror short film that has to do with haunted objects that we might unintentionally bring into our lives and let us know what you think about it below!

5 Dangerous Things You Should Never Do With a Ouija Board

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Featured Lifestyle Scary Movies and Series

Head to any major retail store and you’ll probably find a Ouija board in the kids game section.  Next to Monopoly and Cards Against Humanity? Seriously?   Unless you are an occult practitioner or someone who has studied the paranormal, a Ouija board probably looks harmless, like any other board game.  

But talk to people who have had a creepy or downright terrifying experience misusing a Ouija board, and they’ll tell you that it is anything but. And there are a lot of stories out there that inspire some of the most bone-chilling paranormal books and horror movies.  We know many people who had the kind of experience with a Ouija board that was so bad, they will not even sit in the same room with one.  Even if it is in the box. 

The Origin of the Name and the Ouija Board Game

In the United States, spirit boards were used starting as early as the 1880’s.  There were spiritualist camps popping up all over America, but the boards were particularly popular in Ohio.  Four years later, a local businessman named Elijah Bond patented the ‘game’ and started selling it in stores.  An employee (William Fuld) named it “Ouija”.

There is a popular misconception that the word “Ouija” comes from the French and German words for ‘yes’ (Oui) and (Ja).  The origin of the name is a little more mysterious than that, but hotly disputed.  First, William Fuld indicated that the term ‘Ouija’ was derived from an Egyptian word, meaning ‘good luck’.   But this was more of a marketing thing; it helped him dispel concerns that people had about contacting the other side. 

Historians claim that Elijah Bond had a sister-in-law named Helen Peters who was a strong and renowned medium and spiritualist.  The story goes that they were using a spirit board together and they asked the spirits what they should call the board; it spelled out ‘Ouija’.  However, Helen Peters was also wearing a locket with a picture of a women’s rights activist and novelist named Ouida.  

The consensus is that the spirit saw the locket and had really bad spelling. 

After the game was patented by Elijah Bond, the sales of the classic Ouija board skyrocketed between 1920 – 1960 worldwide.  For the first twenty years, the board retailed at $150 which for the time was insanely expensive.  In 2020, that would convert to about $1,900.00 per board.   Only the rich and the elite could afford to talk to the dead.  Now you can find them for under $20.00, or at thrift shops (although we definitely do not recommend buying one used). 

There are actually over 20 different rules that occult experts identify as essential for safely using a Ouija board.  We are going to focus on the top 5 ‘what not to do’ with a spirit board.  And talk about some examples of what could happen if you do not follow the rules.   

1. Never Use a Ouija Board In Your Home 

Okay, so we know this sounds counterintuitive.  You bought the thing, and now you want to use it.  It make sense to retreat to your bedroom or maybe your kitchen table, light a candle and start using your Ouija board.  But this is actually one of the worst things you can do. 

Spiritualists and mediums, white witches and other paranormal practitioners and specialists are comfortable using a spirit board because they know how to block out spiritual influences, and malevolent beings.  You however, don’t have the experience to deal with an entity that comes through your Ouija board to make themselves comfortable in your home. 

The more personal your space is (i.e., your bedroom or your car) the easier it is for a spirit or demon to attach its energy to you.  We are pretty sure you know how that story ends, because just about every Ouija horror story and movie is based on that outcome.  So, don’t do that. 

2. Keep Talking to a Countdown Spirit 

You cannot contain the excitement when the planchette moves for the first time.  We all go through the same “Dude, you moved it” and “No man, I swear I didn’t” motions until we understand that we have actually connected with a spirit. 

But if your planchette seems to be counting down numbers, what do you do?  Say GOODBYE immediately.  Much like a nuclear bomb, the countdown on a Ouija board is a spirit who is attempting to come through the board.  And the ones that are strong enough to do that, are not always nice. In fact, they are dangerous.  Don’t keep talking through a countdown, or you may be heading to the paranormal danger zone. 

3. Dare the Entity to Show Proof (In a Rude Way)

In the movies, you know how the people using the Ouija board ask for some kind of proof that they are talking to a spirit? Something innocuous, like move the table, or make the lights flicker, or force the temperature of the room to become noticeably colder. We get it. You are excited that you finally have proof of intelligent paranormal life, and a chatty ghost.  

Asking for a few harmless signs is okay but understand that you are taking a big risk.  First of all, your average safe spirit (think Casper) does not have as much strength as a malevolent demon does.  And when you ask for a demonstration of power, you may bet more than you asked for.   And mocking a spirit is a definite no-no; it can flex and show you just how much power it has, and harm you, other occupants of the room, or start applying unwelcome influence that puts you at risk. 

4. Communicate with a Spirit Who Demonstrates the Figure 8

This is another thing that some horror movies get really wrong. The characters are sitting at a table, and the Ouija board seems to warm up, by making a figure 8 with the planchette.  Cool!  You connected right? Yeah, you did, but the figure 8 is a demonic sign that implies eternity, and more specifically, eternal torment.  So, if your planchette starts moving in a figure 8, immediately say GOODBYE.  You are talking to the ‘Dark Side of the Force”. 

5. Make Friends With a Spirit Named ‘ZoZo’

In 2009, an average joe kind of guy named Darren Evans posted a very public warning about using Ouija boards; in particular, he warned about a charming demon named ‘ZoZo’. After that announcement went viral, so did appearances of ZoZo on Ouija boards around the world.  

According to lore and testimonials from victims of ZoZo, he  begins with a figure-8 formation, and then rapidly pushes the planchette to spell “Z” “O” “Z” “O”.  The origins of the demon are thought to be Sumerian, or African, and he was referenced in the 1818 publication Le Dictionnaire Infernal (demon encyclopedia written by Jacques Auguste Simon Collin de Plancy). 

This celebrity entity likes to stay on top of the news feed, and is historically known for stalking individuals through spirit boards.  And because demons are clever, he also goes by the name ZaZa, Oz, Zo, Za and sometimes Abacus or Mama. 

He doesn’t play nice.  The internet is full of stories of possessions and terrified individuals who connected with him on Ouija boards and were not able to say “GOODBYE” no matter how hard they tried.  

One of the mysterious complications about using a Ouija board is getting rid of the thing.  You bought it (or received it as a gag gift) and used it.  You scared the crap out of yourself and now you want to get rid of it, so you can just throw it away right?  Not so easy.  The internet is also full of stories about Ouija boards sent to the trash, and mysteriously returning, with the planchette on top of the board. Even after it has been burned to ashes. 

Ponder that one, and maybe think twice before attempting to talk to the ‘other side’ unless you are one of those rare people that will actually follow every one of the safety rules.   You may not get a ‘do over’ if you mess it up. 

5 Ghost Ships Sighted on the West Coast

Categories
Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

The sea has always been a prime spot for terrifying tales. From the monstrously beautiful creatures that lurk in the depths of the ocean (think mermaids) to the countless people who have vanished at sea without a trace, this large body of water is as scary as it is stunning. And it’s not just human spirits that you’ll come across on the water, but also ghost ships. These urban legends have been told for centuries, with stories of sailors who disappear and mysterious ships that quite literally go passing in the night. Flying Dutchman is a classic ghostly vessel that you may have heard about at a bonfire or two, but do you know about the spirit ships that sail along the West Coast? From Washington to Alaska, here are the spooky mariner tales that will keep you away from the water. 

SS Baychimo

SS Baychimo Ghost Ship

Formerly used to trade provisions for pelts in Inuit settlements, this ghost ship cruised along the Alaskan coast for nearly four decades. There have been countless sightings of the SS Baychimo since she broke free of the ice, and her crew, in 1931… always sailing with no crew in sight. The scary part? Quite a few people have managed to board the ship, but have been unable to salvage her due to intervening factors – like the creeping ice floes that stopped Captain High Polson or the freak storm that trapped a group onboard for 10 days in 1933. It’s almost like supernatural factors always help her escape, right? The last known sighting of the SS Baychimo was in 1969, around 38 years after she initially went missing. The Alaskan government has been unsuccessfully trying to find her since 2006, and we’re sure that she’s still cruising along the ice somewhere!

Squando 

Squando Ghost Ship

There are some tales about ghost ships that are simply low-key, with the vessel escaping its crew and calmly sailing the seas solo for decades. The story of Squando is not one of them. In fact, it’s downright brutal. This Norwegian ship docked in San Francisco back in 1890, and took a violet turn when the Captain and his wife decided to murder and decapitate the first mate. The reasons for the killing vary by telling, but one fact remains the same – the headless corpse was discovered in the San Francisco bay some time later. As a result, the Captain and his wife were captured and executed. While the ship found a new crew shortly afterwards, they eventually murdered the new Captain… and the next two were also killed in violent ways. By 1893, the Squando’s reputation as a cursed ship preceded it, and the entire crew decided to desert the vessel in the Bay. However, that hasn’t stopped its legacy from sailing on. Over a century later, there are still stories about the Squando, and how you can still make out the ghostly outline of the ship sailing off the Embarcadero along the San Francisco coastline.

Siletz Bay Ship

Siletz Bay

Does the fact that this ghost ship has no name or backstory make it even scarier? Quite possibly. Siletz Bay is a scenic area in Oregon composed of gorgeous blue waters, and it’s been said that you might just get another view on foggy days: a phantom ship. Many guests have reported seeing a ghost ship sailing away at a distance, only for it to disappear within seconds. It’s quite literally a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment. Not much is known about the ship or why it was seemingly abandoned, but the spiritual vessel has created quite the buzz in Oregon. It’s a top location in many haunted tours within the state, and guests arrive from all over the world to catch a glimpse of this ghostly ship. 

Lost Ship of the Desert 

Lost Ship of the Desert Ghost Ship

Spanish treasure galleons and riches buried deep beneath the desert grounds of Coachella? That’s what the urban legends say. The Lost Ship of the Desert has been a subject of folklore for centuries, with people saying that an ancient vessel is buried along the Colorado Desert in California. People have tried to dig up the remains to no avail for years, while others claim to have seen the ghostly ship in either its full or deteriorated form. Whether you believe the legends about Spanish explorers, think it’s Viking ship (many people do!), or have doubts about whether it’s there at all… the Lost Ship of the Desert will have a place in folklore for years to come.

The Queen Mary

Queen Mary ghost Ship

This legendary vessel gives a new meaning to the term “ghost ship.” The ship itself isn’t a ghostly apparition that you need to stretch to get a sight of – in fact, it’s one of the top landmarks in California. What makes it ghostly? The countless spirits and haunted experiences that happen within the halls of this 80+ year old ship. Time magazine named it one of the top 10 haunted places in America back in 2008, and people flock in from all over the world to stay in the haunted rooms and participate in the hotel’s many ghostly encounters. From the well-dressed man who appears at the end of the hall to the little girl who supposedly drowned in the pool many years ago, the spirits have made a home for themselves at The Queen Mary. And they’re dying for you to come and visit this ghostly ship. 

Another infamous ghost ship we just added to our encyclopedia of supernatural horrors is The Ghost Ship Jenny and it might be the most terrifying yet.

Sources:

http://www.weirdca.com/location.php?location=160

https://www.beachconnection.net/news/ghost_siletz061420.php

https://www.desertsun.com/story/desert-magazine/2019/12/02/5-facts-lost-ship-california-desert-what-we-know/3981175002/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Ship_of_the_Desert

https://www.travelandleisure.com/hotels-resorts/most-haunted-hotel-america-queen-mary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Queen_Mary#Haunting_legends

5 Great Horror Movies Based On Urban Legends

Categories
Best Of Best of Movies Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

Horror movies are always more effective when reminiscent of, or straight up depicting, real world fears. What better way to terrify the masses than by visually portraying urban legends, some of the most widespread of superstitions and irrational paranoias? Many of these folk horror films are tackled by smaller directors looking to kickstart, though some bigger budget gems have been known to shine through. 

Triangle 2009

Triangle Folk Horror movie poster with girl holding axe on a boat with a bloody reflection

Triangle is a twisting, turning, chilling British horror/thriller from Christopher Smith, director of Severance (2006) and Black Death (2010). A potent hybrid of old school slasher à la Friday 13th (1980) and mind-bending science fiction in the vein of Predestination (2014) and Coherence (2013), this unsettling nautical romp is certain to please fans of both. When Jess, a single mother, embarks on a boating trip with her friends, a storm forces them to abandon their vessel for a seemingly deserted cruise liner. Once aboard, the group are faced with a deranged killer, along with waves of psychological mayhem and headache-inducing time loops. 

As the name may suggest, Triangle is centred around the infamous Bermuda Triangle, a region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean. The region is said to have played setting to, and been the culprit of, a great number of obscure sightings and disappearances leading back to 1492. It was then that Christopher Columbus and the crew of the Santa Maria sailed through the triangle to arrive at Guanahani, though not before reportedly seeing a strange and unknown light in the sea fog. Since then a great deal of boats and aeroplanes have disappeared in the sinister sea-region, from the USS Wasp in 1814 to Turkish Airlines flight TK183 in 2017, some carrying upwards of a hundred passengers at the time of disappearance. 

Triangle does great justice to the eerie and unexplainable legend of the Bermuda Triangle, it’s warping story leaving viewers guessing and re-guessing until its bleak and poignant closing scene. Weight is added through Smith’s use of bloody violence and tense horror, creating a soft hybrid of a film which remains as entertaining and thought provoking now as it ever was. 

Bermuda is not the only area that has a mysterious triangle. The Alaska Triangle has similar tales albeit over land.

The Blair Witch Project 1999

Blair Witch Project 1999 Movie poster with scared face and text

This pioneer of the found-footage subgenre shocked audiences in 1999 with a claustrophobic and wholly believable portrayal of young adults falling victim to the legend of the mysterious Blair Witch. After setting off into rural Maryland to document and hopefully capture some evidence of the insidious figure, including interviewing locals and camping in some questionable spots, Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael C. Williams (playing themselves) soon become lost in the vast wilderness. Seemingly stalked and tormented by the very myth they sought to invoke, the three encounter dread and distress enough to make any viewer think twice about their next camping trip.

Of course, the legend of the Blair Witch is just that, a legend. That being said, it had more of an interesting start than most. Writer-directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez fabricated an entire urban legend regarding the town of Burkittsville, Maryland, plastering missing-person posters around the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and claiming their footage was real. Sundance legally had to confirm the film as a work of fiction, though this did not lessen the impact the marketing ploy had. The rise of a $60,000 indie flick to $248,000,000 blockbuster is staggering, as is the influence the film has had on the horror scene long after its release. 

The Blair Witch Project relied on a strong cast utilising a lot of improvisation to help its desired effect come to life. Not just for the claims of authenticity (though it did help those) but for the raw and genuine atmosphere running through the flick. The actors camped for ten days in the Maryland wilderness while cremembers posed as their antagonist, leaving stick figures and bloody packages at camp, shaking their tents in the early hours. Only Heather, of the three, was given any information about the witch to ensure the others gave authentic reactions and asked plenty of questions. 

While this type of filmmaking can come with complications, such as the actors’ parents being sent sympathy cards over their children’s fictional deaths to this day, it shows a complete commitment from cast and crew. To make something with this impact, small sacrifices must sometimes be made, though we’ll leave it up to the creators to decide whether it was worth it.

Willow Creek 2013

Willow Creek Folk Horror Movie poster with a big foot imprint and red background

When Kelly (Alexie Gilmore) and Jim (Bryce Johnson) travel into Humboldt County, California on a camping trip to find the famous wildman, Bigfoot, their faith and will to survive are tested in equal measure. 

If Willow Creek isn’t a tribute to The Blair Witch Project then it’s at least a loving nod. Effectively sparse and utilising tireless and detailed acting from what is effectively a cast of two, prolific writer/director/comedian Bobcat Goldthwait’s directorial foray into tense horror is a potent one. It shares Blair Witch’s theme and structure almost to a tee, other than replacing Myrick and Sánchez’ fictitious urban legend with one very much known in the real world.

Bigfoot, also referred to as Sasquatch in Canadian and American folklore, is an ape-like wildman of worldwide legend and innumerable alleged sightings. While all accounts of the Bigfoot are anecdotal, or highly disputable video footage or photographs, it manages to retain one of the highest cult followings of any urban legend, with followers deeply entrenched in the culture of searching out and worshipping the elusive ape-man. 

Bigfoot has been a figurehead in popular culture for years, appearing on television, in films and countless pieces of merchandise. A few horror films such as Exists (2014) and Evidence (2012) have included the towering hair-covered phenomenon as an antagonist, though none quite so efficaciously as this one.

Ringu 1998 / The Ring 2002

The Ring Horror Movie poster showing a glowing supernatural ring

This Japanese frightfest and its American counterpart are a perfect example of a western adaptation done right. Japan has always had a distinct and dynamic take on horror as a genre, favouring dark spaces, pale ghosts with jet black hair and some truly unsettling signature sounds. One may think that a western attempt would completely miss the mark (or, as they tend to, miss the point completely) on such an unmistakable style, though Ringu’s remake The Ring proved to be as good if not a more accessible way to deliver its story to a wider audience. 

When journalist Rachael (Naomi Watts) comes across a videotape that allegedly kills people seven days after watching, she must act quickly to decipher the meaning behind the object before it claims her own life. Featuring a solid performance from Naomi Watts along with a morbidly bleak atmosphere and some horrendously chilling imagery, The Ring managed to take an age-old Japanese urban legend and present it in a way certain to scare the worldwide masses. As if Ringu wasn’t unnerving enough.

The story itself is, as you may have guessed, based on an old Japanese legend dating as far back as the 12th century. Somewhere between 1333 and 1346 a fort now known as Himeji Castle was erected on Himeyama hill in western Japan. A samurai named Tessan Aoyama was said to have taken a particular fancy to a young servant of his named Okiku, so much of a fancy in fact that he vowed to take her away and marry her. When she refused his advances, the samurai hid one of the ten priceless golden plates Okiku was charged with looking after. He told her that if she did not agree to marry him he would openly blame her for the plate’s disappearance, an accusation that would undoubtedly lead to her being tortured and executed. In full knowledge of her predicament, Okiku was said to have committed suicide by throwing herself into a well in the castle grounds. Each night, so the tale goes, she would crawl back out of the well, appearing to Aoyama on a nightly basis until he went mad from her haunts. She was regularly heard counting the plates she had sworn to protect, throwing a destructive tantrum whenever she realised that number ten was still missing. 

Ringu proves that a terrifying story does not have to be wholly original; sometimes a rework of an ancient tale will do just nicely. 

Candyman 1992

Candyman Urban Legend Horror Movie Poster with a bee in an eye

Candyman is the quintessential urban legend brought to life. Based on a 1985 Clive Barker short story entitled The Forbidden, the film shares a few similarities. The infamous Candyman, with his aura of bees and hook for a hand, will appear to anyone who either uses his name in vain or flat out refuses to believe in him. Say his name five times in a mirror (yep, that’s where that came from) and he’ll appear behind you, ready to drive his deadly hook into your tender form. That’s if you’re brave or stupid enough to even bother.

A graduate student named Helen comes across the Candyman legend while researching her thesis paper. Her examination into the insidious entity brings his attention right back on her, and soon she finds herself fighting for her life against an age-old evil that apparently only she didn’t know not to mess with.

Candyman has taken his share of inspiration from several sources, most notable of which being the Hookman legend. In the story, a young couple are getting steamy in a parked car when an emergency radio bulletin says that a mental patient with a hook for a hand has escaped the nearby asylum. The girl becomes terrified when she hears something scraping along the car, convincing the boy to drive off. When he does, neither of them notice the metal hook hanging from the door handle. While the similarities here are purely aesthetic, the Hookman appearance is unmistakable in any form.

The other clear inspiration for this 1992 classic is one of the many manifestations of the ‘say their name five times in a mirror’ dare, Bloody Mary. One of the most widely known tales to date, Bloody Mary is said to have been a witch who was burned for practicing black magic, though more modern retellings say that she was a young woman who died in a car crash. Every kid’s first sleepover isn’t complete without a game of Bloody Mary, making her one of the first spirits many of us will have encountered.

Links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Bermuda_Triangle_incidents

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1187064/

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0185937/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/blair-witch-project-true-story-burkittsville-maryland

https://www.mirror.co.uk/film/blair-witch-real-truth-behind-8844017

https://www.vice.com/en/article/8xzy4p/blair-witch-project-oral-history-20th-anniversary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himeji_Castle

https://screenrant.com/candyman-movie-real-urban-legends-inspiration-tony-todd/

https://www.popsugar.co.uk/entertainment/where-does-candyman-legend-come-from-47313482

5 Horror Movies Where Females Took a Big Bite Out of the Bad Guy

Categories
Featured Scary Movies and Series Women in Horror
Ripley from alien movie holding a cat

Maybe we can blame one of the first mainstream horror movies in America for the stereotyping of women in scary films. Of course, we are talking about George C. Romero’s original “Night of the Living Dead” which was released on October 1st, 1968.

To the movie goers of the time, it was horrific gore. So much so, that like another favorite horror film of ours (“The Exorcist”) audience members in theaters had to be assisted because people were throwing up, visibly shaken or fainting as the zombies chowed down on the unlikely heroes trapped in the farmhouse. 

Even in black and white film, the blood and gore were way too much for the average 1960s movie audience (which we think is kind of funny). If you watch the original film, it looks more like gravy than blood. We digress.

In “Night of the Living Dead” we are introduced to a feminine character called Barbara. From the beginning of the movie it is pretty clear that Barbara is the antithesis to anything heroic or brave. She is the epitome of the ‘perfect housewife’ and the persona of a helpless woman who needs to rely on a big strong man (or several of them) for survival. Yep, it is enough to get any feminist horror fan’s boy boxers in a knot. Girl power and all that? Come on Barbara!

As the movie progressed, we saw Barbara continue to mentally decline into psychological shock, and the fact that she actually almost survives the night is kind of laughable. We pegged her for Zombie chow within the first thirty minutes of the movie. Lucky for Barbara, she had those ‘big strong men’ around to rescue her. Inadvertently or deliberately, Barbara became the prototype persona for the weak and helpless female in a horror movie.

Transitioning from Female Victims of Violence to Kicking Some Serious Butt in Horror Movies

Flash forward to the 80’s and horror movies had tweaked that weak persona into a very predictable female victim. The checklist for the average female horror movie character was for a long time, a combination of these shockingly useless characteristics:

  • Super hot (like really good looking)
  • Long hair (typically blonde and brunettes lived longer)
  • Directionally impaired
  • Unable to load a gun or use weaponry
  • Prone to unlocking a door and investigating
  • Very prone to screaming when they need to be reeeallly quiet

Our favorite personality trait of the 1980’s female lead in horror movies was the unabashed grief over the loss of their [insert one] friend, sibling, parent or boyfriend. How many of them just sat there, trying to ‘wake up’ a dead person while the bad guy closed in? Game over.

I remember watching the original Friday the 13th movies with my dad, on a small television (and not in the living room because my mom hated scary movies). I was eight years old the first time I saw a scary movie and it was love at first cinematic trauma. But I remember asking my dad, “why are all the girls in horror movies stupid?” and he just laughed, and then gave me some rendition of how men are stronger as I rolled my eyes.

It was the horror movies of the 1990’s that started to portray women in more leading roles in even the most macabre films. I also remember at first, there was a big backlash. In the early 90’s horror stories that positioned women with stronger survival and tactical skills than men, were actually killed by film critics for a time. Until female horror genre fans started to get very vocal about liking and appreciating that shift. That sometimes, a woman could be the hero too, or sole survivor because of emotional and intellectual strengths, versus brawn or physical strength.

Even today though, when you watch a horror movie and a female protagonist or lead kicks some serious butt, you have to admit you are pretty surprised because it still breaks that classic “They are coming to get you Barbara” prototype.   But the new generation of horror films not only make the lead a deserving survival, they frequently make her the hero, saving other characters (including big strong tough guys). And isn’t that awesome?

Hosting a horror watch party for your friends? Check out these five scary movies where the female characters took a big bite out of the bad guy and saved the day.

1. Laurie Strode – Halloween (Jamie Lee Curtis)

You know what they say, you can pick your friends, but you cannot pick your family. It is not really until Rob Zombie directed the remake of “Halloween” that we really get a glimpse into how messed up the Strode family was, and how the evil in Michael Myers was born.

If you have not watched the whole series of Halloween movies (there are 13 in total) we will not spoil it for you. Okay we are lying #SpoilerAlert! What we can say is that we were kind of disappointed with how Laurie dies, after successfully surviving so many attacks from her demonically deranged brother, Michael. The character literally lived a lifetime of evading a horrible violent death at the hands of Michael Myers and was the ultimate survivor (while perpetrating some serious injury to her assailant in some creative ways).

We’re still a little pissed off that she died. Just saying.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gf9W9BlakY

2. Ellen Ripley – Alien (Sigourney Weaver)

No kick a_ _ list of horror movie survivors would be complete without the legendary Ellen Ripley! This tough as nails female character fought off misogyny in the workplace, being the only female in a male penal colony on a stormy planet, and multiple attempts by a very scary species of aliens to use her as a larvae host.

Not only that, but she had to fight against ‘the man’ and a big corporation, psychotic synthetic human beings (do not call them robots, they don’t like it) but she had to continue fighting throughout several cloned incarnations of herself.  Try waking up in a laboratory to restart the horror all over again. That shit sucks!

Ripley could make plans and execute them, manage other soldiers and she could use pretty much any weapon that you gave her, including a grenade launcher (or make her own). Our favorite characterization of Ripley is “Alien Resurrection” where she clearly steps into her Alpha warrior female role, with zero “F**ks” given attitude. Our favorite scene is Ripley driving the loader and beating the hell out of the Queen.

3. Nancy Thompson – A Nightmare on Elm Street (Heather Langenkamp)

What do you do when you are stalked by the paranormal presence of a child killer who can kill you in your dreams? Once you figure out that your parents actually burned him to death for killing your sibling (who you have no memory of) you make another pot of coffee, read up on boobytraps and defense, and kick some butt.

You can imagine how devasted we were to see her killed by Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. After all those years of outsmarting Freddy and surviving, she get’s catfished just like that? Once a daddy’s girl, always a daddy’s girl, I guess. She literally walked right into her five fingered death.

4. Alice – Resident Evil (Milla Jovovich)

When you think about it, there are many parallels between the Alien character Ripley and Alice from Resident Evil. Both are faced with ongoing trauma, death, and catastrophe, losing people they care about while trying to stop an apocalypse. And both of them are cloned so that they keep fighting the same battle over and over again in new iterations of their lives and existence. Kind of like the crappiest ‘Groundhog Day’ that never ends for both characters.

Do you find yourself holding your breath when you watch Alice fight deformed creatures, zombies, and soldiers? Sure, she is genetically engineered but Milla Jovovich is lean and mean; like an unstoppable female ninja, which is probably why we love the movie so much.

5. Dawn O’Keefe   – Teeth (Jessica Weixler)

If you are a man and you are reading this, you might not want to watch the video clip. Dawn O’Keefe played by Jessica Weixler; has an obscure deformity you know… [down there]. The 2007 horror and comedy film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and had a limited release. Unless you are a hardcore horror fan you might not have seen this movie.

Jessica Weixler did receive the Grand Jury Prize for Acting in the movie. However, while critics loved the story line, the movie only grossed $2.4 million internationally. If you really want to know about the condition of vagina dentata (or what happens to guys who date women with the condition) you may want to look for this horror gem. It is a leg crosser.

Now we want to hear from you. Leave us a comment below and tell us which horror movie featuring a female kick a_ _ hero is your favorite of all time. And if you want to, link us with a video clip from YouTube.

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