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Featured Scary Movies and Series Women in Horror

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

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.

Categories
Indie Horror Creation Indie horror writers

5 Reasons Why Horror Writers Should Guest Blog

As a horror writer, you have been self-publishing short fiction, or novels in an effort to get the attention of publishers.  Creative writers can dream of that moment when they are discovered. Much like a garage band that is signed up by a big agent for a record deal.  Then suddenly, you are catapulted into fame and insanely large residuals for your horror novels, or screenplays.

That does not even happen for garage bands anymore. Unless they appear on American Idol.  And even then, they are supported by a massive marketing machine to help the artist create a marketable brand.  In publishing, where there are no guarantees about the profitability of a horror novel, there is no golden ticket or free ride to overnight success.

Get Down With Your Marketing to Attract Paranormal and Horror Publishers

Today, publishers only sign writers who have created that marketable brand themselves.  You do not need a million-dollar budget to build a fan base, but it is a business investment and a time-consuming project.  In fact, many writers can build their base for 5-10 years, feeding their fans with self-published works before a publisher will even look at providing a contract for the writer.

Horror and paranormal novelists and screenplay writers have to build their fan base first.  They have to be their own high-powered marketing machine to demonstrate that their creative work is marketable. So basically, when you build that audience to the point where you are starting to make a little money on the side from sales of your books, or advertising on your blog or podcast, that’s when you’ll be ready to pitch publishers.

And start collecting those rejection letters.  Do not worry, Stephen King had more than thirty rejection letters for his novel “Carrie”.  He had a nail in his office that he kept adding his rejection letters to, skewering his failures, and trudging on.  When the nail could not support the letters anymore, he drove a spike into the wall, and continued collecting the rejection letters from publishers.   The point is, get ready for rejection, and remember that it is part of the process, as it has been for every famous horror writer you know.

Breaking into the business today takes organic crowdsourcing and a consistent effort to build your authorship.   So, what kind of digital marking DIY activities are actually worth spending your time and money on?

Start With Your Author Website

Believe it or not, people still read books. And when they have enjoyed an indie self-published horror novel, or collection of short horror fiction, they want to learn more about the author.  This is where a lot of writers do not take the time or effort to establish their brand persona and make it easier for readers to become fans.

Before you max out your credit card and build a complex website, understand that it is not about how ‘fancy’ your website is (or expensive).  What really matters is that the core fundamentals for branding are on your author website. 

That includes:

  • Previews or excerpts from your book(s)
  • Links to self published books or collections for sale.
  • An author bio page (bonus points for a video welcome message from you, talking about your books, character development techniques, and why you love being a horror writer.
  • A newsletter sign-up (and you actually have to send email updates to your fans monthly to keep them interested and subscribed).
  • Social media accounts, sharing your insights, your process for character and plot development.
  • A podcast (if you hate the idea of being on live videos and in front of the camera).  Some authors build a large following by reading excerpts from their books and/or providing low-cost audio downloads of their books.
  • Some Authors also do book reviews for other sites or podcasts to network.

We know what you are thinking; “wow, that’s a lot of work”.  The good news is that if you have never set up your own website or had some experience with digital marketing (blogging, social media management, etc.) there are low-cost courses you can take on Udemy.  They start at $12 per course in digital marketing, and you can learn how to create and promote your own author brand.

How Often Should I Blog?

Many writers ironically struggle to publish blog content on their own author websites. That makes no sense to anyone else but a writer.  It is easy to create fiction, and not so easy to market yourself, or talk about your accomplishments and self-published works (let alone promote them).  But you really do need to be your own talent agent to grow that coveted audience that publishers insist on before they start writing checks for your work.

Search engine optimization or SEO is really important on your author website.  The more content you add to your website, the better.  But Google and other search engines prefer high-quality content, that is longer than 1,000 words and optimized with keywords that relate to your audience.

A great software tool to use for beginners, is Yoast Premium.  The plug-in is available for WordPress websites and will give you tips on choosing the right keywords and search terms, to help your blog articles attract readers (and website traffic). 

Aim to add at least (4) new articles per month, or about one article per week.  Yep, it is work, but hey, you are a writer! It should be a walk in the park for you to talk about the things you love writing about, ideas for new characters, and share with your readers.  

Writing Articles for Other Websites? How Does That Help My Audience Grow?

If you are already thinking that writing for your own blog may be a lot of work, this next proven suggestion is going to blow your mind.  Not only do you need to write for your own website regularly, but you should be seeking opportunities to publish work on other websites too.  For free.

Guest blogging is a strategy that actually helps the contributing author.  True, your amazing horror short-fiction piece or journalistic article about lore, horror movies or book reviews or other entertainment content is going to be published on another website.  That makes them look good, to have more content!   But did you know it is also a really valuable self-branding exercise?

Here are five reasons you should consider being a guest contributor on a horror or paranormal blog:

1. It does get your name out there.  When you are choosing which blogs to contribute to, make sure you are selecting high-traffic websites.  If the blog you are submitting to is a ghost town, it is not really going to benefit you that much.  The primary advantage for guest-blogging authors, is that you get exposure to a larger potential audience of fans. 

2. You get a backlink.  This may be something you have to ask for, as a new guest-blogger and horror/paranormal author, a backlink.  The more related websites you have linking into your own personal author website, the more traffic you can expect to receive.   Usually publishers will allow you to hyperlink one work or phrase within the guest article, that clicks back to your own website.  Backlink established, and a potential open door to anyone who wants to learn more about you, after they have read your guest blog post.

3. You get a valuable callout on social media. When you contribute to another blog as a guest author, ask if the collaboration will involve sharing your article on the media outlet’s social media channels.  When you are picking the best guest writer opportunities, also take a look at how many followers the publication has on popular channels like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.  If they have a huge fanbase on social, that is a big opportunity to expose your creative writing to an even larger audience of fans.

4. It works the writer muscle and discipline.  Hands up if you have 2-4 different novels saved and archived, at different stages of development.  It is not really procrastination.  Writing is a superpower and you have to be inspired and motivated to continue the story line.  It is really about how you feel as a creative.  Sometimes, you can write two chapters in a day, other times, you are staring at the page for three hours.  

Being a regular blog contributor is like working out your hands, your brain, and your creativity on a weekly basis.  And that can help you make progress on your own creative work, by fostering regular writing habits.

5. Guest blogging is a great way to network within the genre.  You want to make sure you are collaborating with websites that gather horror and paranormal fans, since that is the genre you want to break into as a novel, short fiction, or screenplay writer.  You never know who knows someone who is looking for new authors (including connections to publishers, and big horror content buyers like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime for original series storylines).  The more you guest blog, the more you network, and that can lead to big things for horror writers.

There are some courses and master classes out there that can teach you some of the advanced techniques of building an author brand.  For most writers, those courses (while valuable learning) are pretty expensive.  You can actively build your own audience with a great website, and by writing content that people love to read, to crowdsource the fan base you will need, to successfully pitch major publishers and horror content buyers.

To learn more about collaborating with Puzzle Box Horror, and how to pitch our editorial team about a lore, horror, or paranormal non-fiction article, send us an email.  Puzzle Box Horror is a rapidly growing online community of creative writers, indie horror filmmakers and artists, and we accept guest blog content to showcase the talent of our community.