Monday, February 25, 2013

Masters of Horror: Women in Horror Edition

It's the final Monday of February which means it's the last day (for my blog) of WiHM. Unfortunately I didn't get any women themed horror film reviews out to you but I did accomplish all four lists and my Scream Queens Part III. I hope it makes up for the lack of effort this past October as I did have full intent, lists in mind and all, but never was able to deliver. But I did enjoy doing it this month as I liked being a part of WiHM. As a result I likely wont do it again next year but I hopefully will in some way or another celebrate the cause, maybe I'll focus on actual film reviews (believe it or not this is a film review blog, even if I've only posted one in the course of two months). But that's a year away and who knows what will happen between here and there. Regardless I'm thankful for getting the chance to be an ambassador and will gladly do so again.

As with the October lists I decided to end the Women in Horror Month series with a Masters of Horror list. Maybe they aren't Masters of Horror per say, at least not in the sense as my other MOH lists. But they've executed their films to a mastered level of horror. These aren't just random films from five random women, these are some of the most prominent, influential and scary films in the genre. And they don't need a bulky horror resume to accomplish such, as in most of their cases their single one time attempt stands for itself. For this last Monday of the month here are my Top Five Female Horror Directors:

#5 Amy Holden Jones, The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

Amy Jones may not be a household name per-say, nor may her one time directed horror title, Slumber Party Massacre (unless it is a horror fanatics household, respectively) but she's almost the first woman to direct a horror film, being pre-dated thirty years by Ida Lupino who directed a film noir called The Hitch Hiker. Maybe an ironic surprise to most as Slumber Party Massacre doesn't really appear as the type to have a feminine touch to it, but doesn't that accredit to Jones more? Its a textbook, A to Z, slasher that is generally reserved as a fun watch. Jones was able to execute a simplistic gruesome slasher film without anyone questioning a difference due to her gender. Few individuals hold the opinion that women directed horror films are not as scary as male directed. I disagree, its a matter of the director's talent, not their sex, with Slumber Party Massacre being proof.

#4 Mary Harron, American Psycho (2000)

Here's what I like about Mary Harron, she was hired to direct American Psycho because the producers thought her gender would soften controversy about the explicit torture of women that is a common theme about the novel. Of course if anything is indifferent to gender it is the media as the film still caused out cry for its bizarre, bloody and highly graphic murders. Having read Bret Easton Ellis novel Harron was accurate in capturing the eighties yuppie and incessant madness that encases Patrick Bateman's life. The novel and film are both of satirical horror but I felt it was emphatic in the film as the novel's often dark material dampened some of the lighter moments. American Psycho became a cult film, it's humor and horror ever present to this day. The reasons for her hiring aside Harron was an ideal choice for the director, Easton's social critique and the lucid violence translated excellently to the film.

#3 Kathryn Bigelow, Near Dark (1987)

As of current Kathryn Bigelow is known for being the first woman director to win an Academy Award but before that us horror lovers knew her for directing one of the best vampire films ever, the late eighties midnight classic Near Dark. The film's release offered positive reviews but a poor box office reception which is often the secret ingredient to a cult horror film. The stylized western horror has one of my favorite killing scenes, when a sadistic Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen (perfectly cast) mass drain a quiet bar. The film is known for uncommonly blending the genre's of western and vampire horror, the latter which was popular during the time. The film still makes several 'best' lists and is well received by genre fans. Aspects of Bigelow's current directing are distinct in her only horror film, not basing quality off of genre. Near Dark is essential, its lasting cult status marking it as one of the best horror films ever.

#2 Mary Lambert, Pet Sematary (1989)

I've made it pretty eminent that I find Pet Sematary to be Stephen King's best adapted novel (and best novel, mind you). What I love is the black veiled subject matter, as I've attested that losing a child is likely the worst horror a person can experience. In that it's a more difficult novel to adapt, as the gruesome and heartrending events even made King hesitant in publishing. The dark story is of the few film adaptions that accounts for the bulk of the novel, as well as efficaciously capturing the unnerving halo that hangs over the Creed family. Mary Lambert's visual perspective is accurate, portraying the small Maine home to eerie perfection, and the changed temperament of Church gives us a more suspenseful build that was missing in the novel. Lambert has a few other horror films in her proficient directing career, including one of the Urban Legends films but Pet Sematary is her first, and still her most adequate in my opinion. Without her directing and vision I don't believe that Pet Sematary would be as good as it is.

#1 Jen & Sylvia Soska, Dead Hooker in a Trunk (2009) & American Mary (2012)

The film is a little ill applied to my intro paragraph as Dead Hooker In A Trunk is likely not the scariest film you've ever seen. It rather applies more to the film I haven't seen, American Mary, and won't be able to do so for another eight months. So I'm only going off speculation here but from almost every review I've read American Mary is a genre defining film. I won't say for sure as I haven't seen it so its Dead Hooker as a rep for these ladies. But even for not seeing their sophomore film how could I not include the Twisted Twins? These two came into the genre recently but their impact has been so loud and influential that there's not too many horror fans that don't know who they are. And let's not ignore their fantastic romp of a debut film that got them heard. Dead Hooker was an modern exploitation flick that was not only impressive in budget and style but also provided a heavy dosage of humor and gore. It takes years to gain the accreditation these beautiful women receive and they've done it in four. They are exactly what Women in Horror Month is, a celebration of the beautiful, dark, and brilliant contributions to horror.

Honorable Mentions: Shannon Lark, Lip Stick (2010) a woman's obsession with self gratification is taken to horrifying extremes. Ida Lupino, The Hitch Hiker (1953) two young men lives are at the short extent of a car trip when they pick up a psychotic hitch hiker. Angela Bettis, Roman (2006) a lonely unstable man yearns for love but expresses it in all the wrong ways .

If you're reading post your own.

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