BY JOANNA C. VALENTE
It’s the spookiest time of the year. That means it’s time to watch some damn good horror films (which I do all year, but you know, a good time to rewatch your favorites). I rounded up some of my favorite horror films with women leads, because men aren’t the only ones who can either terrorize people or survive trauma. Women, like men, can be heroes and villains too, not just damsels in distress - or people needing to be saved.
Here are my picks:
1. Goodbye Mommy
This 2015 German film is terrifying. I watched it in theaters, and it was hard to look at the screen at times, and I’m not at all squeamish. The premise is focused on twin boys who think their mother isn’t actually their mother after coming home from reconstructive surgery. Since her face is wrapped in bandages most of the film, it’s hard to know if they are right - or wrong…
2. The Audition
The Audition is a Japanese horror film released in 1999 that still freaks me out when I think about it. It’s a disturbing body horror-centric film centered on Asami, a quiet dancer who begins dating an older man named Ayoama. Things get very, very creepy and strange - and you won’t know what hit you until it does.
3. The Fog
One of John Carpenter’s classics, this 1980 film is set in a small California coast town that is haunted. All sorts of ghost-like things are happening (most notably, a weird fog that glazes over the town), but Stevie, a radio announcer, seems to be figuring out what’s going on, even when other people don’t believe her. Jamie Lee Curtis stars in this gem as well.
4. House of Wax
The 1953 film, which actually was the first film to use 3D effects in a color film (and with stereophonic sound), is a masterpiece. Vincent Price plays a wax sculptor who meticulously creates realistic wax figures for a museum that ends up destroyed. When mysterious murders begin to happen, however, a young art student, Sue Allen, seems to be the only one who suspects something foul is afoot.
5. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
In the Francis Ford Coppola version of Dracula released in 1992, Mina has a tremendous amount of power and agency than seen in other Dracula films. Winona Ryder plays the complicated Mina, who is in love with both Jonathan Harker (her fiance) and Dracula, and finds herself in the position to make choices that could both save other people and perhaps Dracula himself.
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. They are the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (ELJ Publications, 2016) & Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016), and is the editor of A Shadow Map: Writing by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017). They received their MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is the founder of Yes, Poetry and the managing editor for Civil Coping Mechanisms and Luna Luna Magazine. Some of their writing has appeared in Prelude, BUST, Spork Press, The Feminist Wire, and elsewhere. Joanna also leads workshops at Brooklyn Poets. joannavalente.com / Twitter: @joannasaid / IG: joannacvalente