Ok, so this will be not a list of female serial murderers or a bunch of slashers. I am explicitly talking about movies where the female body is the source of horror. You know, like it is for men-children who still think that periods are terrifying.
I will try to list movies where the use and otherness of the female body is specifically mentioned or a theme but maybe some of this will be my interpretation and not so much the core topic of the movie. But, to be honest, most of the time it will be because if you tackle this thing, then you usually do it head on (as I’ve learned).
There will be spoilers!
Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Ok, like this movie or not but it is rare for a somewhat popular horror movie to not only have been written by a woman (Diablo Cody) as well as directed by one (Karyn Kusama). Kusama specifically is a force to be reckoned with because her movie “The invitation” was one of the best and most surprising horror movie offerings of 2017 (and that was not the best year for horror).
“Jennifer’s Body” stars Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried as Highschool BFFs who get into some trouble when Fox’ character – the titular Jennifer – develops weird cravings and an even weirder behavior after basically being abducted by a bunch of average emo-pop douchebags.
(also: Kyle Gallner as the ultimate Myspace-Emo-dreamboat who – in 2018 – just looks ridiculous is a testament to the sometimes maybe too subtle humor of the movie)
NOW! The movie is a comedy. Personally, it’s not a movie that I watch when I want to be scared but when I want to be entertained and enjoy sweet performances by J.K. Simmons who is hilarious whenever he and his unreal wig are on screen. The script is pretty sharp but now and then gets lost in a probably deliberate but at times distracting focus on Megan Fox’s body. The male gaze shines through even if the movie is directed by a woman and that’s a shame. There are a few times when I would have wished for “Jennifer” to be a little more ugly and gross (just as Katharine Isabelle’s mutation in “Ginger Snaps”).
But in the end, the movie is a fun watch that even lends itself to the occasional re-watch. Start your night with this little gem and everyone’s in a good mood.
(Another bummer, though: the soundtrack is full of dude alternative rock and only truly shines when you hear Hole’s “Violet”. I can only imagine how awesome it would have been with female only bands and artists on it)
Ginger Snaps (2000)
This movie is not only an amazing coming of age-story for once not centered on dudes but also one of the first great independent horror movies that I’ve seen that didn’t look like shit. Directed and co-written by John Fawcett we also can thank script writer Karen Walton because this script is so bold and funny (dark but funny) when it comes to tackling menstruation and hormonal distress coupled with a creature feature.
What’s especially moving and probably one of the reasons why this movie is such a cult hit, is the fact that it really hits the mark when it comes to growing apart from friends and/or siblings when you grow older. There were a lot of dude-centered horror comedies out there that didn’t even get close to the emotional impact that “Ginger Snaps” has and I really applaud this movie for being bold enough to be gross, funny and creepy all at once.
The sequels are maybe a little lackluster but are still worth a “Ginger Snaps”-marathon (especially the 3rd one being set in the 19th century, all romantic and shit).
I love this movie. Weirdly enough, horror movies about female bodies are pretty funny (I have only one serious tip in store for you). This is the story (written and directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein) of Dawn (an adorably confused Jess Weixler) who is a picture perfect, virgin-till-marriage high schooler who discovers that her, ahem, private parts have their own way of dealing with horrible men. Hashtag: #vaginadentata.
The look of the movie is gorgeous, it’s bright and colorful and I just want to eat it (like that vagina dentata eats …. well .. you know what). It’s not for the squeemish, though, because a lot of the humor comes from perfectly timed shots of gore. Oh, and the funniest part about the movie: just reading reviews and comments by befuddled (probably sexist) men that read like they’re actually scared that women might want that vagina dentata action for their own entertainment. It’s a hoot.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2017)
Another good movie from 2017, this features a father and son duo of pathologists, trying to uncover the secret of a seemingly unharmed female body found at a gruesome crime scene. The big question: how did she die?
In contrast to some other movies that heavily feature the naked female body, this one is done surprisingly well. Sure, it wasn’t necessary to pick a perfect female model body* (because it’s not necessary for the story and honestly, is distracting at the beginning) but despite that, it’s nice that neither father (played by Brian Cox) nor son (played by Emile Hirsch) are leering or creepy in any way and simply do their job. To sum it up: you don’t have to cringe because of an unnecessary sexist and/or vulgar joke.
Personally, I love the first half of the movie a lot more than the second. The whole atmosphere and the mystery surrounding the body is brilliant. The dialogue alone is fantastic and this could have just as well been a very good radio play, no images needed. If you really liked the atmosphere and storytelling of “Pontypool“, then this might be right up your alley.
Directed by Andrè Ovredal who also did “Trollhunter” which is a weird little favorite of mine, the movie is perfect for our little movie theme and I would love to get into the “why” but I really don’t want to spoil anything, so I will keep my keyboard shut and let you enjoy this little gem.
*I’d like to add that the body was played – in most scenes – by Olwen Kelly, who is – no surprises there – a model. Ovredal thought (rightly so), that an actual woman would not only connect better with the audience but also look more realistic than a weird prosthetic. I hope that the filming conditions were comfortable for her and that she was paid well because that is one of the most thankless roles in a movie if I’ve ever seen one.