It's very satisfying to live in a world where horror movies are having such a resurgence and are being examined in ways that highlight how often they subvert the expectations, fears, and biases of society. That's always been one of the things that draws people to the genre: the films might seem like mindless gore, but they're full of metaphors and symbols for human behavior, our deepest fears and our basest instincts. And that makes horror an awesome showcase for feminist values, as the feminist horror movies on the list below will show you.
Certainly a huge chunk of horror movies, famous, cult, and flat-out bad, contain major heapings of misogyny and sexual objectification. A lot of "torture porn" is called that for a reason. But as many times as a movie has contained a plot device where the virgin lives while the "whore" dies, there are so many other horror movies out there that subvert those expectations or ignore that plot device altogether to tell fascinating, original stories about women, using horror as the mechanism. Feminist horror movies can feature women as the heroes as well as the villains, since sometimes there's nothing more satisfying than watching a furious woman rain terror down on men that deserve it.
1'A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night'
This is one of the coolest movies of all time, a Western-influenced, Iranian neo-noir vampire film featuring the most stylish, self-assured, flat-out awesome vampire heroine.
Using a girl's transformation into a werewolf as an allegory for puberty? Genius. Ginger Snaps hits all the right feminist notes.
An irresistable Megan Fox goes full-on "maneater" (in a hyper-self-aware move from director Karyn Kusama and writer Diablo Cody) as her sweet, bright best friend played by Amanda Seyfried hunts down answers to what happened to her best friend.
Ti West's The Innkeepers is a quiet, slow burn of a ghost story, led by intrepid protagonist Claire (Sarah Paxton). It will majorly mess you up.
5'Drag Me To Hell'
Drag Me To Hell is an amazing horror-comedy that highlights a woman's perspective, arguably contains allegories for an eating disorder, and is totally off-the-wall delightful and gross.
Carrie is the ultimate in revenge horror. Going through puberty, and suffering abuse and ridicule all the while, can be absolutely horrifying.
The Babadook centers a strong, protective mother who faces down horrors. It's rightfully lauded as one of the best scary movies of the past several years.
A smoking hot and ultra cool Catherine Deneuve stars in The Hunger along with a delightfully androgynous Susan Sarandon and the inimitable David Bowie.
9'Let The Right One In'
Let the Right One In is as sweet as it is gory, as young Oskar develops a bond of friendship with vampiric young girl Eli. It's super haunting, and Eli is an absolutely incredible character.
The Witch comes from one of my most trusted studios, A24. Set in 1630, it's a full-on witch hunt that centers and empathizes with the young woman being accused of evil.
The campy, self-aware, and generation-defining Scream features an awesome cast (Courtney Cox, Drew Barrymore, Neve Campbell) and Campbell is one of the coolest "final girls" horror has ever seen.
12'Season Of The Witch'
This classic 1973 movie is about a housewife who befriends a witch and get the itch to try the craft for herself.
The Craft is a horror movie that basically inspired an entire fashion trend and goth aesthetic for girls around the world, and it's all about female friendship (and witchcraft).
14I Spit On Your Grave
This ultra-gory rape revenge cult film features, yes, rape (so do beware if that's too much for you) but also sooo much brutal revenge.
In Final Girl, a group of serial killers who hunt young girls for fun meet their match in Abigail Breslin.
Psychological horror and body horror are channelled through pregnancy in Rosemary's Baby.
In this space-set horror, Sigourney Weaver plays Ripley, arguably the coolest, hardcore, most in-control heroine ever. Just do what Ripley says.
In this 2016 film, a deaf woman must fight back against a terrifying home invader.
Several women explorers encounter a gory, horrifying landscape of terrors below the earth.
Yes, this is the one where she has teeth in her vagina. It's awesome, address female sexuality, and sexual violence.
21'The Slumber Party Massacre'
This campy movie, directed by a woman, intentionally and slyly destroys all kinds of misogynist horror film tropes.
American Mary is a really edgy, alternative take on the revenge flick, as medical student Mary has a horrible experience and then decides to become a part of the body modification scene.
Jamie Lee Curtis is our number one Final Girl.
In this deeply bizarre 1979 David Croneberg movie, a woman's body hatches a number of evil murderous clones.
In this creepy French movie, a woman's fetus transforms into a monster demanding blood, and she obliges it as it develops.
Similar to Baby Blood, Alice Lowe's brand new Prevenge (in theaters now) is about a pregnant woman who believes her fetus is urging her to commit murder.
Hopefully these movies have provided you with just as many heroes as nightmares.