I am by no means a lover of horror movies. I love Halloween, I love costumes, I love the crisp October weather, and I love apple cider. But I am not the kind of person who enjoys the adrenaline and anxiety-ridden experience of watching the supernatural unfold on the big screen—or at least, I wasn’t until I was forced to sit through multiple scary movies for my feminist film theory class last semester. That’s when I realized that although many films use gore as an opportunity to further objectify and demonize women’s bodies, horror can also be an empowering place for leading ladies who are tired of following all the rules.
Whether you’re a die-hard horror fan or, like me, you’re just dipping your toes in the water, you could probably use some badass feminist protagonists to look up to while you get into the Halloween spirit—and hey, maybe you’ll even find some costume inspo along the way. From dark comedies to full-on witch hunts, here are five movies and two shows you should be watching this month.
Fuck me gently with a chainsaw. You either already love Heathers or you need to watch it again. This ’80s cult classic follows our forever fave Winona Ryder as she becomes fed up with her mean girl clique at school and… literally starts killing people—with the help of her psychopath boyfriend Christian Slater, of course. Forever quotable, forever fashion inspo, and forever ridiculous, this black comedy is a must-watch as you get your spooky vibes on. Bonus: This is a very good source for finding a good Halloween costume.
It’s no secret that horror movies have an unhealthy obsession with the “monstrosities” of the female body (shoutout to professor Barbara Creed for her work on this), so it should come as no surprise that this iconic 1976 horror flick starts off with sixteen-year-old Carrie White quite literally terrified to discover she’s gotten her first period in the locker room showers—which only gets worse when her classmates begin taunting her and throwing tampons at her. The beginning of her menstruation triggers Carrie to realize how much her “protective” (re:abusive) mother has kept from her, and also brings on another novelty: her telekinesis. And when the bullied and battered Carrie realizes she possesses more power than anybody else in her town, all hell breaks loose.
I’ve said it before (in this same article), and I’ll say it again: I am not a horror movie person. But this right here. Is. A. Must-Watch. Set in 1630s New England, The Witch follows a Puritan family as they leave the settlement over religious differences and start their own farm in a secluded area (yeah, never a good idea). When her baby brother goes missing under her watch, teenage Thomasin begins to face the wrath of her own family in a heartbreaking depiction of how much shame and blame is placed on girls and women for simply existing. The end, however, is an empowering twist on the horror genre, and tbh, after the last couple of weeks, I think most of us would be happy to join Thomasin and live deliciously!! (This joke makes sense once you’ve seen it.)
You hopefully know by now that Get Out is truly a revolutionary horror movie about race in America. But this is a piece about feminist Halloween films, and there is no female lead in Get Out—in fact, without giving too much away, the women in this movie are not nice—which is precisely why I’ve decided to include it. As Senator Susan Collins‘ decision on Kavanaugh’s confirmation last week and the 53 percent of white women who voted for Trump have demonstrated, throughout time, white women have directly benefitted from systems of oppression that tear down communities of color. And because Get Out is not afraid to show their complicity, it might be the most feminist movie on this whole list. And that’s that on that. (Bonus: After you’ve watched the film, watch Alison Williams talk about white people’s reaction to her character. CONTAINS SPOILERS.)
Another one exploring menstruation and the changes that come with puberty, this Canadian film follows a pair of sisters after one of them gets attacked by a rabid dog and starts physically transforming into the creature that wounded her. Ginger Snaps is gruesome and includes all the death, blood, sex, and werewolf tropes of a traditional horror movie, but the true topic it explores is the bond of sisterhood–and how much it takes to break it. As a feminist horror leading lady, Ginger is an honest depiction of the struggles teenage girls face as they come of age, and she defies all rules by unapologetically owning her sexuality and doing as she damn pleases.
If T.V. shows are more your speed, we’ve got you covered in that regard, too. There are two reboots of witchy classics dropping this month that you absolutely cannot miss: Charmed and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The first is an updated, feminist, and Latinx-led take on the story of three sisters who discover they are witches and must come to terms with their powers to fight evil. It premieres on The CW on October 14. The second is a spookier, more thriller-y approach to the ’90s classic that follows Sabrina Spellman as she decides between the witch world she was born into and the human world of her teenage friends. You can start binging it on Netflix starting October 26.
Images via Giphy