Monday, September 9, 2019

24 Hours of Movies: Female-Directed Horror!

by Patrick Bromley
This one pretty much speaks for itself.

There has been a long-overdue focus on women in the genre in recent years, spurred on by events like February’s Women in Horror Month and projects like the anthologies XX (appearing in this lineup) or the more recent Shevenge.  With #ScaryMovieMonth just a few weeks away, it's a good time to put a spotlight on some horror movies directed by women in the hopes that we can all program a few this October. What better way to do that than with a 24 hour marathon? Thanks to Rosalie Lewis' "Ladies Behind the Lens" column and Amanda Stanke on our Facebook page for suggesting the idea.

No, there's no American Psycho. I like the movie, but that was a choice.

10 am - Slumber Party Massacre (1982, dir. Amy Holden Jones)
Let's start things off with a bang. I originally want to program this one late at night where it would play more appropriately, but couldn't find a better movie to begin our 24-hour marathon than Amy Holden Jones' meta slasher, at once a straightforward entry in the genre (thanks in no small part to the hand of producer Roger Corman) and a tongue in cheek critique of slashers. Sure, it takes place at night, but there's something that feels right about watching this one in the day.

11:30 am - The Velvet Vampire (1971, dir. Stephanie Rothman)
Stephanie Rothman is one of my favorite exploitation directors, and though this isn't one of my favorites of her films, it's still terrific fun and full of Rothman's typical commentary on gender and society. Celeste Yarnell plays a centuries-old vampire who sets her sights on both halves of a bored married couple. The pacing's a little slow in this one, which will give us a chance to catch our breaths after Slumber Party.

12:45 pm - "The Stylist" (2016, dir. Jill Gevargizian)
I've written before about how much I dig this short film, which stars Najarra Townsend as a hair stylist with homicidal tendencies. Director Jill Gevargizian is currently running a Kickstarter to adapt this into a feature film, which I really want to see happen. You can/should donate to it here.

1 pm - XX (2017, dir. Jovana Vukovic, et. al.)
One of the best parts of programming these all-day marathons is having the opportunity to watch all different types of movies and tones. Horror anthologies are miniature version of this same phenomenon, so let's be sure to include one in our lineup. The all female-directed XX is, like so many horror anthologies, something of a mixed bag, but even its weakest segment is still pretty strong. The first segment, from Jovanka Vukovic, and the last, directed by Karyn Kusama, are my favorites.

2:30 pm - Near Dark (1987, dir. Kathryn Bigelow)
No surprise here. Kathryn Bigelow's horror western is one of the best vampire movies ever made, with maybe all-time best performances from both Lance Henriksen and the late, great Bill Paxton. Great photography, a great Eric Red script, and Tangerine Dream's score are just some more reasons this one is an all-timer. I wish Bigelow would make another horror movie.

4:30 pm - The Babadook (2014, dir. Jennifer Kent)
This is one of the scariest movies about parenting ever made. Jennifer Kent's debut film works as both a horror movie about a terrifying monster (the Babadook is legit scary) and as a metaphor for the difficulties of raising a child. It's a great, great movie, and we're programming it early enough that we'll be able to shake it off come nighttime. I hope.

6:15 pm - "My Monster" (2018, dir. Izzy Lee)
From one of the heaviest movies in our lineup to one of the lightest. Former podcast guest Izzy Lee's short is a comic look at relationships and what we sacrifice to be in one. Brea Grant is in it, so that's a bonus. This is a terrific short with a hell of a punchline and will make a perfect palate cleanser between what came before and what's coming next.

6:30 pm - Prevenge (2016, dir. Alice Lowe)
Alice Lowe's pitch-black comedy is another horror movie about motherhood -- in this case, the horrors of pregnancy and of single parenthood. Lowe plays an expectant mother whose unborn fetus commands her to murder the people responsible for her partner's death. This is a dark, dark movie and an impressive debut for Lowe, who has yet to direct another movie.

8 pm - Pet Sematary (1989, dir. Mary Lambert)
It's dinnertime. Let's shit our pants in fear at the sight of Aunt Zelda. Mary Lambert's adaptation of Stephen King's novel really skirts the line between authentic and exploitative, between sincerity and trash. This year's remake helps to underscore all the things this version does well. It's a movie I've gone back and forth on over the years (seeing it shortly after having my son was a bad experience), but I have come to accept that I think it's very effective.

10 pm - The Ranger (2018, dir. Jenn Wexler)
Late night slasher time! Jenn Wexler's debut feature pits a bunch of obnoxious punks against a psychotic park ranger (Jeremy Holm). Chloe Levine is great as the Final Girl, a trope about which Wexler's movie has a lot to say. A loud soundtrack and some gnarly gore is exactly the kick in the ass we need as we get into the overnight section of our marathon.

11:30 pm - The Being (1983, dir. Jackie Kong)
Conventional wisdom would dictate that we watch Blood Diner in this slot, but I'd rather revisit Jackie Kong's supremely weird The Being, about a radioactive mutant monster attacking a sleepy Idaho town. It's a movie best viewed through bleary eyes, when our slaphappy exhaustion will make it play better than if we watched it under better conditions. It's super entertaining and a pretty perfect midnight movie.

1 am - American Mary (2012, dir. Jen & Sylvia Soska)
This is the spot traditionally reserved for Italian horror, but those pesky Italians didn't give many women opportunities to direct. Instead, let's go with this creepy and eccentric offering from the Soska sisters, starring Katherine Isabelle as a med student who enters the world of body modification. The last act doesn't life up to the first two, but there's a lot to like in this weird, violent, disturbing movie, still my favorite from the Soskas.

3 am - Ravenous (1999, dir. Antonia Bird)
Let's keep getting weird. Director Antonia Bird's cannibal comedy is brutal and grisly and totally offbeat. It's also a movie I like more every time I see it. We don't have any Italian cannibal movies to watch, so how about an American Western one directed by an English woman with an Australian lead?

4:50 am - "Found" (2014, dir. Rebekah McKendry)
"Shock Waves" and "Horror University" host Rebekah McKendry directed this funny short about how to properly make a found footage movie. Like me, she doesn't appear to have much love for this style of filmmaking. The laughs will help wake us up as the sun begins to rise.

5 am - Among Friends (2012, dir. Danielle Harris)
Horror icon Danielle Harris made her directorial debut with this nasty bit of business, about a group of friends who gather for a murder mystery party and find themselves held hostage and tortured by one of their own. This is a flawed movie but with stuff to like in it, and it should play well at this time of the morning when we're exhausted and barely able to pay attention. It doesn't demand much from us.

6:30 am - Jennifer's Body (2009, dir. Karyn Kusama)
Here's a movie that has experienced a massive swell of public affection in the decade since it came out and more or less died at the box office. I don't yet love it as much as everyone else, but it has the right energy and sense of humor to play well this early in the morning when something heavy or slow-burn is likely to put us to sleep.

8:30 am - Satanic Panic (2019, dir. Chelsea Stardust)
Closing things out with a bang. Chelsea Stardust's second movie was just released into theaters and VOD and makes the perfect capper to our marathon, as it plays like horror's greatest hits (in a good way). There's devil worship and body horror and practical monsters and gore and lots of insanity, all done with an outrageous sense of humor and a clear love of the genre. It will play great after Jennifer's Body (which Stardust has said acted as inspiration for Panic) and end our 24 hour marathon on a high note.


  1. This marathon looks amazing. Well done. I'm not sure there's any marathon that wouldn't be well served ending with Satanic Panic.

    1. Right? I texted him from work saying, "Just grab all these discs as soon as you get home, and start getting it all ready."

    2. I have to go talk to my boss now and say I have to go home. This is a very good excuse, so I'm not worried.

  2. I've only seen 3 of these so I'm pretty excited to add the rest to my watchlist! October's viewing calendar is gonna be so crowded, I think I need an early start on creepy movie month!