CINE-WEEN 2020: Horror Films Directed By Women Available to Stream

It is October 1st, which will kick off an annual horror binge for many (with some diehards probably starting last month) and with that means a lot of genre staples in constant rotation — and few, if any, of those staples being directed by women. Below are some genre highlights with female directors that are currently available on streaming platforms.

BLOOD DINER (1987, dir. Jackie Kong)

Jackie Kong’s absolutely wild — and firmly 80s — riff on BLOOD FEAST needs to be seen to be believed. The plot is simple: two cannibal brothers that run a health food focused diner, decide to kill people and serve them up in order to resurrect an Egyptian goddess. And they’re guided by their dead uncle’s exhumed brain. Make sense? It shouldn’t but it won’t matter — it’s full of gore, goofy humor and has a murderous, feminist, Egyptian goddess going for it.

Stream on: Hulu 

DARK ANGEL: THE ASCENT (1994, dir. Linda Hassani)

A Full Moon produced, woman directed, feminist riff on LITTLE NICKY with a demoness escaping Hell to come up to earth and do fun things like fight racial injustice, take man dates to porno screenings, and feed her dog Hellraiser human hearts. It has the same cheap vibe that all Full Moon productions have while also serving up some Dante Ferretti-esque production design and mythology seemingly plucked from Clive Barker’s universe. This is absolutely wild and begging to be discovered and watched with a group.

Stream on: Tubi 

THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD aka ALIEN ZONE (1978, dir. Sharron Miller)

Full disclosure: I work for Vinegar Syndrome who released this on Blu-ray. But this is one of the very few horror anthologies directed by a woman (outside of Stacy Title’s HOOD OF HORROR and the collaborative effort of XX) and is a decidedly lo-fi mess of regional genre cinema that looks and feels cheap but continuously rises above those limitations. And, no, there are no aliens in the movie. But there is a decent (and arguably the best) segment where a dude that hates winos gets turned into one.

Stream on: Tubi

THE LOVE WITCH (2016, dir. Anna Biller)

Anna Biller’s 35mm shot, lovingly sincere burst of retro camp has earned a deserved cult following over the past few years (even if her social media presence has earned her some detractors) and its easy to see why: it’s a candy colored ode to Sirkian melodrama with an affection for the past (despite taking place in the present) and exquisite production design. It’s also a total takedown of toxic masculinity.

Stream on: Amazon Prime, Kanopy, Shudder

MIRROR MIRROR (1990, dir. Marina Sargenti)

An early 90s Hot Topic version of OCULUS that feels like a spin off of Winona Ryder’s character in BEETLEJUICE. The lead goth’s name is Rainbow Harvest (!) and her boozed out mother is played by none other than Karen Black, who I swear wears more than one wig in this. You’ll be too busy reveling in Black going unhinged to care about any spooky mirrors — but they are there, as well as in the two DTV sequels which aren’t nearly as good.

Stream on: Tubi

THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 (1999, dir. Katt Shea)

Beyond unfairly dismissed when released in theaters in 1999 (releasing just a month prior to Columbine, it would vanish quickly too), Katt Shea’s decidedly feminist sequel spares no expense in addressing slut-shaming and revenge porn, while also taking out men with spears and razor sharp CDs (how’s that for 90s flair?). It’s a legitimately deserving follow-up to De Palma’s original and should be mentioned in the same breath as other genre defining films from the decade, and hopefully that isn’t a long way off from happening.

Stream on: Amazon Prime, Tubi

THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (1982, dir. Amy Holden Jones), SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE II (1987, dir. Deborah Brock)

Amy Holden Jones iconic, lean (only 77 minutes), slasher manages to play as much as a sincere contribution to the genre as well as a potent parody of its reliance on male gaze and phallic objects. Brutal in both on screen violence as well as its jabs towards genre conventions, it set the stage for a truly wild sequel with Deborah Brock’s NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. inspired, dream-fueled slasher rock musical which is as ridiculous as it sounds and one of the all-time great genre sequels. The best thing is that both together barely clock in at 150 minutes.

Stream on: Shudder, Tubi 

TROUBLE EVERY DAY (2001, dir. Claire Denis)

Denis has been making outlier genre cinema for decades now — with films like BASTARDS and HIGH LIFE — but arguably her best attempt at transgressing a genre is the cannibalistic romance TROUBLE EVERY DAY, starring Vincent Gallo and Tricia Vassey as honeymooners in Paris, experiencing a love so strong that they may just end up fucking and eating each other to death. If its decidedly art-house pace doesn’t turn you off, its penchant for combining sexuality and gore may very well do the trick.

Stream on: Kanopy 

THE VELVET VAMPIRE (1971, dir. Stephanie Rothman)

Stephanie Rothman’s follow up to THE STUDENT NURSES for New World Pictures is as firmly rooted in gothic horror as it is the late 60s/early 70s zeitgeist — a feminist, candy colored vampire film that feels like Count Yorga helmed by Russ Meyer, complete with the dune buggy of your dreams and plenty of gratuitous bikini shots. This is the proto-THE LOVE WITCH.

Stream on: Tubi

VAMPS (2012, dir. Amy Heckerling)

Amy Heckerling wrote and directed an NYC vampire comedy with Alicia Silverstone and Krysten Ritter as club hopping vampires who drink rats like juice boxes (no human blood for them) and lament that Cradle of Filth are playing shows during the day because they can’t go, obviously. Super charming, with call outs to NYC history and nods to silent cinema and a game supporting cast that includes Wallace Shawn as a descendant of Van Helsing, Malcolm McDowell as a vampire chef and Sigourney Weaver as the villain, who gives a momentary great performance as a severed head. This deserved so much better than it got in 2012.

Stream on: Tubi

 

 

Justin LaLIberty
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