In her introduction to the brand new collection of essays from Rutgers University Press entitled Women Make Horror: Filmaking, Feminism, Genre, editor Alison Peirse points out that while scholarly research into horror films has always been spearheaded by women (such as Carol J. Clover’s seminal book Men, Women, and Chainsaws), very little writing has been done about women’s contributions to the genre behind the camera.
And while at first glance, women may seem underrepresented in their capacity as filmmakers in the horror industry, the fact is that they have not been written about to the extent that female critics have written about male directors.
Women Make Horror attempts to rectify this problem by dedicating an entire book to eighteen essays by women about women in the industry, exploring a wide-variety of films through social, cultural, and gender studies lenses.
Aside from this focus, the first element of the collection that stands out to readers is the variety that Women Make Horror contains. The collection ranges from essays on genre staples such as Tosha R. Taylor’s essay on Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, to “highbrow horror” darlings like Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi’s Suspiria (as examined by Martha P. Shearer), to the modern horror cinema of France and Korea (by Maddi McGillvray and Molly Kim respectively). The mix of essays and scholarly research offer something for everyone in the collection (albeit more main stream horror fans may have to dig a little deeper to educate themselves about some of the topics and films). The focus also widens to include not only female directors such as American Psycho’s Mary Harron, but also screen writers and fellow critics, with a primary focus on women’s contributions to the genre (and some examinations of films by male directors, through the aforementioned lenses).
One uniting factor that brings such disparate genre entries together in this collection is the meticulous research and knowledge that each author brings to their subjects. In opposition to most university examinations of pop culture, Women Make Horror is clearly written by people who love the genre, but are also experts in their field. And while the level of detail is certainly indicative of scholarly journals, it is clear that the authors know what they are talking about, and are also excited to share their distinct viewpoints and theories.
Women Make Horror is an excellent addition to any fan’s library who is interested in the scholarly examination of a genre that is often demonized or dismissed by critics.
Women Make Horror is currently available at finer book stores everywhere.