Horror is not necessarily known for being a paragon of feminist ideals, but these seven feminist Halloween flicks prove that a smattering of scary movies do exist in which female characters come out on top. In fact, the original Halloween, released in 1978, spurned its very own feminist horror trope — the Final Girl — in which the last woman alive in a horror film is the one who finally confronts the killer and sets the world straight again.
Halloween just released the eleventh movie in its franchise, with original star Jamie Lee Curtis, and shattered box office records. Curtis ticked off its accomplishments on Twitter, noting, "Biggest horror movie opening with a female lead. Biggest movie opening with a female lead over 55. Second biggest October movie opening ever. Biggest Halloween opening ever."
So feminist victories are possible in the genre! But if the idea of heading out to the movies on actual Halloween when masked people are roaming the streets sounds like your personal nightmare fuel, worry not. There are plenty of classic options you can watch from the comfort of your own home while eating all the candy you're supposed to be doling out to trick-or-treaters. Here are some good places to start.
Ginger Snaps is a cult classic B-movie about the horrors of puberty using literal lycanthropy as a metaphor for menstruation. When Ginger, a high school girl, gets bitten by a werewolf the same night she gets her first period, she finds herself navigating two very stressful transitions at once. Luckily, she has a ride or die sister named Brigitte to help her get through it.
As relevant in 2018 as it was in 1976, Carrie is a movie about a high school girl so repressed by the powers that be that she finally explodes with rage to wreak havoc on the town that mercilessly abused her. From being shamed about her body and sexuality by a very Christian mother, to getting taunted by high school bullies for being painfully sheltered, the film's titular anti-heroine finally snaps after being pranked at prom — the iconic pig's blood scene — and discovers she has powerful abilities lurking under all those feelings.
Rounding out the vengeful high school girl genre is Jennifer's Body, a whip-smart horror-comedy from Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody. With the same snappy dialogue as its predecessor, Jennifer's Body tells the story of a high school girl who gets murdered as part of a virgin sacrifice — except she isn't a virgin. The film flips the script on purity culture when the ritual goes wrong and Jennifer returns from the dead to terrorize the boys at her school.
Okay, so internet culture has defanged 2014's The Babadook a little bit and reimagined its titular monster as a deeply misunderstood, cute mascot for the LGBTQ+ community. But the real Babadook is spooky AF! The movie is a complex examination of depression, mental health, isolation, and motherhood, and it's a must-watch on any feminist Halloween movie list.
A '90s classic, and scary enough to make anyone who ever had wispy bangs shudder, Scream puts at its center a heroine who has actually seen horror movies before — imagine that! Instead of falling victim to scary, but predictable, horror movie tropes, Sidney sees them coming from a mile away and spends the entire film coolly giving the masked murderer the slip.
If you're craving a black and white classic, look no further than Gaslight, the film that gave the psychological phenomenon of being manipulated into questioning your reality its name. In the film, a woman named Paula notices strange things happening in her house but her husband, Gregory, assures her that it's all in her head. You'll never guess where this is going...
If you're going to choose a representative witch movie to put on your Halloween list, it has to be 1996's The Craft. We're experiencing a moment of heavily witchy '90s nostalgia in pop culture right now and The Craft, a film about a coven of teen witches at a Catholic high school, is one of the flicks that inspired it all.