Welcome to Part II of my interview with The Horror Honeys as we celebrate the one year anniversary of Belladonna Magazine, the horror publication created exclusively by women.
For the second half of our interview, we’ll focus on what it means to be a woman in the horror community, both good and bad. We’ll also find out about the women the Honeys admire in the genre, as well as the future for women in horror.
Has being a woman affected how you’re able to work within the horror community? For a long time it’s been, like a lot of things, a boys club.
Kat Morris (Head Honey and co-owner) – I think I’ve been most surprised by our reception, which has been overwhelmingly positive. In the early days there were the “women don’t like horror, you’re a fake fan” types, and the ones who just wanted to see our tits covered in blood. But those voices have faded into the background as the women in their lives raise their own voices about their own love of horror.
We have been trying desperately to break away from feeling like we have to hedge our opinions and conquer being afraid to be as strident in our declarations as our male peers when it comes to publishing, and it’s honestly difficult. Breaking through internalized misogyny is just as tough as the overt kind. We’ve been trained to be a certain way our entire lives, and being strong enough to shatter those perceptions is a constant battle.
LinnieSara Halpern (Revenge Honey and co-owner)- Unfortunately, the answer to this question is still yes. Additionally, as women who work actively within the film industry proper, you often find you have to fight twice as hard for the same opportunities that are just handed to men, if you ever get them at all. The environment is still not set up to encourage women to thrive, so we have to encourage each other.
Bella Blitz (Zombie Honey and Graphic Designer for Belladonna Magazine): I describe myself as "a dude with tits,” so I'm usually less aware of the misogyny within the horror community than other ladies. I know that it exists and I know that it is bad. But I'm kind of like a bull in a china shop. The bad thing about this is that I find it's much harder to get recognition for the work. Even when I'm far less dude or bull, getting a nod within the community is like pulling teeth. On the whole, the horror community is a great group of people, but as women, we have to be greater and we have to be unapologetic about it.
Katie Kuriosa (Sci-Fi Honey) - I personally have never felt marginalized or dismissed writing within the horror community simply because I'm a woman, but I think a big part of that is that the Horror Honeys have given me a platform to express myself. I don't know what it would be like if I went out and tried to seek opportunities on my own, but I'd hope that I'd be judged on my particular merits regardless of gender. While the film industry as a whole is still a male-dominated paying field, I do think that the horror community is one of the most diverse and inclusive of practically any other other genre out there.
Chassity M (Slasher Honey) - I don't think it really impacts me personally very much. Every now and then, though, instead of having my thoughts and opinions respectfully disagreed with, male reviewers will do the "mansplaining" how my opinion is wrong because I simply didn't "get" it. As if my female brain is just unable to comprehend.
Brittany Moseley (Musical Horror Honey) - I think, with any boys club, there's going to be a ton of pushback when a woman has an opinion.
Sarah - I know it's very different for others, but I personally have never had a problem. I suppose before the Honeys I wasn't as deep into the horror community as I am now, but I know that I've been very lucky in that everyone I meet online or in person at things like FrightFest has been very welcoming in a "if you love the genre, you belong here" kind of way.
Kim Douthit (Supernatural Honey) - I'm still amazed at the reactions I get from people about being in horror. "You? Really?" One of the things I've really loved about getting more involved in the horror community is finding out how many freakin' women there are who LOVE horror.
Doris Sutherland (Comics Honey) - Being transgender, I'm acutely aware that a lot of the world would view me as a freak. That's something I'm reminded of on a regular basis. But I've found that the horror community has- by and large - been a very accepting place: there will always be exceptions, of course, as some segments will be more welcoming than others, but on the whole I feel confident that horror will always have a place for the freaks and the misfits. That's part of its essence. Being part of the horror community has been an almost universally positive experience for me.
Addison Peacock (Horror TV Honey) - I've been lucky enough to be largely surrounded by a supportive and kind community! However, I am no stranger to the dubious, gate-keeping male horror fan who seems to think he needs to test women and make sure they're "real fans.” I've been drilled on archaic horror trivia by a handful of rude guys. Additionally, whenever a woman on the internet has an opinion, some amount of unwanted attention will come her way. I'm certainly not exempt from that. I've just had to become very comfortable with my "block" button. You have to focus on the sisterhood, the support, and the things about horror you love!
Kat Wells (Horror TV Honey) - For sure. It still is and probably always will be. I'm just now beginning my journey into attempting to contribute to the horror community in a real way, and I'm sure there are plenty of challenges ahead. I'm hoping to tackle them with grace and badassery.
Are there any women in the horror community (other than each other of course) that have been particularly influential for you?
Linnie - Gale Anne Hurd has always been a huge influence of mine. She worked as a sci-fi producer in the industry when you almost never saw women taking an active role in that field. Ida Lupino is another woman I have massive admiration for. She started as an actress, but she moved behind the camera in the 40s and 50s when that was almost unheard of. Her film, The Hitch-Hiker, is still a masterpiece of subtle tension.
Bella: I always come back to Elvira (Cassandra Peterson). She is still teaching me that it's awesome to be a woman, to be sexual, to be spooky, to be weird, to be creepy. She taught me that it's perfectly okay to be blunt and forward and say NO, or even to say yes.
Katie - I think the past few years have seen women emerge in a big way in the horror genre, but in particular Jennifer Kent's The Babadook was a game-changer for me. This was an intelligent and truly frightening piece of work that I felt was worthy of serious contention during awards season. The Babadook had me rooting for it to bring more positive critical attention to a genre that seems largely ignored by 'serious' filmmakers and critics.
Brittany - Daily Dead editor Heather Wixson is a pretty badass lady whose opinion I respect a ton [Editor’s Note: The writers at the Daily Dead resent any outside ass-kissing of our boss. That is our job. Hi, Heather! You’re the best!]
Sarah - I'm not allowed to mention my fellow Honeys? Awwww. But they are who inspire me most! However I also greatly admire Kaci Hansen, The Homicidal Homemaker. She mixes fandom fun with cooking in her awesome show, is adorable, and on top of that is just the nicest person.
Kim - All of the infamous "scream queens" have always been favorites of mine. I was also very influenced by writer and film critic, Maitland McDonagh. I used to listen to her on the TV Guide podcast and she was one of the few mainstream film critics at the time who had a love and appreciation for horror. I also read her book, Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento when I was younger and it left an impression on me.
Addison - Recently, I got the opportunity to have a conversation with Kate Siegel (co-writer/actor in Hush) about women in the industry, and how we can do better to help each other succeed. I was already a fan of her work, but this conversation genuinely inspired me to do better, make more content, and elevate the voices of my fellow women in the horror community. I am also completely obsessed with the directorial work of Karyn Kusama. The Soska Sisters have also been hugely influential to me. American Mary is one of my favorite films of all time, horror or otherwise.
Who are some women in the genre that you think more people should know about?
Linnie - One of my favorite women working in horror/sci-fi right now is Kelly Sue DeConnick. She's a writer on Emerald City, but she is also a comic book maven, and her comic series Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly are amazing. She and her husband Matt Fraction also got a deal to adapt his sci-fi comic series, Sex Criminals, for Universal, and I can't fucking wait.
Bella: I think sometimes you have to dig to find the role of women behind the scenes in horror. It's just assumed that it's a man. So, I think people should be paying attention to the likes of Jovanka Vuckovic who is making her way through all fields of horror. I, personally, am keeping an eye on some of the unique female voices in horror like Karyn Kusama (Jennifer's Body), Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), and Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night).
Katie - I really enjoyed Karyn Kusama's The Invitation last year and am looking forward to what she's got coming up next, especially her entry in the female-led anthology series XX. Another film that blew my mind last year was Sophia Takal's Always Shine; hopefully she follows it up with another psychological horror piece! I also recently interviewed filmmaker Claire Carré for the February issue of Belladonna and I think she's going to some interesting places with her unique aesthetic and visual style.
Kaley Azuri (Gamer Honey) - Natalia Figueroa of KillMondayGames absolutely needs a mention. Her art alone is creepily delightful and she deserves a follow.
Doris - One person I would like to mention is Gail Simone, the comic author. I doubt many people would think of her as a woman in horror, as she is associated mainly with the superhero genre. She's also an outspoken feminist, so a lot of the more stuck-in-the-mud fans assume that her work is fluffy and innocuous, the "SJW" stereotype. In fact, there's a strong macabre aspect to her stories, although it also has a human touch: she's interested in the psychology of her characters. Her Batgirl run from a few years back, including the Ventriloquist one-shot, is a good example of this.
Addison - Definitely the women that I just mentioned! Also, I am a huge fan right now of Ruth Wilson and her work on I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House.
Kat W - I'm totally inspired by Rebekah McKendry (currently Editor-in-Chief at Blumhouse.com), and Clarke Wolfe (former cohost of The Bloodcast podcast, she's worked with Nerdist, and currently hosts Collider Nightmares.) Those two women are on the ground busting their asses and really know their shit.
What is the future for women in horror?
Kat – I’m waiting for the day when the pie analogies disappear. Creating opportunities for people who are clawing their way forward, whether it be woman or POC, is not a bad thing. There is room for everyone. When others are given a voice, it doesn’t mean there is less voice available. I hope the future of horror is one that includes more listening, and less shouting. We all have something to say, and thankfully, people are finally starting to really listen.
Bella: Horror belongs to women. It always has, it always will. The future for women in horror is getting the rest of the world to accept, appreciate, and champion that.
Katie - The takeover has already begun, obviously. We're not going anywhere, except for up!
Jocelyn - There will be more female-lead projects, including female heroines who can hold their own (i.e. You're Next and The Final Girls), less "nubile teens tripping on a branch and getting slaughtered in their bras" - at least, I sure hope so.
Chassity - I think the role of the Final Girl is going to continue to evolve, and has been for a while. She doesn't have to be any of the things she used to be. And we're also going to see more well-written, complex female villains. As far as off screen, as more and more women become horror screenwriters, rape revenge films are becoming an important, and really interesting when done well, staple of the genre.
Kaley - I'm hoping for more women in horror game development. We need you!
Brittany - Women in horror are only just beginning and there's a ton of room to grow. I think that the future holds a ton more of women written, women produced, women directed works that will be just as gruesome as what any man can create.
Sarah - I think horror is at its best when it comes from a genuine place, and these days that is coming from the indie scene, and it's the same with women in horror too. We just have to not be afraid to make our voices be heard.
Kim - I think we're in the midst of a really amazing time for women in horror. More and more horror movies are showing higher turnouts among female audience members. More and more films are coming out celebrating women, and their place of in the genre. We're seeing more films that are taking twists on the "Final Girl" trope (You're Next, The Final Girls) and more female directors.
Doris - I can remember a time not too long ago when, if you watched a documentary about horror films, then almost inevitably the only women brought in to discuss the subject would be actresses. But that's changing: these days you'll see women directors, screenwriters and critics. At the same time, women from a wider range of backgrounds are making themselves known within the genre.
Addison - I think that horror is a world where female creators are starting to be allowed to shine. It's a genre where, unlike many other types of film, the story is the thing that matters most to the audience. I think that producers are finally starting to figure out that there are a lot of incredible women out there with unique scary stories to tell, and that female-driven horror films are starting to seem like less of a "risk.”
Kat W - I think women are the future of horror. We are tenacious and unfortunately have always had to launch ourselves over higher hurdles, which means we know how to fight and how to innovate. So I guess, look out because we're right... BEHIND YOU!