The Horror Honeys: Horror It Takes a Lady to Love...

Horror It Takes a Lady to Love...

A Revenge Honey List of the Best Female-Centric Horror Films

When it comes to the majority of horror films, it doesn't take a deep understanding of human nature to enjoy them. You can be a scoop-master at the local ice cream shop or you can have a Masters in clinical psychology from an Ivy League school; it doesn't really matter what your background when you sit down to watch Friday the 13th. However, there are some movies that, whether you know it or not, it takes an X chromosome to fully appreciate.

That's not to say that fellas can't enjoy the film; just that there are more than a few horror films out there that undeniably effect women on a visceral level that many men can't begin to understand. Why? Men can't give birth... Men can't experience the closeness of a female relationship based in shared trauma... And most men have never been the subject of an old wive's tale that they have a set of teeth living in their genitals (if I'm wrong about that, please, let me know!)

For those reasons, I believe that while the following fright films can be loved by anyone, it takes a lady to truly grasp the horror inherent in their stories. If you don't believe me, watch them again in a group, and see who is left more horrified by the story: men or women. And if you want to argue with me, sound off in the comments! I'd love to hear what you think!

Teeth (2007): Listen up, boys! Whatever you do, don't spend any time with girls who are considered "loose" in the eyes of the Lord. Because if you even consider going near her lady bits, you can just bet that there is a set of teeth down there that will bite your willy clean off! Listen to your mama; Jesus is watching you!

Hilarious, right? Well, the myth of the "vagina dentata" has existed across multiple cultures for centuries in order to discourage upstanding young boys from associating with women who might sully their reputations. Mitchell Lichtenstein's Teeth simply took this folk tale to its logical conclusion: yes, a young woman just may have a set of teeth in her bits, but why not use those teeth for good instead of evil?

While main character Dawn ends up using her unusual mutation to become a vagina warrior, she initially discovers that she has the dentata as a result of a rape. The men in Dawn's life (with the exception of her step-father) are all using her for their own selfish needs, and her vagina teeth act as a sort of protection against those who would hurt her. Any woman watching Teeth, especially women who have been the survivor of a sexual assault, will not only identify with Dawn, but might secretly long for a set of vagina dentata themselves.

Teeth might seem like a fantastical horror comedy to some, but to women who have lived through the trauma of sexual abuse or violence, it might actually be more inspiring than terrifying. It definitely was for me.

Poster art by Gary Pullin
Martyrs (2008): Oh, Martyrs. Has there ever been a horror film that so deeply effected so many people? (For a deeper analysis of Martyrs, check out this piece Head Honey Kat and I wrote together!) There is no question that everyone who watches Pascal Laugier's revenge film is absolutely wrecked when it is over. But I also believe that there are elements to this film that it takes a woman to fully appreciate and experience on the level they are meant to be understood. Why, you may ask? I have two theories. (I shall proceed as if you have seen this film. If you haven't, watch it... cry for three days... then get back to me.)

First, I believe that the friendship between Anna and Lucie is one that can only be experienced by women who have experienced a similar trauma. They are able to bond, protect one another, and be intimate with each other in ways that only women can. Anna cares for Lucie even when it is clear that she is losing her mind, literally helping her bury the bodies that are the manifestation of her abuse. Yes, men can have friendships, even close ones. But they can never understand what it is like to bond in the way Anna and Lucie do. I believe that is one reason women so deeply connect to the first half of Martyrs.

Martyrs are exceptional people. They survive pain, they survive total deprivation. They bear all the sins of the earth. They give themselves up. They transcend themselves... they are transfigured.
Second, it is implied by Mademoiselle in the second half of the film that almost every person they have abducted in their search for spiritual transcendence has been a woman. What reason could there be for this very specific victimization? I say this with all of the love in the world for the men out there, but pay very close attention the next time your boyfriend or husband gets a cold. Is his cold not the single worst thing to ever happen to a human being in the whole of history? Does he have the same reaction when he stubs his toe? Whether they are willing to admit it or not, men can be babies.

And when it comes down to it, women are far more likely to suffer even the most extreme pains in silence. It's how we are built. We could be bleeding from the eyes and still, if there is shit to be done, we do it. For women, suffering is wholly relative to our situation, and that is why when we watch Anna beaten, and skinned alive, it destroys us. We cry for Anna, because we know regardless of what she sees on the other side, she will be strong and fight through her pain. She has no choice.

Even as she is dying, Anna is still fighting for Lucie. She is fighting for all of the other women who died. Anna is more than a martyr; she is a savior. Is there any realization more devastating?

I Spit On Your Grave (1978): Yes, I know: men will watch the castration scene in I Spit On Your Grave and squirm. They will cross their legs and wince and whine and rightfully so. But the reason Grave has been such an enduring film in the rape/revenge genre is because of the level of brutality levied against its main character coupled with the absolute justification the audience feels once the revenge portion of the film begins.

However, the reason I believe there is a distinct gender divide among people who watch this film is because during the first half of the film, women will inevitably identify with main character Jennifer, regardless of life experience, while they will cheer on the damage inflicted on Jennifer's attackers without pity. And because, according to, 1 out of ever 6 women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, the majority of women are going to be watching this film through a very different lens.

Are there men that can identify with the damage caused by sexual assault? Absolutely. I in no way mean to belittle the experience of men who have experienced sexual abuse or assault in their lifetime. But in 2003, 9 out of every 10 survivors of rape were women. So when it comes to a film like I Spit On Your Grave, the reality is that women will always watch a film like this differently. In a world where politicians and lawmakers expect women to not only prevent their own rapes, but magically control their ability to get pregnant from sexual assault, there is no question: I Spit On Your Grave is a film that women will always watch from a different viewpoint than men.

Inside (2007): Pregnancy is a beautiful and exceptional gift that women are blessed to be able to experience. Except that not every woman feels that way. Some women are downright horrified at the prospect of giving birth and go to extreme lengths to make sure it can never happen. Some women even freak out when they feel a baby kick against a pregnant woman's belly because "HOLY CRAP! ALIEN! ALIEN!" So not only is the idea of giving birth terrifying, but factor in the idea of someone slicing your abdomen open to remove a screaming, kicking human being, annnnnnd done. Thus, regardless of whether you adore the idea of/process of being pregnant, or would rather have your fingernails pulled out one by one, Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury's Inside is every woman's worst nightmare come to life.

On Christmas Eve, a nine-months pregnant widow is tormented inside her home by an unknown woman who brutally murders anyone who tries to come to the pregnant woman's aid. There are stabbings, burnings, cat murders, and all because the Unknown Woman wants to slice open Pregnant Lady and steal what is inside of her. I'm not an anatomy expert, but I can't think of many circumstances where a man would end up in a similar situation, yet I can think of multiple real world cases where a pregnant woman has been attacked and forcibly C-sectioned by a wacko who wanted a baby. Sorry guys, but while Inside may freak you out, there is no way you can fully relate to the horrors of this film.

The Girl Next Door (2007): Directed by Gregory Wilson, The Girl Next Door is the kind of film that will haunt you long after its over. Regardless of whether or not you know the true story that inspired it, this film is so brutal and so heartbreaking that it changes you, which is a rare accomplishment for a horror movie. Girl tells the story of a teenage girl who is held captive in the basement by her aunt and subjected to unspeakable torture and sexual abuse, both by her aunt, as well as the neighborhood boys. The film is told from the viewpoint of a young boy who is aware of, and fails to report the crime, until its too late.

The past catches up to you, whether you like it or not. It can be a gift or a curse if you let it.

Whether you are watching the film, or reading about the case that inspired it (Sylvia Marie Likens, a beautiful young girl who suffered an almost identical fate to the girl in the movie), I believe you are inevitably left with many questions. How can people commit such atrocious acts of violence against children? How can adults stand by and do nothing when the lives of innocent kids are in danger? But after watching The Girl Next Door, and researching Sylvia Likens' story, the question that I was left pondering (and still do) is: how could a woman, a mother, do something so horrible to another woman?

It may seem naive to focus exclusively on female-inflicted violence, but as a woman, it baffles me that another adult woman could ever do something so awful. It's not a stereotype to say that women are more prone to nurturing than men. Nature has wired us that way. It's not about being a mother or a caregiver; women are just generally less prone to acts of violence than men. So how could a woman not only starve, beat, and torture a young girl, but invite her own children to the do same, while bringing in neighborhood boys to rape and mutilate her as well? It utterly boggles the mind.

And that is why I believe women will watch a film like The Girl Next Door, or An American Crime, with a different mindset. The men I know who have seen this film have been upset by it, but none have been as emotionally destroyed as the women I have talked to about the movie. Rape and child abuse are disgusting, and the fact that a woman with her own children could facilitate either is unfathomable. The Girl Next Door forces us to face that reality head on, and hopefully make sure that no one suffers the same fate as Sylvia again.