Sometimes, women in horror movies are relegated to being blonde ditzes that scream in falsetto and run upstairs whenever they encounter a killer in their home. Fortunately, there are a great many movies where the woman is the heroine of the story, fighting against and overcoming evil. Out of this concept came the term ‘final girl’ which refers to the lone female survivor who makes it to the end of the film.
However, the final girl can also be the killer, or a vigilante, or simply make a lot of terrible choices that forces her to face her enemy with a huge weapon and a lot of wit. However it may be, women-centric horrors are some of the most popular, and many of these movies have some interesting facts surrounding their creation, that build on their popularity.
10 Ju-On: The Grudge
Ju-On: The Grudge premiered at the Screamfest Film Festival in October 2002 and its ensuing success spawned an American remake and several sequels. The premise of the horror film centers around a terrifying ghost, Kayako, that seeks revenge for being murdered. Kayako is still regarded as one of the scariest female horror movie characters, even in the American remake.
The biggest inspiration behind the character of Kayako is the chilling Japanese urban legend that tells the story of Onryō, a vengeful spirit with one goal: to take revenge on the men who wronged her while she was alive. The legend also has it that Onryō is not only able to inflict intense pain on humans but can even trigger natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
9 Hard Candy
Hard Candy is a controversial and also disturbing psychological horror film about a 14-year-old girl, played by Elliot (Ellen) Page, who traps and tortures a man she suspects of being a paedophile. Page delivers an extraordinary performance as Hayley Stark and goes about her ‘business’ calmly and methodically.
The movie was completed in only 18 days and the budget was strictly kept under 1 million dollars to ensure that the studio wouldn’t ask for changes. The movie title was chosen because Hard Candy is slang for underage girls and is commonly used by sexual predators on the internet.
During one scene Patrick Wilson, who played the paedophile, had to shout “You’re not gonna shoot me” five times while on a roof. The scene was shot four or five times, and during that time a member of the public, who kept hearing Wilson scream, called the police thinking that someone was being attacked.
8 Starry Eyes
In 2014 Starry Eyes, which had been partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign premiered at South by Southwest. The horror film stars Alexandra Essoe who plays an aspiring actress who ‘makes a deal with the devil’ for fame. The movie explores dark themes and has been called an honest reflection of the film industry for its portrayal of sexual abuse and exploitation.
The inspiration for this film came from directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyers’ personal experiences with holding auditions for a film that was never made. They met with actors and actresses every day who would bare their souls to them in the hope of winning a role and then they would never see them again.
7 The Others
The ending of The Others is one of the most memorable in horror movie history. Grace, played by Nicole Kidman, is a devoutly religious women who teaches her children sternly that a belief in ghosts will not benefit their spiritual beliefs. Which is kind of ironic since the twist at the end reveals that she and both her children are dead and have been ghosts the entire time.
Kidman at one point had vivid nightmares about the subject matter of the film and about her character killing her children. This led to her quitting the movie, because she couldn’t deal with her emotions. The filmmakers eventually persuaded her to return, which she obviously did, but she was overwhelmed with relief when filming was finally done.
6 The Witch
The Witch, officially stylized as the VVitch, is one of the most popular horror films to see the light in recent years. It cost $4 million to make and grossed $40 million at the box office. The film centers around a devout Christian couple trying to keep their lives together and on the right path as their newborn son vanishes and their crops fail, but soon they all starting turning on one another, including their twins and teenage daughter, Thomasin. As Thomasin was looking after the baby when he vanished, she is soon suspected of being a witch. This suspicion grows even stronger after her brother Caleb is ‘bewitched.’
The movie was made as historically accurate as possible, with director Robert Eggers (who has a strong background in prop design and carpentry) deciding that just about everything should be made from scratch to ensure an authentic look. The farm house and other props were designed and constructed with the help of another carpenter flown in form the East Coast. The characters were instructed to speak in Jacobean English with Yorkshire English accents and some of their dialogue came directly from Salem witch-trial accounts and other documents dating to that time.
5 The Innkeepers
The Yankee Pedlar Inn is a historic hotel built in 1891 in Torrington, Connecticut. After closing for renovations in 2015, the inn never reopened with the current owners citing a lack of funds. Like many hotels worldwide the Yankee Pedlar Inn is said to haunted, with one of the most haunted rooms being Room 353 where original owner, Alice Conley, died. The hotel’s haunting reputation led to filmmaker Ti West shooting the movie The Innkeepers at the premises and basing the plot around paranormal incidents said to have occurred there.
The movie stars Sara Paxton and Pat Healy, who play two young employees at the hotel and are both fascinated by the ghostly goings-on. Paxton does a great job as the lead in this slow burn horror; a paranormal enthusiast who just wants to get behind the truth with the help of her colleague.
Ti West actually stayed at the Yankee Pedlar Inn while filming his previous horror “The House of the Devil” and he and his crew had strange experiences at the hotel whenever they returned from shooting. The crew had vivid dreams each night, and West experienced lights burning out for no reason, a TV turning on and off and doors closing by themselves.
Jordan Peele turned the horror movie world upside down with Get Out and then did it again in 2019 with Us. Lupita Nyong’o plays dual roles as wife and mother Adelaide Wilson and the creepy doppelganger named Red. As Red, she mimicked a voice condition known as spasmodic dysphonia, making for some chilling scenes. Nyong’o said during an interview, “She’s full of suppressed rage… which I wanted to punctuate with her voice.”
What some may not know is that Peele sees the movie as an Easter horror, because ‘Easter is a holiday of much duality in itself.’ Rabbits punctuate scenes and it details the rise of a ‘messiah’ as a declaration to the world. 11:11 appears everywhere and takes a message out of the Bible with Jeremiah 11:11 which says “Therefore thus said the Lord, ‘Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.” This is said to relate to Red as the leader of the Tethered.
Laurie Strode is one of the most infamous final girls to have ever screamed and fought their way though a horror movie. She survived several attempts on her life by Michael Myers and prayed for his return so that she could kill him. In Halloween 2018, she awaits the terrifying killer in a house decked out for combat, ready to protect herself and her family.
The locations to test the first film in the franchise were three theaters in Kansas City in 1978. The first night saw each theater take in $200, but as word-of-mouth spread, the sales doubled each night after that and the movie soon turned into the biggest thing in Kansas City. The film stayed in theaters until the release of Steven Spielberg’s “1941” and returned two weeks after. It made around $70 million from a budget of $300,000. Also, Paul Rudd had his start in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, after which he appeared in Clueless. This kickstarted his bright Hollywood career.
2 Ginger Snaps
Ginger Snaps follows the story of two teenage sisters who are obsessed with death. As Brigitte and Ginger plan to kidnap the dog of the school bully, Ginger gets her first period and is subsequently attacked by the creature that had been mauling and killing dogs in their town. It soon becomes apparent that all is not well with Ginger as she starts sprouting hair and a tail and becomes aggressive.
This biting Canadian werewolf film still has a strong cult following, but was almost never made because it was exceptionally difficult to find two actresses to play the leads. Following this trying process, was the horrific Columbine massacre and another school shooting in Alberta, Canada eight days later. Soon after these tragedies, the Toronto Star published an article that revealed Ginger Snaps, which was described as a teen slasher movie, was to be partially funded by Telefilm Canada. This didn’t go over well with the community at all, who didn’t want any money to go towards a horror film centered around teenagers in the wake of what had happened in real life.
1 The Invisible Man
Elisabeth Moss stars in the 2020 horror, The Invisible Man, which sees her character, Cecilia Kass, escaping from an abusive relationship with the help of her younger sister. Terrifying scenes and tragedy make for a nerve-racking viewer experience and the film was a huge success, garnering over $143 million from a budget of $7 million.
There are many easter eggs hidden in the film, some of which are not easy to spot, that refer to the original film, and book. An easier egg comes in the form of Cecilia being startled by a man covered in scarf, coat and hat wearing sunglasses. The man turns out to be a mannequin. Cecilia also passes a patient in a hospital whose face is covered in bandages. These scenes pay homage to the look of the Invisible Man in the 1933 film.
There are also a few Saw easter eggs hidden throughout the film which I’ll leave to you to find while watching this excellent film.