This past February, the very first Women in Horror Recognition Month took place. The celebration was the brainchild of Hannah Neurotica and featured a four weeks of events that highlighted the work of women in the genre. Hannah joins us to look back at the first installment of the event and drops some hints about its future.
1) Can you tell me a little about your background in the genre and how you got the idea for Women in Horror Month?
Since 2004 I have been making Ax Wound: Gender & The Horror Genre. It’s a handmade magazine all about issues of gender, sexuality and culture in horror films past and present. Around the time Jennifer’s Body was being released in theatres CBC Radio asked me to come on and discuss the role of women and horror fandom with Jovanka Vuckovic and Aviva Breifel. When they were doing the pre-interview with me the woman on the phone seemed so shocked when I explained how many women I knew who loved the genre. It was then the idea for Women in Horror Recognition Month popped in my head. It was like, we need to have a time to recognize the amazing contributions women make to the horror genre. And, not only in front of the camera but behind it. Not to mention the dedicated diehard fangirls. Horror media tends to forget about us.
2) For the uninitiated, what exactly does Women in Horror Month entail?
In September 2009 I wrote the Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiM) Manifesto. In this rant I discuss how women are so often ignored in the horror industry not only as fans but as directors, writers, producers, FX artists, etc. And when women are written about its usually something like “check out our special bloody babes of the month!” So, I decided in this manifesto that February should be WiH Month and tried to rally people together to hold events, write about women in the industry, promote themselves, have readings, fFX skill shares etc. The Soska Sisters (who made the feature Dead Hooker in a Trunk) also had the brilliant idea to hold a massive Blood Drive in honour of the month. Literally bleeding for women in horror while also providing a much-needed service, ya know, saving lives! They shot a brilliant and bucket o’ blood filled PSA about it and the idea all around just really took off. It was pretty amazing.
3) Why do we need it?
In the Manifesto I say: “Women are seen as a novelty item in horror. We are bloody babes and soon-to-be gut piles in peril. We are ‘horror chicks of the month’: almost every site dedicated to women in horror is about what we look like and how hot we are. I used to love the term ‘Scream Queen’ but it no longer has any empowerment left.” This is one of the big reasons. We need to be respected as real artists working in this industry. Our stories and perspectives are unique and desperately needed in an industry that has run out of ideas. It’s amazing how many women are writing horror fiction, taking amazing photographs, making bloody gashes for films, directing, acting, producing, and yet we never hear about these women. You would think we didn’t exist. That is why WiH Month is so important. It’s a set time to scream and tell everyone we are fucking here. In the manifesto I wrote: “We are dormant zombies who must rise up and take up space, push people out of the way, and say LOOK AT MY BRAINS!!!!!!”
4) What sort of events took place during it and how widespread were they? It was incredible. We had a Women in Horror Film Fest in Athens, Ga. The Pretty Scary Blood Bath Film Fest in Texas. “Ghouls on Film,” a fest in the UK. The massive blood drive started by the Soska Sisters in Canada. Not to mention the Women in Horror Convention in San Francisco, CA, and many other events in the US, UK and Canada. Online was incredibly active as well. It was overwhelming how many bloggers had Women in Horror interview series and write ups about famous female horror villains, etc. It was just booming and beautiful.
5) What has the general response to Women in Horror Month been?
People really got behind it, way more then I ever could have hoped/expected. It felt like there was a vibe of real excitement – it was something to celebrate and a reason to be creative, to talk about something we are passionate about, and meet other women in the industry.
6) Have you gotten any negative reactions?
A few people had issues because it was during February which is also Black History Month in the US. If you google it February is also a month of recognition for about 50 other things as well. Also some felt that the time was used for too much self promotion. I feel that self promotion doesn’t have to be a negative thing as long as you truly have something worthwhile to promote and your willing to cross promote with others. When women are so often ignored, we need to speak up and say we are here or how else will people know of our work? We need to speak up.
7) Will there be another Women in Horror Month next year? And if so, have you given any thought to how you’d like to see the celebration evolve?
I very much hope WiH Month is as much of if not more of a success in Feb 2011. I could easily say “of course there will be one!” However I am only one person and part of what made it such a success were all the amazing women (and men) who held film screenings, wrote awesome blog posts, donated blood, etc. It was everyone who made it into the success that it was and my hope is those same people will be planning to do something next year and have inspired more people to get out and do something exciting too. My hope is that it remains a staple of February among horror fans into the future. Until one day we are getting equal recognition, then maybe we won’t need it anymore.