Hello, it’s been a while. But I’m just in time for Halloween.
Halloween; a time where I usually spend hours applying the bloodiest makeup imaginable, then hitting the local shops with my friend Alice to showcase our masterpieces. Usually I don’t even dress up as a specific person or idea, instead I tend to create my own character, with names, backstories and everything…but that’s a writer for you, I guess.
I was brainstorming my character ideas for this year when I got thinking about the bad-ass women in horror films and books. Naturally my mind went to the obvious, the poor naive, blood-soaked but eventually vengeful Carrie, the once again, eventually vengeful Jennifer from I Spit On Your Grave, and the possessed girl with a head that spins all the way around, Regan MacNeil from The Exorcist.
But, the thing about horror is that, it seeps into…well, things that aren’t meant to be scary. Dramas, romances, even real everyday life of course.
So what about the women who aren’t in horror films, but still have their fair share of bloodshed?
Lady Macbeth from of course, Shakespeare’s Macbeth is my favorite play of his, solely because of Lady Macbeth herself. I mean, Macbeth of course has it’s fair share of horror and bloodshed, despite being classed as a tragedy. Yet despite her being one of my favorite characters in literature of all time, I have never thought of her when it comes to thinking of frightening, horror-esque heroines, or in her case, shall we say Gothic?
I would make the perfect Lady Macbeth. I practically know all her lines off by heart, ‘I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn to as you have done to this.’
I mean, isn’t she everything you’d ever want in a horror heroine? She is incredibly passionate, powerful, bold and brave. She denounces her femininity, her womanhood, she even finishes what her husband could not finish in order to for him to be King. Of course, poor Lady Macbeth comes to a less than savory end, but once again that is the brilliance of her character. She is flawed, real and alive. Guilt consumes her.
Horror has always been a place for characters who are flawed and troubled, characters who don’t fit in with normal society. Characters who are strange and wonderful, twisted and even evil yes, but the great thing about horror is that it has life. Horror does not hide behind pretty words or pretty faces (but sometimes masks), horror will give you a murder and splash the blood in your face. Horror tells stories of unrequited love, pain, distress, unjust, sorrow, anger, hatred and of course, madness.
Good horror won’t just rip out your heart like a drama or a tragedy might, it will rip it out and devour it.
Take Edgar Allen Poe’s, The Tell-Tale Heart, one of the first great Gothic archetypes for horror as we know it now. The narrator driven mad by his guilty conscience is a story told again and again today in different forms. Poe explores the thin line between love and hate, the struggle of internal conflicts, and the power the dead has over the living. These themes are universal and transcendent through time, we can all relate and understand, but horror makes these themes bold, shocking and forces us to look within ourselves at our own horrors we may be hiding.
Another horror heroine I never thought about till now is Myrtle from The Great Gatsby. She desperately despises her life with her husband George in their run down and desolate garage in the aptly named Valley of the Ashes, and has an affair with Tom Buchanan. The Great Gatsby isn’t really a novel which has ‘villains’ but if anyone was close it would be Mr Buchanan. Racist, sexist, greedy and careless, Tom treats Myrtle like a possession, choosing to have her only when it suits him.
Myrtle and George Wilson are living a truly horrible life in poverty. George is soulless and exhausted, yet he idolizes his wife Myrtle and when he finds out of the affair he is understandably heartbroken. Things get even worse for poor George when Myrtle, after running out into the road to great who she thinks is Tom, gets hit by the car Gatsby and Daisy are driving.
As much as Myrtle is cruel to her poor husband George, you can understand what desperation for a better life might do to someone. Even from the way she dresses you can tell Myrtle is in denial and always has been, surrounded by people who have everything she and George have ever wanted, she is passionate, head-strong and frantic to change the reality of her life. Once again, a tragic, horrific story that is universally understood that ends in bloodshed as Myrtle is left, lying bloody in the road.
I’m picturing me as Myrtle for Halloween, glamorous outfit- complete with car tracks, mud and lots of fake blood. Then again, I might get sad when telling the backstory of Mrs Myrtle Wilson, maybe I need someone like “The Bride”…
I’m talking about Uma Thurman’s character in Kill Bill. Once again, this Tarantino film is not a horror, but by my standards, has plenty of it, and a hell of a lot of bloodshed. ‘The Bride,’ a former assassin seeking revenge on her ex-assassin partners who brutally murdered guests at her wedding, her husband-to-be, and even her (though they obviously didn’t succeed on that one.)
From the beginning ‘The Bride’ is badass. She gets shot in the head in what must be only the first few minutes of the film, and then within minutes of waking up from a coma, attacks and kills the disgusting guy who is about to rape her. Sure, she may fall back into the typical ‘woman is only strong once attacked/almost killed and is now seeking revenge’ but ‘The Bride’ is more than that. This woman is a trained assassin, she was killing long before anyone gave her a reason to, and that’s what makes her such a God damn bad-ass horror heroine.
Imagine walking around the streets wearing a blood soaked wedding dress, while also wielding a samurai sword like the one ‘The Bride’ uses. Like a more pissed off version of Miss Havisham!
I couldn’t think of anything more psycho, more glamorous, more me.
I mean, I am a ‘Psycho Cinderella’ after all…
Who is your horror heroine? Any that I might not of thought of or even heard of? Tell me in the comments & have a horrific Halloween! (And I do mean that in the best way possible!)