This is a question I don’t really know the answer to. I don’t read much horror – an occasional classic or Stephen King just about fills that need. I don’t watch much horror – especially the currently popular style that seems to consist of endlessly screaming women. I’m really not sure why I write it, but something one of my sisters said recently got me thinking. She had attempted to read one of my published horror stories, but was unable to finish it. She said that she knew something terrible was going to happen to the female character and…she just couldn’t go there. I thought it interesting, because doesn’t something terrible ALWAYS happen to the female characters in traditional (and not-s0-traditional) horror?
I remembered that, back when I was a kid, my mum would put all of us kids (and there was a lot of us) to bed at a reasonable hour and then, later, she would wake up me and my older brother to watch horror films with her. Hammer House of Horror films, that is – a melodramatic, late-night, technicolor, double bill of vampires, werewolves, mummies and more. Something terrible ALWAYS happened to the poor female characters in these films. They were always young, beautiful, bosomy and doomed. I loved those films!
I started writing horror as an exercise. I was writing a particularly bleak dystopian sci-fi novel and I was having difficulty with an explicit torture scene. I decided to try to overcome my distaste with a little horror writing and was shocked at how quickly I turned to the dark side. And, of course, terrible things happen to my female characters. But, I have to say, sometimes it is the women who are the horror, who do the terrible things, who are the villain, the monster, the beast. I still remember those women of Hammer Horror – the ones who were always the victims. But in my fiction there is always the possibility that the doomed young thing could turn out to be the evil monster. Horror is much better when things aren’t quite so predictable. Don’t you think?