30 Woman-Friendly Horror Movies for the Thrill-Seeking Feminist

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Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary’s Baby, Screencap via Paramount Pictures

Sub-Genre: Satanism

What it’s about: Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse are a young couple in New York who are just moving into a new apartment. After a tragedy in their new building, they befriend their eccentric neighbors, the Castevets. When Minnie Castevet gives Rosemary a necklace as a good luck charm, things start to go well for the Woodhouses. But on the night that Rosemary and Guy plan to conceive a child, Rosemary passes out and has a disturbing dream. At first she shrugs it off, but when her pregnancy progresses in an unusual way, she begins to question everything, including her relationships with those she trusts most.

What makes it feminist: Rosemary’s Baby has long been an item of interest in the feminist horror conversation. The 1960s horror scene boasted very few female protagonists, but Rosemary Woodhouse changed the game for everyone. Her overall wit and competence set the stage for the Ellen Ripleys and the Clarice Starlings of the future. And, though the beginning of the movie sets up Rosemary and her husband Guy, to be a team, the ensuing events show Rosemary alone, navigating her situation with intelligence, and fighting like hell against thos who seek to harm her and her son.

And then there is the consideration of Rosemary’s body and personhood. From the beginning, other characters attempt to take control over Rosemary’s decisions, particularly those regarding her body. Her husband claims he had sex with her while she was passed out because he didn’t want to miss their chance to conceive. Her neighbors and husband try to control what she puts into her body, what doctors she goes to, when she sees them. Such a radical metaphor for the objectification of women’s bodies makes a major statement, especially in its time.

Trigger Warning: There’s a rape in here.

Other Warning: This movie was written and directed by Roman Polanski, admitted rapist and general terrible, sexist, awful person. If that makes your skin crawl – please, skip this one. I won’t blame you at all.