This February, as we begin to discuss gender inequality in the horror genre and celebrate the successes of women filmmakers, artists, authors, and leading ladies, let’s take a look at the women who paved the way for women in horror.
In addition to being the first woman director, French filmmaker Alice Guy was one of the earliest directors of fictional films. During her legacy, Guy was involved with hundreds of films of all genres. Her horror films, such as The Pit and The Pendulum (1913), The Monster and The Girl (1914), and The Vampire (1915), are known for being strong cinematically and delivering a feminist perspective. Alice Guy, along with Lois Weber, was the first woman to build a film studio which rivaled Hollywood’s.
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Under mentorship from Alice Guy, Lois Weber began her career as an actress in 1908 before going on to writing and directing. She was the first American woman to direct a full-length motion picture. At one time Weber was the highest paid director in the industry. Her 1913 thriller Suspense has one of the earliest uses of split screen. Her 1915 film Hypocrites was the first to show full frontal female nudity, a move so controversial it caused riots. Weber’s work had a strong focus on controversial social issues related to women, including sex education, abortion, and birth control.
Ida Lupino is often recognized as one of the most notable pioneers among women filmmakers. Before beginning her career in film, Lupino served as a Lieutenant in the Women’s Ambulance and Defense Corps. (Talk about badass.) She then started her career as an actress in 1931, before taking her first directing job in 1949. In 1953, Lupino was one of the first women to direct a film noir with her horror/suspense film The Hitch-Hiker. Later, she went on to be the only woman to direct an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” She also directed episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”
The filmmakers listed here are often forgotten and are only a few of the important women who laid the groundwork for future women in horror, but their successes are monumental and their work has influenced many household names in the genre.