Sometimes the best things really do come in small, spooky packages.
By: Rachel Shatto
Anthology horror is definitely having a moment right now. From the popularity of V/H/S and its superior sequel to the ABCs of Death series, and even the recent releases of Southbound and México Bárbaro, there’s a ton of bite-sized horror readily available for our consumption.
As well as being extremely satisfying, this often collaborative format also offers more opportunities for women filmmakers to get into the mix, get behind the camera, and have their work seen by a large, diverse audience.
This, of course thrills us, but it can also just as easily result in these contributions slipping under the radar. So, in honor of Women in Horror Month here are 10 (well, 10-plus, we cheated a little) horror anthologies that are either directed by, or include segments from, women directors.
1. The ABCs of Death (2012) & The ABCs of Death 2 (2014)
Directors: Angela Bettis (“E is for Exterminate”), Hélène Cattet (“O is for Orgasm”), Kristina Buozyte (“K is for Knell”), Jen & Sylvia Soska (“T is for Torture Porn”)
Quite possibly the most ambitious anthology projects of all time, both The ABCs of Death and The ABCs of Death 2 feature 26 segments corresponding to each letter of the alphabet by more than 57 directors, five of which are women. OK, so its far from equal representation, but what the female directors lack in number they more than make up for in substance.
In the first film, Angela Bettis (Roman) goes behind the lens for “E is for Exterminate” in which a spider wreaks revenge on her would-be human assassin. Hélène Cattet is joined by her Amer and Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears collaborator Bruno Forzani to explore la petite mort aka “the little death” in their psychedelic-by-way-of-Mario-Bava short “O is for Orgasm.”
The sequel boasts three lady filmmakers among its ranks. Lithuanian filmmaker Kristina Buozyte (Vanishing Waves) teams up with Bruno Sampler for “K is for Knell,” in which a malevolent black material is invading the locals and drastically altering their behavior. Twisted Twins Jen and Sylvia Soska take on the letter T in “T is for Torture Porn” about an audition that goes very, very wrong.
2. Southbound (2016)
Director: Roxanne Benjamin (“Sirens”)
Set on a desolate stretch of road and its eerie neighboring town, Southbound features four interconnected stories of people unfortunate enough to find themselves stranded or, worse yet, hunted there. Roxanne Benjamin’s “Sirens” follows the fate of an ill-fated girl band who breaks down on the side of the highway. It’s creepy, funny, and wonderfully messed up enough that it would make Southbound worth checking out alone even if the other segments weren’t solid— which they definitely are. In other words: Push this brand new anthology by the folks behind the V/H/S series straight to the top of your must-watch list.
3. Strange Frequency (2001)
Director: Mary Lambert (“Disco Inferno” and “More than a Feeling”)
If you’ve ever thought “I love The Twilight Zone, I just wish it had more rock ’n’ roll,” then you are in for a treat with Strange Frequency. Director Mary Harron lends her talents to this four-part anthology with “Disco Inferno” and “More than A Feeling.” It was created by VH1 as a made for TV movie and was then adapted into a TV series which ran for eight more episodes. It’s a veritable who’s-who of ’00s TV talent and it’s a ton of fun.
Where to watch Strange Frequency: YouTube
4. Tales of Halloween (2015)
Director: Axelle Carolyn (“Grim and Grinning Ghost”)
This spooky anthology features 10 tales that all take place on, you guessed it, Halloween. Director and writer Axelle Carolyn delivers an effective little cautionary tale with “Grimm and Grinning Ghost” about a woman being targeted and stalked by and evil spirit.
5. Fear(s) of the Dark (2007)
Director: Marie Caillou (third segment)
Horror anthology goes animated for Fear(s) of the Dark. Each segment is animated in a unique style and explores the things we fear in the dark. The third segment, directed by Marie Caillou, focuses on a school girl from rural Japan who undergoes treatment for her nightmares, which forces her to relive them — for our viewing pleasure.
6. Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror (2006)
Director: Stacy Title
Director Stacy Title mines inner city horror in Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror. Snoop, who has sold his soul to become a Hound of Hell, narrates this collection of shorts that feature a revenge-driven tagger, a racist landlord, and a rapper whose past comes back to haunt him, literally.
Where to watch Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror: YouTube
7. México Bárbaro (2015)
Director: Laurette Flores Born (“Tzompantli”)
This intense (trigger warning for sexual assault) anthology digs into a number Mexican traditions and lore to create a brutal, disturbing and terrifying collection of tales. The film kicks off with director Laurette Flores Born’s “Tzompantli,” about a journalist working on a story about a Mexican blood ritual who discovers more than she bargained for.
8. Creepshow III (2006)
Director: Ana Clavell
Alright, let’s get this out of the way, Creepshow III may not be everyone’s favorite entry in the series, and that’s totally fair, especially considering it doesn’t connect to EC Comics… or Stephen King… or George Romero. But hey, remove it from that context and there’s still some fun to be had here. The tales include a universal remote gone bad, an evil radio, ghosts, vampires, and even a robot — or is she?
Where to watch Creepshow III: Hulu
9. The Dungeonmaster (1984)
Director: Rosemarie Turko (“Ice Gallery”)
Oh the ’80s—so goofy, so awesome. Who can resist its nostalgic charms? After all, it’s only in the ’80s that you would get an anthology about the battle between a demonic wizard who challenges a computer programmer to a duel, with each of the trials making up the anthology. It also features the band WASP. Just sayin’.
Director Rosemarie Turko lends her talents to the “Ice Gallery” segment in which our hero finds himself in a frozen wax museum full of villains like Jack the Ripper, the Wolfman, and… Einstein? Of course its just a matter of time before these dastardly fellows begin to thaw out.
10. Fun Size Horror: Volume 1 and Fun Size Horror: Volume 2
Directors: Lisa J. Dooley (“Persephone”), Mali Elfman (“Voice”), Anisa Qureshi (“The Lover”), Karen Gillan (“Conventional”), Vivian Lin (“And They Watched”)
If you like your horror like you like your Snickers bars — and by that I mean bite size and en masse — well then Fun Size Horror Volume One and Volume Two are about to rock your world. Featuring more than 40 shorts collectively, these films have something for every horror lover, particularly those who like their genre films with women behind the camera.
Volume One features director Lisa J Dooley’s “Persephone” about the terror of being buried alive; in Anisa Qureshi’s “The Lover,” breakup can be murder; and Mali Elfman’s “The Voice” is about a young woman who is tormented by a sinister voice.
Volume Two introduces Karen Gillan’s (yes, that Karen Gillan) “Conventional” about a has-been genre actor struggling with her loss of relevance; and Vivian Lin’s “And They Watched,” which was inspired by the reinstatement of the electric chair in Tennessee, focuses on a janitor who desensitized by his job of cleaning the execution chamber is suddenly faced with the legacy of that room.
Where to watch Fun Size Horror: Volume 2: funsizehorror.com
Upcoming Anthologies: XX and Holidays
It looks like the “awesome horror anthologies with women filmmakers” trend shows no sign of stopping thanks to two more really promising films on the horizon.
The first is the all-female anthology XX, featuring films from a truly illustrious group of lady directors: Mary Harron (American Psycho), Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body, The Invitation), Jennifer Chambers Lynch (Chained and the criminally under-seen Surveillance), Jovanka Vuckovic (The Captured Bird), and Sofia Carrillo. Basically this lineup is a dream come true. While there is no official release date available yet, we will be keeping a ridiculously close eye on this one.
Holidays, an anthology film in which each segment focuses on a, wait for it… holiday, is picking up a lot of buzz thanks to the pedigree of established and noted up-and-coming filmmakers contributing to it—including Sarah Adina Smith.
Smith made her her debut with the wonderfully unnerving The Midnight Swim, which was a critical success and film festival fave in 2014. In Holidays, she’s going to be putting her spin on Mother’s Day.
Between the talent involved and the retro ’80s horror vibe the poster is giving us, this is one project we can’t wait to see hit the big screen.
Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments! And don’t miss our list of 10 Female-Directed Horror Movies You Can Stream On Netflix Right Now and 10 Best Streaming Horror Movies on Netflix That Ace The Bechdel Test