By Beth McConnell Women in Horror Month (WiHM) is an international, grassroots initiative, which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. Whether they are on the screen, behind the scenes, or contributing in their other various artistic ways, it is clear that women love, appreciate, and contribute to the horror genre.

WiHM celebrates these contributions to horror throughout the year via the official WiHM blog, Ax Wound, The Ax Wound Film Festival, and with the official WiHM event/project database in February. This database (here)—in conjunction with the WiHM social media fan base— actively promotes do-it-yourself annual film screenings, blogs/articles, podcasts, and any other form of creative media with the ultimate goal of helping works by and featuring women reach a wider audience.nIn celebration of the 8th annual Women in Horror Month, Beth counts down the top ten most influential women in the genre.

Soska Sisters

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Also known as ‘Twisted Twins’,  the Canadian pair, Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska work together as screenwriters, film producers and directors. The two women faced a lot of struggles finding work in the industry and took it upon themselves to create their own work. They crafted together American Mary (2011) and See no Evil 2 (2015). Both Solskas are huge advocates for Women in Horror Month and create a new blood donation PSA for it every February. A truly inspirational.

Katherine Isabelle

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Debuting in her role as Ginger in the cult-classic, Ginger Snaps (2000), Isabelle arguable changed the face of the creature feature. Her grunge style and quick wit, Isabelle’s character portrayals are no damsels in distress. She predominantly appears in horror movies, including Freddy vs Jason (2003) and taking the female lead in the Solska Sister’s American Mary (2012).

Cassandra Peterson

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The ultimate vixen, Peterson is best known as, the horror hostess, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Hosting her own show and being a popular pin-up and even becoming subject to comic book depictions, Elvira is a true poster-woman of the genre.

Janet Leigh

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One of the most iconic moments in cinema is that of Miss Leigh meeting Mrs Bates in that famous shower scene. Leigh’s portrayal of Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), made audiences gasp when her leading character is killed half-way into the movie. Despite Leigh not being regarded as a typical horror actress, her role played a huge part in moving the genre along.

Helena Bonham Carter

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The matriarch of the Burton universe, Carter is arguably the gothic queen of today. Her roles vary from the villainous queen of hearts, to the fiendish Bella Lastrange. She will always be celebrated for her unique style and contribution to the gothic culture.

Christina Ricci

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One of the biggest child star’s of the 1990’s, Ricci’s breakthrough role as Wednesday Addams in the Addams Family (1991) and was at the top of her game. Despite veering away from her horror roots and taking part in more indie productions, we will always see her as a creepy and kooky starlet.

Sarah Michelle Gellar

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Breaking the mould for the generic blonde beauty being chased by an axe wielding villain, Gellar’s portrayal of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) is a force to be reckoned with.  Holding a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, Gellar showed off her martial arts skills as well as her acting throughout the popular series. She also starred in many teen-slasher movies during the 90’s and early 2000’s such as, The Grudge (2004), Scream 2 (1997) and I know what you did Last Summer (1997).

Neve Campbell

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The scream queen of the late 90’s, the Canadian actress is best known for her part as Sidney Prescott in the Scream franchise (1996-2011). Sidney’s disposition changed as the series went on, in growing in wisdom and knowing how to survive all four horror movies. Although Wes Craven’s creation was of a self-aware narrative, Sidney’s character developed from a quivering virgin in peril, to a strong female lead.

Linda Blair

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Nominated for an Oscar and winner of a Golden Globe at the age of 14, for her role in The Exorcist (1973) playing the possessed Regan O’Neil. The American Actress is a true horror icon. Blair later reprised her celebrated role in The Exorcist II (1977) and starred in many other horror productions such as the parody, Repossessed (1990).

Jamie Lee Curtis

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Following in the footsteps of her mother Janet Lee, Jamie became everyone’s favourite scream queen, taking the female lead as, Laurie Strode in John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978). This was the cinematic breakthrough for the American Actress, she features in various fright flicks of the 1980’s such as The Fog (1980), Prom Night (1980) and reprising her role as Strode in four more films of the Halloween franchise. Curtis sticks to her horror roots in her most recent performance as Dean Cathy Munsch in TV series Scream Queens (2015-2016). All hail the queen!

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