A comedy writing friend of mine once observed that the great innovation of the 1980s-early ‘90s sitcom Coach was “not just one dumb guy, but two dumb guys.”
I think that a variant of that axiom could apply to the Twilight series of books and films as well: “Not just one vampire, ladies! A whole bunch of them!” So what, exactly, is the deal with women and vampires? The vampire as preternaturally attractive to women is a long-established theme in movies, going all the way back to the original vampire movie, Nosferatu (1922).
Now, you could easily dismiss this as fairly typical male movie executive projection of themselves as irresistible to the ladies, when in reality they are just a bunch of pasty-faced guys who stay up too late, have poor sleep habits, and live in underlit mansions up in the Hollywood Hills.
But hold on there. Maybe not. An article in Psychology Today from a year ago argued there were three basic reasons why women are attracted to vampires:
Immortality. Formidability. They like the night life.
Before you start yelling at me about this as being a big pile of sexist crap, please keep in mind that this article was written by three Ph.Ds in evolutionary psychology, one of whom was a woman. So, take it how you will.
The message here for guys is this: stop falling asleep on the couch at 8:30 p.m., get yourself a poofy shirt, pointy shoes, and cape, and get out there! (Oh, and maybe have your teeth sharpened to complete the look.)
Vampire movies aren’t the only horror movies geared toward women. In fact, women have a long history as artists in the horror genre. Don’t forget, Frankenstein, was written by a woman, Mary Shelley. And many consider this the finest horror novel of them all. So let’s take a look at an array of movies that women might enjoy on Halloween.
Teenage boys have the Star Wars franchise, and teenage girls have Twilight. I say we call it even and not make any more of any of these movies, okay? Please? (Clearly, I have no takers on this proposal…) Let’s give a tip of the hat here to Melissa Rosenberg, the woman who wrote all the movies in this series. Rosenberg made her bones as a writer working on female-audience targeted TV shows such as Party of Five, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Ally McBeal, and The O.C., among many others. Also, I think Kristen Stewart, who is much-mocked, is also an outstanding actress, and I would watch her in anything… including this series. (Don’t tell any of my male friends I actually watched these movies and kinda like them, though. That has to stay between us. Promise?)
This is a TV series, and I guess I could have chosen Buffy, the Vampire Slayer here, but I find this series much more clever. It was created by Kevin Williamson (Scream, Dawson’s Creek) and Julie Plec. Plec is an accomplished horror movie producer, having co-produced Scream 2 and Scream 3 with director Wes Craven. This series is stylish and scary. If you’re looking for a Halloween binge series, this is the one.
Six women on a spelunking adventure get trapped in the cave with a bunch of flesh-eating humanoids and must work together to save themselves. Yeah. Sounds scary and it is scary. This is a really good and really frightening film. Have some friends over and watch it together on Halloween.
Every nerdy girl with an oppressive and crazy mom, this movie is for you. Carrie, played perfectly here by Sissy Spacek, gets her revenge big time. In fact, Brian de Palma’s requisite over-the-top style works perfectly here. What any one of us wouldn’t have given for some telekinetic powers in high school. I would have gotten revenge on Gary Heikkola for stealing my new Nike running shoes. Instead, I was just bitter and sullen for most of 10th grade.
This is a frightening Australian picture about a widowed mother trying to raise her troubled 6 year-old son, Sam. Sam is unusually gifted at making fanciful weapons, guided, he claims, by a monster in the basement he calls the Babadook. And you thought you had problems with your kids! This is an outstanding debut film by Jennifer Kent (who also wrote the screenplay). I’m eager to see what she makes next.
David Raether is a veteran TV writer and essayist. He worked for 12 years as a television sitcom writer/producer, including a 111-episode run on the ground-breaking ABC comedy “Roseanne.” His essays have been published by Salon.com, The Times of London, and Longforms.org, and have been lauded by The Atlantic Magazine and the BBC World Service. His memoir, Homeless: A Picaresque Memoir from Our Times, is awaiting publication.