Yes, we know the actresses, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kate Beckinsale, Adrienne Baribeau, Barabara Steele, and even Elvira (Mistresses of the dark). But what of it?
The darkness that hides behind films center on sexuality, and yes, these and other women exude oodles of it. We all watch as the evil being, or persons attack our heroine, but usually, our lady is tough and fights or outsmarts the evil.
As a male, I felt entranced by these strong women, I liked that they fought their way out of creeps, misogynist cretins and just supernatural forces way beyond their everyday experiences. The women are not evil, they’re innocent people thrown into a nightmare, usually not of their own making.
The sticking point is what if the character was frumpy, homely, ugly? Did it matter to the viewer that the hero was average or less in appearance? Did the story matter or the actor? It always bothered me, that even to my own eyes, the fairer looking the female hero, the greater I cared about her and involved in the film. In fact, only in a rare film, like The Shining to surpass my own biases on female beauty. The film’s attraction made me care less what Shelley beauty; she’s fighting for her life with her child as her husband went mad. The story won out.
Unfortunately, I understand that attractive looks collect eyeballs and numbers count, no mistake, I know putting myself on the line deeply involves my looks and clothing now as a female instead of a male horror writer. To be frank, it’s not my favorite part, but I willfully accept it and understand the importance of an image to sales. I also know Anne Rice and Shirley Jackson didn’t wear skin-tight dresses and leather lingerie to boost sales. Of course, I lack their level of expertise in writing. That is entertainment and as a seller of it must seek my window to escape into the world of writing.
Moreover, there is the deeper aspect the sexy woman plays in horror, she is taboo, dealing with sexuality, openly, gives her an edge, she is a renegade, she doesn’t stand with social norms boxing her in, she utilizes her gifts, to sneak through the closed doors and windows to freedom; I realize that as a transgender woman, society puts holds me back, ignored or not taken seriously. To survive I must maximize my gifts to work around the negatives. The windows are few and the road is long. Thus my focus and my hunger remain.