On the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series
The Other Side of the Street
Anita Blake and the Horror Renaissance
There’s an image that always springs to mind when someone mentions horror to me. It’s the traditional mob of angry villagers making their way up the hill toward Castle McGuffin where the Things That Should Not Be lives. Sometimes it’s a vampire, sometimes it’s Frankenstein’s Monster, but the mob remain the same. They’re all carrying pitchforks and burning torches, they’re all peasants, they’re all angry, they’re all frightened, and they’re all men.
From the story of Mary Shelley’s doomed monster down to Doctor Loomis in the Halloween series, it has fallen, time and again, to the male characters to root out evil and horror, to drag it shrieking into the light and, frequently, away from the helpless females it’s been trying to eat, marry, or occasionally both. Horror isn’t just about watching something approach, as William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist, famously said; it’s frequently about watching a man set fire to it or shove a stake through its heart.
But just as male characters have traditionally hogged the limelight while simultaneously soaking it in blood, female characters have gradually evolved from victims to something much more interesting. It’s a process that began in Dracula, where both Lucy and Mina are extremely cognizant that something is being done to them but lack the knowledge to understand it and, by extension, defend themselves against it. Later on, characters like Laurie Strode and Sydney Prescott, the endlessly troubled heroines of the Halloween and Scream franchises, are gifted with that knowledge, and in Sydney’s case …