The global success of Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook in 2014 put the focus on Australian women filmmakers, simultaneously giving us an opportunity to explore how both horror and the broader terrain of the “dark fantastic” has dominated a number of the most memorable Australian films made in the last 30 years. The dark fantastic has afforded a number of these filmmakers with a space to think through feminist and other ideological issues in ways both creative and urgent, in a range of different ways.


In “‘You’re a Frigid Bitch and Your Friend is a Homo’: Coming of Age in Girl Asleep“, Michelle J. Smith takes a close look at Rosemary Myers’ 2015 feminist coming-of-age fairy tale, considering the role of family and friends in the construction of female identity. Kate Robertson’s “The Spectre at the Window: Tracey Moffatt’s beDevil” approaches this anthology of supernatural tales through the carefully constructed and complex mythologies that Moffatt – one of Australia’s most important and highly regarded visual artists – creates as the basis for this, what we believe at least is the first horror anthology made by a single woman director. Craig Martin’s “Monsters, Masks and Murgatroyd: The Horror of Ann Turner’s Celia” approaches the 1988 film’s complex release history, where the dark fantastic melodrama was reframed as a more straightforward horror film for its international distribution, and what this in turn tells us about the film’s sophisticated mechanics of guilt, innocence, fantasy and childhood. These themes and others are picked up by Martin in his interview with the filmmaker herself in “Trust Your Instinct: An Interview with Ann Turner”. Released the same year as The Babadook, Donna McRae’s “Who’s Knocking in My Little House? Ursula Dabrowsky’s Inner Demon” closely considers the role of the Final Girl in particular in this serial killer/supernatural hybrid, positioning it not only in Australian horror cinema traditions but broader international ones. Finally, McRae – a filmmaker as well as an academic and writer – joins Heidi Lee Douglas and Isabel Peppard in our “Making Magic” roundtable discussion, where these three notably different yet equally impressive filmmakers share their thoughts on their experiences as women horror filmmakers working and living in Australia.

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