Monsters, she made: The hidden labour of women in horror’s special effects history

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


An increasing amount of attention has been given in recent years to the contribution of women within the horror genre. Martha Shearer’s chapter in Women Make Horror: Filmmaking, Feminism, Genre (2020), for example, details the previously minimised involvement of Daria Nicolodi in the authorship of Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977), while Women Creators of TV Horror (Abbott and Jowett, forthcoming) will detail the roles that women have fulfilled within televisual horror both in front of and behind the camera. A strand of the horror industry that has thus far remained resolutely perceived as a masculine space, however, is that of practical makeup effects design and creation.

When asked to name key special effects makeup artists in the horror genre, there are certain names that might instantly come to mind: Tom Savini, Rick Baker, and Rob Bottin, perhaps. This paper will demonstrate that the presumption that horror makeup effects is a masculine field is due to several factors, including the centring of male makeup effects artists in the 1980s through fan publications such as Fangoria and the canonisation of key male creators as practical effects auteurs. After outlining the conspicuous absence of women from the canon of special effects makeup in horror history, this paper will highlight the work of those both purposefully excluded – such as lMilicent Patrick – and those whose contributions have been minimised. Overarchingly, this paper will argue that until the accepted canon is widened to acknowledge the labour and contributions of a broader sample than simply men, our horror histories will remain incomplete.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2024
Event12th British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS) Annual Conference: Labour and Screen Media - University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Apr 20245 Apr 2024
Conference number: 12


Conference12th British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS) Annual Conference
Abbreviated title12th BAFTSS
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Practical effects
  • Women in Horror
  • Horror
  • Special Effects


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