12 Films about Teen Girls

There are not enough movies about teen girls that aren’t about a romance, but are just about girls being girls, doing girl stuff (a.k.a. doing stuff.) Not that movies with a romance plot are bad, but we also want to see movies where girls go on adventures, get into trouble, save their town, etc.

None of the movies on this list are perfectly feminist, and most of them do not have good representation of POC. By recommending these movies I am not endorsing everything about them. They all have their problems. But I think these movies are the cream that has risen to the top of the teen girl films we have available to us and, imo, they are all fun to watch.

I’m breaking this list down into several different themes, so you can find something to fit your mood:

Outsider Girls:
Penelope – Okay, Penelope isn’t about a teenage girl (she supposed to be 25) and it is a romantic comedy. What is it doing on this list? I don’t know! Except it is a funny little  movie with Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O’Hara, and Peter Dinklage. Penelope is a take on the classic fairy tale trope of a girl who is cursed and needs true love’s kiss the break the spell. But, you can safely assume, that if I am recommending it to you, that there is more to it than that. 🙂

Hairspray – is a 1988 John Water’s musical. Like Grease it is set in a high school in the 1960s, but Hairspray is about obesity and race segregation. This is cult director John Waters’ most mainstream movie, yet still quite a weird film. Here is the original trailer. I know they remade Hairspray in the 2000’s and it was pretty fun and worth watching. But the original has Sono Bono, Ricki Lake, Debbie Harry (Blondie), not to mention actor, singer, and drag queen, Divine.

Girls Winning the World:
Pitch Perfect – College girls in an all girls-acapella group with POC, LGBT, and overweight characters? Yes, thank you. Pitch Perfect is fun, and I don’t know why I didn’t see it sooner, except that I don’t think I realized what kind of movie it was from the trailers. Some compare it to Bridesmaids and I see why, it’s got that whole Hilarious Pack of Girls Being Hilarious thing going on. Here is a review of Pitch Perfect  at Btchflcks that compares it to 3rd wave feminism. You might wait until after you have seen the film to read that review because it does have spoilers.

We are the Best! – Set in 1980s Stolkholm, Sweden, We Are the Best! follows the adventures of three girls in their early teens who decide to start a Punk Rock band despite having no instruments. This movie will make you feel awesome, and possibly inspire you to get a mohawk. Here is the trailer.

Mean Girls:
Mean Girls – There is this classic trope that girls are catty and mean to each other. Anyone that ever went to middle school knows this trope is based in reality. But tv shows and movies would have us think that all girls are really back-bitey, gossipy, and cruel and that is not the case. I have a middle school aged girl and she and her friends are great together! The reality is that girls and women are each others best friends. They can and do stand with each other and take care of each other. That being said, Mean Girls is hilarious, clever, and very quotable.

Heathers – the proto-mean girls movie. Heathers isn’t really a movie about teen girls “doing stuff” so much as it is a satire about the mean popular girls. Or maybe it is a revenge fantasy. Either way, I feel like Heathers should be watched and enjoyed by everyone.

Like a Boss:
Clueless – Clueless is the best movie version of a Jane Austen movie. (Colin Firth just died of shock and then rolled over in this grave. “Don’t worry, Colin! I said movie version, your version is still the best mini-series.”) Clueless is very loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma, with Alicia Silverstone as Cher (Emma). Cher is rich, beautiful, and popular, but she is not dumb, or mean. Cher gets herself into silly and funny adventures, but Cher and the movie, also have heart. There is a romantic subplot with Cher’s step-brother Josh (Mr. Knightley), who is played by a young Paul Rudd. *swoon*.

Dick – Two teenaged girls get embroiled in the Watergate scandal? Silly? Definitely and so are the main characters (Kristen Dunst and Michelle Williams) but that is okay. Girls don’t always have to be smart. They are just regular teenaged girls who go rollerskating, have crushes, and work as dog walkers for President Nixon. Is the film feminist? I could make a argument for that, especially with lines like, ““You can’t let Dick run your life!”

Horror:
Ginger Snaps – Ginger Snaps is a hilarious, twisted, not very scary (until the end), horror movie about two sister who are obsessed with death. It’s a feminist werewolf movie where lycanthropy is an analogy for menstruation and female sexuality. I love Ginger Snaps!

The Woods – You’ve probably never heard of The Woods but it is one of my favorite horror movies. I’ve probably seen it six times. The Woods is set in an all-girls boarding school in the 1960s. There are secrets, mysterious societies, a creepy school, scary nightmares, vintage outfits, retro music, and girls, girls, nothing but girls (and, kind of surprisingly, a little bit of Bruce Campbell.) The Woods isn’t very scary but it has a delectable aesthetic and a great mystery. The ending is a little wackadoodle but it is not too bad. The Woods is all about teen girls doing girl stuff, if by “girl stuff’ you mean, “creepy tree magic in the woods.”

Sexuality and Gender
But I’m a Cheerleader – Came out (see what I did there?) in 1999 and stars Natasha Lyonne (Nicky from Orange is the New Black) as a cheerleader whose parents send her to a conversion therapy camp to cure her of lesbianism. It’s a satirical comedy with some tender moments. It is, in many ways, a conventional romantic story, but one that explores gender theory.

Easy A – Some feminists like this movie, some really don’t. I agree it is not perfect, but it is cute (like Emma Stone), and funny (like Emma Stone), and makes you think about slut-shaming (like… nah, not really.) Easy A riffs on The Scarlet Letter, and how female sexuality is demonized. I think the movie is trying to have a positive message but it might not go as far we would like it to.

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A Playlist for your Halloween Party

I love to make themed playlists. I have them for Winter, Spring, rainy days, and road trips, as well as playlist riddles where my family has to guess the theme (animals, names, the moon, end of the world) Of course I have at least five Halloween playlists, some are specific (zombies, witches), but I want to share my most general, but musically diverse, Halloween Playlist with you.

2 Hours of Spooky Music for your Halloween Party:

Superstition – Stevie Wonder
This is Halloween – Nightmare Before Christmas
Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Biongo
People are Strange – The Doors
Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
Hell – Squirrel Nut Zippers
They’re coming to take me away – Napoleon XIV
I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow
The Addams Family – TV Theme
Everyday is Halloween – Ministry
Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Double Trouble – Harry Potter Soundtrack
Living Dead Girl – Rob Zombie
Banana Boat Song – Harry Belafonte
Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones
Love Potion #9 – The Searchers
Halloween – Siouxsie and The Banshees
Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) David Bowie
Season of the Witch – Donovan
Ghost Town – The Specials
Witch Doctor – David Seville
I Put A Spell On You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Monster Mash – Bobby Pickett
The Boogie Monster – Gnarls Barkley
Rattling Bones – Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Witchy Woman – The Eagles
Zombie Jamboree – Harry Belafonte
Spooky – Dusty Springfield
Thriller – Michael Jackson

my favorite 1970’s horror movies

Halloween is my favorite Holiday. We usually throw a big house party, past themes have included Witches, Mad Scientist’s Laboratory, Zombie Plague, and Retro Halloween. In the 30 days preceding Halloween night we go to the pumpkin patch and get pumpkins for carving and pies. We make our own costumes, go to haunted houses, haunted penitentiaries, haunted cemeteries, and on haunted hayrides. I make Halloween music playlists and we sing Pumpkin Carols. We also watch a lot of horror movies. Like, a lot.

The first movies I ever remember seeing were American Werewolf in London and John Carpenter’s The Thing, in a drive-in double feature my parents went to see. I was supposed to be sleeping in the back of our station wagon, but I watched them both, peeking from underneath my blanket.

Since then I have seen hundreds of horror films, on late night television, when I used to work at a video store, and, nowadays, on streaming video.

All horror fans have certain types of horror films that appeal to them. Some people like torture porn, some like psychological horror, some like copious amounts of gore. I like 70’s horror. It is what I grew up with and now, some 40 years later, it has the added benefit of being nostalgic. I’m not saying these are the best. I left off some great flicks that I don’t consider horror like Alien, as well as some really scary films that I recognize are great, but they aren’t my favorite, like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Exorcist. I also didn’t list all the best 1970’s foreign horror, but maybe I will next year.

With that in mind, here is a list of  my personal favorite 70’s/ early 80’s horror films:

70’s:

Halloween – I watch this movie every year during Halloween month. I think it is very well plotted, and stands the test of time. There is a reason why it is a classic. “I HATE a guy with a car and no sense of humor.”

Black Christmas – If you haven’t seen this Canadian horror movie you really should. It is considered to be the first slasher flick. It really has the whole 70’s vibe going big time. And there are some deranged phone calls that really creep me the heck out! Bonus: It takes place during Christmas, so this movie can be on your queue for Halloween and Yuletide. “No Claire, it’s the Mormon Tabernacle Choir making their annual obscene phone call.”

Carrie – Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie are so great in the movie! A true horror classic. “I can see your dirty pillows. Everyone will.”

The Omen – One of my favorites, because I love evil children. Damian is so cute! This movie also has a good plot. Very shocking for the time. “Look at me, Damien! It’s all for you.”

The Wicker Man – The Green Man! Bunnies! Middle English folk songs! What fun! I love everything about this movie. “Summer is icumen in, loudly sing cuckoo.”

80’s:
The Shining – Everything about the movie is beautiful. Beautiful and troubling. Not only the best horror movie of its decade, but one of the best horror films ever. “Hello, Danny. Come and play with us. Come and play with us, Danny. Forever… and ever… and ever.”

Poltergeist – This movie scarred me forever. Clowns… *shudder* It is also a fun Spielberg blockbuster. “Cross over children. All are welcome. All welcome. Go into the Light.”

Nightmare on Elm Street – This movie also scarred me for life. I saw it in the theatre when I was only 11. NoES is a bit dated now, but it was very influential to me. “Whatever you do… don’t fall asleep.”

Fright Night – Cheesy, but great fun. I watched this over and over again on cable tv. “Oh, you’re so COOL, Brewster!”

Modern but feel like the 70s/early 80s:

The Woods
– 1960s girls boarding school out in the woods, with Patricia Clarkson and Bruce Campbell. ‘Nuff said. “No, you listen very closely, fire-crotch”

The Conjuring – Classic ghost story set in the 1970s. “Based on a true story” and filled to the brim with horror tropes, yet scary as all heck! Saw it 4 times in theaters. “Want to play a game of hide and clap?”

The Orphan – This is maybe more of a thriller than a horror film, it depends on your level of sensitivity. Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard are excellent. I love the whole look of this movie. It is very troubling. “It’s all right. It’s in Heaven now.”

The Orphanage – This is a very unsettling Spanish language horror film produced by Guillermo del Toro. It’s not gory, more of the classic, slow burn, haunted house style, with some jump scares. But the real scares are psychological. “”Uno, dos, tres, toca la pared“.