Couch Film Festival :: Hag Horror

Psycho-biddy is a colloquial term for a subgenre of the horror/thriller movie that features a formerly-glamorous older woman who has become mentally unbalanced and terrorizes those around her. The genre officially began in 1962 with the film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?  through the mid-1970s. It has also been referred to by the terms Grande Dame Guignol, hagsploitation and my personal favorite hag horror.

Renata Adler, in her The New York Times review for the 1968 film The Anniversary, referred to the genre as “the Terrifying Older Actress Filicidal Mummy genre.”

Hag Horror features a female lead:

  • Who is mentally unstable, dangerous, or insane woman
  • Advanced years
  • Character of somewhat of a glamorous past
  • Living a life of relative wealth
  • Pitted against one another woman in a life-or-death struggle,
  • Over-the-top, grotesque fashion, emphasizing the unglamorous process of aging and eventual death.
  • Wishing for lost youth and glory

Hag Horror is not limited to black cringe-worthy psycho-drama; the sub-genre has been , campy, made into musicals, science fiction and even westerns.


Related “Hag Horror” Films:

Notes on a Scandal (2006)

Notes on a Scandal is a 2006 British psychological thriller-drama film, adapted from the 2003 novel of the same name by Zoë Heller. The screenplay was written by Patrick Marber and the film was directed by Richard Eyre and starred Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. The soundtrack was composed by Philip Glass.

PLOT :: Barbara Covett (Judi Dench), a veteran teacher at St. George’s, senses a kindred spirit in Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), the school’s new art teacher. The younger woman’s charisma intensely draws in the older, and the two become friends. Then Barbara learns of Sheba’s affair with a teenage student and becomes the keeper of the explosive secret.

Bonus :: Judi Dench is Wonderfully Evil

Girls Will Be Girls (2003)

Girls Will Be Girls is a 2003 comedy film written and directed by Richard Day. Starring Jack Plotnick, Clinton Leupp and Jeffery Roberson as three actresses at various places in their careers, the film is a parody of Hollywood-related movies like Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Mommie Dearest and Valley of the Dolls.

PLOT :: Evie Harris is a washed-up, alcoholic, aging C-List actress who lives in a tackily out-of-style bungalow with Coco, a homely, lonely, doormat of a spinster who carries a torch for the handsome young doctor who performed her abortion years ago.

Evie’s life is turned upside-down by the arrival of a new roommate, Varla Simonds, the voracious, starry-eyed daughter of Evie’s rival who is smitten with her son.

Evie becomes competitive with Varla and the whole house is filled with tension and jealousy among all the three women.

Bonus :: Dragtastic!

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