The most wonderful time of the year has finally arrived. It’s October, ladies and gentlemen, which means that now is the time when everyone, whether they be a mega horror fan or a mild one, come together to participate in the joyous activities of All Hallows Eve, such as dressing up in costume, ingesting a myriad of treats, and watching programs from the horror genre. Fan favorites like Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and Daryl Dixon will foster much of the attention this fall, but don’t forget, there are many femme fatales that have earned some street cred as well. Read on, and discover which heroines and vixens are worth your time; some of whom are just as frightening as the stand-out, masked characters we all know and love.
In Scream, Sidney voiced her disapproval with the depiction of girls in horror movies as physically attractive, but mentally lacking. Sid confronted her ghost, and made sure that she, too, didn’t fall prey to the stereotype when the killer tried to add her to his list of victims. She ran, stabbed, shot, and even jumped out of a window. As a result, she survived through the entire series, and earned the title of “Scream Queen”.
The American dream is to make more money than can possibly be conceived, but there isn’t exactly a guidebook of rules and tips for how to acquire such luxuries. In American Mary, pre-med Mary Mason is quickly making her way through medical school, and shows lots of promise for her future as a surgeon. However, when Mary is betrayed by a close friend, and loses a loved one, her plans are temporarily put on hold. Despite her loss and abuse, Mary doesn’t crawl into a fetal position and whittle away. She continues on the path toward her American dream, and earns a living through the practice of body mortification, using her training as an aid for her profit. Her devious ambitions and unmerciful attitude earn her a spot amongst the most infamous of horror vixens.
Here’s an entry whose actions are petrifying, they merit real fear for men in the early stages of dating. In Audition, a man hosts fake auditions with the facade of an acting role, and the underlying intentions of finding a suitable wife. Little does he know, Asami, the woman who catches his fancy, has ulterior motives of her own. Takashi Miike never fails to make his audience as uncomfortable and bothered as possible, and this film is no exception. Asami is so sweet at first, that her actions down the line are both shocking and gut-wrenching.
Unlike her previous contenders, Lola, a.k.a. “Princess”, was noticeably different from the start of The Loved Ones. One day at school, Lola shows up at Brent’s locker, decorated with pink from head to toe, shyly asking him to be her prom date. After facing rejection, Lola decides that she’ll just kidnap Brent and force him to be her date. Soon, the audience learns that this isn’t her first time nabbing herself a beau. It could even be considered a ritual, that claims the lives of unlucky boys on a yearly basis.
The Descent is one of the best female-centered horror films in recent memory, if, ever. Sarah, the woman who lost nearly everyone she loves only a short while ago, must leave her emotions and fears behind, and find a way out of the cave that has trapped her and her friends with a group of miscreant dwellers, before they pick off the ladies, one by one. The length to which Sarah must go to survive the darkness turns her into a rabid animal, with only one goal in mind: kill.
Ginger Snaps sheds a unique light on the struggle of growing up, especially during your teenage years. Poor Ginger begins evolving into womanhood just about the same time that she starts experiencing the effects of a werewolf bite. As a result, her changes are exaggerated in a playfully morbid way, and her transformation into a werewolf acts as a metaphor for her maturing into an adult. Katharine Isabelle is terrific, as usual, and brings a tenacious edge to her already demented character.
Victor Crowley took her brother, her father, her friends, and her sanity, but that’s not stopping Marybeth Dunstan from killing Crowley. Again. And again. No matter how long it takes, and how many night she has to spend in the murky Louisiana swamps, she’s going to end the legend of Hatchetface. Danielle Harris is perfect as the woman hellbent on revenge, willing to do anything to avenge her family.
The most horrifying aspect of Carrie, for me, personally, is the use of religion, and the effect it has on Carrie’s soul. A person can only be persecuted for so long, no matter who the authority figure may be. Carrie is pushed so far by her mother, who elicits religion as a form of abuse, that the kids at the prom are just a tipping point in her mental composure. When she finally erupts, it proves to be one of the most memorable moments in film history.
There can’t be a list of horror ladies without the original goddess of macabre cinema, the godmother of final girls, and the start of Jamie Lee Curtis’s career, Miss Laurie Strode in John Carpenter’s Halloween. Laurie showed filmmakers and aspiring horror actresses everywhere how to behave in a slasher, and how to survive one.
The thing that’s scary about Baby in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects is the way she likes to toy with people. Some killers execute their prey as soon as possible, but Baby takes joy in luring in men with her good looks, and then torturing them until they die, laughing all the while. She’s not completely unredeemable, though. In Devil’s Rejects, when the tables turn, Baby proves that she can take as much as she can dish, and even more.
When school children are forced to fight one another in Battle Royale, Mitsuko seizes an opportunity to wipe out as many of her classmates as she can. Instead of feeling guilty like the other kids, she revels in the victories, and participates gladly in the massacre. Like a soldier gone mad, Mitsuko sheds mercy for no one, and in turn, survives longer than the majority of her peers.
The best thing about Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that it doesn’t constantly remind the audience that its main character is a female. Sure, Buffy’s sex is addressed occasionally, just to reinforce Joss Whedon’s steadfast feminist beliefs, but the overall focus isn’t on her emotions, but on her duties. Buffy wasn’t proclaimed the girl who “saved the world a lot” for nothing. The overwhelming amount of tasks that the slayer is assigned would be too much for anyone to handle, and yet, she just does it, because it’s right. She puts the world before herself, no matter what demons of her own she may be facing, and that’s why the Buffinator is a hero. She’s not like us.
In The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Sally taught girls everywhere to never give up. No matter how desperate your situation is, no matter how hopeless it seems, if you just keep fighting, you stand a chance at surviving. Of course, you may not be the exact same person that you were before, but living is better than being chopped up in some psycho’s basement, right?
In order to get even, Geum-ja knows that she must become a different person. A darker person. To take down the most evil man she’s ever known, the man who ruined her life, she has to stop being seen as the sweet, innocent girl that everyone knows, and turn her emotions to stone. Most vengeance flicks starring a female start out with brutal rape scenes, but Lady Vengeance takes a different approach. Geum-ja’s boyfriend turned her into a monster, and therefore, must be destroyed.
In A Nightmare on Elm Street, Nancy battles losing her friends, rumors at school, the suspicions of her parents, the need for sleep, and worst of all, Freddy Krueger. Being a teenager is rough, and adding a an alcoholic mother and a few bodies lying around tends to heighten the drama. Despite these feats, Nancy takes on her worst nightmare by herself, and shows that even when you’re outmatched physically and supernaturally, you can still rely on your brain power.
Every list of top notch horror ladies needs a spot reserved for Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. The queen of the dark may not wield a sharp blade, but what she lacks in violence, she makes up for with her ginormous, bulging brain. Her wit and charm carried audiences through some of the worst films known to man, on her hilarious Mystery Macabre. I can now say that I’ve seen Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and actually stayed awake through the entire movie, thanks to Elvira.
Lily isn’t just the mother in The Munsters, she’s the representation of a horror fan who is comfortable with herself. Sure, she’s a play on the Bride of Frankenstein, and she fills the role of a sitcom spouse with her carefree humor and soft composure, but she’s also more than that. Lily often ironically commented on the oddity of others, making herself and her family seem like the “normal” ones. It’s a clever way to get a laugh, and to tell your viewers that it’s okay to be yourself, and be satisfied with who you are, even if it may be seen as somewhat strange by society.
You’re Next gave us horror fans a modern day fierce female to love. Instead of relying on a man to save her, Erin wound up saving all of the males (or as many as she could) around her, while many of them hid. Instead of reacting to a sudden travesty, Erin’s past surfaces, and acts as her weapon, allowing her to overpower her opponents with ease, like a default setting. Plenty of films with a similar concept have emerged, especially in the action genre, but little to no females are portrayed in this manner. It’s a refreshing change.
Although Kim is initially the one to go after Stuntman Mike in Death Proof, what’s intriguing about Abernathy’s character is her arc. At first, she starts out as one of the more reserved girls of the group, admitting early in the film that her boyfriend cheated on her after she only let him hold her hand. After being stalked and harassed by a vicious driver, however, Abernathy is out for blood.
Alien shows us just how terrifying an extra-terrestrial can be. Ripley’s ability to stand bravely in the face of danger is so inspiring, it influenced countless films, horror and non-horror. Sigourney Weaver’s stature demands respect, and still holds precedence, even after all of these years.