My name is Elaine and I am a horror fanatic. In fact, I am horror’s number one fan. I want to lock horror in my house, tie it to a bed and break its ankles with a sledgehammer so it can never leave. (That was a Misery reference for you genre noobs.) The only thing that even comes close to my love of all things horror is my appreciation for badass female characters.
So this Halloween I want to honor the lovely ladies who have run, screamed, fought, maimed, murdered, slashed, bit, and hacked their way through our hearts, minds, and movies over the years.
From feisty final girls to malicious monsters, let’s celebrate some of horror movies’ most memorable female characters:
15. THE VAMPIRESS: Selene- Underworld (2003)
Selene is an agile, beautiful, deadly vampire warrior called a Death Dealer–of course she is a badass. While I appreciate her character’s arc–a disillusioned loyal soldier gone rogue (with a little star-crossed love sprinkled in)–she honestly rocks that latex outfit so hard she deserves an award for that alone.
“Though I cannot predict the future, the consequences of this night will reverberate through the halls of both great covens for many years to come.”
Honorable Mention: Queen Akasha- Queen of the Damned (2002)
14. THE VENGEFUL SPIRIT: Samara Morgan/ Sadako Yamamura- The Ring (2002) / Ringu (1998)
Both iterations of this twitchy crawly ghost girl are supremely scary. Truthfully, I wouldn’t even care if she had no story; just the image of her crawling out of that TV is enough to cement her spot in our collective nightmares and on the list.
“Everyone will suffer.”
Honorable Mention: Kayako- The Grudge (2004)
13. THE GOTH: Wednesday Addams- The Addams Family (1991)
The cute precocious daughter-slash-sociopath of the Addams family, Wednesday is like a goth girl poster-child. The dark comedy of watching a small girl persistently trying to kill her brother during playtime with unblinking nonchalance is sort of the best. Her penchant for the macabre and her icy apathy make her my spirit animal.
“This is my costume. I’m a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else.”
Honorable Mention: Lydia- Beetlejuice (1988)
12. THE WITCH: Sarah Sanderson- Hocus Pocus (1993)
The youngest and blondest sister of everyone’s favorite trio of witches, Sarah is a hilarious ditz and I love her for it. She seems almost too dumb to be evil but proves herself rather insidious when she lures the town’s children toward their deaths with an eerie siren song. Impressive, really. I do empathize with her plight; if I could suck the souls out of children to remain young forever, I probably would, too.
“Come little children, I’ll take thee away / Into a land of enchantment / Come little children, the time’s come to play / Here in my garden of magic.”
Honorable Mention: Miss Eva Ernst / Grand High Witch– The Witches (1990)
11. THE SUCCUBUS: Jennifer Check- Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Jennifer is the perfect, monstrous embodiment of everyone’s bitchy high school frenemy. It’s hard not to hate-love her for trying to literally eat her best friend’s boyfriend.
“Do you buy all your murder weapons at Home Depot? God, you’re butch!”
Honorable Mention: Lily- V/H/S (2012)
10. THE LITTLE GIRL: Claudia- Interview with the Vampire (1994)
What can I say, I think sinister little girls are cool. A vampire turned at a young age, Claudia is doomed to remain in child-form forever. While definitely creepy, she is also really tragic and complex. I can’t imagine anything more frustrating than hanging out with Brad Pitt for 75 years— as a woman trapped in a child’s body.
“Goodnight sweet prince, may flights of devils wing you to your rest.”
Honorable Mention: Eli- Let the Right One In (2008)
9. THE FINAL GIRL: Sidney Prescott- Scream (1996)
I’m going to be controversial and choose Sidney over Laurie Strode as the slasher final girl on the list. Sidney and Scream redefined the “final girl” by acknowledging and challenging horror movie tropes. Sid was sweet, resourceful and terrorized like the rest, but she was also self-aware, intelligent and empowering. Plus, she got to have sex and survive the film, defying years of annoying slasher morality.
“They’re all the same; some killer stalking some big breasted girl who can’t act, who’s always runs up the stairs when she should be going out the front door – it’s insulting.”
Honorable Mention: Laurie Strode- Halloween (1978)
8. THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE SURVIVOR: Selena- 28 Days Later (2002)
Selena is introduced by blowing up a gas station with molotov cocktails to save Cillian Murphy’s character from rage zombies. Not long after that she hacks up her survivor buddy without hesitation when she sees he’s been infected–no effs given. So yeah, Selena is freaking awesome. While Cillian Murphy’s blue eyes seem to soften her somewhat by the films’ end (she’s only human), she remains a tough, solid character.
“You were thinking that you’ll never hear another piece of original music ever again. You’ll never read a book that hasn’t already been written or see a film that hasn’t already been shot.”
Honorable Mention: Alice- Resident Evil (2002)
7. THE BAD GIRL: Ginger Fitzgerald- Ginger Snaps (2000)
Ginger is like the prototype for Jennifer Check only with more werewolves, puberty metaphors and 90s girl power. So basically . . . the best thing ever.
“Wrists are for girls. I’m slitting my throat.”
Honorable Mention: Nancy- The Craft (1996)
6. THE PSYCHO: Annie Wilkes- Misery (1990)
Annie is the original deranged fangirl. She keeps her favorite author captive in her house, which is creepy enough, but it’s Annie’s demeanor that makes her so chilling. She conveys a sense of dread and mental instability through a cherry façade so effectively that Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her performance.
“There is nothing to worry about. You are going to be just fine. I am your number one fan.”
Honorable Mention: La femme- Inside (2007)
5. THE ALPHA: Juno- The Descent (2005)
Easily one of the best horror films of the last 20 years, The Descent actually had a really great all-female cast. While neither the primary protagonist nor antagonist of the film, Juno was the standout character by being a fierce yet flawed badass. Sure, she slept with her best friend’s husband and led her friends on a trip spelunking into an unmarked cave of horrors —but —she always felt like a real and complicated individual. (Her intense survival skills didn’t hurt either.)
“It’ll be fine.”
Honorable Mention: Erin- You’re Next (2011)
4. THE SADIST: Asami Yamazaki- Audition (1999)
Asami is a mysterious young woman who “auditions” to be the protagonist’s new wife. She seems cute and reserved enough but after a few confusing and unsettling peeks into her life you come to realize she is absolutely, holy crap, wtf horrifying. The film is great with building up weird tension and unease, and as for the pay off . . . let’s just say Asami might give Annie Wilkes a run for her money.
“Words create lies. Pain can be trusted.”
Honorable Mention: Mary Mason- American Mary (2012)
3. THE CLASSIC: The Bride- Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
You’ve got to respect your roots. Although The Bride is only in her own film for all of 5 minutes, she is the most iconic female monster of all time. She was also the template for all ghoulish girls to follow like Vampira, Elvira, Morticia Addams, Lily Munster etc. . . and let’s face it, she looks awesome.
*A look of existential horror*
Honorable Mention: Marion Crane –Psycho (1960)
2. THE OUTCAST: Carrie White- Carrie (1976)
Poor Carrie. Victim of bullying, religious fanaticism, and indistinguishable eyebrows, Carrie is by far one of the best female leads in a horror film, ever. Carrie (strictly of the Sissy Spacek variety) manages to be the protagonist and the big bad; she is sympathetic, heartbreaking and absolutely terrifying all at once.
“Breasts, Mama. They’re called breasts, and every woman has them.”
Honorable Mention: May- May (2002)
1. THE BADASS: Ellen Ripley- Alien (1979)
There is no debate. Ripley is, unarguably, the ultimate badass. She starts out as what seems like a secondary character, straight-laced, 3rd in command, but before you know it she takes charge and proves to be the smartest and most kickass alien-thwarting spacewomen you never knew you needed.
“This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.”
Honorable Mention: Buffy Summers- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
Who, in your opinion, is the most iconic lady in horror film history? Hit the comments and let me know!
*For more witty musings and jaw-dropping artwork from Alloy Entertainment designer Elaine Damasco, follow her on twitter at @