Sorry for the lack of post yesterday, my friends. Life is a tiny bit crazy right now. But I’m back with a vengeance today to talk about one of my favorite elements of scary movies: the horror heroine. Now when I say “horror heroine,” I’m not talking about the half-naked slutty chicks that get slaughtered in the first third of so many awful gorefests or the clumsy, brain-dead innocents who walk home by themselves at night and trip a million times when the killer begins to chase them. No, I’m here to discuss the ladies who take charge—the ones who fight back and face their fears and shake things up. Men and women alike, I think we can all agree that if our lives ever became a horror movie, these are the brave, clear-headed, kickass heroines we’d want to emulate.
#10: Laura (The Orphanage)
The Orphanage has been one of my favorite horror movies for a long time (and you can read a little about why here), which undoubtedly has something to do with brave, resourceful mother Laura (Belén Rueda). Laura may not make some of the best decisions throughout the movie, but you have to admire her determination and her willingness to do absolutely anything to find out what’s happened to her lost son. She’s pretty fearless. I mean, would you be willing to play toca la pared with a bunch of creepy ghost kids? No doubt, Laura has earned her spot on here.
#9: Sidney (Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4)
Poor Sidney (Neve Campbell). She has to deal with a masked villain in not one, not two, and not even three, but four films (see me talk about the first one here). If I’m being honest, I haven’t seen the fourth film…but I think I get the idea. Basically, like several other ladies on this list, Sidney is the ultimate survivor. I mean, while bodies drop all around her, Sidney survives four separate serial killers. You gotta be tough to get through that. Plus, this all began after the rape and murder of her mother…so yeah. She goes through some stuff. But she’s bound and determined to go on with her life, and so she does. Again…and again…and again. Kudos to you, Sid.
#8: Ofelia (Pan’s Labyrinth)
Pan’s Labyrinth (reviewed in the same spot as The Orphanage above) is a sad, beautiful, haunting film that will stick with you long after you watch it. And you’ll never forget brave little Ofelia (Ivana Baquero). When she’s offered a chance at a better life for her and her family in a magical underground kingdom, she eagerly accepts the challenges she must face to earn her place there. Her challenges aren’t easy—they’re difficult, scary, and downright life-threatening. But Ofelia doesn’t let that (or her brutal new stepfather) faze her. She powers through, completing the challenges as best as she can and protecting the people she loves. Little heroine, big guts.
#7: Laurie (Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween H2O: 20 Years Later, Halloween: Resurrection)
Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) may be one of the most old-school heroines on this list, but that doesn’t make her any less awesome—especially because she has to deal with the almost supernatural force that is Michael Myers, who proceeds to stalk her for a long freaking time. While I haven’t seen the sequels, I have seen the first Halloween (which I mention here), and even in that first film, Laurie has way too much to deal with. While her friends are dying around her, she’s trying to protect herself and two kids from a murderous psychopath. With that kind of responsibility, she isn’t afraid to get a little stabby. Laurie, you do what you gotta do, girl.
#6: Selena (28 Days Later)
28 Day Later (which I mention in the Scream link above) is one of my all-time favorite zombie/infection films, and spunky Selena (Naomie Harris) is easily one of my favorite horror heroines. She can come off as a little cold sometimes—I mean, she doesn’t hesitate to machete a friend to death whenever he becomes infected with the rage virus. But she does what she has to do to survive, and she’s pivotal to the survival of leading man Jim (Cillian Murphy), too. She’s tough as nails and reluctant to make friends, but once she’s on someone’s side, she makes for a pretty formidable ally.
#5: Sarah (The Descent, The Descent: Part 2)
I can’t speak for The Descent: Part 2 since I haven’t seen it, but what I love about the first Descent (which you can read about here) is that it’s a total girl power movie. The group of ladies in this film may be surrounded by some of the most terrifying, lethal creatures you’ve ever seen, but none of them hesitate to strike back—least of all Sarah (Shauna Macdonald), who gets downright primal. She uses bones and rocks and pickaxes and whatever she can get her hands on to beat the creatures (and occasionally a person…yikes) to a bloody pulp. The way she flips the switch from civilized human being to brutal warrior is, frankly, amazing. Mad respect.
#4: Nancy (A Nightmare on Elm Street, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors)
Does A New Nightmare count here? I’m a little confused about that story because I read about it, but I haven’t seen it. Whatever. Either way, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) is the undisputed queen of Elm Street (which you can read about in the same link where I mention Laurie of Halloween). Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) makes it his mission to hunt down this poor girl in her dreams, but she fights him at every turn. She’s pretty feisty. And when she realizes she can’t beat Freddy in his world, she boldly drags him into her own. Like pretty much all of the ladies on here, Nancy goes through some serious stuff and is pretty resourceful along the way. And you know what? She kicks ass even after severe sleep deprivation. More power to you, Nance.
#3: Clarice (The Silence of the Lambs)
Surprised to see Clarice (Jodie Foster) this far down of the list? That should be a testament to how awesome the top two are. Many of you may already know of my fondness for Clarice from this post about iconic female characters and possibly various other times I’ve mentioned The Silence of the Lambs (again, see the Scream link), but I couldn’t resist bringing her up again. I think this gal is just the best. She may be small in stature (as you’ll see in the scenes when she’s dwarfed by her male colleagues), but she’s tough and smart and resourceful and everything a proper horror heroine should be. I mean, she keeps her cool while chatting up a cannibalistic genius, and she handles a murderous psycho like a pro. If these aren’t the qualities of a complete badass, then I clearly don’t understand the word.
#2: Erin (You’re Next)
Erin (Sharni Vinson) is a relative newcomer to the world of horror heroines, but my God is she a great addition. As soon as she began to show her true colors the first time I saw You’re Next, I realized she was going to become one of my favorites. You see, Erin had a pretty unusual childhood. Growing up in an Australian survivalist compound has made her a little…different. But definitely not in a bad way. Her upbringing has made her into a sharp, ruthless foe. While masked men lurk about waiting to kill her boyfriend’s family, Erin’s survival instincts kick into overdrive. She takes charge, scouring the house to lock all the doors and windows, gather weapons, and set some of the wickedest traps you’ve ever seen. She’s amazing. When you see her in action, you will never look at a blender the same way again…
#1: Ripley (Alien, Aliens, Alien³, Alien: Resurrection)
Like anyone else was going to get the top spot. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is undoubtedly the queen of horror heroines. I mean, have you seen the woman with a flamethrower?? Nobody can top that. While I haven’t seen Alien³ or Alien: Resurrection yet, I have seen Alien (mentioned in the same post as The Descent), and I actually just watched Aliens for the first time not too long ago (which you’ll be able to read about very soon). In both of those films, Ripley is perfect. She boldly takes charge in dangerous situations, and she always seems to know the right thing to do. Yet even with her supreme awesomeness, she always feel like a real character—someone with a brain and a sense of humor and nightmare-inducing fears and even maternal instincts under all that toughness. It’s why I love her. Bow down to Ripley. We are not worthy.
How about it—would any of these ladies be on your top 10 list? Who else would you include? There are so many awesome options out there…