February has been designated as Women in Horror Month, so I thought a great way to celebrate this year is by ranking some of the best female characters in horror movie history.
When most people think of women in horror, they may picture the dumb big-haired bimbo running around screaming being absolutely useless as viewers scream at her common-sense tips for surviving the terror she is in. However, with a closer look, you will realize that horror is filled with a variety of female characters from those completely useless damsels in distress to the badass final girls who dish out as much punishment as the big bad that’s chasing them. Strong, smart, and sexy just barely scratch the surface when describing many of these ladies. Also, we have some stone-cold killers that give Jason, Freddy, and Michael a run for their money as they slash, maim and murder their way through their own victims.
Come and celebrate all sorts of female characters with me as we count down the 100 Greatest Female Characters in Horror history!
* Be cautious of spoilers below
100. Elizabeth/Frakenhooker (Patty Mullen) | Frankenhooker (1990)
Who doesn’t want to see a lost loved one at least one more time? Especially after losing them to a tragic event like being chopped up by a remote-controlled lawnmower. Well, Jeffery doesn’t want to only see his deceased girlfriend, he wants to resurrect her and the only way he can is by using body parts of prostitutes. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Frankenhooker.
Once this previously innocent and sweet girl is brought back to life, the hooker parts take over and she can only repeat phrases from the ladies of the night. “Wanna date? Got any money?” You know, the classics. She is just a working girl walking the streets doing what she knows best, but don’t worry, Frankenhooker and feminism win in the end.
99. Kim Bok-nam (Seo Young-hee) | Bedevilled (2010)
Bok-nam is a desperate woman at the end of her rope. She was left behind as her best friend went off to the city and ignored her letters which were cries for help. She is treated like a slave by her abusive husband and the women of her village. She plans to save her daughter and take her away to the city, but during a struggle with her husband and his goons, her daughter is killed.
*Morgan Freeman voice* “It was at this point, they realized, they had royally screwed the pooch.” Bok-nam snapped by going on a murderous rampage with a sickle, cutting down all who had wronged her. Vengeance would be hers and all that made her suffer would pay the ultimate price.
98. Rhonda LeBeck (Finn Carter) | Tremors (1990)
The formidable Graboids were no match for cuteness and brains. Case in point, Rhonda successfully outwitting them at every turn helping save Val’s bacon a time or two. (Get it? I’ll see my self out.) Rhonda is a grad student studying seismology when all hell breaks loose and she has to use not only her learning but some street skills to survive these vicious land sharks. She not only does this but also gets the guy too. A real woman’s woman.
97. Dwarf Killer (Adelina Poerio) | Don’t Look Now (1973)
Most people point to Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter as a character to have maximum impact with minimal use. At 16 minutes of screen time, Hopkins won the Oscar for his menacing portrayal of the cannibal doctor. But that is no match for the impact made on a generation of horror fans as this entry’s on-screen time was a whopping 30 seconds out of a 110-minute film.
The Dwarf Killer reigned terror throughout the movie of Don’t Look Now, as a mere whisper while going on a killing spree in the streets of Venice. During the film, we see glimpses of the red coat terror but we are made to believe she is just visions of a grief-stricken father seeing his deceased daughter. However, when we meet finally meet the person in the red coat we get one of the biggest twists in movie history. In that short amount of time, the Dwarf Killer was etched into a horror legend.
96. Marie (Cécile de France) | High Tension (2003)
Forget the logistical issues of the film, Marie helped usher in the wave of New French Extremity with a brutal and gory film where she is both damsel in distress and vicious killer in 2003’s Alexander Aja’s Haute Tension. We see her have fantasies about her friend Alex, “survive” the killer and become a maniacal monster herself in the name of lesbian love and dissociative identity disorder. When her personality splits, she murders everyone in her way except for the object of her affection, her friend Alex. The scene of Marie running around with the cement saw is as badass as it gets.
95. Nola Carveth (Samantha Egger) | The Brood (1979)
Nola don’t need no man and his villainous serpent penis to have babies. No, all she needs is her anger and that anger is fertile. Manifesting an entire group of murderous dwarf clones through her exo-womb (I don’t know if that’s what it’s called) created by her hatred, has given her own gang to wreak havoc on anything causing her stress. Like her ex-husband and washing dishes. I’m gonna go hide now.
94. Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) | The Bad Seed (1956)
Those are the eyebrows of a killer if I ever did see one. Rhoda is a murderous and sociopathic 8-year-old whose inherent evil is, well, inherited. She views murder as a necessary means to protect her villainous ways and because it’s a little fun. Dogs, the elderly and kids her age have all met their fate at her hands. She tries to prance around like a delicate little flower till the live-in gardener sees through her facade. So of course, Rhoda dispatches him and not even her own mother could stop her path of destruction. She gives Damien a run for his money in the evil department.
93. Maddie (Kate Siegel) | Hush (2016)
We have seen home invasion movies before by the time 2016’s Hush and it is no different for the viewer as we yell at the screen to instruct the unsuspected victim, but this one really can’t hear you. What helped set this movie apart is that the final girl is deaf. The villain toys with his prey as he learns of her disability (or handicapableness?) and she must fight off this masked intruder by overcoming a sadistic killer but her inability to hear as well.
Maddie shows a lot of grit and smarts as she goes toe to toe with the intruder by not only taking a licking but dishing out her own damage as well. Maddie is one tough cookie that isn’t defined or hindered by her disability.
92. Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) | Orphan (2009)
*Extra Spoiler Alert* Orphan isn’t particularly a good movie. It is essentially a ripoff of the above movie The Bad Seed but with one massive twist that saves it from horror obscurity. Esther seems like your normal evil 9-year-old Russian kid that was adopted by an unlucky couple that you have all seen at your local Whole Foods. She gets into all kinds of mischief like knowing a little too much about sex for a 9-year-old and bludgeoning a nun with a hammer. You know, a normal Saturday afternoon but what we all don’t know is Esther, and here’s the shocker, she is a 33-year-old woman with a disorder that has stunted her growth. She has gone around most of her life pretending to be a kid in order to manipulate and kill. Young actress Isabelle Fuhrman does a phenomenal job here in this role.
91. Sarah (Alexandra Essoe) | Starry Eyes (2014)
This is your typical story of an aspiring actress trying to make it in the big world of Hollywood where she is willing to sell her soul and of course, be taken advantage of by old men all in the quest for fame. Sarah starts off as your generic wanna be actress working at a dead-end job with no prospects of making it big. That is until she gets the big break she has been looking for but only after she does more auditioning on the casting couch. She does. Willingly. And what comes next is the price of selling your soul.
Alexandra Essoe does a tremendous job of playing Sarah as a more mature and realistic aspiring starlet but does her best work as Sarah’s behavior becomes erratic and her body begins to deteriorate. We witness her beautiful hair and nails begin to fall out and vomiting of maggots. Sarah is a tragic tale wanting fame no matter the cost but also the system that is willing to take advantage of that desire.
What do you think of the selection so far? Who are some of your favorite female horror characters? Maybe they will show up further on the list!