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
40. Juno (Natalie Mendoza) | The Descent (2005)
Juno may not be the central figure of The Descent, but she is easily the most memorable from a group of lady thrillseekers. Juno is as strong physically as she is weak emotionally. She misleads her friends on what was supposed to be a boring cave diving expedition but ends up turning horrifically deadly. As much as you despise some of her actions, it is tough not to admire how much of a badass she is.
39. Heather (Heather Donahue) | The Blair Witch Project (1999)
This is entry is simply based on a two and a half minute monologue where you don’t even get to see the character’s entire face. Heather was just another college kid on an expedition to make a documentary about the famed Blair Witch. She is pretty much an average character that doesn’t offer anything special until we get her teary-eyed and snot bubble filled monologue or better yet, confessional. That shot of Heather would become iconic and parodied a million times over since the 1999 release. She went from a bland character to an every person filled with remorse who poured her heart and soul out in what could have been her last moments.
38. Trash (Linnea Quigley) | The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
If you were a young horror fiend in the 80s, then Trash made an impression on you for, ahem, multiple reasons. One, your eyes instantly gravitate toward her the moment she is on screen because of her red-haired punk rock look that was so 80s. Next, she is just a great character in a great horror movie who just so happens to be a twisted exhibitionist that dreams of meeting her fate by being ripped apart by dirty old men. Trash is fascinated by death and the afterlife. That fascination gets her hot. So hot, she needs to rip off her clothes and dance naked through a cemetery like there’s no tomorrow.
37. Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) | A Quiet Place (2018)
There all kinds of different types of moms on this list, but none are badass enough to go through labor and step on a nail without making a sound. Evelyn Abbott is a loving wife and mom stuck in a horrible world overtaken by noise sensing monsters just waiting for someone to cough or sneeze to be able to pounce and rip them to shreds. She, along with her husband, was able to help most of her family survive the monsters by being silent and strong. She also does her best to give her kids as normal of a life as possible considering the circumstances. One of the toughest movie moms of all time.
36. Wendy (Shelley Duvall) | The Shining (1980)
If there was ever a visual representation of trauma on screen, it would be Wendy Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Shelley Duvall plays the dutiful wife to an abusive husband who stands by her man as long as she can when he begins to descend into utter madness. Her wide-eyed looks of horror throughout The Shining showcased Duvall’s amazing talent. Jack Nicholson’s performance usually gets most of the spotlight, but Duvall was the perfect opposite to help make The Shining one of the greatest horror movies of all time.
35. Katie (Katie Featherston) | Paranormal Activity Franchise
Katie became one of the driving forces behind the box office juggernaut horror franchise, Paranormal Activity. She started off as a fun and personable person that we cared about and didn’t want to see anything bad happen to her. She was a loving girlfriend and sister but then she began to change and become something different. Maybe because she was possessed or something. Katie would be a central figure throughout the franchise.
34. The Coven (Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True) | The Craft (1996)
When these four come together, it is all at once dangerous and beautiful. This cult hit from the 90s personifies the struggles of being a teenage girl, while also dealing with heavy subjects such as death, racism, broken homes, low self-worth, and abusive men. But, when working together as a unit for the greater good, their spiritual powers can overcome all. Girls of the 90s were able to connect with at least one of these characters in some way while dealing with the horrors of high school.
33. Kayako Saeki (Takako Fuji) | Ju-on (The Grudge) Franchise
Horror fans are quite familiar with The Grudge, a Japanese remake of the popular hit Ju-on. The story’s about an American family who’ve moved to Japan — but their home is haunted by the powerful supernatural spirit. Takako Fuji plays the ghost, Kayako, perfectly. And fans loved The Grudge so much that she’s since played the same character at least six times.
Why do fans love the character of Kayako and the story of the film so much? “People’s feelings are into it. I think that’s something new to America. I think that’s maybe what makes it scary,” says Fuji.
32. Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) | Hellraiser Franchise
Hellraiser came around at a time when slashers where slashers dominated horror and Clive Barker gave us something different. The focus of the series may have been on the Cenobites, specifically Pinhead, but Kirsty was there a strong foe for multiple entries of the franchise. She was one of the only characters to outwit Pinhead himself.
31. Queen Xenomorph | Alien Franchise
In a hive, there is one dominant being that is larger and more intelligent than all the drones and warriors. That is the Queen. The Queen is mother to all the hive and will fiercely protect her children. The Queen Xenomorph is no different and is a force to be reckoned with in the Alien franchise as she and her hive could wipe out all of humanity. She is massively terrifying and one of the greatest movie monsters of all time.
50-41 | 30-21
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!