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
60. Zelda (Andrew Hubatsek) | Pet Sematary (1989)
If you watched the original Pet Sematary, especially as a kid, you remember Zelda. She was easily the creepiest thing from that movie that left a spinetingling impression on all viewers. Relegated mostly to flashbacks, Zelda was the Goldstein family’s dirty little secret. Older sister to then 8-year-old Rachel, Zelda suffered from spinal meningitis, a disease that caused Zelda’s spine to painfully deform as she wasted away in the back bedroom physically and mentally.
The practical effects used only amplified her creepiness and here is the kicker, she was played by a man. Andrew’s voice and physicality helped make Zelda into pure nightmare fuel.
59. Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith) | Saw (Franchise)
Saw is about a killer named Jigsaw, played wonderfully by Tobin Bell, who would make his victims go through a series of brutal tests. If they failed they died but if they were able to survive, his hope was they show a greater appreciation for life. Enter Amanda Young. She was a victim of playing one of his games and she was the first survivor.
She would end up playing one of Jigsaw’s evil games a second time or so that’s how it would seem. Shawnee Smith would play Amanda with great ability to go from sympathetic victim to a heinous culprit in Jigsaw evil master plan. She would go on to prove to be a loyal follower wanting to take over as Jigsaw’s successor.
58. Patricia Arquette (Kristen Parker) | A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
It had been established that Freddy Krueger owned the nightmare world. When he was able to trap someone in their dreams, he was in charge of everything the setting, the noises, and his powers. Because of this, he would toy around with his victims before slicin and dicin. That was until he met the Dream Warriors led by Kristen. She would start out as a quiet and somewhat awkward individual who would begin having troubling nightmares.
She would soon learn that she could manipulate her own powers in the dream world to combat the burnt menace along with helping others realize the dream potential. She would go toe to toe with Freddy in his world surviving and making a big impact on the entire Nightmare series.
57. Jay (Maika Monroe) | It Follows (2014)
Aww, young love. Nothing says romance like a young man wining and dining you before he slips you his death herpes. Poor Jay, the shy and awkward girl who was falling for a really great guy. They had a magical night until she woke up tied to a wheelchair in an abandoned building. “Do you see?!” Sorry, wrong movie. Maika Monroe plays Jay as a vulnerable but tough chick hell-bent on not letting this sexually transmitted demon get the best of her.
56. Megan (Jennifer Cooke) | Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Most of the ladies in the Friday the 13th series are usually running around screaming their heads off looking for a place to hide or some big strong man to save them. Not this little spitfire who is looking for a bad boy and a good time…fighting Jason. Get your mind out of the gutters. She isn’t the typical final girl. Megan has definitely made some questionable choices but has a good heart. She is willing to take on her sheriff dad, break out the “bad guy”, take on Jason, and save the children all while having a good time in her sweet 1975 Chevrolet Camaro. It is hard not to fall in love with Megan as Jennifer Cooke gives us one of the best characters from this franchise.
55. Rose (Allison Williams) | Get Out (2017)
Rose Armitage starts off as a sweet and innocent girlfriend who is supportive of her man and fights against injustice. That is until she can’t find the damn keys and becomes a stone-cold sociopath! I mean, eating one piece of dry cereal at a time while sipping milk through a straw isn’t normal, right? We learn that this cool and diverse chick persona is all a facade to lure black men (and at least one woman) to be imprisoned and body-snatched for the benefit of older, rich, white clients. Allison Williams played the first part so well that her turn was still a shock whether you saw it coming or not.
54. Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) | The Conjurverse
The Conjuring took the horror world by storm in 2013 not only for its scares but also because of how well it was made. To go along with the well-crafted film and its creepy atmosphere, was a strong demonologist Lorraine Warren. Based on the real-life paranormal investigator, Lorraine would fight off all sorts of evil forces and be one of the central heroes of The Conjuring franchise. Her strength and selflessness would be some of her strengths that would endure herself with fans of the series.
53. Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) | The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Ever since The Exorcist took the horror world by storm in 1973, we have seen numerous exorcisms and actors portraying being possessed. Jennifer Carpenter’s performance is the best hands down. There are more iconic and scarier performances but Carpenter’s portrayal of Emily Rose being possessed is some of the best physical acting ever done. Even before special effects are introduced into her being possessed, the way she was able to contort her body and facial expressions was freaky good. Carpenter gave Emily Rose depth from being the sweet and innocent country to a maniacal entity possessed by six demons. This is an often-overlooked character and performance.
52. Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie) | House of a 1000 Corpses (2003), The Devil’s Rejects (2005), 3 From Hell (2019)
There are deranged killers and then there is Baby Firefly. She likes to entice men with her sex appeal and then rip their hearts out. Literally. The way she plays mind games and taunts her victims is terrifying along with her unhinged laughter. We see Baby go from seemingly evil seductress drawing in victims for her maniacal family to a cold-blooded slasher alongside her brother Otis. Rob Zombie casting his wife in every one of his movies is pretty polarizing but all fans of horror can see how great of a character Baby truly is and that is thanks in most part Sheri Moon’s performance.
51. Chris Macneil (Ellen Burstyn) | The Exorcist (1973)
There are not many things worse for a mother than to see her child suffering and not be able to do anything about it. Chris is trying to juggle an acting career while being a single mom when her world gets flipped upside down after her 12-year-old daughter begins acting extremely bizarre. Ellen Burstyn’s portrayal of this loving but frazzled character has become one of the most iconic horror moms in history.
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!