Let's face it, females play a vital role in horror films, whether they are being chased by the killer or are the villain themselves, they are necessary. I recently did a list of my top 10 favorite slashers, and they were all male, so I thought it was time to give the leading ladies of horror a bit of recognition. This list is 100% personal opinion. Here are my top 20 favorite female horror leads.
20) Mary Henry (Carnival of Souls 1962)
Played by Candace Hilligoss, Mary was a drag-racing organ player plagued by everything from a ghoul to a scumbag neighbor. She manages to escape her own death more than once, and even stumbles away from a pretty nasty car accident without so much as a scrape.
19) Marion Crane (Psycho 1960)
A thief with the looks of an angel who made off with $40,000 of her employer's money ending up at the wrong motel. Not only was the character well written, Marion made cinematic history by not only showering and being murdered in the nude, but she was the first to flush a toilet on screen. Crane also had one of the best death scenes of any horror movie.
18) Mandy Lane (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane 2006)
Going from being the bullied outcast to the girl that every guy in school drooled over, Mandy Lane was one sweet faced chick you didn't want to mess with. She could get anyone to do anything she wanted and that included murdering her "friends". She's like a black widow, she's pretty to look at, but she will kill you in the end whether by her own hand or seducing someone into doing it for her.
17) Brigitte Fitzgerald (Ginger Snaps 2000)
Gore obsessed introverted sister of the more extroverted Ginger, Brigitte is an amazing horror lead. Not only did she deal with school bullies, but her sister gets transformed into an oversexed werewolf and she was forced to find a way to stop her. She was smart and a character that most girls can relate to. She was a fearless heroine by the end of the film.
16) Angela (Sleepaway Camp 1983)
Oh what an interesting character Angela is. Let's try to break this down, Felissa is a girl playing a girl that is actually a boy? Whew that was hard to follow. Angela is on this list for a couple of reasons 1, the depth of her/his character and 2, the uniqueness of her/his kills and the role in general. She/he was the perfect psycho, overly happy, but she would gladly stab you in the face.
15) Laurie Strode (Halloween 2007)
I like to call her Laurie 2.0, she's a fresh take on Jamie Lee Curtis' 1978 original. Scout's Laurie had a bit more spunk to her than the original. A lot of people are not fans, but I am. Rob's take on the original babysitter stalked by the loony in a mask was phenomenal. Love her or hate her, she's incredible.
14) Stevie Wayne (The Fog 1980)
First of all, shame on the remake for sticking such an awesome and well vital character in the background. Since you can't exactly decapitate or blow up fog, Stevie's broadcasts were crucial to staying ahead of the crisis making her a pretty important character. Oh, I think she's a wizard, somehow she was cool enough to keep broadcasting after the power went out, ah movie magic.
13) Kirsty Cotton (Hellraiser 1987)
Kirsty's life is a bit like a more terrifying Cinderella story. Her wicked stepmother is a murderous psycho trying to bring her ex-lover back from the dead. She is on this list because she was able to outsmart one of horror's most notorious slashers. She was able to put Pinhead back in the box by herself.
12) Sidney Prescott (Scream 1996)
An America's sweetheart, everyday high school student, Sidney is faced with some seriously messed up situations. She loses her virginity to her boyfriend which is enough to make a teenage girl crazy, but her boyfriend just so happens to be a huge nutbag with a twisted obsession for horror films. Her friends get brutally murdered one by one, but she still doesn't crack. She becomes a real heroine at the end when she shoots her boyfriend in the head with zero hesitation.
11) Sally Hardesty (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974)
Sally is not what I would call a character that was built to go through hell and back with a crazy cannibalistic family, but she made it. She went through some of the most intense torture and all she wanted was a peaceful road trip with her friends. Through a lot of luck and some awesome cardio, Sally was the only survivor, a true final girl.
10) Jamie Lloyd (Halloween 4 1988)
The unsuspecting niece of Michael Myers who is led to believe that her parents where killed in a car accident, which we learn in H20 is a lie. She may have only been 10 years old, but she could fend off a killer. Her character arch was phenomenal, she spends most of the movie as the screaming damsel in distress, but by the end proves that even the sweet little ones are not immune to the crazy that runs through the Myers' blood.
9) Carrie White (Carrie 1976)
Carrie White is the ultimate anti-bullying spokesperson, don't mess with the quiet girl, she may have telekinetic powers and she may kill you. The classic tale of the sweet, shy girl pushed too far. Oh, and did I mention she set the gym on fire with her mind?
8) Tina Shepard (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood 1988)
Another lady with telekinetic powers, she had a pretty hard start. She accidentally killed her own father then she gets drug to the middle of nowhere by her mom and quack of a psychologist. She gave Jason a lot more than most other final girls in the franchise, and she was the most intriguing of the bunch.
7) Erin (You're Next 2011)
A family dinner gone wrong is a huge understatement. What the intruders didn't count on was the beautiful Erin being a survival expert. She is the unexpected heroine. The brutality she lets loose on them is insane. Not to mention, she's highly intelligent.
6) Irena (The Cat People 1942)
She has one of the darkest secrets of all. She's beautiful, but don't give in because she will turn into a vicious, killer cat. She does end up marrying, but it doesn't end well, she turns into a panther to scare off her husband's new girlfriend.
5) Alice Hardy (Friday the 13th 1980)
She's sweet until you kill her friends, then she'll cut your head off with your own machete. She took down the villain that started a franchise, Pamela Voorhees. Because of what she did, the franchise was born with the iconic killer we all know and love, Jason Voorhee. She was also the first and only final girl to see young Jason in the lake, and from that experience had one of the most iconic lines from the franchise, "But- then, he's still out there".
4) Pamela Voorhees (Friday the 13th 1980)
A vengeful mother with a murderous mean streak. Is she really a psychopath or just a grieving mother? Either way, Pamela Voorhees was the first killer in one of the best franchises to ever hit the big screen.
3) Laurie Strode (Halloween 1978)
The original babysitter being chased by the madman, this timid heroine is not to be tangled with. Besides the fact that she seems to be able to outrun big brother Michael, she can make a weapon out of pretty much any household item. She is the final girl to make it through the most sequels.
2) Nancy Thompson (A Nightmare On Elm Street 1984)
She goes from girl next door to the main target of Freddy Krueger fairly quickly. After her friends are killed off one by one by Krueger, she single-handedly brought Freddy out of her nightmare and defeated him through a series of brilliant booby traps. Although she was killed off in Dream Warriors, she's still pretty badass in my book.
1) Regan MacNeil (The Exorcist 1973)
Regan is the symbol of all that is terrifying. She begins the film as a sweet, innocent little girl only to become the most vile villain in cinematic history. Regan and the film still strike fear into the hearts of all that dare to watch The Exorcist putting her at the top of the list.
I know there are a lot more amazing female leads in horror, but these are my personal favorites, and this list would be endless if I included all of the greats. Let me know some of your favorites below.