Top 10 Fiercest Female Leads in Horror Flicks: Women Who Kick Ass!

Top 10 Fiercest Female Leads in Horror Flicks: Women Who Kick Ass!

Carol J. Clover’s 1992 book Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, is one of the reasons we’ve changed the way we see gender in our modern horror films. The book argues that women have come a long way in the world of horror cinema and the days of the traditional “Final Girl” are changing.

The term “Final Girl” is used to describe the last protagonist (usually a woman) left alive or left vital and is the force of good that comes into a final confrontation against a villain or killer in a horror movie. The final girl is usually snugly, frail, and pure. However, Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film discusses how more recently audiences have been getting female characters who are pure but also not afraid to go pound-for-pound and clobber up against the killer

 With female characters like Sidney Prescott in Wes Craven’s Scream franchise or Jamie Lee Curtis returning as Laurie Strode in the upcoming 2018 Halloween movie, horror is an excellent place to show the power women have when put in leading roles. Final Girls that endure punishment, trauma, and still come out on top give us strong, memorable characters for everyone to look up to. This following list represents those memorable female leads that went beyond the traditional final girl model in horror flicks. These are the Top 10 Fiercest Female Leads in Horror Flicks: Women Who Kick Ass!

Since these women have been labeled as “final” girls, that is implied they survive horrific events and are usually the final one to survive the movie, so, that means SPOILER ALERT.

  1. Lisa Wilcox as Alice Johnson – A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and 5

The clawed dream killer Freddy Krueger has been known to go up against some fierce females on Elm Street. Most horror-hounds are quick to speak of the standard that has been set by one of the strongest female heroines in horror, Nancy Thompson (See # 5). What separates Lisa Wilcox’s Elm Street character Alice Johnson from Nancy is her dream master abilities changed her from a shy persona to one of the few to kick Krueger’s ass twice. Johnson is also pregnant, and when Krueger threatens her baby, Johnson is one Elm Street babe you don’t want to mess with.

  1. Amy Steel as Ginny Field – Friday the 13th Part 2

Out of the Friday, the 13th film franchise, Amy Steel as Ginny Field should be at the top of your list when it comes to final girls in this film franchise. She doesn’t necessarily have to go beast mode to stop the hockey-masked momma’s boy of Jason Voorhees. Field’s is one of the few final girls to show that brains will beat brawns on any day. Field’s is also the first character to use Voorhees’ mommy issues against him…before she plummets a machete through ‘em.

  1. Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling – The Silence of the Lambs

Winning Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Clarice Starling, Foster plays a newbie FBI agent who is still getting the hang of her new job while going to a mental institution to interview Hannibal Lecter. Starling is put to the test to solve mysteries and play the mind games of Hannibal by herself.   The psycho-thriller film won Best Picture, and this role is one of Foster’s most iconic characters.

  1. Shauna MacDonald Sarah Carter – The Descent

Sarah Carter was already a mental and physical badass before being blood-soaked in a cave among friends who became a chow-down meal to ghoulish creatures.  Carter survived the horrific loss of her husband and daughter in a car accident. Her husband was also cheating on her, with her friend Juno. That emotional pain was released with yelling, anger, and rage when she slaughters the cave-dwelling creatures making them wish they would have ordered something else off the menu that day.

  1. Jane Levy as Mia – Evil Dead (2013)

In Fede Alvarez’s re-imagining of Evil Dead, Mia is an unreliable useless ex-drug addict. Her recovering addiction made her the outcast, the weak link, and even the villain of the group. They lockup Mia in a basement during the carnage chaos and Mia goes from weak link to a powerful fighter.

By the end of the film, Mia recovers, revs up her chainsaw, the overconfident demon says, “I’ll feast on your soul,” and Mia replies, “Feast on this mother f*cker.” Blood splatters and blood rain descends from the heavens and a cabin in the woods burns like the souls of Mia’s friends. Mia shows powerful survival instincts, and she even rips off her own arm to stop the evil forces and save the world. Mia is a rare example of an antagonist also becoming the hero. With Mia being in only one movie, I don’t know if it’s fair to compare to Bruce Campbell’s Ash just yet. But I’d love to see Mia and Ash dueling chainsaws.

The following video may be inappropriate, not safe for work, or offensive to some audiences.

  1. Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson – A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Much like Ginny Field’s in Friday the 13th Part 2 Nancy Thompson fights Freddy Krueger more mentally than physically. With all her friends dead, Thompson is left alone to fight off Krueger using series of booby traps and strategies. Nancy even tries to lure out Krueger into reality instead of fighting him in the dream world to have the upper hand on Krueger. She directly attacks Krueger in reality, calling him “nothing,” and standing up to the killer makes her braver than most Final Girls.

  1. Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott – Scream

Sidney Prescott has spent her early adult years fending off killers, including her boyfriend, who all wore the famous Ghostface costume in four of Wes Craven’s Scream films. Prescott continued to be the main target of killers wearing the Ghostface mask along with having to deal with trauma and betrayal. Prescott always managed to come out on top and stronger than before with each film.

  1. Sharni Vinson as Erin Harson – You’re Next

The film You’re Next brilliantly uses old-school horror tropes but breathes new life into what it means to be home invasion slasher. Part of that new life would be Sharni Vinson as Erin Harson. Harson is a great example of an upgraded Final Girl. Harson is the type of girl you’d want in your corner when a quiet family reunion weekend gets invaded by three animal mask wearing killers.

It doesn’t take long for the masked killers to realize that Harson fights back setting traps and utilizing every possible weapon. Raised by her survivalist father in Australia, Harson goes into full survival mode. Even with a surprise twist ending involving a loved one, Harson is still the only one standing tall once the end-credits roll. Harson turns the hunters into the hunted and she is one of my personal favorite Final Girls of all-time and the only one I can remember causing death by a blender.

The following video may be inappropriate, not safe for work, or offensive to some audiences.

  1. Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode – Halloween (1978)

Teenagers and Halloween night were never the same when John Carpenter’s Halloween film released in 1978. Jamie Lee Curtis played teenager Laurie Strode in the original Halloween, Strode is has been dubbed as the original “Scream Queen” and has been an influence being an example as one of the earliest “Final Girls.” She is the perfect mixed bag of innocence, bravery, intelligence, and she proves to be a perfect match up against Michael Myers even up until the latest 2018 Halloween film.


The following videos may be inappropriate, not safe for work, or offensive to some audiences.

  1. Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley – Alien

Ellen Ripley is more than just an iconic Final Girl, Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley is one of the most iconic film characters of all time. She has power over her male-dominated crew, and she is a high standard for strong female leads despite the genre. Originally written as a male character, Ripley is trying to survive an evil Xenomorph alien instead of a psychotic killer.

Much like Laurie Strode, as the film series progressed so did Ripley’s character. Her trauma and fear of the aliens make her relatable for audiences, but her being fierce over fear makes her empowering. In space, you can’t call the police, there aren’t any woods to hide in, and you can’t go to a hospital. Ripley is all alone with only her instincts making her the victor, changing the way we see Final Girls and gender in modern horror films.


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