While female horror villains are a much rarer breed than female horror victims, they are every bit as vicious, manipulative, violent and evil as their male counterparts. Just take a look at my personal top 10 selections below. And perhaps next time when you think of women in horror you won't think of the stereotypical damsel in distress but of these lovely and deadly ladies!
Katharine Isabelle in Ginger Snaps
Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) – Ginger Snaps
I feel weird putting Ginger on a "villain" list because I love this feisty character so much and really feel sympathetic towards her during most of her transformation. However, she veers from sympathetic sexpot to bloodthirsty biotch as soon as she butchers that poor, innocent janitor and goes on to become a (literal) man-eater.
Barbara Steele in Black Sunday
Princess Vajda (Barbara Steele) – Black Sunday (review)
This evil princess vows revenge after being killed for practicing witchcraft and true to her word returns from the dead for vengeance. The stunning Barbara Steele steals the show in this gothic Mario Bava tale, playing both the evil Princess Vajda and her innocent descendant.
Samara in The Ring
Samara (Daveigh Chase) – The Ring
Lesley Gilb in Lemora, A Child's Tale of the Supernatural
Lemora (Lesley Gilb) – Lemora, A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (review)
Not many people have heard of this film, but it is an underrated, fairy-tale-like horror movie that's an analogy to growing up. The vampire Lemora is a frightening character because she is the ultimate corrupter of innocence, and yet she is also very beguiling and charming.
Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed
Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) – The Bad Seed (review)
Childhood and innocence don't always go hand-in-hand, and little Rhoda Penmark is definitely proof of this! This evil child likes getting other people in trouble, causing "accidents" and is generally rotten to the core. Which, of course, is why she is so darn endearing!
Béatrice Dalle in Inside
La Femme (Béatrice Dalle) – Inside (review)
When was the last time I was truly shocked during a film? That'd be the first time I saw Inside a year or two ago. "La Femme" (aka "The Woman") is an absolutely terrifying villain and proof of the brutality that women are capable of. Don't think women can be intense and merciless villains? Check this film out...it will prove you wrong.
Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Baby Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) – What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
An absolute classic performance from the legendary Bette Davis. She makes crazy look so deliciously EVIL!
Eihi Shiina in Audition
Asami (Eihi Shiina) – Audition
Think you'll never find the right mate? Well, whatever you do, don't hold "auditions" to find a girlfriend/boyfriend and have them find out that they "auditioned" for the part of your significant other. Or you just might find yourself at the wrong end of a piano wire that can cut through flesh and bone easily. I'll never forget the "Kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri!" sounds Asami makes...
Angela Bettis in May
May Dove Canady (Angela Bettis) – May
Poor misunderstood May...all she wanted was some friends to play with! This is another character who I absolutely love and don't really think of as a "villain". How can you not love a girl who reads anatomy books for fun and gets to make out with Jeremy Sisto AND Anna Faris?
Mater Suspiriorum (Suspiria), Mater Tenebrarum (Inferno), Mater Lachrymarum (Mother of Tears)
The Three Mothers (Mater Suspiriorum, the Mother of Sighs, Mater Tenebrarum, the Mother of Darkness/Shadows and Mater Lachrymarum, the Mother of Tears) from Argento’s "Mothers" trilogy (Suspira, Inferno, Mother of Tears)
Technically, this should count as three separate villains, but since they are all part of the same trilogy (and I do what I want!) I'm counting them as one. These three witches have been around for millennium before being released in each of the three films above. The Mother of Sighs (Mater Suspiriorum) is the oldest and wisest, residing in Germany before dance student Suzy Banyon (Jessica Harper) defeats her in Suspiria. The Mother of Darkness (Mater Tenebrarum) is the youngest and cruelest, residing in New York City until defeated in Inferno. However, the most powerful and most beautiful is the Mother of Tears, Mater Lachrymarum, who resides in Rome until her undoing at the hands of Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento) in Mother of Tears.
Honorable mention: Marie (Cécile De France) - Haute Tension, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) - Misery, the villain in Tale of Two Sisters (to avoid spoilers, I won't give her name), the Merrye women in Spider Baby, the killer in Alice, Sweet Alice, Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) in Carrie, Mum (Elizabeth Moody) from Dead Alive, Angela (Amelia Kinkade) from Night of the Demons, Muffy/Buffy (Deborah Foreman) from April Fool's Day, the Bride of Frankenstein (though I don't really consider her a villain), Mary Lou from the Prom Night sequels, and, just for kicks, Serial Mom (Kathleen Turner)! I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch here...
Question: Who are your favorite female horror villains?