Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Top 10 Female Horror Villains

When people think of females in horror films they usually imagine a woman running away from a killer, usually stumbling as she screams for the help that will never arrive. In your mind's eye she is probably scantily clad (pervs!) and usually makes boneheaded decisions while trying to escape the killer. Most women in horror films experience graphic, violent deaths...unless, of course, they are the ones perpetrating them!!

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

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

I'm not ashamed to admit that this film scared the holy you-know-what outta me when it first came out and is one of the few remakes that actually improves upon its predecessor. And Samara, whoooo wheee...well, who hasn't had nightmares about her crawling out of that TV?

 Lesley Gilb in Lemora, A Child's Tale of the Supernatural

Lemora (Lesley Gilb) – Lemora, A Child's Tale of the Supernatural

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

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

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?


  1. Great list. If Hollywood ever remade Audition or Inside who in the world would play La Femme or Asami? You know it would be completely wrong.

  2. Great list! Glad you included Ginger and May in there, I think May is an often overlooked film and I LOVE the Ginger Snaps films! Betty Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?...she was sooo great in that!
    Dreaded Dreams
    Petunia Scareum

  3. I think I may have to do a list like this. You put some great choices. Although I think it could have used a bit of Pamela Voorhees and Margaret White. And Fairuza Balk from The Craft as well. But it's hard to choose between 10.

  4. I scared the living shit out of my friend after she watched The Ring for the first time. As she left the theater, I went to a pay phone, called her up and said: "SEVEN DAYS!" in the creepiest voice I could. Hahahaha! She just about pissed her pants. I actually made her cry, LOL!

    Samara will always hold a special place in my heart just for that! :D

  5. Oh, I loved this. I'm particularly pleased you included Bette Davis, I love her. Fantastic post.

  6. Don't kill me for watching comedy, but what about Wendsday Adams?? She used to be my little sister's role model... now it's Ppolly Pocket...

  7. LOVE Wednesday! But, ya, she's disqualified since Addams Family is comedy. Perhaps I should do a list of favorite spooky female characters that aren't in the horror genre...Wednesday would definitely be on top of that list! :)


    1. Hello? Have you seen the end of that movie? I wouldn't put that character under a "female" banner, if ya know what I mean...LOL!!!

  9. Great post :) I loved the Mother from 'Sleepwalkers.' She was like a much cooler and scarier 'cat woman'. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MDUbjbTZos

  10. Mary from the movie "American Mary", Lola from "The Loved Ones", Erika from "Red, White and Blue", Esther from "Orphan", Mandy from "All the boys love Mandy Lane", Alyce (some title for the movie)...Gabriela

    1. Ya, except none of those movies were out yet at the time this article was written. Definitely loved Mary from American Mary and Lola from The Loved Ones.

  11. Came across this and enjoyed it, but wanted to point out that the witch in the middle for the Three Mothers picture is the same as the one on the right; the character had a much smaller role in Inferno before her taking center stage in Mother of Tears, and since it was made a few decades later, they obviously got a younger actress to portray her. The main witch in that one is the one that turns into the grim reaper creature at the climax.

  12. Thanks for the list! I have a Friday the 13th costume b'day party I am going to. It is horror film villains but I dont want to be a boy villain I want to be a girl one!


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