Horror movies have often been described as sexist, due to the fact that its female stars can often be seen parading around in a state of undress right before they are slain.
I can kinda see where this opinion is coming from, especially with slasher movies, but to sit judging this type of film on something that offends you makes as much sense as sitting through this exact movie genre with a predisposition to be offended by violence or jump scares. It makes little sense. I don’t enjoy Rom-Coms. The notion that two mismatched characters are forced into a situation that ultimately arrives at a point in a movie where they inevitably fall in love offends the fuck out of me. I can feel a swell of vomit in my stomach just writing about it.
What the accusers of these movies seem to overlook is that typically, long after all the male characters have been killed off, the movie ends with a showdown between the assailant and a strong, tenacious female, or as horror fans know them, a final girl.
Teenagers are raging hormones on legs. It isn’t too much of a stretch of the imagination to accept that when a group of them go camping, they are going to spend the weekend making the beast with two backs. I was a teenager once and I know that sex occupies the brain 99% of the time.
The final girl usually has something else going on. Either a past trauma or simply that she is too shy and nerdy to want to jump the bones of every guy she sees. It’s usually this lack of sexual distraction that saves her from a grizzly end and allows her the forethought to survive these horrific situations.
Whatever your take on the sexual politics of slasher movies, final girls have become as much a staple of the genre as the masked psychos that hunt them down.
So, that being said, let’s take a look at my top 10 Final Girls…
10: Maddie Young (Kate Siegel)
First appearance: Hush (2016)
Favourite Quote: “…”
Imagine being alone and isolated in a house in the woods with a masked psychopath sneaking around. Scary, huh? Now imagine that you’re completely deaf too and you have no idea that the aforementioned psycho is standing right behind you.
This is the premise of Hush, a 2016 horror flick from Mike Flanagan.
Maddie is a writer who lost her ability to hear and speak at a young age due to meningitis. At first, she has no idea that she is being stalked until she finds pictures of herself that the killer has taken and loaded onto her laptop.
What starts as a game of cat and mouse soon switches as Maddie finds the strength to fight back with the aid of a crossbow she liberates from her attacker.
Maddie proves to be an exceptional opponent to her would-be-killer as she refuses to just lay down and die. Her disability just makes her battle for survival that bit more impressive.
09: Sarah Carter (Shauna Macdonald)
First appearance: The Descent (2005)
Favourite Quote: “Dead Animals! Hundreds of them!”
You have to feel for Sarah. No sooner has she woken in a hospital after a car accident that claimed the lives of her husband and kid, then she is dragged off cave exploring by her friends. An adventure that sees her first become stuck in a tight space and then eventually attacked by some de-evolved human/monster type creatures known as Crawlers.
Despite having suffered enough to floor even the toughest of us, Sarah kicks into survival mode and eliminates any crawler that stands between her and freedom. She even has to grapple with her best friend Juno, who, it turns out, was having an affair with her recently deceased husband.
The American version of The Descent ends with Sarah escaping the caves. The UK version is much more sombre and doesn’t wimp out. Sarah doesn’t escape and as she sits and imagines celebrating her dead daughter's birthday, Crawlers flank her on all sides ready for the kill.
08: Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox)
First appearance: A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
Favourite Quote “You know, you are one major-league hunk.”
When we first meet Alice she is one timid wallflower. Bullied by her dad and overshadowed by her friends and much cooler big brother, Alice doesn’t exactly stand out.
Everything changes when her friends begin to die in their sleep. She finds herself pulled into her best friend Kristen’s (Tuesday Knight) dream and after witnessing her die at the hands of Freddy Krueger, Alice inherits Kristen’s powers.
This marks a turning point for Alice. She becomes more confident and ultimately more badass as she embarks on a showdown with the razor fingered Krueger and delivers an ass-whooping the likes of which Fred has never encountered before.
Alice faces off with Freddy again in the follow-up film, The Dream Child. This time she must protect her unborn child from the recently resurrected Mr Krueger.
07: Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns)
First appearance: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Favourite Quote: “Franklin, I like meat. Please change the subject!”
Sally and her disabled brother Franklin are travelling cross-country with some friends to visit their grandfather's grave. Along the way, they pick up a hitchhiker who soon reveals himself to be utterly bat shit.
After a rather troubling incident involving a pocket knife, they eject the hitchhiker and make their way to the old family homestead.
It doesn’t take long for the shit to hit the fan when the group run afoul of a family of cannibals who, thanks to the chainsaw-wielding lunatic Leatherface, quickly dispatch the gang until only Sally is left.
Sally becomes a guest at one of the most traumatic dinner parties ever committed to film. As they thrust her over a bucket, she is to be bled out courtesy of the families ancient grandpa and his trusty hammer in a scene that goes on far too long for comfort.
Sally eventually makes a break for it by diving through a window and running for dear life to the road where she escapes on the back of a pickup truck.
Marilyn Burns’ performance is so spot on that you can genuinely feel the trauma that Sally is subjected to. As final girls go, Sally doesn’t fight back or kill her antagonists, but she deserves a place on this list just for escaping the hellhole that is the Sawyer’s bone laden house.
06: Ginny Field (Amy Steel)
First Appearance: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Favourite Quote: “Paul, there’s someone in this fucking room!”
There is an old saying about redheads being feisty and never is this truer than in the case of Ginny Field.
Ginny is care-free, constantly late and takes nothing seriously, much to the annoyance of boyfriend Paul.
However, when the shit hits the fan, boy, does Ginny step up. Discovering that all her friends have been murdered by Jason Voorhees, Ginny engages kick-ass mode and gives Jason a good hiding in the process.
Sure she pees herself at the sight of a rat, but given what else Ginny is dealing with, I think we can let that slide.
She is more than capable of thinking on her feet too, Ginny seizes the opportunity to disguise herself as Jason’s lunatic mother, confusing him just long enough to gain the upper hand and attack him with a machete.
There have been countless final girls in the Friday series, but for me, Ginny is the definitive opponent for Jason.
05: Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence)
First appearance: Hellraiser (1987)
Favourite Quote: “You want it? Fucking have it!”
Kirsty is having a rough week. First, she has to deal with a weird homeless guy who wanders into the pet store where she works and eats all the bugs, then she has to play nice with her wicked stepmother Julia to keep her dad happy.
Kirsty never really liked Julia anyway, but discovering that step mummy is taking men back to the house behind her dads back does nothing to help this feeling of animosity.
Strangely, Kirsty would have been happier if Julia was just being shag happy, because her true motivation behind luring these men to the house is far worse. She is basically feeding them to Kirsty’s resurrected Uncle Frank.
Frank has escaped from hell and needs to feed to restore his physical body. On his tail are a bunch of demons known as the Cenobites. They spare Kirsty in exchange for her leading them to Frank which she promptly does.
Sadly it’s a little too late to save her dad though as Frank has killed him and taken on his appearance.
Can Kirsty defeat Frank, Julia and the Cenobites? If you don’t already know then you don’t really like horror.
Kirsty is resilient. She literally goes to hell in the sequel to rescue a young girl who is tricked into opening a gateway there. That alone earns Kirsty Cotton a place on this list.
04: Erin Harson (Sharni Vinson)
First Appearance: You’re Next (2011)
Favourite Quote: “I killed her too.”
Imagine for a second that you’re an ex-military man and that you and two of your mates are hired to kill a rich privileged family that haven’t had to get their hands dirty a day in their lives. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Like taking candy from a baby.
So armed with crossbows and creepy animal masks, you head off to their large estate in the middle of the woods to earn what should be easy money. Except it isn’t…
One member of the gathering happens to be especially proficient at killing people. That person is Erin, the girlfriend of one of the families sons who has come along to meet her potential in-laws for the first time. These home invaders don’t stand a chance.
That’s the basic premise for You’re Next, the surprise horror smash from 2011. It’s a wonderful twist that you don’t see coming. The killers are not the biggest threat in this movie. In fact, they are hopelessly outclassed by Erin’s survival skills, which it is revealed, were taught to her by her father who raised her in a survival camp.
Erin dispatches her would-be attackers with everything from an axe to a food blender. This is one girlfriend you wouldn’t want to cheat on.
03: Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis)
First appearance: Halloween (1978)
Favourite Quote: “It was the Boogeyman.”
You probably thought she was heading for the number one spot? Well, while I love Laurie, she kind of blunders through Halloween and is just plain lucky not to get killed. In fact, were it not for Dr Loomis, you can be sure that Michael would have got her, eventually. If you don’t believe me, just re-watch it. She is stabbed, thrown down the stairs and eventually cornered. She can barely walk by the time Michael catches her up.
Don’t misunderstand me. I think Jamie Lee is wonderful in these movies and having her back for the new crop of films is awesome, and I can’t deny that she is totally badass in the 2018 movie. I stand by my opening statement though. Laurie was lucky.
Sure, her friends were offed first because they were far too horny to be paying attention to anything else, and Laurie had the advantage of not being taken in by the pleasures of the flesh. This and the six shots fired by the good doctor were her saving grace. And that is why she is only number three on this list.
02: Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp)
First appearance: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Favourite Quote: “Screw your pass.”
Nancy Thompson is a born survivor right from the get-go. Her parents have divorced and her mother is a raging alcoholic. Nancy has to assume the role of the responsible adult in the house as her mother zones out constantly. That is a lot for a 15-year-old to shoulder.
It comes as no surprise then that when local boogeyman Freddy Krueger returns from the grave to kill her friends in their dreams, Nancy is more than capable of stepping up to the plate.
None of the adults believe her when she claims to know who is doing the killing so, with no parental figures to turn to, Nancy takes matters into her own hands. She rigs her house full of booby-traps that would make Kevin McCallister jealous, and then purposely puts herself to sleep so she can hunt Freddy down and drag him kicking and screaming into her world.
Once pulled out of the dream realm, Nancy hands out an almighty arse-kicking. Freddy doesn’t know what's hit him.
When you think of A Nightmare on Elm Street, you automatically think of Freddy, but it’s Nancy that carries the movie. She is the one you root for and the story unfolds from her perspective. It’s easy to forget that Freddy is barely in it for more than fifteen minutes.
01: Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)
First appearance: Alien (1979)
Favourite Quote: “Get away from her, you bitch!”
What is there to say about Ripley that hasn’t already been said? Ripley is a role written for a man in a time when men dominated this kind of character. Then along came Sigourney Weaver. All 6ft 2” of her and she showed the men how it should be done.
Ripley isn’t just one of the greatest female characters in cinema history, she is one of the greatest characters full stop. In a hopeless situation where every member of her crew has been brutally murdered by a Xenomorph stowaway, Ripley finds it in her to not only escape but blow the thing out of the airlock.
Having put herself into cryo-sleep, Ripley isn’t found until 57 years later.
Having to deal with her trauma from the encounter with the Alien and the upsetting news that she has outlived her daughter, Ripley still finds the balls to accompany a platoon of marines back to the Alien planet to help save a bunch of colonists. Now that’s a hero.
I might be a little bias as Aliens is one of my all-time favourite movies, but it was always going to be Ripley for my number one pick.
So, that’s my countdown of the top 10 final girls. If you agree or disagree, I would love to hear your opinions in the comments section. Until next time, I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit.