Without a doubt there is a ton of male villains in the horror film world (such as Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and Leatherface just to name a handful), but what about the female antagonists? There aren’t as many unfortunately there are several that stand out among the relatively small crowd. If you ask me though, a lot of these female characters are scarier than some of their male counterparts and for whatever reason don’t really get a lot of attention. Some of them are just pure evil and enjoy killing people while others have some sort of justification for their actions (and can be seen as sympathetic in some ways as a result) but all of them are creepy, interesting, and just plain awesome in their own way.
Join me now as I give you my list of the Top Ten Female Villains in Horror Films (in my humble opinion).
*Please note that there will be some spoilers so if you haven’t seen some of these movies please proceed with caution*
(not in ranking order)
01- Mary Lou Maloney – Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)
I’ve always thought that Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II was criminally underrated and it has remained a favorite of mine ever since I first saw it back in 1987 despite the fact that it really had nothing to do with the first film. The main reason that I think that it rules is because of the film’s villain, Mary Lou Maloney, who is basically the prom queen from Hell. Mary Lou wasn’t the nicest person in the world when she was alive back in the day but she is even worse when she returns as an evil spirit to torment those she holds responsible for her death (she died as a result of a prank gone horribly wrong) and anyone that gets in her way. Played brilliantly by Lisa Schrage she comes off as a seductive, much more attractive Freddy Krueger who enjoys throwing out one-liners and various wisecracks as she takes out her victims. The character returns in the third movie and while I did enjoy Courtney Taylor’s performance as the character I think that Schrage did a better job in the role. Mary Lou is a great character and even though she may not be the greatest horror movie prom queen (more on that person in a bit) I think that she rocks and I would love to see more of her in the future.
02- Ginger – Ginger Snaps (2000)
Surprise, surprise, a werewolf shows up on a list that I put together (for those of you that don’t know it I love werewolves and they are always regulars on my lists). I love Ginger Snaps and in my opinion it is the last truly great werewolf movie to come along in a while. Some may argue that Ginger isn’t really a villain/antagonist and I agree to an extent as in addition to being the main character of the movie she is likable and sympathetic but that all eventually changes as the film progresses. By the end of the movie she has embraced her fate and enjoys the fact that she is a werewolf to the point that she doesn’t have a problem with killing people. I think that halfway into the film she does become the antagonist to her sister Brigitte’s protagonist and even though I wouldn’t really call her an evil person in the classic sense she still does some pretty nasty things by the time everything is said and done. I always thought that Ginger Snaps was an excellent (and thoroughly depressing) film and probably the main reason that it is so good is due to Katharine Isabelle’s performance as Ginger. While the sequels pale in comparison the first film is nothing short of a modern classic in my opinion and one of the greatest werewolf movies of all time.
03- Alien Queen – Aliens (1986)
I actually prefer the original film to this sequel but it is hard to deny that the Alien Queen that our hero Ripley faces at the end of the movie isn’t a badass-looking creature that is just all around awesome in every respect of the word. Not only is she creepy as hell and just intimidating in general (I know I wouldn’t want to have to mix it up with her anytime soon) but she gives Ripley one hell of a run for her money during their exciting and epic battle. She is a vicious, genuinely scary creature and I couldn’t see doing this list without having her be a part of it She is without a doubt one of the best things about this movie and even though Aliens is more of a science fiction/action film as opposed to being a horror flick she is truly terrifying and has probably appeared in a lot of viewers’ nightmares since she first appeared on screen back in 1986.
04- Samantha – Deadly Friend (1986)
What can I say? I love this movie (I may be the only person on the planet who can say that) and it legit scares the living shit out of me no matter how many times I see it (again I feel pretty confident in saying that I am the only person in the world to ever make such a claim). I am totally and completely terrified of robots so this movie-and Samantha in particular-really freaks me out.
The way that she moves (and speaks) after she returns from the dead with the robot chip in her brain never ceases to creep me out and I’ll admit that I’ve had a ton of nightmares about her coming to get me over the years. I have always thought that Sam was a great character as she is not only terrifying (to me anyway) but is also sympathetic at the same time (what happens to her at the hands of her abusive father is quite disturbing if you ask me but thankfully he gets what he deserves later on). I personally think that this movie is just as sad as it is scary (especially toward the end) and it just has a weird, unsettling vibe to it that has always bothered me for some reason. I know that Deadly Friend takes a lot of shit and a lot of people hate it (and probably don’t think that Samantha belongs on this list) but I can honestly say that it is my second favorite movie of all time and is a lot better than most people give it credit for. Like the movie Samantha is kick ass and one of the most underrated horror film characters-male or female-of all time.
05- Sadako – Ringu (2002)
Even though I am not really a fan of Ringu (please hold off on the hate mail) I have to admit that Sadako is truly a horror icon that has made one hell of an impact on the industry (as well as the world). She’s a creepy chick that has scared a ton of people all over the world and I’ve even heard some people call her “The Asian Freddy Krueger” in some circles. The iconic image of her crawling out of the TV set is very effective and has become legendary across the globe. She hit the scene in 1998 and has definitely stood the test of time as she is just as popular now as she was nearly 20 years ago. I know a lot of people that are scared to death of her and while she doesn’t really freak me out like she does others I respect her and think that she deserves a spot on this list.
06- Angela Baker – Sleepaway Camp (1986)
As most of you know Sleepaway Camp is my favorite movie of all time and I absolutely love Angela. Felissa Rose (who is just the nicest, most awesome person you will ever meet) knocks it out of the park bringing her to life and I think that her performance is nothing short of flawless. She’s a sweet, likable character and even though she isn’t the most mentally stable person in the world I can’t help but root for her when she decides to take revenge on the fellow campers that constantly pick on her (because let’s be honest, they deserve it in the long run for being such assholes to her). Yes, she’s a psychotic killer that enjoys taking people out in a number of painful and bizarre ways (curling iron, anyone?) but I love her anyway. I don’t want to ruin it if you haven’t seen it but let’s just say that she has a huge secret that leads to one of the most shocking and disturbing final scenes of any movie. Angela rules and while I think Rose played the character best I have to give a shout out to Pamela Springsteen who did a killer job herself in the role for two of the sequels. Angela has a pretty big following and I can say without a doubt that she deserves all the love that she gets.
07- Kayako – Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)
I’m man enough to admit that the first time I saw this movie it scared the living piss out of me. I think that Kayako is one of the most frightening figures ever and when it comes to characters that genuinely creep me out she is toward the top of the list. From the horrifying way that she looks and moves to that creepy sounds that she makes (which always makes my Spider Senses tingle whenever I hear it) Kayako is one scary lady. I think that she is a lot more terrifying than Ringu’s Sadako for many reasons and she has given me plenty of sleepless nights over the years thanks to the fact that she is a regular in my worst nightmares. I think that all of the Ju-On films rock thanks to her and I even enjoyed the American remake that hit theaters back in 2004. My wife enjoys making that noise that she makes every once in a while to freak me out (usually when I get out of bed in the middle of the night and am stumbling around in the dark to the bathroom) and it never fails to make me feel like a scared little boy whenever I hear it. I don’t know about the rest of you out there but given the choice I think that I would much rather have to face off against Jason or Leatherface as opposed to Kayako because not only is she scarier, but you are basically screwed once she sets her sights on you and there is pretty much nothing you can do to stop her.
08- Carrie White – Carrie (1976)
Carrie is not really an evil character but at the same time she does some pretty horrible things to her victims once she is pushed too far and reaches her breaking point. While I do feel sorry for her I am also pretty creeped out by her at the same time. I love the original movie and think that Sissy Spacek did a phenomenal job of playing the character (she was definitely robbed by the Academy that year as she didn’t win an Oscar for her performance) and she totally nails it.
The scene that take place toward the end at the prom when she has finally had enough and decides to strike back at her tormentors is nothing short of awesome and I can’t help but root for her as she goes about taking out her victims. The final shot of the movie contains one of the greatest jump scares in the history of horror and no matter how many times I see it it always gets me even though I know that it is coming. Carrie is one girl that you really don’t want to mess with and I honestly think that this movie should be shown to all middle and high school students as it would without a doubt make many of them think twice about bullying others (especially the painfully shy and awkward ones that have scary, overbearing, religious fanatic mothers that control every aspect of their lives).
09- Pamela Voorhees – Friday the 13th(1980)
I saw Friday the 13th parts 2, 3, and 4 before I got to see the original film and was a little let down when I was younger because I was used to seeing Jason running around hacking up unsuspecting teenagers. As I got older and watched it again though I really came to appreciate how cool Pamela really was in the first film and how important she was to the entire series in general. She is a hardcore old broad with a deep devotion to her son as well as a mean streak a mile wide. I think that Betsy Palmer was the ideal choice for the role as she is totally believable as the psychotic, homicidal mother who will go to any lengths –including going so far as to plant an ax in someone’s face-to avenge the death of her beloved son. While some may argue that Norma Bates is the most important mother in all of horror I have to disagree and think that Pamela deserves the title for a number of reasons. If there had been no Pamela there would have never been a Jason, and I would hate to live in a world where such an iconic character ceased to exist. While she isn’t nearly as scary as her son she is still pretty damn intimidating (due primarily to the fact that she is so bat shit crazy) and I wouldn’t want her stalking me in the middle of the woods. Pamela is a simple-but wonderful-character and is without a doubt a legend in her own way in the annals of horror movie history.
10- Regan – The Exorcist (1973)
Of all the horror films I’ve seen in my lifetime (and there have been many of them), none of them scare me as much as The Exorcist does. I first saw it on network television of the ripe of age of 7 and to this day it still terrifies me to no end. The main reason it scares me of course (despite the fact that it is just a frightening, disturbing movie in general) is because of Regan, the little girl that just happens to be possessed by a demon (and possibly Satan himself).
I was traumatized the first time I saw her head spin around backward when I was a kid and never quite got over it. Linda Blair gives and amazing performance (which is quite impressive considering how young she was at the time) and when I met her a several years ago I think I got a chuckle out of her when I told her that I had had nightmares about her for years (most of them involving her doing the spider-walk toward me). Some younger viewers may not be that impressed or scared by her but I think she is just as creepy and effective now as she was when she first appeared back in 1973. I think that Regan is a fascinating, horrifying character and if you ask me people will still be talking about her 100 years from now. If you’re a character that can creep me out to the point that the mere thought of you sometimes makes me sleep with the lights on then you are something special, and that pretty much sums up my feelings for Regan.
There you have it, my list of the Top 10 Female Villains in Horror Films. I’m sure I have left several out so let me know what you think. Do you agree or disagree with my list? Did one of your favorites not appear? Let me know, I love hearing from you guys.
Norma Bates from Psycho-I agonized over this one and at one point she was on the main list until I realized that while she is important we really don’t see her in the flesh until the fourth Psycho film.
Mrs. Baylock from The Omen-Awesome and creepy but I thought there were more deserving characters for the main list.
Asami from Audition–Great character from a great movie and all and she came close to making the list but I changed my mind at the last minute.
Carrie’s Mom from Carrie-In my opinion she is a lot scarier and a hell of a lot more evil than her daughter but felt that Carrie herself deserved the spot on the list.
Woman in the Bathtub from The Shining-Creepy as hell but she doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time.
Zelda from Pet Sematary- Probably the scariest thing about the movie but I don’t know if I would really call her a villain.
Sil from Species
Annie Wilkes from Misery
May from May
Mary Mason from American Mary