Women or female characters in horror are what attracts me to a film. Sure, we love the special effects or our antagonist but you need a balancing aspect, we need to put ourselves in the shoes of the protagonist. Interesting that most of them are women (or female) and rarely are male. There is a book that really goes in depth as to why that is and her ideas, Men, Women and Chainsaws by Carol J. Clover has been brought up in quite a lot of horror topics. I believe it is also her who coined the term “final girl”. I haven’t read it but it is something I think we all could go read a bit.
So March is Women’s History Month and for the next 4 weeks, I’ll be posting my top 50 favorite women/female characters in horror (that I can think of). Now, I decided by these criteria: impact, memorable, references, pop culture, and what did you do to the overall film(s)? Did you progress the storyline or was your part just a one bit and never thought of again?
Here are #50-38, which is odd, but if I’m doing a total of 50 and maybe over 4 weeks, I need about 12-13 to make some kind of sense.
50. Shana, Jungle Julia, and Arlene (Group 1) – Death Proof
49. The Bride – Bride of Frankenstein
48. Dr. Dakota Block – Planet Terror
47. Wendy Torrance – The Shining
46. Zoe, Abernathy, Lee and Kim (Group 2) – Death Proof
45. Harper – Haunt
43. Mrs. Vorhees – Friday the 13th
42. Jeryline – Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight
41. Elaine Parks – The Love Witch
40. Helen Lyle – Candyman
39. Ginny – Friday the 13th Part 2
38. Tina Shepherd – Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
Now, looking at who I picked to start off says a lot. There’s a definite mixed bag of female characters who evolved through the plot or essential to the plot or just simply there. I won’t go through all the characters listed but here we go.
For the latter, I look at Tina from The New Blood, The Bride from Bride of Frankenstein and… that’s kind of it. Tina to me is something that I like seeing in horror, women who have some kind of extraordinary ability but she didn’t change the film or evolve through the film. A similar vibe to The Bride, she didn’t really “evolve” either. I think everyone else, there is a prominent change occurrence; for example, Death Proof has 2 different sets of girls. I put the first group at 50 because yes, they were introduced and pushed Stuntman Mike to show his true colors but we didn’t get to know them, they were kind of forgettable.
The second group, there was the action, they weren’t just simple, ordinary girls that Mike could prey upon. We got to know the ladies more and they were a better match against him than the first set. They thrived on wild adventure and adrenaline, took chances and went after him. So with that, they were ranked higher. Dr. Dakota Block (who also lives in the world of Death Proof/Grindhouse), Wendy, Harper and Helen are an interesting group evolving to further the plot and better themselves. Dakota, from Planet Terror (aka ½ of the Grindhouse films that also feature Death Proof), is one who I would deem meek. She’s a doctor, yes, but she doesn’t have that quick wick or backbone until further into the film and it slowly creeps up on her.
Wendy and Harper are similar in a “I need to confront my demons, my past, my trauma in order to move forward” kind of vibe. Wendy, protective mother, has seen the abuse of some sorts of her husband Jack, is confronted by him and his ghosts and the ghosts of the hotel. And Harper, who suffered trauma and later abuse in her adult life, is somehow forced to deal with it while venturing through (and after) a live action haunt attraction. Helen, on the hunt for finding the truth, exposes a lot in her beginning, middle and end for Chicago and its Cabrini Green residents.
The list so far is quite interesting as to how I am listing and ranking these characters. I know who my top 10-20 are but after that, anything is possible on this list. Who would you rank and why?