With the new Carrie remake upon us, Chloe Haynes takes a look back at some of the greatest horror heroines in film and television. Will your favourite be on this list?
10) ROSEMARY WOODHOUSE
Played by: Mia Farrow
Film: Rosemary’s Baby
Who She Fights: Her neighbours, the Satanist cult.
Why She’s Iconic: She’s not the physically strongest heroine on this list but Rosemary’s not to be taken for granted by any means. Deeply disturbed by strange dreams and hallucinations, she’s adamant that she knows her neighbours and her husband, Guy, are part of a Satanic cult even though everybody treats her like she’s crazy. Rosemary isn’t afraid of facing the truth - she goes in search for it, inquisitive and determined. She fights for her unborn baby’s life until the very end, the ultimate protective mother who doesn’t give up without a fight.
Greatest Moment: The final scene where Rosemary approaches the cult with a knife in hand and goes to reclaim her baby .She’s ready to fight for her child only to find it isn’t quite her child... Cue the classic line “What have you done with its eyes!”
Played by: Amy Acker
Who she fights: Angel and co at first (especially Spike) but then she helps them battle the Circle of the Black Thorn.
Why She’s Iconic: So many of Joss Whedon’s female characters can be considered iconic but Illyria is one of the the most memorable. After being unable to resurrect her army, she agrees to try to adjust to the modern world. Incredibly strong, she soon becomes Angel’s biggest asset and proves invaluable in the final battle.
Greatest Moment: Wesley’s death scene. Running to his side after her concern for him grows, Illyria begins to show her humanity. She comforts Wesley in the form of Fred so he can die with his loved one. In this moment alone she truly became one of the good guys and showed that she was capable of real human emotion.
Played by: Milla Jovovich
Film: The Resident Evil saga.
Who she fights: Zombies, the Umbrella Corporation
Why She’s Iconic: Despite Alice’s lack of memory at the beginning of the first Resident Evil , she quickly learns to adapt to her new abilities. She’s beautiful but deadly. She is also an example of a strong woman who hasn’t had to sacrifice her femininity to be tough, represented by the iconic image of her in a red dress.
Greatest Moment: Alice has lots of butt-kicking moments but the best has to be when she takes down the giant Licker. Whilst the others are near death and cowering, Alice shoots at the licker and sticks a pole through it’s tongue, causing it to fly off the train. She isn’t afraid to lead the group and take control of the situation.
Played by: Shauna Macdonald
Film: The Descent
Who She Fights: Crawlers
Why She’s Iconic: The Descent is one of the few horror films with an all female cast that are both strong and talented. And Sarah, the film’s protagonist, proved to be one of the strongest women in horror. After being one of the weaker females at the beginning (to be fair she was grief stricken), she quickly became tough in order to fight her way out from the Crawlers. A resilient, complicated character, Sarah puts herself first and has no forgiveness for her friend Juno.
Greatest Moment: In a Carrie -esque image, Sarah emerges from the water, covered in blood and then continues to kill a Crawler. From this moment on she only thinks with her fighting instinct.
6) SOOKIE STACKHOUSE
Played by: Anna Paquin
TV: True Blood
Who She Fights: Sookie gets herself in a lot of sticky situations fighting off vampires, rednecks, werewolves, fairies…. pretty much everyone, actually.
Why She’s Iconic: It’s hard not to be drawn to Sookie Stackhouse. She brave, ballsy, witty and she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks - even though she has to hear it all the time…
Greatest Moment: So many with Sookie but pretty much anything to do with her being a fairy has been pretty cool. We especially like the true reveal of the fairy world in season four, as well as the moment she discovers what she really is. “I’m a fairy? How fucking lame.”
5) NANCY THOMPSON
Played by: Heather Langenkamp
Film: A Nightmare On Elm Street
Who She Fights: Freddy Krueger
Why She’s Iconic: Nancy is the perfect leading lady in a horror movie. She’s sweet and innocent but she also becomes incredibly tough as the film unfolds. Nancy is the only one of her friends who is able to not fall asleep and fight Freddy. By the end of the film, she is no longer scared of him and shows him that she’s in control. Johnny Depp wasn’t strong enough to stop Krueger, but Nancy was.
Greatest Moment: Nancy totally kicks ass when she actively seeks out Freddy in her dream and sets up traps for him, bringing him into her world where she can have control. She certainly doesn’t conform to the archetypal female victim. Everything may have been much easier for her if it wasn’t for the idiot cops but despite the uselessness of the people around her, Nancy shows her true bravery when she stands up to the razor-fingered dream invader, telling him “You’re nothing. You’re shit”.
Played by: Sigourney Weaver
Film: The Alien saga
Who She Fights: Aliens!
Why She’s Iconic: Often considered the greatest female character in horror, Ripley challenged gender roles and gave us a really strong and brave character as tough as any male hero. And throughout the four-film series Ripley only becomes stronger and stronger. It’s still Weaver’s best remembered role to date. Determined, opinionated, she doesn’t let the men on the Nostromo tell her what to do – and she’s the only one to escape the doomed ship and survive the xenomorph.
Greatest Moment: The end of the first movie as Ripley manages to escape the Nostromo only to find that the alien has crept into her escape shuttle. She blasts the alien back into space and then resumes her journey home. Even after all that she’s gone through, she shows her true fighter instinct, stopping the alien threat once and for all. Well, until the sequel that is….
Played by: Sissy Spacek
Who She Fights: All of the bullies at her school and her mother.
Why She’s Iconic: Carrie is often considered one of the first feminist horror films and its title character represents standing up against abuse, both from her mother and from the cruel teenagers at school. What makes her such an iconic and interesting character is the fact that even though she is essentially the “monster” of the film, she is also the heroine and she is the one who we most sympathise and empathise with.
Greatest Moment: Carrie wins prom queen and rains fire on the high school. Spacek’s performance is just perfect here, embodying the disturbed teenager who has just been pushed too far. You can see how touched Carrie is when she wins prom queen, to finally feel accepted by her fellow students, only for her dream to be shattered by a bucket of pigs’ blood. The image of Carrie in her blood-splashed prom dress walking through the fire is an unforgettable visual.
2) LAURIE STRODE
Played by: Jamie Lee Curtis
Film: The Halloween saga
Who She Fights: Michael Myers
Why She’s Iconic: Laurie is the quintessential horror heroine: a regular girl who fights off the bogeyman time and time again, saving herself and the people around her. By the time of Halloween H20 , Laurie is no longer scared of Michael Myers. Such a shame that her death was dealt with so quickly in the first few minutes of a lousy sequel.
Greatest Moment: After bravely getting the children to the safety, using Michael Myers' own weapon against him, Laurie manages to defend herself against the maniac, showing her true heroic nature. Just when she thinks it’s all over, he attacks her again; she rips off his mask: a final triumph.
1) BUFFY SUMMERS
Played by: Sarah Michelle Gellar
TV: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Who She fights: Who doesn’t she fight? Everything from vampires to invisible girls, werewolves to robots, demons to Gods, zombies to trolls. The list is endless.
Why She’s Iconic: Buffy will always be one of the most iconic heroines of horror because she combined femininity with strength. Buffy showed that you don’t have to be masculine to be tough; you can wear dresses, fall in love and cry. Some of Buffy's greatest moments have been when she has let her vulnerability come through. She made us feel that she really wasn’t all that different to the rest of us.
Greatest Moment: Choosing a single moment from seven seasons is tough but the scene where Buffy finds her mother’s dead body lying on the sofa is probably the finest, perfectly combining Sarah Michelle Gellar’s emotive performance with Joss Whedon’s sensitive direction. Screaming at her mother’s body to wake up, Buffy has never seemed more human. She may have slayer abilities but she feels pain the same as we do.