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5 Top Horror Final Girls!!!

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By The Wolfman (@TheWolfmanCometh – on the boards).

There’s yet to be a Webster’s Dictionary entry for the term “Final Girl” but, as you all know, the Final Girl is typically the last female to survive. She doesn’t have to live, she just has to be the last one. She’s the girl who refuses to be just another victim and actively fights back against whatever force is killing off everyone she knows. I’d say that out of all possible female roles in a horror film, it’s the role of Final Girl that’s most coveted.

Even though there are quite a few actresses famous for being a Final Girl, I’d like to point out that there’s a difference between a Final Girl and a “Scream Queen.” A Scream Queen is an actress who has gained fame and notoriety for her frequent appearances in horror. I wanted to make sure to add the distinction between a Final Girl and a Scream Queen because – spoiler alert – Jamie Lee Curtis will not be found on this list. The entries here are women who have fought back against whatever it was that was after them in hopes of vanquishing their foes. Jamie Lee Curtis is generally considered a Final Girl for surviving her encounters with Michael Myers in the original Halloween, but other than poking her brother in the eye with a coat hanger, what did she actually do to survive the night? Run around? Hide in a closet? Had it not been for Dr. Loomis shooting Michael, Laurie would be dead. Similarly, Marilyn Burns from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre also won’t be found below, sinceStill here? Good! all she did was run through the woods for what seemed like hours after her captors tied some horrible knots.

Still here? Good! Head inside for my Top 5 Final Girls!!!

5. THE DESCENT – Sarah (Shauna MacDonald)

I’ve never had a child, nor have I ever had a husband, so I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of having both of those people being taken away from you in a horrific car accident. At least you can rely on your friends to take you to explore caves to keep your mind off of those things so you can have some fun, right? Well, that works for a little while, but when you’re spelunking and your escape route caves in and you find out that there are blind humanoid terror creatures living down there, a whole new set of troubles present themselves. It takes a little bit of a mental breakdown for Sarah to deal with these situations, but once she realizes she wants to live, she doesn’t let anything get in her way. Whether that’s the monsters trying to kill her or leaving behind a friend who had a more than friendly relationship with her now dead husband, Sarah does what’s needed to escape the tunnels. Granted, whether you watch the original UK ending or the American ending, the outlook for Sarah is a little bit different, but whether or not she gets out of those tunnels alive isn’t what’s important, it’s that she took care of business long enough to be the Final Girl.

4. THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL – Samantha (Jocelin Donahue)

Do babysitting jobs still exist? I figured that by now, there’s probably an app that serves as a babysitter, but what I’ve learned from movies set in the 80′s is that babysitting was the ONLY job for girls in high school or college. Samantha is desperate for money, so even though the “baby” she is sitting is actually an elderly woman, her financial situation forces her to take the job anyway. Samantha doesn’t notice anything too strange about the unseen elderly woman, but when she does notice that things aren’t as they seem, it’s too late. We’ve all been there though, right? Just wandering around a giant house and finding tons of hair in a bathtub, only to wake up in a nightgown and strapped to the floor with people pouring blood from a goat skull down your throat, right? Right? Uhhhh….anyways, through a ritual that leaves her impregnated with some sort of demonic creature, Samantha realizes that the threat this pregnancy presents is far greater than her own life and, with very little hesitation, takes matters into her own hands and shoots herself in the head. Granted, the final reveal of the film informs us that she actually survived, but that quick decision of the fate of the world being more important than her own life is what makes her stand out.

3. FRIDAY THE 13TH – Alice Hardy (Adrienne King)

You go to a summer camp with all of your friends, thinking it might be a fun summer job. I guess that’s another job that women were allowed to have in the 80′s, being a camp counselor. Even though this camp hasn’t even opened, that doesn’t mean all of your friends can’t start getting killed, one by one. Thinking you’re alone in the world, you find comfort in an old woman who is willing to help you out. Sadly, you learn that this old woman is the reason why all of your friends are dying. Once she makes it clear that you’re about to be the next victim, you decide to take the offensive and CHOP OFF HER HEAD WITH AN AXE. YOU JUST CHOPPED OFF AN OLD LADY’S HEAD…WITH AN AXE. In a lot of Final Girl situations, it’s obvious why the woman takes the offensive, as she is typically taking that offensive against a literal monster or possibly a monster in human form. I’m sure that Alice had a million thoughts running through her head as to who was the one killing all of her friends, and I’m sure that the last image in her head was that of a sweet old lady. As far as this goes in the slasher world, Alice was thrown a curve ball, and she chopped that curve ball’s head off with an axe.

2. SUSPIRIA – Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper)

Being in a foreign country and not having a good understanding of the language is a pretty intimidating thought for me. I can barely speak English (and many of you would argue I can barely write English) so I can’t even begin to imagine the difficulties of communicating. Now imagine that, in addition to not knowing the native language, you have to go to ballet school. Not just any ballet school, but one that has problems with maggots falling from the ceiling, one that has students regularly disappear, and one that might possibly be run by witches. Given all of these factors, I’d say that this ballet dance that they were trying to teach me wasn’t really worth it, and I’d go home to do my own ballet. In fact, I do a lot of ballet on my own anyway, but that’s a story for a completely different article. Rather than turning and running from the problem, Suzy is able to track down and fight the ballet ghost witch, destroy her, and manages to destroy her school in the process. If burning down your ballet school after having all your witchy powers circumvented and destroyed isn’t the icing on the cake, I don’t know what is. Although, I do now wish we got to see an end credit sequence of Suzy doing ballet on the ashes of the school, but I guess I could always toss on a wig, fly to Italy, and do that myself.

1. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET – Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp)

I’ve never been a big fan of the A Nightmare on Elm Street series. Well, there isn’t really any one one horror franchise I particularly connect with, but that’s a topic for a different article. The biggest issue I have with this franchise is that more often than not, Freddy Krueger, as an individual, serves more as comedic relief than as an intimidating, terrifying character. Yes, the idea of being attacked in your sleep by him is pretty scary, but seeing his persona in a scene is generally less frightening. When all of Nancy’s friends are being killed and she learns that she’s next on Freddy’s list, she refuses to go out the way they did. Through some leaps in logic and physics, Nancy learns that if you grab anything in a dream and wake up, you bring that into the real world. She methodically booby traps her entire house so that when she hugs Freddy and wakes up, there’s nowhere for him to go and is “defeated” by all of her traps. The reason why Nancy deserves the top spot is that where most of the other entries made the appropriate decisions in the situations they found themselves in, Nancy calmly and rationally took all of the offensive steps needed to get rid of Freddy. Even though the ending is kind of wonky and we realize Freddy lived for another 7 sequels, it was through her booby trapping that she was solidified as the epitome of everything a Final Girl needs to be.

Honorable Mention

SLEEPAWAY CAMP – Angela (Felissa Rose)

There’s a lot of reasons why Angela can be considered a Final Girl, especially considering she was constantly being attacked and harassed throughout the entire movie and “defeated” her attackers, but there are a few reasons why I knew this list wasn’t necessarily the right place for her. One reason is that the other Final Girls were the victims up until the end of the movie, and none of these victims would be considered the villain. If I were to include Angela as a Final Girl, that means I would have to start considering every horror movie where the antagonist is a female, and I think that’s getting a little too ambiguous. For example, I’m sure someone could make the argument that Carrie (Sissy Spacek) can be considered a Final Girl. The other reason why I didn’t want to include her on this list is because she’d be the only Final Girl with a penis. This isn’t me being a Neanderthal and thinking “penis equals boy, vagina equals girl, grunt grunt,” but Angela never really says which gender she identifies herself as. We know that the gender forced on her by her wacky aunt is female, but maybe she personally identifies herself as male. After all, when she kisses Paul, she has flashbacks to her father and his boyfriend, so there’s at least some part of her that knows she’s anatomically a male. I just…I don’t know guys, I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

Let us know about your favorite final girls in the comments!!

  • twonky

    No Ashley Laurence – shame shame shame

  • WalkingDeadGuy

    After reading your article, I understand why Jamie Lee isn’t on it for her work in Halloween, however, she more than proved herself in H20; she had the chance to escape but went back to finish him off. I also think Neve Campbell was a kick-ass final girl in Scream.

  • divisionbell

    Oh man Heather Langenkamp and Adrienne King were both just such terrible actresses. Especially Adrienne. My vote for a real final girl would have to be Amy Steel who played Ginny in Friday the 13th Part 2.

  • K-Dogg

    Ummmm, I read your rules above, and I don’t care, this is just plain stupid…..The very moment I read top 5 final girls, there is only 1 number one gal, and that will forever be Jamie Lee.

    • divisionbell

      Agreed. What did Adrienne King do that justifies her place here? No more than Jamie did. Jamie is the queen of the final girls

      And Ripley.

  • http://www.facebook.com/darren.bolton1 DeeezNuuutz21

    No Ripley? Even after being the final girl, twice? Surviving past all the colonial marines?

    • K-Dogg

      I was just going to say that……..

  • russellg79

    How about the chick from MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY original & remake? Good call on Ripley too (above). Also… on a technical note, Alice used a machete to decapitate Mama Voorhees.

    • bambi_lives8980

      Wait, Make them Die Slowly remake? There’s a remake of Make them Die Slowly?

      But on a side note, I HATED the girl in Cannibal Ferox. I’m sure there’s some major statement behind that whole “Cannibalis… does NOT exist” thing, but I really didn’t get it. I don’t know maybe, I’m just retarded. I always saw that as Lenzi trying to make a statement at the end of his cannibal film that rivaled the “Who are the real cannibals?” from Holocaust.

      • bambi_lives8980

        Well, I thought about it again and maybe she just didnt want to look stupid – thus having to tell a story no one would believe anyway, especially those in the anthropological field…

        • russellg79

          I mean’t I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. It’s been a long day a work…

  • horrorking95

    I think that Laurie Strode should be here, she’s almost as much as an icon as Michael Myers! I also really liked Dana from the Cabin in the Woods, a thoroughly worthy final girl and also a great tribute to the final girl element in horror films! Ellen Ripley is also another worthy mention.

  • Matt-fBR

    Wow, what a weird list… Where is Laurie Strode, Ripley, Sidney Prescott, Jamie Lloyd or even Rachel from H4?

    And IMO Ginny from Friday part 2 and Alice from NOES 4 and 5 were much more memorable final girls than the ones you picked from both franchises.

  • bambi_lives8980

    I Spit on Your Grave. Nuff said.

    • egaltt23

      Amen.

  • Michael_M

    I believe it was in the documentary The American Nightmare where an alternative to Final Girl was proposed. The term Survivor Girl was argued to be better because it was a more accurate reflection of how that character was different. She survived for some reason when other characters did not.

    Though you use the word survivor several times, if it was merely a body count movie, then Final Girl would suffice. But considering the attention given to these specific female characters and how they distinguished themselves, I believe Survivor Girl is a much better term.

    In the same film, it was also argued that despite the fact that women are often the target of male violence, these films are actually empowering for women because it shows they can make it on their own without a man’s help.

  • jdscissorhands

    I’d prefer Jamie Lee Curtis (in H20, she really kicked asses!)over Adrienne King. By the way, what about Lisa Wilcox or Neve Campbell?

    Honorable mention: Danielle Harris! lol

    • egaltt23

      Danielle!!!!

  • djblack1313

    Evan i love your articles but yeah, these “rules” you laid out for what constitutues a final girl IMO is off/wrong but that’s cool.

    MY LIST OF FAVE FINAL GIRLS (what i consider final girls in no particular order!):

    Ginny from F13 part 2
    Laurie Strode
    Linda Blair in HELL NIGHT
    Neve Campbell
    Kimberly Beck in F13 part 4

    there are others but i’m tired today! LOL
    3.

  • wehoaks

    Christ. Evan’s rules remind of that kid who used to always change the rules of a game as it progressed in order to win. More of Evan’s masturbatory “journalism”.

    • ThunderDragoon

      I feel the same way. Using excuses not to put people on the list. So stupid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/FPJ666 FPJ666

    Sally From Texas Chainsaw Massacre!!!!!!!!!?????????

    • c-s-a78

      agree!!!

  • lovezoid

    Stretch from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 – come on, the movie ends with her atop a cannibal theme park bellowing and waving her stalker’s chainsaw over her head!

    • http://www.facebook.com/FPJ666 FPJ666

      Hell yeah!!!!

  • anthonyd1

    Although I will always consider Jamie Lee Curtis a scream queen and the ultimate scream queen, she is also a final girl!! NO exceptions!

    My favorite Final Girls:

    Jamie Lee Curtis “Laurie Strode” (Halloween Series, Prom Night, Terror Train, The Fog)
    Neve Campbell “Sidney Prescott” (Scream Series)
    Heather Langenkamp “Nancy Thompson” (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
    Sigourney Weaver “Ripley” (Alien Series)
    Jennifer Love Hewitt “Julie” (I Know What You Did Last Summer)
    Danielle Harris (Halloween 4 & 5)
    Amy Steel “Ginny” (Friday The 13th Part 2)
    Adrienne King “Alice Hardy” (Friday The 13th)

  • lovezoid

    Does a survivor girl still count if she gets captured and dispatched in a later installment? I’m guessing its generally accepted its on a movie-by-movie basis. Otherwise you can rule out Laurie Strode, Jamie Lloyd and Ellen Ripley.

    • djblack1313

      lovezoid, good question. if that’s the rule then Evan can rule out Adrienne King’s Alice (she dies in F13 part 2).

      • anthonyd1

        nope if she is the final girl at the end of the movie she can die and still be considered the final girl, so if she survives more than one film she can definitely be considered a final girl

  • GoreFaceSupreme

    I liked House of the devil and the Descent but the fucking blubbering love for these movies has gone too far. No Laurie Strode, No Ripley, no good. Even Sidney Prescott (The most deliberate final girl in final girl history!)could have trumped some of these.

  • RaffyLee

    It’s funny, i thought Sidney, Ripley and Laurie would be on here… and i was shocked at the list. But in a way, it’s kind of nice to see some of the other girls be acknowledged. I was happy to see Sam and Suzy!

  • c-s-a78

    you should make it top “10″!!!