13 MOST BADASS FINAL GIRL MOMENTS
Written by Joshua Winning
In horror, more than any other genre, women rule. They're the ones who fight monsters, make big sacrifices and (mostly) emerge victorious.
There are some moments that stand out from the crowd, though. Some Final Girls go beyond the 'scream and scuttle' routine. They're survivors to the end and they'll do whatever it takes to bring down a nasty.
To celebrate the badass heroines who inspired me to write my new book, Killing Rumer (which is crowdfunding with Unbound over here, please pledge if you can: https://unbound.com/books/killing-rumer), these are the moments that cinematic Final Girls became (mostly) living legends...
Laurie Strode – Halloween: H20
“Michael! MICHAAAAAEL!” In Halloween: H20, it's been, yep, 20 years since Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) first encountered the murderous Shape, but this is the first time she's actively called Michael Myers out to battle. Her rallying war cry comes in the film's final act, as Laurie hefts an axe and screams her brother's name in the deserted school courtyard, kicking off one of the most epic horror movie showdowns ever. What follows is undiluted badass.
Ginny Field – Friday The 13th: Part 2
By far the best Final Girl in the F13 franchise. Doubt it? Witness Ginny (Amy Steele) proving her mettle at the climax of this superior sequel when she's cornered by Jason Voorhees (Steve Daskawisz) in his shack (yeah, glamorous) and resorts to wearing his dead mother's crusty jumper to confuse him into thinking she's Mama Dearest. And lo! It works. Jason's brain is well and truly /screambled/, and Ginny escapes with her life. Whew.
Max Cartwright – The Final Girls
This showdown gets triple points. Not only is it kickass, it's also shot like a Bonnie Tyler music video and comes right after one of the most moving slasher scenes ever (Max's heart-to-heart with her ma, Malin Åkerman, complete with 'Bette Davis Eyes' on the soundtrack). Against a backdrop of lightning and pink mist, Max (Taissa Farmiga) confronts killer Billy (Daniel Norris), declaring: “You just fucked with the wrong virgin.” Hack, slash aaaaaand end credits!
Gale Weathers – Scream 2
Unlike most Final Girls, Gale wears her bitch credentials right there in her 'give a shit' expression. That doesn't make her any worse a heroine, though, as evidenced throughout the Scream Trilogy (and beyond) as she fights to do right no matter who's waving a knife at her. Her big badass moment comes in Scream 2 when she's cornered in a sound booth by Ghostface. Sure, she screams and sobs, but she also puts up one heck of a fight – and lives to write a book about it.
Erin Harson – You're Next
Don't you hate it when you decide to make mince meat of a house full of vacationers, only to discover there's a gal in there who was raised on a survivalist compound in the wilds of Missouri? That gal is Erin (Sharni Vinson), who makes short work of her attackers – not least in a scene where she uses a meat tenderizer as a weapon. It's not often you wince when the killer's being dealt with...
Ellen Ripley – Alien
In space nobody can hear you scream, but Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) isn't the screaming type. Mostly. You can understand her shock when, believing she's eradicated the Alien by exploding the Nostromo, she discovers it's snuck aboard her escape shuttle. But her cool-as-a-cucumber despatch of the slavering beastie is the epitome of badass. She even sings us a tune as she loads the harpoon.
Jess Bradford – Black Christmas
By far the smartest of her sisters, Jess (Olivia Hussey) is also the only one who survives in Bob Clark's proto-slasher. Coincidence? Her Final Girl credentials are proved when, after being told the killer is “inside the house”, her first action is to run upstairs to save her housemates. That earns her considerable 'badass' points – and the fact that she's too late to save anybody is all part of the tragedy.
Mrs Tappan – Sorority Row
“Come to Mama.” Carrie Fisher. With a shotgun. Does it get any tougher than that? This glossy, empty-headed remake didn't do /loads/ right, but it did have the wherewithal to hand Princess Leia a gun for a tense kitchen stand-off with the killer. “Please don't think I'm afraid of you,” she says. “I run a house with 50 crazy bitches.” Even when she's done in, her only thought is for her “girls”. Definition of a hero.
Sidney Prescott – Scream
She's caked in blood. Half her friends are dead. Her boyfriend's been revealed as a psycho. But Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) isn't going down without a fight. When Randy (Jamie Kennedy) tells her most psycho killers come back for “one last scare”, she unloads a handgun into boyfriend Billy's forehead. “Not in my movie.”
Marion Crane – Psycho
No, I haven't forgotten that Marion bites it in the shower (how could anybody forget that?), but the fact that she bows out early doesn't diminish Marion Crane's badassness. Case in point: when she sees something she wants, she doesn't hesitate, pinching a hefty $40k from work. Alright, we're not advocating theft, but that takes balls, and sets Marion up as one of the most interesting Final Girls ever created.
Dana Polk – Cabin In The Woods
She's the archetypal, post-modern Final Girl, which is why Dana Polk (Kristen Connolly) is one of the coolest horror heroines ever. Her big moment comes right at the end of this Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard nutfest as she comes face to face with The Director (Sigourney Weaver), who's responsible for all the cabin-related craziness. Faced with the decision to kill The Director and get sweet revenge, but also thereby unleash Hell, Dana naturally does... exactly that. Ill-advised, perhaps, but definitely badass.
Nancy Thompson – A Nightmare On Elm Street
You want a heroine with smarts? Say hey to Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), who gets miffed when the grown-ups refuse to believe Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) has returned as a dream killer, and rigs her house Kevin McCallister-style to trap the knife-fingered fiend. Lightbulbs, sledgehammers, tripwires and, uh, clothes pegs are all meticulously deployed to cause maximum damage. Go, Nancy, go!
Helen Lyle – Candyman
Poor Helen (Virginia Madsen) doesn't survive her encounter with the titular hook-wielder, but she does transform from a troubled grad student into a living legend thanks to Mr Candyman (Tony Todd). Helen becomes a vengeful spirit after rescuing a baby from a burning building, taking Candyman down with her. Sometimes, a Final Girl has to make serious sacrifices in the name of good...
Killing Rumer is crowdfunding at Unbound. Pre-order your copy to help get the book published – you get your name in the book as a thank-you! https://unbound.com/books/killing-rumer
Sentinel and Ruins, the first two books of The Sentinel Trilogy, are available now in both paperback and digitnal formats.