No longer do females in horror appear only as little girly ghosts, woeful witches, or simply vehicles of degradation through a masochistic serial killer's love interest. Whether it's payback time, a desire to show men who's boss in a battle of the sexes or simply unveiling a truly twisted inner-evil, horror has gripped the heroine firmly with both hands. Embracing the female protagonist has created some of the most badass characters in the genre and among the most powerful felines in cinema. You may mistakenly underestimate them to begin with- which is fine on the safety of your own couch- but the characters that encounter them and express similar doubts do so at their peril.
The Machine Gun Woman - Bring Me The Head of the Machine Gun Woman (2012)
Actress: Fernanda Urrejola
Lara Croft? Purr-lease. Deep in the heart of an exploitation genre revival in a love letter to 70s' grindhouse, this femme fatale bounty hunter known as 'The Machine Gun Woman' is one merciless mercenary you do not want to mess with. It's all big baps, leather straps, and boot flaps as she strides around in her stilettos all guns blazing. Flaunting her inventory of sexy, shiny weapons to dismember hapless drug lord Che Sausage, this saucy senorita is one seriously hellish angel.
Asami Yamazaki - Audition (1999)
Actress: Eihi Shiina
Asami is everything a man could yearn for - a quiet, pretty, demure and talented young actress. And Asami yearns to be loved. But when she comes to believe that her director, and new lover, has a wife, the years of her seeking affection from treacherous men are over. For that last unlucky bugger, it's paralysis and a vicious mutilation with a wire that marks his fate as she insensately chants through her gruesome sawing act. Hiding behind a scarring and troubled youth, she surfaces as a sadistic psychopath who craves attention, and won't let a man get away with giving her any less.
The Woman - The Woman (2011)
Actress: Pollyanna McIntosh
Motive: REVENGE/NATURAL DESIRE
Tie a woman to the kitchen and she may not be best pleased. Tie a woman to a wall in your garden's underground lair and she is sure to seek revenge. A feral, animalistic cannibal who roams the forests may seem fit for locking up. But hunt her down, chain her up and treat her like a dog and she'll pounce. Capable of tearing you apart with her bare gnashers, this unrelenting woman should be left well alone. In the most severely brutal nature vs man fist-fight, it's all howls and growls with The Woman coming out on top.
Annie Wilkes - Misery (1990)
Actress: Kathy Bates
Motive: DEMENTED OBSESSION
Annie Marie Wilkes Dugan: Stephen King's creation of a female Frankenstein. She may not have bolts sticking out of her neck, and she appears to be a kind, generous, lonely woman when she 'rescues' her favourite author Sheldon after a car crash and cares for him at her home. But Annie is truly a monster and behind her façade is a deeply disturbed woman warped in a demented passion and mad mania. Obsessed by the fiction he writes, Annie will crush bones, break ankles and use excessive torture methods to keep him writing to her script.
Jennifer Hills - I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
Actress: Camille Keaton
Men don't like taking orders from women... or they certainly didn't in this film. But what if the woman has a punishing glare transfixed on his and a hammer raised above her head? For Jennifer, the forest transitions from a frightening reminder of her gang rape abuse, to her playground of cunning trickery and torturing vengeance. It's the day of the woman, and the woman sees red. Jennifer brings booby-traps to the next level and if torment means getting even, "this woman will cut, chop, break and burn five men." She'll even cause a lake of blood red at the helm of a motorboat. People often say that revenge is sweet. And for Jennifer, revenge is sweeter than honey.
Mary Mason - American Mary (2012)
Actress: Katharine Isabelle
Meet Mary: a grade-A med student with bags of potential and a desire to excel above her classmates. But deviating slightly from the conventional school route after being raped by her tutor at a teacher's party, Mary sees the financial perks of underground body mod surgeries. First, she has a personal score to settle and it just so happens that it's with the man who taught her the tricks of the trade. The tools are in her black-gloved hands, and she will snip and slice away at whatever piece of flesh or organ she feels necessary to clear her vendetta. Unfortunately, she's run out of anaesthetic, and what's more, she'll make the suffering last.
Cherry Darling - Planet Terror (2007)
Actress: Rose McGowan
Any woman with a bionic anything is surely a classified badass. Zombies can feast on Cherry's real leg all they like - she may be an amputee who walks with a limp, but she can blow up crowds, shoot missiles, jump fifty metres into the air and take Tarantino's eye out with her multifunctional limb. She takes the helm over a pack of survivors and showcases plenty of her sexy, super cool stunts on the way.
Mrs. Voorhees - Friday the 13th (1980)
Actress: Betsy Palmer
She's an iconic villain and a legend of horror - the token mother in my list too. Mum of one of the most well-known fictional serial killers of all time, she too has had her fair share of murdering sprees. In response to the death of her son Jason, the former cook kills camp councillors and campers alike and mutters those words that make the hairs on the back of our head stand upright: "Kill her mommy, kill her". She may be a little older than the rest of our badass females, but don't let those cosy knits fool you- she's the maddest and barmiest of them all. Though she meets her demise before the franchise really kicks off, she goes out fighting for her son's legacy with a swift swing of a machete. And that is true motherhood.
Ellen Ripley - Alien (1979)
Actress: Sigourney Weaver
Motive: TO SAVE HUMANITY
Ripley is the real Alien queen in this film. Scared, feeble and a little bit pathetic when her life comes enigmatically crashing down, she is reborn as an unstoppable warrior who bursts centre stage into alien butt-kicking form. One of cinema's most celebrated and quintessential female protagonists, Ripley embodies the action hero with full-force and from then onwards plays world saviour, matron and mother. She even manages to save her cat.
Alice - Resident Evil (2002)
Actress: Milla Jovovich
Motive: TO SAVE HUMANITY
Some may be put off if they woke up with no memory of who they were. Jason Bourne would probably agree. But luckily enough for Alice, she awakes a hardcore heroine with the ability to bounce off walls quicker than flubber and shoot down monsters better than the cast of Ghostbusters. Saving a zombie-ridden world from human mutilation, Alice doesn't do too badly for an amnesiac.
About the author: Becky Roberts is a graduate of Cardiff University in Journalism, Film and Media. She's an avid film fan and hopes pursue a career in the industry, with her ultimate dream to be a film journalist. You can check out her movie review blog at http://beckyroberts-moviereviews.blogspot.co.uk/ and follow her on Twitter @Becky_Jay6.
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Becky has devoured horror and grown particularly interested in Foreign and Asian genre films (and has written a 12,000 word dissertation on it if anyone's up for a bit of light reading!) She is now a blogger of horrorble films and a journalist, and reviews and reports on horror in nine tenths of her spare time. It is no lie that she enjoys the events with free drinks the most.