Throughout The Years, Audiences Have Overlooked These Incredibly Ruthless Horror Heroines As The Ultimate Final Girls
In the vein of the spooky season we’re in – Halloween not the pandemic – it’s likely a lot of us are going to be watching a ton of horror movies. While we’re cuddled up and warm inside, chances are you’re going to rewatch classics you’ve seen an endless amount of times and sing along to every lyric of I Put A Spell On You during Hocus Pocus. It’s easy to focus on our favorite horror movie stereotypical characters, the ultimate baddies like Freddy Krueger and Dracula, and root for those special Final Girls like it’s our first time watching. Nostalgia and pumpkin spice does a lot of good for any Fall-obsessed person.
Speaking of those Final Girls, we all know who are the forever favorites. Anyone can fan out over Jamie Lee Curtis as arguably horror’s best Final Girl, Halloween’s Laurie Strode. We all were in pain when Nightmare on Elm Street’s Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) lost her battle to Krueger. And everyone is on the edge of their seat with anticipation that Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is going to get axed in the first act of the upcoming Scream 5. While we have our Final Girl Hall of Fame always in our hearts, don’t you feel that we’re under-representing some bad ass chicks who have fought hard to be cemented as goddesses in the genre? Come on, what gay guy doesn’t love a Final Girl!? Let’s highlight some of horror’s greatest, most underrated final girls.
Jamie Lloyd |The Halloween Franchise
In the original Halloween franchise, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) is Laurie’s daughter and Michael Myers’ niece, so she’s hunted by the epic serial killer by proxy. Jamie battles alongside her adopted-sister and her sister’s kooky, best girlfriend in her first two appearances and is chased throughout the fictional Haddonfield, Illinois. While she’s the youngest character on this list, she’s maybe one of the most fearless. After being possessed by the evil that inhabits her uncle and becoming a mute, she eventually breaks his hold over her and outsmarts him time and time again. Despite her youth, she’s cunning, gives an outstanding performance, and unfortunately gets overlooked by the original franchise heroine, Laurie, and has subsequently been ignored/doesn’t exist by the film’s writers in the many complicated timelines the franchise has implemented. Although Jamie meets her gruesome end in the sixth Halloween installment, little Jamie still is in the hearts of any fan of the series as a fantastic successor to Laurie. Harris absolutely should’ve been awarded a cameo in the 2018 Halloween reboot, but at least we got to see her take the mantle of original horror bad-girl, Annie Brackett, in Rob Zombie’s Halloween – and she even survived…the first film. Superfans still have to stomach we’ll likely never see Harris back on screen in the franchise, but somehow Kyle Richards snuck herself into the 2021 sequel, Halloween Kills. You be the judge.
Mary Beth Dunston | The Hatchet Franchise
This isn’t a Danielle Harris fan article, although it should be. She continues to be overlooked as a legendary Scream Queen after appearing in an endless amount of horror films and this is the second franchise she carried on her back. A criminally underrated horror franchise are the Hatchet films which spawned four decent, although gory and campy, films. Wrestler Kane Hodder, more commonly known as the actor behind Jason Voorhees’ hockey mask, takes his talent to be the hell-billy serial killer, Victor Crowley. Harris stars as country bumpkin Mary Beth Dunston who seeks to avenge the death of her family by finally ending the chaos of the supernatural Crowley. This series is for anyone who isn’t squeamish and Harris’ Mary Beth participates in a handful of the blood and guts. She’s ruthless, reckless, and makes every smart decision. After the series’ latest installment, it appears Mary Beth is still ready to continue her fight and the only thing stopping her is a much needed fifth sequel.
Tiffany Valentine-Ray | The Child’s Play Franchise
Openly gay writer and Child’s Play creator, Don Mancini, made cinema magic when he crafted Tiffany Valentine, portrayed devilishly by Jennifer Tilly. Without question, Tilly is beloved by (gay and horror) audiences far and wide, but her reign as Charles Lee Ray’s lover-foil hybrid, Tiffany, has proven her to be the smartest villain in the franchise. After her first appearance in Bride of Chucky, Tiffany has completed what Chucky failed to do again and again – transferred her tortured soul into a human… ironically that human would be an exaggerated version of Jennifer Tilly. It’s confusing on paper, but fans of the series have kept up with the camp and know Tiffany is a force to be reckoned with. Buxom, brains, boobs, and all- Tiffany was an adrenaline shot the series needed. Despite being killed occasionally, she remains an evil force of a Final Girl because she is still in the series canon and we can be damn sure she isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, including the television series which is continuing the films’ timeline.
Amber | Kill Theory
It’s likely you haven’t seen Kill Theory and it should be at the top of your list to watch for the best horror films you’ve never seen. An Indie film with a simple premise: Eight friends at a cabin in the woods with a serial killer observing their every move. There’s a diabolical twist, of course. The unseen man will allow only one of the friends to live and they all must decide who that person should be. Clearly, we’re instantly set for a disaster and the drama and dialogue is almost as great as the bloodbath. Ryanne Duzich’s Amber is immediately set as the stereotypical bimbo who we predict as the first to die based on horror movie tradition. However, as the story progresses, we see that she’s more than a pretty face in skimpy clothing who wants the attention from her male counterparts: She’s a survivor and carefully makes moves by knowing exactly who are friends are and plays on their weaknesses while being a forgiving and empathic, damaged character who know she’s more than just the party girl. Eventually, she walks out of the cabin alive, refusing to become a sociopath afterwards – which is you know, the theory of the film. On your first watch, you’re meant to hate her – and brilliantly halfway through, you’re truly rooting for her to survive.
Angela Vidal | The REC Franchise
Maybe the American version of REC, Quarantine with Jennifer Carpenter, is more popular in the United States, but no one should take away the passion actress, Manuela Velasco, gave to the original Angela Vidal. Angela is a curious anchorwoman who wants to explore a fire station’s latest call and catapults herself and her cameraman into a nightmare that spawns over four different Spanish films. Angela becomes possessed, then unpossessed, and has to fight off herds of demon-zombies like she’s leading the charge in World War Z. Seriously, this girl ducks and dives through four sequels, beginning as a horrified, unknowing casualty to rising into an incredible Final Girl who we should bow down too. If you need a partner, nay – a leader – it’s Angela Vidal.
Maddie Young | Hush
The Haunting of Hill House superstar, Kate Siegel, first portrayed an uninspired, deaf writer in Blumhouse’s agonizing thriller, Hush. Although mostly silent, Hush is a horrifying home invasion film where a random man gleefully tortures Maddie in and outside of her home with anticipation of killing her. What makes the film special is Maddie’s ability to overcome her disability. As an audience, we sometimes hear what she is thinking in her head and it puts us into her shoes that she knows she has a disadvantage and tries her best to overcome it with various survival tactics. In the end, her disability winds up becoming exactly what saves her and it’s such an overwhelming moment you cannot help but to tear up along with her. And let’s get real – she saves her cat… so Maddie definitely has space in the Final Girl Hall of Fame.
Gale Weathers | The Scream Franchise
Everyone in the world cheers for Scream’s angelic Sidney Prescott above most, but why do we keep crapping on Courteney Cox’s character of Gale Weathers? Maybe it comes with some underlying opinions on Cox as a celebrity or her FRIENDS persona, but she’s done the fiery and obnoxious Weathers a great deal of gratitude. Weathers has been the second-in-line of the franchise as a manipulative and fame-seeking journalist who would do anything for a story, but also to prove the truth. She genuinely risked her life to prove the innocence of a man because she knew something was amuck the entire time. She eventually would gain the life of a best-selling author that she desired, but that’s not even good enough for her. She’s relatable! Weathers has been put through the ringer in each film, almost meeting her end, and we can almost guarantee she won’t be long for the Scream universe with the upcoming sequel as she was the cast member least interested in returning. Of course Sidney has fought the long fight, but Gale has been right alongside her and is just as worthy of having the title of Final Girl next to her name…but we do need to talk about that horrible Scream 3 haircut.
Kirsty Cotton | The Hellraiser Series
Saving the best for last… and the title of most underrated, barely looked-over Final Girl goes to Clive Barker’s sensational Final Girl, Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) from the Hellraiser series. Kirsty literally went through hell and back again in three films to save her father, herself, an innocent teenage girl, and got revenge on her scheming husband. What is not to love about Kirsty?! She was always more aware of her surroundings than she let on. She knew her stepmother (Clare Higgins) was a devil in disguise and grossly put on someone else’s skin to save a life. If the people in Kirsty’s life would’ve listened to her originally, they wouldn’t have became victims. Kirsty dealt with more horror than any Final Girl in history, yet somehow gets pushed aside for suburban girls who escaped a maniac. Kirsty battled sadistic demons, had to relive the death of her father repeatedly, and somehow managed to go on with her life to become a functioning member of society. The classic Final Girls don’t hold a candle to Kirsty, but something tells us that she appreciates being a bit under the radar – she is trying to avoid Cenobites after all.
While the ladies of this list stand out – who is your take on notable, underrated Final Girls? Gay men have forever been indebt to the horror genre, even being the creators behind many iconic figures that we know and love. Soon enough, we can certainly expect to see a Final Gays list sometime soon, especially with upcoming films like Christopher Landon’s Freaky which is providing us with a gay, main character in a horror film set to be released this year. Fingers are crossed and spells have been cast!
Writer’s Note: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.