It’s Women in Horror Month, which means we’ll be paying tribute to the invaluable contributions of women all throughout February!
Today, we’re honoring those who truly bring the terror: Female Horror Movie Villains! While the genre is flooded with them (owing, in equal parts, to a celebration of female power and unshakable male anxieties surrounding sexuality), these fiends prove there’s nothing “fairer” about female killers! Have a read and let us know in the Comments section if your favorite female horror movie villain made the list!
“Princess” Lola (Played by Robin McLeavy) in The Loved Ones (2009, Directed by Sean Byrne)
Weapon of Choice: Power Drill
Movie Synopsis: After a classmate (Xavier Samuel) declines her invitation to the school dance, a teenager (Robin McLeavy) kidnaps him and makes him the guest of honor at her own twisted prom.
Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets. Remember this next time a mousey wallflower asks you to Prom. When Lola teams up with her wicked Daddy, there’s no such thing as “No”. They’ve got an arsenal at the ready to ensure Lola has a night she’ll never forget: Music, decorations, syringes, power tools. And just when you think her depravity knows no end, get a load of what Lola’s hiding in the basement!
La femme (Played by Béatrice Dalle) from Inside aka À l’intérieur (2007, Directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury)
Weapon of Choice: Scissors
Movie Synopsis: Four months after the death of her husband, a woman on the brink of motherhood is tormented in her home by a strange woman who wants her unborn baby.
Nameless, seductive, and hellbent: La femme will go to any length to reap the fruit of someone else womb. Her rabid unnatural desires remain hidden behind a cool exterior, as she refuses to let anyone stand in the way of her mission. But has her rampage targeted an innocent woman, or is there an unknown connection to her chosen victim?
Mama (Played by Javier Botet) in Mama (2013, Directed by Andrés Muschietti)
Weapon of Choice: A mother’s undying love
Movie Synopsis: On the day that their parents die, sisters Lilly and Victoria vanish in the woods, prompting a frantic search by their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain). Five years later, miraculously, the girls are found alive in a decaying cabin, and Lucas and Annabel welcome them into their home. But as Annabel tries to reintroduce the children to a normal life, she finds that someone — or something — still wants to tuck them in at night.
A mother’s undying love is supposed to be a thing of beauty, but Mama’s attachment to her feral charges goes beyond the grave—and she won’t be happy until she’s reunited with her children in death. Body actor Javier Botet’s unique and terrifying movements are enhanced exponentially by the perfect amount of wicked CGI.
Zelda (Played by Andrew Hubatsek) in Pet Sematary (1989, Directed by Mary Lambert)
Weapon of Choice: Extreme creepiness
Movie Synopsis: Behind a young family’s home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life after death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable.
In a film overflowing with terror, Zelda stands in a class of her own. The supporting character played by Andrew Hubatsek is only seen for a few moments, but her effect is powerful and haunting. As a literary device, Zelda represents those childhood traumas that can’t be forgotten—no matter how much we wish they could.
The Wire Twins (Played by Darlene Levin and Maureen Sue Levin) in Hellraiser: Inferno (2000 Directed by Scott Derrickson)
Weapon of Choice: Sex
Movie Synopsis: A shady police detective becomes embroiled in a strange world of murder, sadism and madness after being assigned a murder investigation against a madman known only as “The Engineer”.
Every guy dreams of having a threesome with sexy twins, right? You’ll think twice after checking out the treatment The Wire Twins give Craig Sheffer in Hellraiser: Inferno. While it’s tough to beat the personification of sexual pleasure and searing agony that was Barbie Wilde, the Female Cenobite in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, the Wire Twins are actually a very true representation of how the Cenobites were described in the source material: Clive Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart.
Annie Wilkes (Played by Kathy Bates) in Misery (1990 Directed by Rob Reiner)
Weapon of Choice: Sledge Hammer
Movie Synopsis: After a famous author is rescued from a car crash by a fan of his novels, he comes to realize that the care he is receiving is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse.
The fact that Kathy Bates received the Best Actress Oscar for her turn as Annie Wilkes in Rob Reiner’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery was a huge win for horror. Indeed, Bates portrayal of a romance writer’s “Number One Fan” is beyond chilling. The hobbling scene will go down in history as one of the most harrowing and disturbing horror movie moments ever.
Samara (Played by Daveigh Chase) in The Ring (2002, Directed Gore Verbinski)
Weapon of Choice: Cursed Video Tape
Movie Synopsis: A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone in a week of viewing it.
There’s nothing childish about this creepy kid; Samara is a horror heavyweight! After spending a week at the bottom of a well, nothing can cool this spook’s thirst for vengeance. She’s also unique for her ability to manipulate photographic mediums, creating a curse capable of peer to peer transmission via video (and, eventually, digital).
Asami Yamazaki (Played by Eihi Shiina) in Audition (1999, Directed by Takashi Miike)
Weapon of Choice: Needles and Piano Wire
Movie Synopsis: This disturbing Japanese thriller follows Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), a widower who decides to start dating again. Aided by a film-producer friend (Jun Kunimura), Aoyama uses auditions for a fake production to function as a dating service. When Aoyama becomes intrigued by the withdrawn, gorgeous Asami (Eihi Shiina), they begin a relationship. However, he begins to realize that Asami isn’t as reserved as she appears to be, leading to gradually increased tension and a harrowing climax.
Audition can be taken as a warning for older men seeking the companionship of younger women—or perhaps just a reminder that when things seem too good to be true, they usually are! Consider Asami Yamazaki a soul sister of Lola (mentioned above). Both harbor wickedness behind a pretty exterior, both have secrets, and neither one should be underestimated.
Regan MacNeil (Played by Linda Blair) in The Exorcist (1973, Directed by William Friedkin)
Weapon of Choice: Pazuzu
Movie Synopsis: One of the most profitable horror movies ever made, this tale of an exorcism is based loosely on actual events. When young Regan (Linda Blair) starts acting odd — levitating, speaking in tongues — her worried mother (Ellen Burstyn) seeks medical help, only to hit a dead end. A local priest (Jason Miller), however, thinks the girl may be seized by the devil. The priest makes a request to perform an exorcism, and the church sends in an expert (Max von Sydow) to help with the difficult job.
While Regan wasn’t officially the villain, as the body possessed by the Sumerian demon Pazuza, she was the face of terror.
Esther (Played by Isabelle Fuhrman) in The Orphan (2009, Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra)
Weapon of Choice: Deception
Movie Synopsis: Devastated by the loss of their unborn baby, Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard) decide to adopt a child. At the orphanage, both feel drawn to a little girl (Isabelle Fuhrman) named Esther, and soon the couple take their new daughter home. But when a dangerous series of events unfolds, Kate begins to suspect that there is something evil lurking behind the child’s angelic exterior.
Esther’s a nut, but we’ve got to appreciate her moxie. Her plan for finding the perfect family is about as ridiculous and convoluted as can be, but we can honestly say we never saw “that” twist coming!
Tiffany (Played by Jennifer Tilly) in Bride of Chucky (1998, Directed by Ronny Yu)
Weapon of Choice: Chucky
Movie Synopsis: Chucky, the doll possessed by a serial killer, discovers the perfect mate to kill and revive into the body of another doll.
In Tiffany, Chucky found his perfect match, his soulmate, his permanent partner in crime. Proof that behind every great man, there’s a woman willing to slaughter his adversaries right be his side! Okay, maybe not… While Tiffany arrived at turning point in the Child’s Play franchise, one that saw the series veering towards horror comedy, she was the perfect shot in the arm. Bride and Seed may be the least popular installments in the Child’s Play franchise, but Tiffany definitely reinvigorated things when the series could have easy been forgotten.
Hayley Stark (Played by Ellen Page) in Hard Candy (2005, Directed by David Slade)
Weapon of Choice: Blackmail
Movie Synopsis: A teenage girl raids a man’s home in order to expose him under suspicion that he is a sex offender with pedophilia.
Part of what makes Haley Stark so terrifying is that she’s able to achieve her ends without ever actually committing a crime (well, except for blackmail). Still, the “castration” scene in Hard Candy will have you cupping your balls in fear (if you have them, that is). While she’s definitely villainous, Haley Stark is also a vigilante and a hero of the exploited.
Mrs. Voorhees (Played by Betsy Palmer) in Friday the 13th (1980, Directed by Sean S. Cunningham)
Weapon of Choice: Kitchen Knife
Movie Synopsis: A group of camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp which, years before, was the site of a child’s drowning.
Hats off to one of the original iconic Female Horror Villains. Mrs. Voorhees sauntered into the spotlight in an era where slashers were men and women were victims, completely flipping the script and forever changing the trajectory of our beloved genre.
Who are some of your favorite female horror movie villains? Sound off in the Comments section!