It’s Halloween – whether you’re planning a DVD marathon or dressing up for the occasion, you could do worse than taking some pointers from our list of most celebrated horror film heroines. Whether bathed in blood or dripping with alien goo, remember: there’s usually only one person left standing at the end of the movie, and it’s probably going to be a woman. Girl power, anyone?
1. Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse in Rosemary’s Baby
Roman Polanski’s first Hollywood film saw Mia Farrow’s pregnant housewife character descend into bizarre madness – only to learn that her baby is actually the spawn of Satan. Lesson learnt: never accept weird-smelling good luck charms. Also, never get pregnant. It also launched the Mia Farrow’s Vidal Sassoon crop as a hairstyle, although nobody’s quite figured out how fashion took a demon-spawning housewife to its heart as a hair icon.
2. Sissy Spacek as Carrie White in Carrie
Featuring the best prom-related movie climax of all time, Carrie White is one of the greatest horror movie characters of all time. Spacek got a Oscar nomination for her turn as the telekinetic social outcast, and the film is currently being remade by Boys Don’t Cry director Kimberly Pierce, who’s cast Chloe Moretz in the titular role. Our only question is: can Moretz wear red just as well as Sissy Spacek?
3. Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Alien
Cleanse your mind of Prometheus, the latest (and the most disappointing) outing in the Alien franchise. It’s been 39 years since Alien was unleased upon an unsuspecting public, bringing with it the ball-bustingly magnificent Ellen Ripley, who takes on the full HR Giger alien freakshow. Some might say she’s the most iconic female sci-fi and horror character. We say: “Get away from her, you BITCH!”
4. Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrance in The Shining
Shelley Duvall, all huge eyes and milky skin, was a perfect foil to Jack Nicholson’s deranged hotel caretaker, although her character Wendy isn’t as helpless as she looks – she and her son finally escape to safety. Duvall was made to suffer for Kubrick’s art, with the director forcing her to redo the baseball scene shot 127 times. The actress eventually started to lose her hair from the stress.
5. Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels in The Birds
Melanie Daniels is one of the most celebrated horror film heroines, but Hedren didn’t escape unscathed from filming: in the final attack scene, she endured five days of prop men throwing live birds at her (their bills were taped shut). She now accuses Hitchcock of damaging her career when she refused to sleep with him during the shoot.
6. Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in Halloween
In John Carpenter’s slasher movie classic, nerdy babysitter Laurie Strode can only listen enviously while her more outgoing friends chat about sex and boys. Fast forward an hour later and Stroke has transformed into a savvy survivor who wards off Michael Myers with everything from a metal hanger to a knitting needle. Who needs boys, anyway?
7. Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott in Scream
Scream was probably the first smart meta-horror film – fully aware of horror convention but ruthlessly willing to play with the rules of the genre. So full credit goes to Neve Campbell’s Sidney for surviving all the way to not only the end of the movie, but sequels Scream 2, Scream 3 and last year’s Scream 4. Not many people can come out of a franchise fully intact, but she does.