Men have dominated the “killer” role in horror movies for decades. There is, however, a certain level of dread inspired by the female horror villain that just doesn’t compare. Driven by revenge, psychosis, demonic possession, or something even more sinister, we would not want to incur the wrath of these women. Move aside, Freddie and Jason.
1. Mrs. Voorhees in Friday the 13th
Everyone knows it’s Mrs. Voorhees, not Jason, who’s the killer in 1980s slasher flick Friday the 13th. It’s only natural that Jason’s mom would want to punish the irresponsible camp counselors who failed to protect her son. Only problem is, the counselors she picks off, one-by-one, have nothing to do with his death. Actress Betsy Palmer’s giant grin during the big reveal makes the ending of this movie super terrifying. It also doesn’t hurt that she knows her way around a machete: though not quite well enough, apparently. Mrs. Voorhees makes a cameo in the second film … as a severed head.
2. Marie in High Tension
Who in the world could be after Alex, her friend Marie, and Alex’s family in this French gore-fest from 2003? Spoiler alert [seriously]: It’s Marie! An epic plot-twist ending reveals Marie to be the killer, turning the typical gender-dynamics of horror movies upside down. As we find out, Marie is completely obsessed with Alex, and is determined to make Alex love her no matter what. Marie even exclaims, “I won’t let anyone come between us anymore” after Alex plunges a crowbar into her chest. Talk about a twisted sense of devotion.
3. Asami in Audition
Probably the most brutal, sadistic, and straight-up grotesque killer on this list, Asami terrified a whole generation of men in this 1999 Japanese horror movie. The title refers to the “auditions” that widower Shigeharu Aoyama holds for a new wife. Boy, does it seem like he’s hit the jackpot in Asami. Of course, this is a horror flick, so naturally Asami is not what she seems. Things get particularly ugly when she puts Aoyama through an audition of his own: one that involves needles and piano wire.
4. Jennifer in Jennifer’s Body
Megan Fox stars in this 2009 horror romp as a cheerleader who becomes possessed by a demon. The movie satirizes the typical hyper-sexuality of the horror genre, so most of it is just Megan Fox sexily feasting on her male classmates. For the highbrow viewer, the film starts an interesting discussion about the portrayal of women in horror movies. For the lowbrow viewer, well … it’s pretty self-explanatory.
5. Samara in The Ring
Like Naomi Watts’ character Rachel, we were fooled too: We thought Samara was a victim of the Ring, not the vengeful mastermind behind it! This young villain crawled her way into our nightmares in 2002’s remake of the disturbing Japanese horror film of the same name. Just when we thought the worst was over, she came back for more in 2005 in the sequel. And, in great news for Samara fans, she returns to the big screen in October 2016 in Rings.
6. Annie Wilkes in Misery
There’s nothing scarier than a crazed super-fan, and this super-fan takes the cake. We meet Annie as the lucky gal who rescues one of her favorite authors from a horrible car wreck. It soon becomes clear, though, that Annie has no intention of ever letting him go, even if that means she has to tie him up and break his legs. In her Oscar-winning performance, Kathy Bates, as Annie Wilkes, goes down in history as the most terrifying fan of anything or anyone, ever.
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7. Kayako in The Grudge
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned … and Kayako was seriously scorned. Not only did her husband murder her in a jealous rage, he also killed their son and the family cat. Though the whole family comes back as vengeful ghosts, intent on destroying the lives of the new family who moves into their home, it’s the ferocious Kayako who stands out as the most terrifying among them.
8. Regan in The Exorcist
Though it certainly isn’t Regan’s fault that she’s possessed, she sure does manage to inflict a whole heck of a lot of damage. Whether she’s cursing at priests, throwing her mother across the room, or murdering a family friend, Regan is the single most notorious victim of demonic possession in film history. Though in the end she’s finally freed from her demonic prison, we might think twice about inviting her over for a slumber party. Jeez.
9. Lola in The Loved Ones
Robin McLeavy, who plays Lola in this epic 2009 torture porn movie, shows that female villains can be just as sadistic as male villains. With the help of her demented dad, Lola wields a power drill like she got an A+ in shop class, which is rather unfortunate for the object of her affection, Brent. This overlooked horror gem from 2012 had us all rethinking those creepy classmates of ours who just wanted a date to the prom.
10. Mrs. White in Carrie
We suppose one could include, Carrie, herself on this list, though that doesn’t exactly seem fair. She was, after all, the victim of years and years of bullying, and had an entire bucket of pig’s blood dropped on her head. No, we don’t blame Carrie for snapping. We hold her mother, Mrs. White, accountable. If only Mrs. White hadn’t taken to locking Carrie up in the closet and berating her for all those years, maybe things would have been alright. So thanks Mrs. White, for being the ultimate horror movie villain.
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Featured still from "The Loved Ones" via Screen Australia