Horror's Top 10 Most Frightening Women
With the upcoming release of the creepy Hammer film The Woman in Black on DVD May 22nd, we thought it would be a good time to look back at some of our favorite frightening women from horror films of the past. Believe me; these aren't your average scream queens. These women bite back...hard!
To prime the proverbial pump, we have some honorable mentions for those who just missed the list. Who wasn't creeped out by Cécile De France in Haute Tension (High Tension) or Isabelle Fuhrman in Orphan. I remember looking through my fingers at the woman-thing at the end of [REC], and Rebecca De Mornay was simply cold-blooded in The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. Rie Ino'o gave us an iconic image in Ring, which Daveigh Chase duplicated in the American remake. And Lina Leandersson was eerie as Ellie in Lat den ratte komma in (Let the Right One In). Hell, if the films they were in were scarier, we'd love to have put Bellatrix Lestrange and The Wicked Witch of the West on here. They were some nasty ladies as well! And isn't that just the way we like 'em? Nasty! Read on, for we've got them all here, in no particular order - the Top Ten Most Frightening Women in Film.
Lola Stone (Robin McLeavy in The Loved Ones)
You've heard us talk about this film, rave about it even. And if you haven't gotten out to see The Loved Ones yet, you're doing yourself a disservice as a horror fan. This movie is the real deal and Robin McLeavy as Lola Stone is killer! Actually maybe torturer/killer is a more accurate description, but you get the idea. This is a true case of whatever Lola wants, Lola gets (why can't I write that without dreaming about Sofia Vergara in that Pepsi commercial?) because when Lola doesn't get what she wants, bad things happen...real bad. It's not easy to include a character so new that many of you guys haven't even heard of her yet, but trust us; when you finally meet Lola Stone, you'll see what we're talking about.
Zelda Goldman (Andrew Hubatsek in Pet Sematary)
Even though she was played by a fella, there is absolutely no way this list goes together without the nightmare that was the spinal meningitis-stricken Zelda from the brutal memories of Rachel Creed in Pet Sematary. She only had about a minute or so of screen time, but it was enough to find her a spot in the dark recesses of our minds for a lifetime. The writhing on the bed in her death throes was bad enough, but when she returned as Rachel's hallucination, rushed the camera and broke into a maniacal laugh while repeatedly screaming "Never get out of bed again!" at the top of her lungs, it was a little more than we could handle. Zelda broke us.
She (Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist)
The unnamed She from Lars von Trier's arthouse film Antichrist crumbled into insanity following the death of her son when she failed to follow one simple rule of parenting…If you're going to be doing the horizontal mambo with Willem Dafoe constantly, make sure you lock all the second-story windows, or Junior might just take a tumble. Well, take a tumble he did, and so does her grip on sanity. As her psychologist husband attempts to repair her shattered psyche, She becomes increasingly deranged and performs some of the most twistedly violent acts on He, and herself, as the film rolls on to its memorable, gritty finale. She has to be one of the more sympathetic characters on this list because of how she was rendered insane, but it's hard to feel too bad for her when she's smashing He's balls with a big block of wood. Ouch.
Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates in Misery)
Flipping your car over in a snowstorm…bad. Being rescued from certain death…good. Being rescued from certain death by someone who adores you for your writing…even better! Being rescued from certain death by Annie Wilkes…oh shit. As much of a psycho-lunatic as she was in Misery, Annie Wilkes will forever be remembered for one scene. And just the fact that we don't even have to come out and tell you what that scene is proves it. It's really a shame that Misery doesn't show in theaters anymore because there's nothing like waiting for that sledgehammer to come down and vaporize Jimmy Caan's ankle and watch the entire place suddenly erupt into one mass toe-curling cringe. Priceless. Annie Wilkes was the embodiment of obsession, and that burly, twisted woman was one of the most memorable and unique monsters we ever had the pleasure to peek in on.
La Femme (Béatrice Dalle A l'interieur (Inside))
And speaking of obsession, we've got an extreme example of a lovely French lady who went off the deep end in the ultra-violent film Inside. From the moment La Femme showed up in the film, you knew things were not going to go well. She was like a rabid, crazed dog. And what was her mission, you ask? All she wanted to do was cut a baby out of a pregnant woman and take it for her own. That's right. La Femme has to be best remembered for her limitless brutality and laser-like focus on her goal: getting the baby that she believes is rightfully hers. Moviegoers will be hard pressed to find another woman as violent and remorseless as this memorable character. From the initially attempted cesarean section with the dress shears, throughout the entire film, La Femme definitely earned her spot on this list.
The Woman (Pollyanna McIntosh in The Woman)
Sometimes you'd like to have faith in the intelligence of your fellow man. It's unfortunate that McDonald's has to print COFFEE IS HOT on their coffee cups because you would hope in a society as advanced as our own, even the slowest among us would realize the inherent dangers in that cup of coffee and behave accordingly. Just as you would hope that a successful country lawyer would be slick enough to know that if you do happen to find a feral woman living in the woods, it's probably not a good idea to capture her, bring her home and try to civilize her. In The Woman this is unfortunately not the case. However, if all those mistakes were made, one would pray that once said woman bites off and eats one of your fingers, then the realization of just how terrible this idea is should set in. Again, no. And when you miss that many telltale signs of idiotic behavior, you've got to pay the price, and The Woman is nothing if not good at collecting that debt. An absolutely raw, animalistic character, she is the beast within all of us when the trappings of modern society are removed.
The Grady Twins & Mrs. Massey (the tub woman) (Lisa and Louise Burns & Billie Gibson in The Shining)
If there was one place that cornered the market on frightening women, it was the Overlook Hotel. The nightmarish setting of the classic Stanley Kubrick film housed not one, but three frightening females. Of course the iconic Grady twins make the list as their presence alone was enough to get the skin of the average movie-goer crawling. The pint-sized ghosts managed to amp up the fear factor of The Shining to epic levels. Then add in Mrs. Massey (she of the Room 237 bathtub scenes…her character was not developed in the film, but a reading of the Stephen King novel clears everything up). The off-the-charts scary ghost of a suicide victim is equally off-putting. They make up a triple-threat of terror. Yipes!
May Dove Canady (Angela Bettis in May)
Oh May, how we love you so. Without a doubt, she is the most precious and magnetic character on this list. But even through the cute smile and simple need for companionship, May is just as twisted as anyone else on this list, perhaps taking her mother's advice of "If you can't find a friend, make one" a bit too far. Perfect hands, perfect neck, perfect legs - May finds them all; unfortunately they're on different people. "So many perfect parts but no perfect wholes." Only one way to bring them all together, and she does just that in creating Amy, a Frankenstein-like pile of dead flesh which becomes her friend…at least in May's own broken mind it does. She even adds a little bit of herself to make it perfect. An incredibly sympathetic character, May pulls the viewer into her trauma, then allows us to enjoy her personal triumph. Complicated and batshit crazy, May is a keeper.
Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina in Audition)
Audition proves that you can't judge a book by its cover. Who would have thought that the cute little Asami would end up being a torturing maniac. Never saw that one coming. There's crazy and torturous, and then there's another level of crazy and torturous, and that's right where Asami lives, in the upper crust of psychos. Not only does she remove a foot in perhaps the most painful way possible, but she first drugs her victim to be sure he's paralyzed but wide awake and feeling every ounce of the pain. That's next level. That's Hall of Fame. All she wanted was to be fully loved. Of course, the totality of what she needed, absolutely all of someone, was insane to consider in the first place. Asami, her wire saw and needles, are certainly hard to forget.
Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair in The Exorcist)
Even after nearly 40 years, Regan MacNeil is still the scariest thing ever put to film. The Exorcist is a beautifully deranged film that seared the most horrific creature into our minds forever. The slow burn of the confrontations between Regan and Father Karras and then Karras and Father Merrin together as the film culminates are iconic. But it's not the finale that gets you; it's the build-up of the constant disturbing scenes that make the film so powerful. It's gentle at first - just Regan sitting on the chair with her arm in the air, inappropriately peeing on the floor in the middle of a posh dinner party. But as the film rolls on, the imagery (and incredible sound; the voice of the Pazuzu is by far the most chilling thing about this film) begins to take hold of you. Bringing us lines like the unforgettable, head-spinning "Do you know what she did, your cunting daughter?" or the almost majestically delivered "What an excellent day for an exorcism!" make Regan MacNeil one of, and arguably the most, frightening woman we've ever experienced in horror.
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Haunt the comments section below!