On October 14th Lucky McKee’s new film The Woman (review here), adapted from the Jack Ketchum novel, will open in limited release. It’s the story of a feral woman and the unfortunate family who attempts to civilize her. Believe me, this chick needs more than finishing school.
To help usher in The Woman, we thought it would be cool to compile a list of 10 of horror’s favorite psycho chicks. Yeah, scream queens are one thing, but these ladies are of a completely different ilk. These ladies bring the pain. Here are the 10, in no particular order …
Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie in House of 1000 Corpses/The Devil’s Rejects)
Let’s start off the list with a psycho lady that’s got it all. Baby Firefly is hot as hell, horny, vicious and absolutely devoid of mercy. But on top of her obvious physical beauty and bloodletting skills, Baby tends to bring a bit of levity to her scenes. Need I remind you of “Tutti fuckin’ frutti”? Throughout the course of two films we see Baby harden and grow colder, culminating in the climactic finality of Rejects. Going down in a shower of gunfire and fighting right to the end, Baby Firefly was the definition of an antihero.
Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers)
In the same vein as Baby Firefly, Juliette Lewis introduced us to a real doozy with Mallory Knox. A perfect complement to Woody Harrelson’s Mickey Knox, Mallory was just as psychotic as her escapee husband as they tried to keep one step ahead of Tom Sizemore’s Detective Jack Scagnetti, who, by comparison, may have been crazier than both of them. (The character, I mean, not Sizemore, although he does have his moments.)
Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates in Misery)
Whenever I’m working on a list like this, I always like to ask around and get the opinions of others to compare what they think to what I have on my list. When I asked for crazy female characters, the same name kept popping up…Annie Wilkes. For those of you who don’t immediately place that name, that’s the character responsible for one of the greatest “Oh shit!” movie moments of all time. Annie Wilkes loves Misery Chastain, a character in a series of novels written by Paul Sheldon (played brilliantly by Jimmy Caan). And we all know where I’m going with this. Without going into all the ankle-breaking details we’re all familiar with already, let’s just say when Annie demonstrates just exactly what ‘hobbling’ is on Paul, audiences were left with an image that would stick with them for a long, long time.
Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina in Audition)
We go international for this next psycho chick. And we can keep it very simple here. Director Takashi Miike made it abundantly clear that some ladies simply should not be fucked with. If you think staging a fake audition to help find a new wife is a good idea, then I’ve got just the film for you. And I’m sure all of you know a rabid young wannabe actress. Do you see them responding any differently if they found out the dream role they just won was a ruse? The piano string would be the least of your worries.
La Femme (Beatrice Dalle in A l’interieur (Inside)
Okay, here was a woman that was extremely difficult to get along with. We stay international here with the French film we Stateside call Inside. And this one falls right in step with some of the other intense French films we’ve seen lately. (Certainly the babes from High Tension or Frontier(s) could have found their way onto this list.) Absolutely mysterious throughout the film, La Femme is an extremely efficient killing machine bent on getting back what was taken from her. When you start your evening’s attack by trying to cut a baby out of a woman’s womb, it’s tough to build on that. La Femme succeeds, planting her firmly on this list.
Carrie White (Sissy Spacek in Carrie)
There are few images in the entire lexicon of horror cinema that stand out bolder than that of Carrie White in her prom dress, drenched in pig’s blood with a look in her eyes that is at the same time vacant and maniacal. In reality high school violence has become so horrifically rampant that we’ll probably never see another mainstream film like Carrie where a harassed teenage exacts a brutal revenge on her tormentors, but Brian De Palma captured the moment exquisitely in this legendary horror classic that shows what a deadly combination bullying, a religious zealot of a single mom and telekinetic powers can be.
Esther Coleman/Leena Klammer (Isabelle Fuhrman in Orphan)
At first I didn’t think Esther could appear on this list because it’s supposed to be psycho “women”. Then I remembered, oh yeah, Esther is a psycho woman. Of course her real name is Leena and she’s 33 years old, cursed with hypopituitarism, but those are just details. Again, here in Orphan we have some pretty memorable scenes, not the least of which is Esther (who we assume is about nine years old) trying to seduce her adopted father. If that scene wasn’t enough to curdle your milk, you may want to consider professional help.
Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly in the Child’s Play series)
Yeah, Chucky started out as a badass, but there’s only so much you can do with a three-foot tall puppet. Scalpel or not, you can pretty much keep Chucky at bay by kicking him hard every time he comes near you. Certainly the producers of the later Child’s Play sequels realized that and brought Jennifer Tilly along to play Chucky’s girlfriend Tiffany. Now, perhaps you would think that dating Alexis Arquette in Bride of Chucky would be the zaniest thing that Tiff would do, but oh no! As it turned out she was just as bad as Chucky, if not worse. Simply put, Tiff was the baddest bitch in the world under three feet tall (and made of plastic).
Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton/Sarah Butler in I Spit On Your Grave)
Okay, all of our other entrants were just kind of born psycho. Some may have had a nudge in the direction of crazy, but most of them were well on their way before we met them. That’s not the case here. Jennifer Hills got the crazy raped out of her. Yeah, in the remake she was a little bitchy before the shit went down, but let’s be honest; violence was not going to happen without that incredibly thorough raping. These guys definitely asked for it. So even though she was just doling out much needed retribution, Jennifer Hills really went the extra mile (mile and a half in the remake) and thus finds herself on our list.
May Dove Canady (Angela Bettis in May)
Why not go full-circle and end where The Woman director Lucky McKee began? Ah, May…what a beautiful soul you were, just looking for someone to love. For someone to talk to. Someone who wasn’t going to stab you in the back the moment you weren’t looking. Again we have another unfortunate individual driven to commit unspeakable acts by those around her. May doesn’t want to build a friend out of other people’s body parts, but in the end we really don’t give her a choice, do we? And the fact that she went ahead and built that friend from the beautiful body parts she harvested from her acquaintances lands May squarely on our crazy list.
A list of crazy women could go on forever (just kidding, ladies!), but here are a few that just missed the cut:
Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Pamela Voorhees in Friday the 13th, Elisabeth Brooks as Marsh Quist in The Howling, Glenn Close as Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction, Rebecca DeMornay as Peyton Flanders in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Shawnee Smith as Amanda Young in the Saw series, Charlotte Gainsbourg as She in Antichrist, Geretta Geretta (Giancarlo) as Rosemary in Demoni (Demons), Ellen Sandweiss as Cheryl in The Evil Dead and for feeding, and thus sustaining, man-eating giant crocodiles, Betty White as Mrs. Delores Bickerman in Lake Placid.
Okay, now that we’ve got you all hopped up on crazy femme fatales, don’t forget to check out Lucky McKee’s The Woman, hitting theaters on October 14th.
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