I’m a feminist and a horror movie fan. But the reality is that there are actually a lot of horror films that buck the (unfair) horror trope of women who are just on screen to drink, have sex and get killed in a way that conveniently shows as much cleavage as possible—or at the very least to be scene decorations while a dude saves the day. Even if the female protagonist survives, more often than not, writers don’t get to the level where she is the one to do the killer in (think Julie James in I Know What You Did Last Summer and Laurie Strode from the Halloween franchise). However, sometimes when we’re lucky, the final girls have been the ones to deliver the final kill. Here are five of our favorites.
Sidney Prescott, Scream (1996)
As a ’90s kid, when I think of the idea of a badass Final Girl, I think of Sidney. Sidney is the quintessential final girl, surviving all the movies in the series and not hesitating to roll her eyes along the way. Aside from being super smart and knowing how to avoid every cliché serial-killer move in the book, Sidney is able to separate her head from her heart and deliver the final bullet to her own boyfriend’s skull without hesitation. And she does it with wit: when Billy Loomis comes back to life for a split second after Randy suggests he might even though he should be deader than dead at that point (because, you know, horror-movie trope), she shoots and says, “Not in my movie.” Queen.
Marcia Holland, Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)
For those of you not familiar with this film series, the end scene of the first movie alone is worth a watch for its WTF factor. And before you Sleepaway Camp aficionados (do those exist? Aside from me, I mean) say, “But Angela is still alive in Return to Sleepaway Camp!“, I’m calling shenanigans on that. I’m going by the original series and not the 2008 revival because I think these movies should have stayed firmly in the ’80s/early ’90s where they belong—and Angela was definitely dead.
But unlike most people, who would run after the killer decides to let you go (Angela wasn’t completely heartless), Marcia blindsides Angela with a ton of stabbing. Sadly, Marcia doesn’t get to see Angela finally bite the dust, since Angela dies on the way to the hospital. But for delivering these fatal blows alone, Marcia—who also famously friend-zones her suitor Tony by telling him she has a boyfriend after flirting with him the whole movie (which is actually sort of funny)—deserves a spot on this list.
Alice Hardy, Friday the 13th (1980)
You can’t have a list of woman-powered kills without Alice Hardy, the original final girl of the Friday the 13th franchise, before quintessential mama’s boy Jason came along and terrorized everyone (because he wasn’t dead—THANKS A LOT, EVERYONE, FOR NOT CONSIDERING WITCHCRAFT), Pamela Voorhees was the one to beat.
And beat her Alice did—by beheading Mrs. Voorhees, with her own machete at that, after watching all her co-counselors get murdered and barely escaping getting offed herself because she failed to finish the job initially. Luckily for Alice, she figured it all out. Lesson learned (even though Alice doesn’t end up surviving the sequel). Poor girl just wanted a summer job.
Kyle, Child’s Play 2 (1990)
Considering the “hero” of the Child’s Play franchise is Andy Barclay, wild child Kyle isn’t your typical Final Girl—in fact, the second film is the only time she makes an appearance, which is a shame considering how strong of a character she is. Because aside from encouraging Andy to be strong and listen to his instincts regardless of what adults tell him, she delivers a really badass kill when she pours hot, melted plastic over Chucky a la Viserys Targaryen and then sticks an air hose in his mouth until he explodes.
Granted, we all know Chucky is some kind of immortal being who always finds a way to return because voodoo or whatever, but this kill from Kyle is, in my opinion, the best in the series.
Ellen Ripley, Alien (1979)
Even though Alien is one of those films that overlaps the horror genre, I feel like Ellen Ripley’s Final Girl status is kind of overlooked since the film is more often seen as sci-fi. In a chaotic environment where everyone has different agendas, Ripley is the only to survive—and it’s she who outsmarts the alien, blasting it into deep space with shuttle engines after her first tactic doesn’t quite work as she expected. For her ability to think on her feet alone along with her unwillingness to give up her life or anyone else’s in the name of space exploration or science, Ripley’s final kill of the titular character is more than noteworthy.
This piece is part of Galloween, Cinefilles‘ month of all-girl horror coverage. Click the image to read more.