This week, we’re winding up our month long series Final Girl, a program dedicated to the women in horror who – time and again – endure unspeakable torment for our collective entertainment. We think we picked the best Final Girls out there for the series (Halloween‘s Laurie Strode, Scream‘s Sidney Prescott, Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s Sally Hardesty), but there are a few left out of the mix that deserve attention.
Below, Hatched editors Caryn Coleman and Kris King have put together a list of Nitehawk’s other favorite Final Girls.
Alice – Friday the 13th (1980, Sean S. Cunningham)
One of the original Final Girls, Alice from Friday the 13th is not only the only remaining person from the slew of camp counselor killings at Crystal Lake but she’s also the one who stays alive long enough to figure out who’s been knocking everyone off. She’s the quiet one, the one not fooling around but making coffee and hanging out. Alice’s draped body hanging over the canoe is an iconic image in horror – at once quiet and tense – and what happens next sets the tone for the next three thousand Friday the 13th sequels!
Nancy – A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, Wes Craven)
Director Wes Craven has an affinity for creating horror that affects people on a basic level, and Freddy Krueger’s method of attack – invading a person’s dreams – is kind of a thin parallel to sexual assault. Krueger’s first object of desire – Nancy Thompson – is a bookish but steely girl, who endures Krueger’s violation without allowing him to break her resolve. As Kruger carves his way down Elm Street, Nancy realizes that by invading her subconscious, Freddy steps into territory that she controls, leaving him vulnerable to her will alone.
Jess – Black Christmas (1974, Bob Clark)
Hello? Hello?! Years before Laurie the babysitter survived Halloween, Bob Clark’s Black Christmas gave us the first American (ok, North American since the film is from Canada) Final Girl, Jess. Jess is the lone survivor of an unseen madman’s killing spree (he’s in the house!) despite being the target of all the dirty phone calls at her sorority house one Christmas. Her independence is established early on with her very clear decision on a personal matter but what makes her a stellar Final Girl is her brave battle throughout the night, trying to save her friends and herself.
Tina – Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988, John Carl Buechler)
By 1988, the Friday the 13th franchise found itself in a corner. Juggernaut baddie Jason Voorhees had already been stabbed, shot, killed, brought back to life and then drowned. When the time came for part 7, a problem arose: what teenager could possibly stand up to the Immortal Murder Machine? Enter Tina (Lar Park Lincoln), the emotionally fragile Final Girl of Friday the 13th Part VII, who ticks the same boxes as the rest of the series’ female leads (chaste, smart, cautious) with one key difference: she can blow stuff up with her mind. That’s right, in Part VII, Jason fights Carrie.
Ana – Amer (2009, Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani)
Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s brilliant filmic triptych Amer shows three formative experiences for a woman named Ana. In their love letter to giallo we see Ana as a child, a teenager, and then an adult who has clearly become the sum of her sexual experiences. More than any other film in recent memory, Amer makes what it feels like to be a girl in the world palpable by focusing on that girl in the world. Ana’s journey of empowerment culminates in the return to her childhood home where, even though she doesn’t survive, she’s the maker of her own destiny.
Barbara – Night of the Living Dead (1990, Tom Savini)
In George Romero’s 1968 original Night of the Living Dead, Barbara narrowly escapes the clutches of the undead and then spends the remainder of the film on an express train to rock bottom. Then she dies. Bummer. In Tom Savini’s 1990 remake of the film, Barbara (Patricia Tallman) takes on a different tenor. Under the same circumstances as her monochrome predecessor — trapped with strangers in a house besieged by zombies — the Barbara of the 90’s proves herself to be a sharp and capable fighter; a woman not to be messed with by man or zombie. “They’re coming to get you, Barbara?” Not this time.
Jessica – Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971, John Hancock)
Being totally honest, Jessica is a bit of a fraidy cat (having just suffered a nervous breakdown and all) BUT her intuition and cautiousness do wind up saving her life. Like many of our horror heroines, Jessica and her friends escape the stress of the city for a peaceful time in the country. Naturally, things begin to get weird, and one by one her husband and friends succumb to the evil lurking all around them. As odd as she is, Jessica overcomes her fears, and – in another iconic canoe scene – fights her way to safety.
Ripley – Alien (1979, Ridley Scott)
Ellen Ripley developed into such an action hero over the course of four Alien movies that it’s easy to forget that she started out as the petrified (and unlikely) lone survivor in Alien. Ripley was second-in-command aboard the Nostromo when a deadly alien boarded the ship and made short work of the rest of the crew, and she exhibits several Final Girl signifiers: she’s a strong-willed, bright, no bullshit woman who manages to keep her disrespectful crew in line even as their ranks start to thin out. She even manages to save the ship’s cat.
Sabina – We Are What We Are (2010, Jorge Michel Grau)
It becomes obvious that it’s the women of the household who are really in control when the weak patriarch of this Mexican cannibal family dies. Despite the oldest son’s numerous attempts to “provide” for his family, he just can’t seem to get the deed done while his mother and sister, Sabina, more than make up for his misgivings. In the end, he succeeds in saving his sister’s life by sacrificing himself but even this act seems nearly preordained by Sabina. The final scene of this Final Girl standing alone and staring at her next meal certainly shows that she’s no victim but top of the food chain.
Stretch – Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986, Tobe Hooper)
Motor-mouthed Texas disc jockey Stretch (Caroline Williams) finds herself in a heap of trouble when a pair of drunk teenagers call her radio show just as they’re assaulted by Leatherface and the killer Sawyer clan. Stretch records the assault and continues to play it on air to raise awareness of the attack — her plan works, but the attention she gets isn’t the kind she hoped for. The Sawyer’s kidnap Stretch and take her to their new stomping ground, an abandoned carnival, where they subject her to the same kinds of twisted torture they unleashed the decade prior. But, with a little help from Sheriff Dennis Hopper, Stretch is able to claw away from the Sawyers and unleash a little chainsaw carnage of her own. While the first film ends with Leatherface slicing at the air in frustration, Part 2 ends with its Final Girl claiming the family weapon for herself, waving it in the air in triumph.