Top 10 Horror Movie Heroines

Script written by Matthew Thomas What's a good horror movie without a heroine to root for? Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Horror Movie Heroines. For this list, we'll be looking at the women in horror films that fight on the side of good. They don't need to survive the film in question, though. With that in mind, a SPOILER ALERT is probably called for. Special thanks to our users Truthunwinding, Cristian Ruiz, Calumclow and Sue Schippers for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Matthew Thomas

Top 10 Horror Movie Heroines


What's a good horror movie without a heroine to root for? Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Horror Movie Heroines.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the women in horror films that fight on the side of good. They don’t need to survive the film in question, though. With that in mind, a SPOILER ALERT is probably called for.

#10: Sarah Carter
“The Descent” (2005)

This film unfortunately flew under the radar, but should be necessary viewing for any true horror fan. Sarah’s story first breaks your heart and then has it beating a mile a minute. Recently suffering the tragic loss of her daughter and husband in a horrible car accident she survived, Sarah goes spelunking to forget her troubles – as you do. Sadly, this woman just can’t catch a break. Met with horribly deadly life forms that eat the unlucky ones who come across them, Sarah scrambles to survive as well as save her compatriots.

#9: Lila Crane
“Psycho” (1960)

When Marion Crane steals forty thousand dollars from the bank she works at, her attempt to get out of dodge amounts to her untimely demise. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Lila is led to the Bates Motel. Lila not only manages to discover Marion’s fate and have her sister’s killer arrested, she also keeps us invested when the film’s supposed star dies early on. As shocking as that shower scene was, Lila’s discovery of Mrs. Bates’ body chills us to the core just as much.

#8: Julie James
“I Know What You Did Last Summer” franchise (1997-98)

During the late-‘90s horror resurgence, there were a lot of films that lacked the kind of detailed storytelling that makes the genre great. However, the “I Know What You Did Last Summer” films were no pretenders as they crafted a killer with an imposing look and at least one character whose survival fans actually cared about. Part of a group of teens that runs over a man and dumps his body to avoid criminal charges, Julie is scared by the note the movie is named for as well as the demise of her friends. Even in the face of death, however, she stays strong and resilient.

#7: Rachel Keller
“The Ring” franchise (2002-05)

A horror film this scary needs a hero you can empathize with and Rachel is just that. A mother who already dotes on her son, this single parent encounters troubles in the form of death, psychosis and… a VHS tape. Having unwittingly watched the cursed McGuffin, Rachel must work to solve the mystery of the haunted tape before her 7 days are up. As the days tick by, not only must Rachel work fast to save her own life, but soon that of her son as well, pushing her to the limits of her resourcefulness and sanity. Thankfully, Naomi Watts plays this multifaceted and increasingly desperate character with the complexity required to pull it off. And that was just the first time around.

#6: Mia Allen
“Evil Dead” (2013)

When “Evil Dead” was remade/rebooted for a new generation, it was very clear that recasting Ash was a thankless job. So the filmmakers crafted Mia, a new character to serve as the protagonist. An addict who chooses what should be a peaceful cabin retreat to go cold turkey, Mia has much worse things to contend with than mere withdrawal. When a demon begins possessing her and her friends with tongue splitting, blood curdling results, she summons her inner strength and becomes the only character to survive the film. Thus, she confronts her inner demons and actual demons all at once.

#5: Dana Polk
“The Cabin in the Woods” (2012)

What is it with horror movies and virginity? “The Cabin in the Woods” may not be the only horror film to poke fun at the genre’s tropes, but it does it with style as our designated “virgin” serves as the principle heroine. As one member of a group of college students who are tapped to die to ensure the world’s continued existence, Dana is unwilling to play along and all hell breaks loose. Though some may argue that sacrificing yourself is the heroic route, we think that rebelling against a system of torture and death earned her place here.

#4: Laurie Strode
“Halloween” franchise (1978-2002)

In the history of cinema, there have only been a handful of true scream queens. With her turn in this series of films, Jamie Lee Curtis ensured her inclusion on that list – in fact, she’s practically a founding member. The biological sister of the murderous madman Michael Myers, Laurie Strode is a paragon of virtue standing in defiance of a force of death and destruction. We can only assume that a fragment of what makes her brother such a lethal adversary lives inside of her, allowing Laurie to survive several run-ins with such a savage determination.

#3: Nancy Thompson
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise (1984-94)

When Wes craven created Freddy Krueger, one of film’s scariest serial killers was born. And every scary serial killer needs a brave heroine to terrorize. Despite her young age, Nancy uses her intelligence and bravery to seemingly defeat Freddy at his own game, which unfortunately is not always standard for the genre. An important enough figure in the series’ lore that Heather Langenkamp was even tapped to play herself in a meta sequel of sorts, Nancy set the standard for anyone hoping to defy Freddy’s will. She’s the horror heroine of our dreams.

#2: Sidney Prescott
“Scream” franchise (1996-2011)

Another character created by Wes Craven, Sidney again and again finds herself in the crosshairs of the Ghostface killer, but keeps her wits about her, discovers their identity and survives. This is made all the more impressive given the genre-obsessed nature of her assailants, who aren’t likely to fall for the typical scary movie traps that beat so many villains. Consistently tormented by people she’s close to, Sidney outmanoeuvres them all while remaining a kind-hearted person, which may be her most courageous act.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Erin

“You’re Next” (2011)

- Jennifer Hills

“I Spit on Your Grave” (1978)

- Alice Hardy

“Friday the 13th” (1980)

- Cherry Darling

“Grindhouse” (2007)

- Rosemary Woodhouse

“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)


#1: Ellen Ripley
“Alien” franchise (1979-)

For any of you that think the “Alien” franchise doesn’t count as a horror series, we defy you to watch these films and not be terrified beyond belief. Beginning as a warrant officer, Ellen Ripley becomes a total badass in her own right through her encounters with the eponymous creature. Whether it’s the heart stopping tension of the first film, the high-octane action of the second film, or the insanity of the third and fourth, Ripley is at the heart of it all. Dispatching xenomorphs left and right, she stands toe to toe with an Alien Queen and comes out on top. If that doesn’t ensure her place atop this list, nothing will.

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite horror movie heroine? For more heroic Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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