Top 5 Overlooked Horror Heroines

by Christine Caprilozzi

Horror News Network’s Christine Caprilozzi takes a look at five of the most overlooked women to brave the horror genre.


By Christine Caprilozzi , Sr. Editor

Horror News Network’s Top 5 Overlooked Horror Heroines

At the beginnings of the horror genre, women were, for the most part, used as props or victims. If you don’t believe me, watch the John Barrymore classic, 1920’s “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.” With the Civil Rights and Equality for Women movements in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, women didn’t just burn their bras, they started tearing up the screen. The horror genre started opening up for stronger, more empowered women who weren’t just there to play the victim.

When the subject of kick-ass women in horror comes up, people obviously talk about Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in “Halloween,” or Sigourney Weaver’s force to be reckoned with as Ripley in “Aliens.” There are, however, a slew of characters that sometimes don’t get mentioned, but certainly have left a mark on this female horror fan.

Kirsty Cotton (played by Ashley Laurence) – “Hellraiser”
Ok, so not only did Kirsty figure to how to use that demonic rubiks cube, the Lament Configuration, but she was able to defeat Pinhead and his band of cenobites, TWICE! All the while having some major family issues, this girl also had to deal with fighting off the gruesome possibilities that were awaiting her in hell and pretty much clean up her stepmother’s mess.


Maggie Greene (played by Lauren Cohan) – “The Walking Dead”
I know I’m going to get some heat for this one, because the women of “The Waling Dead” are so popular. When we talk about women kicking ass though, “Michonne” quickly comes to people’s minds. She is, without a doubt, one of the fiercest on film. Maggie, however, we first met as a farm girl who didn’t really have any contact with walkers. Now she is opening a can of whoop ass of any zombie that gets in her way. She even stood her ground as she was being threatened by the Governor. Season three opened with Maggie being the only female amongst the gang of men helping to capture the prison for the group.Right there Maggie proved she can handle business just as effectively as they can.

Alice Johnson (played by Lisa Wilcox)-“Nightmare on Elm Street 4 &5”
What can you say about sweet Alice Johnson? She was the first to defeat the immortal Freddy Krueger. Not only did she defeat him by harnessing the power from Kristen, the last child from Elm Street, she defeated Freddy a second time after he waged war against her unborn child inside of her! Bravo to Alice…and Wes Craven for having an empowered woman take down the sinister Freddy Krueger.

Sarah (played by Shauna MacDonald) – “The Descent”
First off, when a group of women decide to have a “girls weekend” spelunking in unknown caverns, you know something is about to go gravely wrong. This is especially true when Sarah’s friend Juno is not only overbearing, but also having an affair with her husband. When Sarah spots these horrific creatures in the caves, Juno and the rest of the ladies brush her off as “Sarah is having a breakdown.” When all is said and done, and the creatures have picked the women off one by one, it’s Sarah and Juno left standing. Not only does Sarah in the end unleash her revenge on Juno in an intense standoff, she is the only one who manages to fight her way out of the underground and escape alive.

Helen Lyle (played by Virginia Madsen) – ”Candyman”
Sure people do talk about Helen from “Candyman,” but she doesn’t come up as much as some others, or maybe as much as she should. Helen was unique in a sense of she never ran from the evil. She was strong, smart, bold, and actually went into crime riddled Cabrini -Greens to seek out what was behind the monstrous legend. After being attacked there, Helen even questioned the cops as to why the place was in lockdown when they did absolutely nothing when two African Americans were murdered. She never lost her marbles. The irony of that was that her husband had her committed, which was convenient since he was sleeping with one of his students. Helen escapes, returns to Cabrini-Greens to meet Candyman. At the end, our heroine returns from the dead as reincarnation of Candyman in Helen’s body. This is where we see her, brave and defiant as ever, as she makes her husband pay the ultimate penalty for his actions.

Honorable mentions:
As I was tasked with a “Top 5,” I know there are many courageous horror chicks I could not fit on this list. Wendy Torrence form “The Shining,” who physically fought her insane husband to protect her son. Then there’s Selena from “28 Days Later,” who fought zombies throughout the entire film and even managed to perform life saving procedures. I need to even throw in Suzy Bannion from “Suspiria,” who was wasn’t all that brave throughout, but in the end grew a set and stabbed Helena Markos in the throat.

I probably could go on for days!  This begs the question, what horror heroines do YOU feel should get more respect?

Leave a Comment