Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers. Those seem to be everyone’s de facto picks when discussing the best horror movie villains. Even Dracula and Frankenstein’s creature get their fair share of shoutouts. However, the ladies don’t seem to get much love. There have been some amazing, sinister women in the horror genre, but they mostly remain unsung.
In honor of the upcoming horror film “Ma” starring Octavia Spencer, this list celebrates the ten best female horror villains.
Katharine Isabelle as Ginger Fitzgerald in “Ginger Snaps” (2000)
dir. John Fawcett
To say teenager Ginger Fitzgerald goes through a rough time would be an understatement. On the eve of her first period, she gets bitten by a werewolf, slowly becoming one herself. As she goes through her slow transformation, Ginger gives in to her newfound carnal inhibitions. Although Ginger becomes fearful of her bodily changes, she still embraces them, which makes her a wonderfully contradictory villain.
Megan Fox as Jennifer Check in “Jennifer’s Body” (2009)
dir. Karyn Kusama
Jennifer Check seems like a typical high school means a girl that boys want to be with and whom girls want to befriend. While she certainly is cruel, she’s vindictive to the point where she seduces and devours her male classmates. Not to mention, she has the ability to levitate and becomes indestructible after satisfying her craving for human flesh. As the film’s tagline suggests, she’s pure evil and not just high school evil.
Angela Bettis as May Canady in “May” (2002)
dir. Lucky McKee
May Canady has had unfortunate luck when it comes to befriending other people. She’s had difficulty to the point where the only friend who’s been there for her is a doll she’s possessed since childhood. Her solitude takes such a profound toll on her that she kills people for their body parts, taking the term “making a friend” quite literally. Because finding the perfect friend is nearly impossible, that only makes May a villain defined by searing tragedy.
Portia Doubleday as Chris Hargensen in “Carrie” (2013)
dir. Kimberly Pierce
Carrie White may be seen as the villain of her own story with her religious mother also being viewed as an antagonist, but mean girl Chris Hargensen, who’s been instrumental in Carrie’s villainy, remains mostly undiscussed. Not to mention, in the 2013 remake of “Carrie,” Hargensen is depicted as a manipulative sociopath rather than just an archetypal Queen Bee like in the original. This iteration of Chris is someone who commits heinous acts of bullying towards the titular protagonist and tries desperately to rationalize her behavior. What’s even more frightening is that there are plenty of real-life Chris Hargensens out there.
Daveigh Chase as Samara in “The Ring” (2002)
dir. Gore Verbinski
By uttering the words “seven days,” the evil Samara had audiences paralyzed with fear once the American adaptation of “The Ring” was first released. Not to mention, she probably had viewers more fearful of watching VHS tapes. It’s not difficult to see why since she kills people with a cursed videotape and never forgets to claim her victims. Thankfully, videos are somewhat antiquated but to be safe, be sure not to tell Samara about Netflix.
Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany in “Bride of Chucky” (1998)
dir. Ronny Yu
The first three “Child’s Play” films, featuring Chucky the killer doll, work as straightforward, uncomplicated horror. Once Chucky’s lover Tiffany was introduced in “Bride of Chucky,” though, the franchise was given a darkly comedic touch. Tiffany proves to be a welcome addition since she’s as menacing as her famed partner while humorously putting up with his arrogance. Together, in “Bride of Chucky,” they embark on the honeymoon from Hell.
Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet in “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)
dir. Roman Polanski
Minnie Castevet is an unsettling villain because she is quite unassuming in her appearance. She acts sugary towards her new neighbors, Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy Woodhouse (John Cassavetes), and even makes them chocolate mousse one night. However, underneath all that sweetness, Minnie showcases an incredibly sour persona. She likes being acquainted with the Woodhouses yet becomes a tad too attached. After Rosemary becomes unconscious when eating her chocolate mousse, it becomes clear she has tricks up her sleeve.
Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in “Misery” (1990)
dir. Rob Reiner
As previously mentioned, Annie Wilkes is someone that quickly makes writers weary of their fanbases. Not only does she hold her favorite author captive, but she forces him to rewrite the manuscript of his latest novel so it can be how she pleases. Annie Wilkes is the embodiment of everything artists don’t want to see from their admirers. Someone who’s obsessive and tries to dictate how they create their art. One could say she’s a representation of toxic fandom that’s plaguing genre fare in this day and age.
Laurie Metcalf as Debbie Salt/Mrs. Loomis in “Scream 2” (1997)
dir. Wes Craven
Debbie Salt appears to be a pushy yet harmless news reporter. That is until it’s revealed that she’s Mrs. Loomis, a mother hellbent on reaping revenge for the death of her son, Billy Loomis, who happens to be one of the killers from the first “Scream.” Mrs. Loomis serves as an incredible homage to Mrs. Voorhees from “Friday the 13th” while still being her separate character. She proves to be just as calculating yet is slightly more unhinged, making her a serious threat to her victims.
Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Voorhees in “Friday the 13th” (1980)
dir. Sean S. Cunningham
Speaking of Mrs. Voorhees, she remains the most iconic female horror villain. She inadvertently helped create a popular horror franchise and has a pitch-perfect characterization. Mrs. Voorhees exudes active menace while demonstrating a coherent motive. After her son accidentally drowned due to the neglect of his camp counselors, she seeks out retribution. Mrs. Voorhees attempts to ensure that the once closed Camp Crystal Lake closes down forever.