Top 10 Final Girls of Slasher Flicks

Scream Queens don’t always make it to the final frame of a horror flick but the “Final Girls” always do. They’re the resilient, badasses who do battle with slasher-film psychos and live to tell about it – albeit they’re likely psychologically damaged once it’s over.
By: Tracy E. Gilchrist
October 30 2012 2:17 PM

Scream Queens don’t always make it to the final frame of a horror flick but the “Final Girls” always do. They’re the resilient, badasses who do battle with slasher-film psychos and live to tell about it – albeit they’re likely psychologically damaged once it’s over.

While Alfred Hitchcock’s slasher masterpiece Psycho is famous for dispensing with its heroine Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) within the film’s first 35 minutes, it also spawned the prototype for the Final Girl in her sister Lila Crane, a dogged Nancy Drew type who investigated Marion’s disappearance amid certain terror.

The term Final Girl was coined by Carol Clover in her iconic—at least among film-school nerds— 1992 essay “Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film,” and its tenets still apply to the genre 20 years later. Since the Final Girl term was coined a few filmmakers have sought to redefine the genre’s iconography as in the very meta Cabin in the Woods but overwhelmingly the sole survivor of any given slasher film continues be a fierce young woman who’s less concerned with getting laid than her soon-to-be-dead friends.  

Of the Final Girl Clover writes, “She is the one who encounters the mutilated bodies of her friends and perceives the full extent of the preceding horror and of her own peril; who is chased, cornered, wounded; whom we see scream, stagger, fall, rise, and scream again.”

From Lila Crane to Sidney Prescott and even to TV's scrappy Pretty Little Liars, the image of the Final Girl endures. Here's our list of ten best! 

Laurie in Halloween as played by Jamie Lee Curtis: 

The ultimage Final Girl, Curtis was the perfect choice to outwit Michael in John Carpenter's horror classic Halloween, especially considering Curtis' horror film lineage as her mother Janet Leigh came to embody the most famous, enduring slasher movie victim ever as Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho

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Sarah in The Descent as played by Shauna Macdonald: 

A horror movie with a dash of sci-fi 2005's The Descent featured an all-female cave hiking expedition gone terribly awry. As one after the other of her band of merry hikers is picked off by primal cave dwelling creatures Sarah crawls her way toward the light and to safety, even depicting an ode to Carrie's final shot along the way. 

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Alice in Friday the 13th as portrayed by Adrienne King: 

Summer camp has not been the same since Friday the 13th (1980) unleashed psychopath Jason Voorhies on Camp Crystal Lake to systematically pick off horny teens. Only Final Girl Alice made it out alive.  

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Ripley in Alien and Aliens as portrayed by Sigourney Weaver: 

The queen of the sci-fi / horror hybrid Weaver's Ripley is a heroine for the ages who did battle with Ridley Scott's phallic / monstrous mother of all aliens in the 1979 film that started a franchise that continues to this day with Prometheus. And, she did it in her underwear no less! 

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Julie in I Know What You Did Last Summer as portrayed by Jennifer Love Hewitt: 

The horror franchise that kicked off in 1997 proves that keeping secrets leads to danger and murder (take heed Pretty Little Liars). The film starred the hottest young talent of the late 90s including Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Ryan Phillippe but it was Hewitt's Julie who made it out of this web of secrets alive. 

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Sidney in Scream as portrayed by Neve Campbell: 

Former Party of Five good girl Campbell is now best known for her portrayal of Sidney Prescott in the highly successful Scream franchise. The films strike a perfect balance between comedy and sheer terror, with critics worldwide crediting it as singlehandedly reviving the horror genre. Prescott is your average suburban highschooler in every way except she’s being stalked by a ghost-faced serial killer. 

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Lila Crane in Hitchcock's Psycho as portrayed by Vera Miles: 

If Psycho is the gold standard of slasher films then Miles' Lila Crane is the prototype of all Final Girls, doggedly investigating her sister Marion's disappearance, Lila was just tough enough to survive "mother's" wrath.  

Lila Crane in Psycho (Remake) as portrayed by Julianne Moore:

Gus Van Sant's 1998 shot-for-shot remake of Psycho, which featured Anne Heche as Marion, is widely considered to be an interesting but failed experiment. Still, it did feature LGBT ally Moore as a slightly more butch Lila, and that was kind of worth the price of admission alone. 

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Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street as portrayed by Heather Langenkamp: 

Nancy was the sleep-deprived teen being hunted by our favorite knife-fingered psychopath Freddy Krueger in the Wes Craven classic from 1984. She did battle with him and lived to tell the tale. Best known for her role in the franchise Nancy was the original’s Final Girl and she also appeared in the two other installments. 

Read our sibling site Gay.net's interview with Langenkamp here.

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Sally in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Original) as portrayed by Marilyn Burns:

Hightailing out of hell is just what Sally does in the 1974 horrifying cult classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre after going toe-to-toe with a family of murderous, in-bred freaks. 

Erin in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Remake) as portrayed by Jessica Biel:

Pretty, tough girl with the killer arms played new Final Girl Erin in the 2003 remake of Texas Chainsaw. 

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Rachel in Disturbing Behavior as portrayed by Katie Holmes:

Before Katie Holmes became best known for her famous husband she had a pretty great burgeoning career. Back in 1998, during her Dawson's Creek heyday she played the final girl in this now guilty-pleasure teen horror flick. 

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