Final Girl Smackdown!!

The ‘Final Girl’ in horror movies is the girl who leads us through the grisly action and lives to see the sequel or least the credits. The term was first used by Carol J. Clover in her 1992 book  Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in The Modern Horror Film . Often times the ‘Final Girl’  is the main protagonist and has an important link to the killer or the evil that is tormenting her and those she knows. But really she’s so much more, often times she is the one reason I don’t switch off a down sliding horror film. She knows better than to wander off into the woods on her own, she won’t just accept that every single character’s phone has lost signal and most of all she won’t give up. There is a great tradition that ‘The Final Girl’ is chaste and innocent, Sidney in the Scream series filled this requirement in a wonderfully tongue in cheek fashion and the passable All the Boys Love Mandy Lane turned it on it’s head. ‘The Final Girl’ often has an unhappy home life that has caused her to experience and attempt to overcome trauma in the past. In Scream we meet Sidney as she is trying to recover from her mother’s unsolved murder, Halloween’s Laurie Strode is trying to cope with her brother being a psychotic killer who murdered her sister. The Final Girl is not difficult to spot, (a good tip is that, if Jamie Lee Curtis is in the movie, then you’ve found her) and horror films have given us some awesome, surprisingly sexy and badass women to root for. So here is my list of the greatest ‘Final Girl’s! It’s on!!

Sidney Prescott – Scream

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Sidney Prescott was created by Kevin Williamson to be the ultimate ‘Final Girl‘ , a homage to a character that had been well established through such classic horror films as Halloween. But Sidney is a modern ‘Final Girl’ and she knows the horror movie rules, she rises above her role as the chaste victim who is lucky enough to have just enough common sense and determination to survive while her unfortunate friends become fodder. She taunts the killer (who has her on speed dial) and refuses to become a stereotype, or rather shows exactly what that stereotype can do.

Ultimate Final Girl Moment :
Sidney has overcome the killer and as she, Randy and Gale stand over the body, Randy warns “ Careful this is the moment where the supposedly dead killer comes back to life for one last scare” with his words the killer springs to life with a pantomime roar, Sidney calmly shoots him point blank in the head and exclaims “ Not in my movie”. Bad. Ass.

Laurie Strode- Halloween

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Laurie Strode is a babysitter who enjoys carrying books while a creepy someone watches her from the bushes. Uh oh, surely this innocent mild mannered girl is no match for a crazed killer? And so with that misconception rooted, Laurie Strode went forward to confound audience’s expectations and prove just how much a good girl can survive!

Ultimate Final Girl Moment :

It’s Michael Meyers, a large knife, Laurie and a closet, our nerves jangle as the wire hangers shake, she shouldn’t be able to survive, but she does.

Jessie Burlingame- Wrong Turn

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This little seen gem of a horror movie paid wonderful homage to the ‘Crazies in the Woods’ Genre, the effects were old school, the horror was utterly straight faced and Eliza Dushku held her own against genetically mutated nasties . Jessie fights for her life and protects her friends and her resolve never weakens, thus giving us one of the greatest modern ‘Final Girl’s.

Ultimate Final Girl Moment :

While trying to evade the mutated creatures in the trees her male companion Chris offers to walk out onto a precarious tree branch to lure out one of the mutants, but Jessie stops him and says that she will go instead, exclaiming “I can move faster than you” Yes, do it sister!

Nancy Thompson- Nightmare on Elm Street

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Freddy Kruger is stalking you in your sleep and killing your friends, your mother is a bit too fond of the drink and your hair is turning white, what do you do!? (Obviously on the plus side young Johnny Depp is your boyfriend) but if you’re Nancy Thompson then you ignore every single adult around you who tells you that you’re nutso and imagining things and you find a way to defeat a dream killer. Which you succeed in doing until an unfortunately cruel fake out before the closing credits.

Ultimate Final Girl Moment :

Nancy decides to go into her dreams and fight Freddy Kruger herself, and resists the urge to get naughty with young Johnny Depp who’s sitting right beside her bed.

Ripley- Alien

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It was Sci-Fi horror rather than plain straight horror but boy was Alien horrific and it gave us one hell of a ‘Final Girl’. Ripley’s title should really be ‘Final Woman’ because she took the idea into it’s maturity. The role had famously been written for a man, until Sigourney Weaver filled the space boots. Her portrayal of Ripley transcends gender stereotypes, she can hold her own with burly men in space, gooey stuff does not freak her out, she can handle a weapon and nowhere in the series does she have to attend intensive therapy for having seen a baby alien birth itself through a man’s stomach in a horrific Freudian fashion, she got balls!!

Ultimate Final Girl Moment :

Everything Ripley ever did. Ever.

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