Anything Horror Scott’s Favorite Ass-Kicking Females

The days of the timid, “I’m-too-scared-to-do-anything” female characters in horror films is over. There’s nothing I hate more than when a filmmaker writes a female role in which she’s only there to either be saved by a male character or to die. We all know women are tougher and stronger than that. I’ve seen plenty of women keep their shit together in a crisis a lot better than a man!!

Below is my list of female characters in horror movies who kick some serious ass. They may not be the lead role in the film, they may not even be the “good guy,” and they may not even live, but these are female characters who are strong and fierce. You will notice that Ripley from the ALIEN franchise and Alice from the RESIDENT EVIL franchise are absent from my list. They are too obvious of choices!!

Who are your choices for some ass-kicking female characters in horror films? Who did I miss? Is there someone on my list that you don’t think belongs? Sound off below!!

Female High Tension

Marie in HIGH TENSION (2003)

Arguably the film that launched the modern new wave of hardcore, brutal horror films. Writer-director Alexandre Aja gives us a home invasion film that becomes a road rage flick with plenty of gore and violence along the way. Marie is a fierce woman who doesn’t back down even in the face of pure terror. She is determined to fight to her last dying breathe if need be in order to protect her kidnapped friend. Yeah yeah yeah, I know the ending didn’t work for most people, but what a ride this film is!!

Female Descent

Sarah in THE DESCENT (2005)

How could I leave Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) off my list? THE DESCENT has the distinction of having an all-female cast, and even though I singled out Sarah, really the entire cast of women kick ass. There’s something about Sarah that edges her out as the best ass-kicker of the group. Writer-director Neil Marshall gives us a morally ambiguous lead character with Sarah. There are times you root for her and other times when you want to see those bat-like creatures tear her apart. But despite how you feel about Sarah, there’s no denying that she kicks some major ass.

Female Night

Barbara in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990)

Tom Savini, who directed the 1990 remake of Romero’s classic film, did a lot of things right in the remake. The main thing he got right was the re-writing of the character of Barbara (Patricia Tallman). Barbara starts off the film just like the original Barbara from the 1968 film, but eventually Barbara snaps out of her panic and decides she wants to fight, and she’s not going to rely on the men to protect her. She becomes the fiercest ass-kicker in the film. Nice work, Tom!!

Female Inside

La Femme in INSIDE (2007)

Known only as “The Woman,” Béatrice Dalle’s performance as the completely psychotic, yet extremely focused, killer is nothing short of chilling and brutal. She only says a handful of words the entire film, yet she is one of the most terrifying modern-day killers you will find. That scissor scene will leave you breathless. Leave it to the French.

Female Martyrs

Anna in MARTYRS (2008)

Anna (Morjana Alaoui) is one of the best female characters I’ve seen written and acted in over a decade. Hell, she might be the strongest female character to ever be in a movie, period. Anna is not the typical female heroine who beats down the bad guys. Anna gets seriously fucked up in this film!! She endures various levels of suffering, each stage more brutal than the one before it, in order to reach the state of martyrdom. This, though, isn’t just torture-porn. Director Laugier gives us one of the best films this reviewer has ever seen. At the end of the day, Anna is a survivor. Through all of her suffering she becomes more knowledgeable than when she started. Alaoui is absolutely amazing in the role and I can’t imagine the nightmares she had after filming this one.

Female Babadook

Amelia in THE BABADOOK (2014)

Amelia (Essie Davis) isn’t battling ghosts or demons or a psychopathic killer. She’s battling herself and mental illness in this fantastic film. Amelia is a single mother with a difficult child who is overly tired, sick, and long overdue for a vacation. But she’s on this list because she’s a fighter who doesn’t give up even when it would have be so easy to do so. In the end, she beats down the “creature,” but what makes her such a bad ass is that every day for the rest of her life Amelia is going to have to battle the same “creature” in order to make sure it stays chained up where it belongs.

Female Hell Fire

Rosetta in HELL FIRE (2012)

I’ll be honest. After watching this film and Selene Beretta’s performance as Rosetta, I instantly fell in love. Rosetta is gorgeous, has a filthy mouth, and is the most violent character, male or female, I’ve seen in a long time. Rosetta is most definitely not the “good guy” in this film. In fact, I don’t think there is a good character in this entire flick!! But damn if Rosetta doesn’t kick some serious ass.

Female I Spit on Grave

Jennifer in I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (2010)

This is a perfect case where the remake is better than the original. Waaaay better. Director Steven R. Monroe does a fantastic job with this remake. He keeps all the elements that made the original so eye-squintingly good and doesn’t pull any punches on either the rape or the revenge scenes. Jennifer (Sarah Butler) gives one helluva performance as the stranger in a strange land who is brutalized and then calculates her revenge. Not taking anything away from the original Jennifer (Camille Keaton), there’s just a raw kind of power and presence that Sarah Butler brought to her Jennifer that wasn’t in the original. And that ending, yikes!!

Female Broken

Hope in BROKEN (2006)

Talk about a nihilistic film that doesn’t so much as offer one ray of hope!! I went into BROKEN expecting just another torture porn film, but got so much more. Hope (Nadja Brand) comes home from a date, kisses her young daughter, and then goes to bed. She wakes up in the middle of the woods with a psychopath tormenting her and making her survive forty days of sadistic games. The whole time Hope knows the man also took her daughter, but has no idea what he’s done or is doing to her. The ending will make you want to drag a razor blade across your wrists!! Actress Nadja Brand is fantastic in the lead as a woman who will do anything to save her child … and ‘anything’ she does. A brutal movie with a strong, fierce female lead.

Female Bad Biology

Jennifer in BAD BIOLOGY (2008)

Relative newcomer Charlee Danielson plays the lead role as a woman with seven clits trying to find true love in this Frank Henenlotter flick. Danielson is amazing in this role. Sure, she kills some of her lovers in the throes of passion, but her character isn’t black or white. Jennifer isn’t good and she’s not evil. She’s just a woman trying to live with her condition as she attempts to find a suitable partner. Danielson plays the role brilliantly with the perfect blend of innocence and raw sexuality.

Female Videodrome

Nicki Brand in VIDEODROME (1983)

Deborah Harry comes off as a kind of Black Widow in this film. She’s smart, sexy, always looking for a little kink, and is fearless. Her bad ass-ness doesn’t come from beating the shit out of others, she’s a bad ass because she watches a real snuff film and decides she wants to be in the next episode!! Her Nicki Brand character to James Woods’ Max Renn has to be one of the most dysfunctional, anti-love affairs in modern cinema. When Brand turns to Renn and asks him, “Wanna try a few things,” it’ll send shivers up and down your spine.

Female Grace

Madeline in GRACE (2009)

Jordan Ladd’s portrayal of Madeline is nothing short of brilliant. Like Nicki Brand above, Madeline isn’t out there kicking the sacks off of douchy guys. Madeline’s strength comes from her situation. She loses her unborn child and husband in the last month of her pregnancy. Her grief is so great and her love so strong that she wills her dead baby back to life. The scene in the tub with Jordan Ladd holding her dead baby is one of the most powerful scenes you’ll find in any horror film. Madeline is one tough cookie!!

Sign off below in the comments section and tell me who your favorite ass-kicking females characters are.

Stay Bloody!!!

Videodrome (1983)

I’m reposting my review of VIDEODROME due to it being one of my all time favorite genre flicks and because when I originally posted this, back in January of 2010, it was the early days of this website when I didn’t have many visitors.  This way everyone can know experience the love I have for this film!! –AHS

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I saw this movie for the first time in 1985 when I was 14. My buddy’s older brother gave me a really crappy, grainy VHS cassette with a horrible sound track; BUT it was the uncut version (and as it goes, watching this flick on a grainy VHS is pretty appropriate). Now it’s 2010 and not only is Videodrome one of my all time favorite movies, but I think its writer-director Cronenberg’s best movie, and I think it’s one of the strongest genre flicks ever made.

I must admit that after I saw this the first time I had no friggin’ idea what the hell was going on.  What I could piece together in my still very innocent mind was that kinky sex and violence stimulates the growth of some organ in your head that will help evolve you into “the New Flesh”??? What the FUCK??  By this time I had already seen Cronenberg’s Shivers (1975), Rabid (1977), and The Brood (1979) and was a bona fide huge fan of Cronenberg.  I was familiar with his theme of “body horror” found in most of his movies, but Videodrome was just way over my 14 year old head.  At first I simply wrote it off as one of his mistakes, but noticed that after a few days I couldn’t get it outta my mind.  There was something so gritty and disturbing about the story and its’ images that I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I really wanted to understand what Cronenberg was trying to tell me. So I rented it (but this time got the R-rated version) and watched it over and over again. And over and over again. Suddenly I realized not only did I absolutely love Videodrome and believe it to be his best movie yet, but I started to understand the story.  It’s bizarre, no doubt, but it is “Cronenberg Bizarre.”

The story:  James Woods’ character, Max Renn, is one of the owners of a crappy little cable station called Civic TV (which is named as a tribute after City TV, an actual television station in Toronto that was infamous for showing soft-core sex films as part of its late night programming line-up).

You don’t wanna guest star on this TV show!!

In order to compete against bigger stations, Renn knows they need to offer something viewers can’t get on any other station.  Airing some soft-core porn late at night seems to be helping the ratings, but Renn is getting bored by it; it’s too tame for his tastes and he believes his viewers want something with more teeth (pun intended).  In one scene an Asian porn producer, played by David Tsubôchi, tries to sell Renn some porn for the station, but Renn turns him down telling him how boring and predictable it is.  Tsubôchi went on to become a Minister in the Ontario provincial government, and his role here as a pornographer was exploited by the opposition. Ya gotta love politics; the opposition was trying to use Tsubôchi’s ROLE as an ACTOR from a FICTIONAL movie as a true representation of what he really believes in and how he really is.  Pathetic.  And people wonder why I submerge myself in horror movies.  Anyway …

One night the station’s engineer, who has a knack for video piracy and “breaking into” other broadcaster’s signals, comes across a grainy TV showed called “Videodrome.”  The production values are practically nothing (a woman is chained up in a bare room getting beaten), but best of all it’s the kind of program “with teeth” that Renn has been looking for.  So he hires the local “strange lady,” Masha, who has ties to the underworld to track down “Videodrome” for him.  She finds it and tells him to leave it alone:

Masha: Videodrome. What you see on that show, it’s for real. It’s not acting. It’s snuff TV.
Max Renn: I don’t believe it.
Masha: So, don’t believe.
Max Renn: Why do it for real? It’s easier and safer to fake it.
Masha: Because it has something that you don’t have, Max. It has a philosophy. And that is what makes it dangerous.

I’m not 100% sure about this fact but this might just be the first big-studio genre flick (it was distributed by Universal Films) to talk about snuff films!!  From here on out the film gets very bizarre, very gory, and very “I can’t take my eyes off of this.”  I don’t wanna get into much more of the plot, but it’s a crazy ride for sure folks.  This is the kind of film that divides audiences:  Either ya love it or hate it!!

Any horror fan worth their weight in gore needs to see this flick; if nothing else for the special f/x by Rick Baker.  These are some truly amazing, disgusting, disturbing, and groundbreaking f/x:

We see a TV come to life and watch James Woods “make out” with it;

Pucker up for Nikki

we see a gun become an organic part of Woods’ hand;

Gives new meaning to “hand gun”!!

we get to see a living, breathing “vagina” in Woods’ stomach (which he sticks the gun into);

I’m at a loss for words here.

we see a TV screen explode into a mess of blood and guts;

What a gutsy movie!!

and we get to see a man shot by a “tumor gun,” whose body erupts into a ton of tumors as he dies horribly.

A truly disgusting scene.

These are just a few examples of some of the amazing work Baker does here.

Cronenberg definitely has his “body horror” theme here (stronger than ever, in fact) but he also adds the dimension of a very layered and detailed story.  This movie is so much more than the sum of its (amazing) f/x; it’s trying to tell us something.  It’s an early warning in the days before personal computers became so invasive in our daily lives and about the dangers of technology and retreating into that technology and away from actual interpersonal contact.  It also predicts and tries to warn us about the connection between technology and violence (this, I believe, is the essential theme here).  There’s so much violence on TV every day that is taken for granted and we have essentially become desensitized to it.  A certain group in the movie takes advantage of this fact and exploits it:

Harlan: North America’s getting soft, patron, and the rest of the world is getting tough. Very, very tough. We’re entering savage new times, and we’re going to have to be pure and direct and strong if we’re going to survive them. Now, you and this cesspool you call a television station and your people who wallow around in it, your viewers who watch you do it, they’re rotting us away from the inside. We intend to stop that rot.

James Woods and Peter Griffin

All the performances here are top notch.  This is actually one of my favorite performances by James Woods (Woods’ even refers to his role in Videodrome in an episode of Family Guy).  Woods plays his typical, trademarked really intense character.  He starts off very arrogant and cocky, but as he watches more and more of the “videodrome” signal and his body begins to evolve into something new, he loses his grip on reality and begins to question everything.  And in a typical “Cronenbergian” scene we see a character trying to help Woods by putting a machine on his head that will record and analyze his hallucinations.  Trully a “must been seen to be believed” moment.

Some may think that with its high ideals and philosophical views that this movie gets a little pretentious at times.  I never got that feeling.  This is a brilliantly written, “deep” genre movie that challenges you to understand what’s going on.  All the pieces are there; you just gotta put them together.  But when you do it was well worth the “journey.”  I do categorize this as “philosophical horror” but I give this movie that label with respect.  Plus there are so many scenes of absolute depravity and gore that it’ll knock your socks off and remind you that you’re watching a genre flick … a damn good genre flick!!  Deborah Harry, the singer Blondie, also puts in a fantastic

Prototype for a Hallucination Analyzer

performance as Nicki Brand.  She becomes aware of “videodrome” through Woods and not only becomes obsessed with it, but tracks it down, appears on it, and becomes one of its victims.  She adds the perfect amount of kink and depravity here. When she and Woods are fooling around she coyly asks, “Wanna try a few things.”  This’ll send a shiver down your spine.  It seems to me that Cronenberg left the ending wide open for a sequel, and I for one am really upset he never continued this story.  I’d love to see the new world inhabited by “The New Flesh.”  Don’t miss this one.  I love every second of this movie.  This one will get under your skin and you’ll think about it long after you turn off your cathode ray box.

Afterward:  In April 2009 Universal Studios announced that Videodrome would be going through the re-make grinder.  According to Variety, this new remake “will modernize the concept, infuse it with the possibilities of nano-technology and blow it up into a large-scale sci-fi action thriller.”  What the fuck??!!!?  Has anyone that’s even seen this movie and “gotten it” ever thought that it was missing “a large-scale sci-fi thriller” feel?  Absolutely pathetic.  But then let’s remember that in 2003 when the studio announced that another remake of The Fly was in the works, Variety asked the at-the-time director (who’s name escapes me) why he wanted to do another remake of The Fly.  His answer (and I’m paraphrasing here):  “I noticed that in both previous Fly movies, the fly never flew.”  WHAT??!?  Lucky for us all I believe all intentions of remaking Videodrome (and The Fly) have been halted.  But for how long?

My Summary:

Director:  David Cronenberg

Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Gore:  9 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer