The horror genre is one of the oldest styles of film in existence, and scream queens have been a fundamental aspect of that genre ever since its inception -- even dating back to the silent era when the screams couldn't even be heard. Also known as "final girls," these women are the heroines who often stand their ground in the face of danger to become just as iconic as the evil chasing them. With Halloween right around the corner, it feels like there's no better time to dive in and give them the credit they deserve.
On that note, we have compiled a list of 13 of the most iconic and beloved scream queens in the history of the horror genre to see which of them would last the longest in a competitive, Hunger Games-esque horror scenario. Taking all of the evidence into account, let's dive in and kick things off with the first woman on the (literal) chopping block.
13. Marion Crane - Psycho
Threat Level: Psychopath motel owner with mommy issues
Poor Marion Crane (Janet Leigh). All she wanted to do was steal $40,000 from her boss and start a new life for herself. Alas, she stopped at the remote Bates Motel after growing tired on the road, and ultimately was far too trusting of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). Though Marion eventually managed to catch on to the fact that something did not feel quite right at the Bates household up the hill, she was not discerning enough to leave the moment things seemed off. She was arguably the first ever slasher movie heroine, and she barely made it halfway through the movie. Lesson learned: stay out of the shower at creepy motels.
12. Jess Bradford - Black Christmas
Threat Level: A mysterious, knife-wielding maniac hiding in a sorority house attic
Black Christmas' Jess Bradford (Olivia Hussey) will last a little longer than Marion Crane because she is at least discerning enough to know when something is clearly wrong in her sorority house. Unwilling to treat her frequent prank calls and disappearing sisters as a joke, the co-ed at the very least knows she's in a horror movie by the end of the film. However, despite her awareness of what's going on around her, Jess makes several fatal errors during the climax of Black Christmas -- including staying in the house when she should very obviously leave, being suspicious of the wrong person, and going into the basement. She'd likely lose her life early on.
11. Laurie Strode - Halloween
Threat Level: A seemingly unkillable boogeyman with a knack for hide and seek
She's the quintessentially iconic, responsible babysitter, and she eventually turns into a bonafide badass by the time Halloween: H20 rolls around -- and, of course, she will return in next year's Halloween sequel. However, in Halloween and Halloween II, Laurie Strode (Jaime Lee Curtis) isn't particularly skilled at keeping herself alive or out of danger, as she continually drops her only available weapons and turns her back on Michael Myers at every possible opportunity. In fact, she only survives the first film because Dr. Loomis shows up to shoot The Shape at the last minute. Laurie is iconic, but she wouldn't last long in our horror Hunger Games.
10. Alice Hardy - Friday the 13th
Threat Level: Jason Voorhees' insane mother
Unlike Halloween's Laurie Strode, Friday the 13th's Alice Hardy (Adrienne King) arguably does a better job of fighting back against Pamela Voorhees when it becomes clear that no help is coming to Camp Crystal Lake. Despite her apparent fear in the face of danger, Alice is a scrappy fighter -- able to decapitate her attacker after taking a severe beating. Based on that accomplishment, she will get farther than some of the scream queens on this list, but (like Friday the 13th Part 2 showed us) she will be wholly outmatched when something more physically imposing shows up. She will not be one of the first to go, but she will not last long.
9. Nancy Thompson - A Nightmare On Elm Street
Threat Level: A sadistic, godlike child murderer who can infiltrate dreams
Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) arguably rounds out the heroines from the iconic 1980s slasher franchises, and she will almost certainly last longer than Laurie Strode or Alice Hardy. Able to catch onto Freddy Krueger's tactics, she's eventually able to prepare an offensive and take him down. However, despite her toughness in the face of danger, Nancy's gullibility finally gets the best of in the third A Nightmare on Elm Street movie, and Freddy manages to get the best of her. Being overly trusting can get you killed in a horror Hunger Games, and that will likely be what takes Ms. Thompson down in the end.
8. Sally Hardesty - Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Threat Level: A family of power tool-wielding southern rednecks with a taste for human flesh
Of any iconic scream queen from the slasher genre, Sally (Marilyn Burns) arguably goes through some of the worst trauma. Not only does she have to watch all of her friends die, but she's forced to sit through a terrifyingly psychotic dinner with Leatherface and his family. That said, Sally shows an almost insane amount of mental and physical fortitude throughout Texas Chainsaw Massacre -- willing to sprint from danger without hesitation, and jump through a second-story glass window when cornered by the skin-wearing madman. Of course, running will only get you so far, which means Sally will eventually get tired -- and get gutted.
7. Kirsty Cotton - Hellraiser
Threat Level: Pinhead, the Cenobites, and her sadistic uncle Frank
Taking on a serial killer is one thing, but Hellraiser's Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) proves that she has the brains and the guts necessary to take on her sadistic uncle, his lover Julia, and the demonic Cenobites -- all within the span of one movie. Throughout the run of the Hellraiser franchise, she displays solid survival instincts, as well as the intelligence to figure out Pinhead's puzzle box. Add that to the fact that she has the nerves of steel to figure the box out while the Cenobites are bearing down on her, and you get the picture of a scream queen who seems to have ice water flowing through her veins.
6. Sidney Prescott - Scream
Threat Level: The various Ghostface Killers
By her very nature, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) seems designed to survive for a long time in a horror movie environment. Possessing an almost Deadpool-esque awareness of the tropes and traits of the genre, she's smarter and generally more aware than the other scream queens taking part in this Hunger Games scenario. She's also tough as hell, taking a beating over the course of four Scream films and killing her attackers on more than one occasion. The only thing standing in her way is her lack of formal skills, as well as the fact that her only horror experience is based on taking on human attackers who can go down with a single bullet.
5. Selena - 28 Days Later...
Threat Level: A city full of Rage infected humans and insane soldiers
It takes a cold exterior to survive these horror scenarios, and that's precisely the type of thing we see in 28 Days Later's Selena (Naomie Harris). 100% pragmatic about every survival situation, Selena is quick to run, slow to trust, and entirely willing to kill the people she cares about if it becomes clear that they will become a threat to her survival somewhere down the line. Couple that with the fact that her job as a pharmacist gives her a baseline knowledge of medicine and drugs, and she could go far -- until her loner personality eventually puts her in a position where she needs help.
4. Sarah Carter - The Descent
Threat Level: A subterranean race of blind cave cannibals
After losing her husband and child in a car accident, The Descent's Sarah eventually falls into a bottomless pit of emotional despair -- which takes on a life of its own when she quite literally falls into a real hole full of monsters. Cunning, ruthless, and fierce, Sarah is a bonafide warrior whose skills as a veteran outdoorswoman will help her go far. On the other hand, she is probably the least mentally stable scream queen on this list, which means that she will do something that puts her in an unnecessarily dangerous situation, or she will become a liability for the others when the real monsters show up.
3. Mia Allen - Evil Dead
Threat Level: Kandarian demons unleashed by the Necronomicon
What Evil Dead's Mia Allen (Jane Levy) lacks in real survival training or combat experience, she more than makes up for in sheer toughness. A recovering drug addict, Mia is more discerning than the people around her and able to figure out when things are not quite right quickly. She's also aided by a superstitious belief in the occult, and she arguably has the highest pain tolerance of any scream queen on this list. In fact, at one point she even tears (not cuts, tears) her hand off to escape a Deadite. That said, Mia doesn't survive without the help of her brother, so on her own, she might not last forever.
2. Erin Harson - You're Next
Threat Level: A squad of masked, animal-themed home invaders
Out of all the scream queens present on this list, You're Next's Erin Harson (Sharni Vinson) is the one with the most formal training in combat and tactics. Raised on a survivalist compound until her teenage years, the seemingly innocent bartender has a knack for weapons, trap-making, and other forms of guerrilla warfare in an enclosed environment. If anything, she might actually be TOO good at killing, as people have a habit of accidentally tripping her traps. Although she is untested against inhuman opponents, Erin would easily last longer than most other scream queens because of her practical and proven ability to survive in the face of danger.
1. Ellen Ripley - Alien
Threat Level: A genetically perfect extraterrestrial apex predator
Compared to someone like Erin, Alien's Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) doesn't have much in the way of formal combat training. That said, the blue-collar, interstellar trucker has a baseline knowledge of computers and advanced tech, and she has proven that she is a quick learner with guns and explosives -- even after spending decades in cryosleep. Moreover, the Xenomorph is arguably the deadliest mortal horror movie villain in all of pop culture, so Ms. Ripley's ability to survive through the bulk of three whole movies (before going out on her terms in Alien 3) makes her the pinnacle of scream queen survival.
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Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.
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