Horror loves a Final Girl, and so do we. But while the Final Girl might get to deliver the killing blow from time to time, it's not necessarily the most satisfactory death in the film. The most fun, gory and brutal deaths in horror movies often come at the hands of men, usually the male killer or villain. When the ladies get in on the action, however, it's truly spectacular.
Women in horror have committed some of the finest acts of viciousness onscreen, and today, we celebrate them. We here at FANGRRLS may not condone violence, but when it comes to our scary movie women, we like them cruel and unusual. Here are some of the most glorious death scenes in horror, all featuring a lady's touch.
Carrie White wrecks the prom in Carrie (1976)
As rigidly, religiously terrifying as Mrs. White was, her instincts about the cruelty of high schoolers were right on the money. When shy outcast Carrie (Sissy Spacek) gets invited to prom by popular boy Tommy Ross, she's not sure whether to say yes at first but ultimately agrees, only to find herself on the receiving end of a vicious prank from mean girl Chris Hargensen and her boyfriend Billy Nolan (a pre-Grease John Travolta doing his best impression of a terrible jerkface). Naturally, once Carrie's doused in pig blood things start to go horribly awry — not for Carrie, of course, but for everyone who was ever mean to her and then some thanks to her emerging telekinetic abilities.
Mrs. Voorhees loses her head in Friday the 13th (1980)
No one ever expected that the true villain of Friday the 13th would actually be a mourning mother, but that's exactly what we got when legendary actress Betsy Palmer brought Mrs. Voorhees to life in the first installment of the slasher franchise. Final Girl Alice Hardy (Adrienne King) thinks she'll be safe with the kindly middle-aged mom, but everything changes once Mrs. Voorhees reveals that she's prepared to do whatever it takes to keep Camp Crystal Lake from re-opening — those pesky counselors were too busy schtupping to keep an eye on her son Jason, you see! In the end, Alice gets the upper hand thanks to a nearby machete, but we'll never be able to look at a blue cable-knit sweater the same way again.
Ann cuts the cake and so much more in Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
A good kill isn't just about the act itself — it's about the ambiance. And no ladykiller delivers a scene quite like Happy Birthday to Me's Ann, who not only creates a tablescape of death and dismemberment for a truly devastating birthday party but sings herself into the room with a genuinely lovely cake. She cuts the cake, cuts the throat of the father of Ginny, the girl she's pretending to be (look, there's a lot going on in this movie), then frames Ginny for the murders. Happy birthday to all of us, indeed.
Mrs. Peltzer exterminates her kitchen in Gremlins (1984)
This is a job that requires a little more than your average mousetrap. When Billy Peltzer's dad brings home a cute, furry, cuddly creature named Gizmo for him to keep as a pet, he doesn't anticipate that he'll have any trouble following the ominous rules that have been laid out for him in order to keep the situation relatively calm. But after one of his friends inadvertently spills water on Giz, a whole group of Gremlins spawn forth — and once they trick Billy into feeding them after midnight, all hell breaks loose. Props to Mrs. Peltzer for not even trying to negotiate with the Gremlins; she just uses every cooking instrument at her disposal, including a blender and a microwave, to make sure the ones trying to eat her out of house and home meet an ooey-gooey demise.
Death by corn in Sleepwalkers (1992)
Not every great death needs to be particularly scary. Women deserve a completely ridiculous, guffaw-inducing movie kill and this one takes the cake (or, cornbread in this case). In Sleepwalkers, Mary Brady (Alice Krige) and her son are incestuous vampires and werecats. But when a local cop threatens to ruin her good time, Mary grabs the nearest weapon — corn on the cob, because she is nothing if not resourceful — and stabs him in the back with it. It's impossible, it's hilarious, it's utterly silly-era Stephen Kingian, and it's glorious.
Sidney Prescott dumps her boyfriend Billy for good in Scream (1996)
We've established already that when it comes to horror honeys, Scream's Billy Loomis is the worst of the worst. (Yes, we know he looks like Skeet Ulrich, but that's not the point.) Anyway, by the time this moment rolls around Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) has had a pretty rough night. Not only has she just learned that she's lost her virginity to her mom's killer, but she's also confronted by the fact that her boyfriend is responsible for offing several other people along the way. All things considered, Sid keeps her head on straight, even managing to turn the tables against both Billy and his best bud/accomplice Stu (Matthew Lillard) by donning the Ghostface cape, mask, and voice-changer. (Not seen: the moment where Sidney shoots Billy in the freakin' head just to ensure he's really dead.) Yeah, as far as horror kills go, this is among the best.
Rachel knows how to party in The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)
As a sequel to Carrie, The Rage: Carrie 2 is not good. But as its own delightfully gore-filled teen girl revenge flick, it definitely has its moments. Specifically, the entire end of the movie where Rachel (Emily Bergl) sees Carrie White's prom pyre and raises her some exploding eyeballs and the severed penis of the oldest son from Home Improvement. While certainly flawed (which, for what it's worth, male-fronted horror flicks get to be flawed and mediocre all the time) its focus on rape culture, revenge and female anger was ahead of its time, and this party scene alone is worth a revisit. Just maybe stay out of the pool.
Queen Akasha rips out a heart and steals ours in Queen of the Damned (2002)
Queen of the Damned is one of the most deliciously and often hilariously early-aughts horror films. It's downright Hot Topic-ian, resplendent in mesh and midriffs across the gender spectrum all set to a soundtrack by Korn frontman Jonathan Davis. We sit through a lot of Stuart Townsend camping it up like the emo nu-metal vampire of our most embarrassing dreams to get here, but when Aaliyah's Queen Akasha finally arrives, it's worth every screamo moment. Akasha makes the ultimate entrance, covered in jewels and gems, abs for days, dancing with hips that would make anyone say, "Fine, bite me, please." Then she plunges her hand into a man's chest, rips out his heart, takes a big bite, then crushes it into dust. It is an utterly perfect moment. We stan a true queen.
The ladies get their revenge on Stuntman Mike in Death Proof (2007)
In all of the most terrifying scenes of horror, sometimes there's nothing scarier than a man who thinks he's entitled to take whatever he wants — even if that means murdering a group of unsuspecting women in his "death proof" car. But part of the catharsis of watching Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof (which originally ran as part of a double bill with Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror under the collective title Grindhouse) is the fact that when Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) sets his sights on a new target, he isn't anticipating that they'll find a way to survive — and not just to survive, but also to seek their own revenge. The final scene, in which friends played by Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms, and Zoe Bell run Stuntman Mike off the road and drag him, broken and bleeding from his own car, only to beat the living daylights out of him, is one of the most satisfying conclusions to any exploitation horror film out there. (And we're not one-hundo-percent sure, but we're pretty positive that last kick is what does him in for good.)
Erin makes the ultimate smoothie in You're Next (2011)
When Erin (Sharni Vinson) goes home to meet her boyfriend's family, she doesn't count on his having orchestrated an elaborate serial-killer-style murder party to kill his family and collect the inheritance. And he didn't count on Erin having grown up on a survivalist compound, expert since childhood in combat and ways to kill people using whatever tool happens to be nearest. Like a frying pan. Or a screwdriver. Or a blender. In two ways! First, she uses the jar, shattering it on the head of a would-be attacker. But the true innovation comes when she takes the actual blender part, sticks it on his head AND TURNS IT ON. She turns this man into a douchebag smoothie and we very literally applauded.