It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas!! Halloween!!! Yes, the leaves are crinkling beneath your feet, the wind has a chill, and there’s a hint of bonfire smoke in the air. You’re sweating because you live in LA and want to wear a scarf. It’s magical, isn’t it? Well, if there’s one thing that’s most wonderful about this spooky season, it’s popping some corn and sitting down to watch a scary movie. So we’ve compiled a list of some of the best horror icons for you to curl up and pay homage to this Nerdoween.
Sennia Nanua – The Girl With All The Gifts
Mike Carey’s award winning bestseller gave us a brand new take on zombie lore, but Sennia Nanua’s stand out performance as the book’s protagonist, Melanie, gave this incredible indie adaptation even more depth. Sennia’s Melanie is a victim, monster, child, and leader of a new world all wrapped up in one. This post apocalyptic movie has more nuance than a lot of standard zombie fare, and most of that is thanks to Nanua.
Neve Campbell – Scream
For those of us who grew up in the ’90s, Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott was our first introduction to the radical world of the final girl. Her genre defining, rule breaking role in Wes Craven’s Scream brought the decades old conventions of slasher movies crashing down, whilst creating a resurgence in referential horror that would end up changing the face of the genre forever.
Brandy – I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
Speaking of final girls, Brandy is often overlooked but truly wonderful in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. This sequel to the original Scream-influenced second wave slasher saw a group of teens get slowly slaughtered on a mysterious holiday island. Most memorable for dreadlocks-wearing Jack Black getting a hook through his hand, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer surprised us by having Brandy survive alongside franchise staple Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Jamie Lee Curtis – Halloween
Arguably the defining Hollywood final girl, Jamie Lee Curtis’ star making turn as Laurie Strode in John Carpenter’s low budget contemporary classic introduced an era of “scream queens.” She gave the movie a heart that many of the era’s exploitative horror movies severely lacked. Curtis’ Laurie became quickly iconic, launching Curtis into the spotlight and a thousand other scream queens into slasher canon.
Sigourney Weaver – Alien
Ridley Scott’s Alien is a masterpiece. It broke ground in many ways not least because of Sigourney Weaver’s radical portrayal of Ripley. The Nostromo’s civilian adviser turned badass alien assassin, Weaver’s performance is at the dark heart of Scott’s hard sci-fi horror hit. Ripley is easily one of the most iconic horror heroes of all time and her journey from scared observer to sole survivor is one of the most exhilarating ever put to screen.
Naomie Harris – 28 Days Later
Danny Boyle’s dark take on what would happen if a rabies-like virus turned most of the population into crazed, violent beasts, 28 Days Later deatures Naomie Harris’ nurse Selena traversing a desolate London trying to find safety for her and her newly found ward played Megan Burns. The two women battle to survive, but as always the most dangerous thing around them are actually the survivors. Selena is a wholly fresh take on a final girl, one who is driven first and foremost by her radically caring nature.
Aki Maeda – Battle Royale
Kinji Fukasaku’s cult classic political satire based on the book of the same name tells the story of a dystopia where teen delinquency is so bad that once a year a school class is sent to fight to the death. Aki Maeda’s Noriko is Battle Royale’s final girl. Though most horror movie survivors are defined by their strength or willingness to fight, Aki’s survival is based predominantly on her kindness. Battle Royale is still one of the coolest entries into modern horror canon and Aki Maeda is the unconventional hero the movie deserves.
Heather Langenkamp – A Nightmare on Elm Street
Another seminal slasher, A Nightmare on Elm Street saw Langenkamp’s Nancy take on the terrifying figure of Freddy Krueger, the living incarnation of a dead child murderer who was killed by an angry mob of local parents. Nancy is a fantastic final girl fighting not only against dream demon Freddy but also against the peril of useless parents and apathetic authority figures. Langenkamp’s final girl and her foe sparked a seven film franchise, TV series, and remake. But none would ever top their fearsome first outing.
Marilyn Burns – Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Tobe Hooper’s 1974 exploitation classic was so shocking that it was banned in the UK until 1999. This beautifully brutal film is a masterpiece in sheer terror and is held together by its young and unknown cast led by the film’s sole survivor, Marilyn Burns’ Sally. Her rawly emotional performance led many to believe that the movie was in fact a snuff film, and gave us the gift one of the most iconic and hopeful final scenes in cinema history.
Emayatzy Corinealdi – The Invitation
Karyn Kusama’s 2015 thriller is one of our favorite contemporary horror movies, and it has one of the best ensemble casts to have graced our screens for a while too. Though the lead is arguably Logan Marshall-Green’s grief ridden Will, it’s Emayatzy Corinealdi’s Kira who gives the film its vital emotional core. Her nuanced performance strikes all the right chords, portraying a woman who wants to be a supportive partner but who also knows something isn’t quite right. A defining role for Corinealdi.
How do you feel about our heroic horror icons? Which one of these classic movies will you be revisiting this Nerdoween? Let us know in the comments!
Images: Dimension, XYZ Films, 20th Century Fox, Compass Int, Poison Chef, Bryanston Pictures, New Line Cinema, Toei, DNA Films, Mandalay Entertainment