The Final Girls… and one boy…
Horror is arguably the only genre where the bad guys get all the press (and have all the fun). We go and watch horror movies for Freddy and for Jason, for Pinhead and for Candyman. But a predator is nothing without its prey and occasionally horror film survivors become just as iconic as the antagonist trying to kill them.
No rules for this one. Anything goes.
7. Amanda Young (Saw)
Amanda or, Bear Trap Girl as she is sometimes known, is a controversial entry in this list as she doesn’t just survive, she goes full maniac and becomes Jigsaw’s murderous apprentice. So much so that Jigsaw, the man who invented that freakin’ clown on a bicycle, has to tell her off for making her death traps too sadistic.
Amanda is pretty much a constant throughout the Saw movies and is responsible for some of more memorable moments of an inconsistent franchise.
For an agonising reappraisal of every Saw film, click here.
6. Sidney Prescott (Scream)
Scream is Wes Craven’s final masterpiece as well as being the movie that single-handedly reintroduced the slasher genre to a new audience. As a horror franchise it is unique in as much as Sidney Prescott, the Final Girl, is probably more famous than the various killers that wear the ghost mask throughout Scream and its three wild sequels.
There are seven different killers in the Scream franchise, each one less memorable than the last, but Sidney is a constant. She follows the rules. She survives.
5. Sarah Connor (Terminator)
You could try telling me that the Terminator movies aren’t horror movies. Well, I point you to the indisputable evidence that, as a small child, I accidentally saw some of Terminator 2: Judgement Day after my parents were asleep and I had a nightmare that was so vivid that I pissed the bed. If that ain’t horror, then I don’t know what is.
Whilst Arnie is the beating heart of the Terminator franchise, Sarah Connor is the steel that encases it. Portrayed by Emilia Clarke but most memorably by Linda Hamilton, Sarah Connor would be the archetypal action movie heroine if not for the next name on this list…
4. Ellen Ripley (Alien)
One of the most iconic female movie characters of all time, Ripley simply wont die. Even when she is dead, she is still alive. It is theorised that, in an infinite universe, if something can exist, then it does exist. That means that somewhere, somehow, Ripley is still careening through space blowing shit up and mothering aliens. Heartwarming.
The Alien franchise has been pretty troubled over the years but Ripley and Sigourney Weaver have kept it grounded and relevant.
3. Nancy Thompson (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
While the various Nightmare sequels are beloved, mainly because of how preposterous they are, the three entries that contain the evergreen Nancy Thompson as the protagonist are definitely the best. Nancy is the only survivor of the original movie and she pops up again in the massively underrated Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors as a kind of Freddy expert. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is similarly undervalued and again Nancy Thompson is right at the heart of it.
For a glorious rendering of the hatred that Krueger feels for Nancy Thompson, witness their heart-stopping reunion in Dream Warriors. Freddy, who has morphed into a giant worm (natch), notices Nancy out of the corner of his beady eye and simply screams ‘YOU!’ before recoiling in disgust. Intense.
2. Laurie Strode (Halloween)
Jamie Lee Curtis will always be the one true scream queen as far as I’m concerned and she is a force of nature, every match for her evil incarnate brother Michael Myers. Laurie has killed Michael and Michael has killed Laurie numerous times but yet both will return yet again in this years direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic.
Scout Taylor-Compton did a good job bringing Laurie into the 21st century in Rob Zombie’s well-received reboots, but Jamie Lee Curtis simply is Laurie Strode. I can’t wait to see her back on the big screen again this Halloween.
Michael Myers and Laurie Strode have passed into horror movie folklore. Their intense love-hate relationship has become like a snake eating it’s own tail, a never ending cycle of pain, blood and murder.
1. Ash Williams (The Evil Dead)
While it pains me to leave Laurie Strode off the top spot, when it comes to horror movie survivors, there can only be one. Ash Williams drove into a cabin in the woods as a goofy teenager and roared out with a chainsaw for a hand and a messiah complex.
Ash didn’t just survive the Evil Dead, he owned those Deadite sons-a-bitches as the hunted became the hunter. There are few more iconic shots in horror history than Ash Williams, faced streaked with blood, laughing maniacally into the dark night.
As with Jamie Lee Curtis and Laurie Strode, Bruce Campbell is synonymous with Ash Williams. If the dead ever do inherit the earth, I want Ash by my side.