Where shoot-em-up blockbusters have action heroes and crime noir has jaded detectives, horror icons tend to take the form of the genre’s villains. Whether it’s heinous evil slaughtering innocent people in a slasher movie, beasts of sheer terror in a monster movie, or gory presence in a psychological thriller, the fact is, we tend to love horror movies. horror when they’re really at their most horrible.
The only thing better than seeing the big bad in midair is watching a hero rise up against the odds to give him a dose of his own medicine. From reluctant teenage survivors who stand against the serial killer to handsome super soldiers who can rack up massive kill counts, these are the horror movie protagonists we want on our side when things start to get scary.
Abraham Van Helsing – ‘Van Helsing’ (2004)
One of Western literature’s most accomplished monster hunters, Van Helsing has always been a force to be reckoned with, but the 2004s Van Helsing saw the character invigorated quite significantly. With Hugh Jackman playing the part, he became as much an action hero as he was a horror legend.
Not content with seeing him fight Dracula alone, the movie also throws werewolves at him, Mr. Hyde, and Dracula’s wives. However, this is his last fight with Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) where he establishes himself as one of horror’s toughest protagonists, with the beastly brawl a destructive fight scene for the ages.
Laurie Strode—”Halloween” Franchise
The embodiment of evil itself, Michael Myers is a ruthless mass murderer who racks up an infernal death toll across the confusing wilderness. Halloween franchise. Since the first episode, however, there has been one victim that has consistently eluded him.
Never mind that Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a scared teenager doing whatever she can to survive or a hardened woman bent on revenge; she always proved to be more than a match for her opponent. She may not be the first “final girl” in movie history, but she popularized the archetype and established herself as one of the toughest figures in the genre.
Chris Washington – “Get Out” (2017)
It’s up for debate if Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) can be considered a “last guy”, given that he was pretty much on his own throughout the film. Yet he carried the most important trait of the archetype: a complete refusal to give in to the antagonist. Jordan PeleThe acclaimed psychological horror sees Chris visiting his white girlfriend (Ashley Williams) family for a holiday weekend.
The social awkwardness and uneasy tension in the air soon gives way to unprecedented horror when it is revealed that the Armitages have amassed their wealth with a heinous plot that robs black people of their lives and their autonomy. By outwitting the family, Chris not only escapes, but also brings down their racist empire.
Erin – “You’re Next” (2011)
Few final girls have been as capable and poised as Erin (Sharni Vinson) from the 2011 slasher film, you are next. When a gang of masked killers ambush her boyfriend’s family reunion, she proves to be more than capable of defending herself and even metes out a little punishment.
Having spent her childhood in a survivalist complex, Erin is a calculating survivor who takes care of all the killers herself. It doesn’t matter if she catches them in her traps or has to resort to bloody brutality to untangle them; she knows she’s not one to get dirty.
Alice—”Resident Evil” Franchise
Few could resist Alice’s litany of mutated enemies (Milla Jovovich) had to manage and come out the other side in one piece. From infernal beasts to the genetically enhanced agents of the Umbrella Corporation, to the legions of the undead, the resident Evil the franchise threw it all at the heroine, but she could never topple her for long.
She’s proven she doesn’t even need the enhancements of the ‘t-virus’ coursing through her veins to kick ass Resident Evil: Afterlife. Despite what audiences may think of the movies themselves, all we know is that when the zombie apocalypse arrives, we all want Alice on our side.
Ash Williams – “Evil Dead” Trilogy
Regarding notions of heroism, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) could be considered unique. He’s a buffoon, rather selfish, often submits to the madness around him, and couldn’t be more reluctant to be the one to save the day, but if there are deaths to deal with, then he’s ultimately the man to handle them.
From demonic possessions to battles over time, Ash has seen it all and survived, with Campbell’s charismatic performance making him one of horror’s most iconic and exuberant heroes. With his chainsaw hand and famous boomstick, no one is as tough – or groovy – as Ash.
Nancy Thompson — “A Nightmare on Elm Street” Franchise
Some last girls fend off serial killers, and then there’s Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), the girl who stood against the Dream Stalker and survived. A high school student whose nightmares are haunted by Freddy Kreuger, she watches helplessly as her friends are killed in their sleep, knowing she will be the next target.
After surviving her nightmare, she reappeared in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriorsas an intern at Westin Hills Asylum, working as a dream researcher to help others like her, but also intent on ending Kreuger’s reign of terror once and for all. A fighter through and through, her death still rubs fans the wrong way but does nothing to tarnish her legacy as one of the greatest girls of the genre.
Sidney Prescott—’Scream’ Franchise
While there have been plenty of memorable horror heroes, they rarely become more iconic than the villains they face, but that’s precisely what happened with Sidney Prescott (neve campbell). The face of the franchise, she embodied the last female archetype of the ’70s and ’80s, but had a distinct ’90s feel, which made audiences then – and ever since – instantly love her.
The resilient survivor had to face Ghostface’s killer and his impersonators time and time again, and she beat them all. From the delightful character development she experienced all the way to what Campbell herself brings to the movies, the Screamfranchise will be lesser for not having Sidney as part of its future.
RJ MacReady – ‘The Thing’ (1982)
Kurt Russell was Hollywood’s highest caliber star for decades, starring in dozens of action blockbusters as one of the most underrated movie stars in movie history. And yet, its decisive role comes from John Charpentierit’s a horror classic The thing.
He plays RJ MacReady, a helicopter pilot working at a scientific research station in Antarctica, where his crew encounters a deadly alien lifeform that can perfectly mimic other lifeforms. Maintaining his composure as terror and suspense mount around him, MacReady is not only an iconic badass, but also one of the toughest leads in horror movie history.
Ellen Ripley—”Alien” Franchise
Since its release in 1979, Extraterrestrial was considered the pinnacle of horror cinema. From its slow, suspenseful build to the terror of the xenomorph, the film does a spectacular job of instilling genuine fear in audiences. But that was before we knew everything there was to know about Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver).
Handle one alien at first, then hundreds in the action-packed game aliens, Ripley is not only horror’s toughest protagonist, but also one of cinema’s most iconic main characters. Weaver was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in aliens, a historic achievement for the genre and a milestone for the leading ladies of Hollywood blockbusters.