Women in Horror Month: Sorority Row

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This female-powered slasher film tells the story of a group of sorority sisters who find themselves being stalked by an unknown maniac one year after they accidentally killed one of their sisters in a prank. For these girls it will take the power of sisterhood to survive the killer party in store for them.

This 2009 remake was a bomb at the box office, despite its hot cast and great throwback to classic slashers. It features great kills, and witty dialogue, but what stands out the most is its female cast.

Typically in slasher film, there is usually more focus on certain characters than any others. While we do have a focal character, each female in the film is considered a lead have their own chance to shine.

First up is Briana Evigan who stars as Cassidy. Cassidy is our focal character who we supposed to root for and relate to the most. She is the conscience of the story, has the most strength of the girls, and isn’t afraid to stand up to whatever or whoever is in her way, and truly loves and wants to protect her fellow sisters.

Next is Leah Pipes who stars as the bitch you can’t help but love, the queen bee, Jessica. Jessica is the character that isn’t afraid to say how she feels, even when it’s at the most inappropriate moments. She is definitely the character that really only think of herself, but she’s also a strong woman in her own way and isn’t afraid to take a stand (she has no problem taking an ax to go after their assailant). But even when she has the chance to run, she doesn’t leave her sister behind.

Rumer Willis plays Ellie, the brainy one. Despite the fact that she is typically seen crying and screaming and panicking through the film, Ellie is a lot stronger than she actually thinks.

Jamie Chung plays Claire, Jessica’s sidekick. She wants to be like Jessica, but it doesn’t take her long to see the error of her ways and wants to break free from her role as the sidekick and become a stronger and better person. She’s also not one to take any shit from her boyfriend (who’s a total dick).

Finally there’s Chugs, played by Margo Harshman. Chugs is the drunk and slutty sister who knows who she is and quite frankly isn’t ashamed or afraid to express it. Like Jessica, she says what’s on her mind and doesn’t sugar coat things.

So, even though certain characters make have more screen time than the others, each of these women have their own time to shine and show their female empowerment as leads. They could be strong from beginning to end mentally and physically, some have to come into their strength, and some have inner strength and self-confidence that make them just as strong as the others.

–Cody Landman

Women in Horror Month: Scout Taylor-Compton

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Hands-down the most underrated and one of my personal favorite Scream Queens around is the lovely Scout Taylor-Compton.

Taylor-Compton first made her horror debut in the 2006 zombie film Wicked Little Things where she starred alongside Chloe Grace Moretz. She played teenager Sarah who gets one of the creepiest scene in the film in which zombie children attack the car she and her friends are in. It also here where we get to hear that the girl can in fact scream, and quite well.

It was one year later that she scored her first major theatrical role in Rob Zombie’s Halloween as the new Laurie Strode. It this performance that divided viewers. Fans of Carpenter’s original film blasted Taylor-Compton’s portrayal and often refer to her as “annoying” and even “stupid”. However, the point people are missing is that this is in fact a reimagining of the story and is completely updated. Even our lead girl. Taylor-Compton plays Laurie as the good girl with a little attitude and silliness to her. In today’s society, this Laurie is much more relatable than Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie, and Scout nailed the role. Once again revealing her excellent scream.

In 2008 Scout starred in the unbelievable bad April Fools Day remake. The film was awful through and through, as was its acting. However, some may that Taylor-Compton was the film’s only saving grace as the character Torrance. While it wasn’t a solid performance, she worked well with what she did and had the only interesting role compared to the rest of the cast.

Coming back to the big screen in 2009, Taylor-Compton reprised her role as Laurie Strode in Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2. Of all her horror films this one stands out as her best performance. We now see Laurie completely mentally damaged after the events of the first film. She’s completely changed as a person, she’s now become full of anger and hostility, and has constant nightmares that deprive her of sleep. She lashes out at Annie and Sherriff Brackett, the two people she only has in her life. Scout completely blows viewers away as the polar opposite as the innocent and happy character we saw her portray in the first film. It is being able to perfectly show this transformation that proves Scout’s range as an actress.

Taking a break from horror for a couple of years, Scout starred in the 2011 film 247 Degrees. She played a young woman who survived a horrible car crash that took the life of her boyfriend. Following this she now has a major case of claustrophobia. Her fear is tested when she and friends become trapped in a sauna with the temperature gradually rising. Scout showed this character’s fear of the enclosed spaces, but also the fear of the change in her friends as tension begins to rise.

As of right now, Scout has no current horror projects coming up. However, one film of her entitled 7500 in which she portrays a grungy character who finds herself trapped on a plane with some deadly spirits, is currently is film purgatory after having an initial release date back in August 2012.

Scout has the perfect qualities of a Scream Queen, she’s true to the genre, she’s cute as hell, gets totally into character, and can most definitely scream.

–Cody Landman

Women in Horror Month: Jamie Lee Curtis

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“It was the boogeyman,” and don’t try to tell Jamie Lee Curtis otherwise. She’ll fight you on it.

Born to Hollywood legends Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, Jamie Lee Curtis was 19 when she entered the world of horror – and became a bona fide star – playing the lead role in John Carpenter’s suspense masterpiece “Halloween.” Not Carpenter’s first choice, writer/producer Debra Hill suggested offering the part of Laurie to Jamie, thanks to her mother’s turn in Hitchcock’s legendary horror classic, “Psycho.” Enamored with her ability to slip into the role of a girl she had virtually nothing in common with, they gave her the role. The film started with very little advertising and did poor box office initially, but soon it became a massive hit. After several months of no real additional work, Carpenter and Hill cast her in their ensemble supernatural chiller, “The Fog,” alongside Carpenter girls Adrienne Barbeau and Nancy Loomis, as well as her mother. She then went on to play lead roles in the Canadian slasher hits “Prom Night” (opposite Leslie Nielsen) and “Terror Train” (alongside Ben Johnson, Hart Bochner, and David Copperfield), as well as the Australian thriller “Road Games” (with Stacy Keach) before doing her (for the time) scream queen swan song, “Halloween II.”

Wishing to branch out into other types of roles, Curtis deliberately quit doing horror films, and then became a full-fledged movie star with the releases of “Trading Places,” “Perfect,” and “A Fish Called Wanda.” She then starred in the thrillers “Blue Steel,” “Mother’s Boys,” and “True Lies” before making a return to the role that made her famous.

Upon realizing the 20th anniversary of her film debut was coming (Halloween 1998), Curtis initiated the development of “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later,” which saw her reprising her role of Laurie Strode, determined to take down her screen nemesis Michael Myers once and for all. However, a clause in her contract prevented this, forcing her to appear briefly in the largely-dispised “Halloween: Resurrection” in 2002. To date, “Resurrection” is her last horror film (unless you count the star-studded ‘comedy,’ “You Again.”). However, she was not yet done with the world of horror.

In November 2012, Curtis appeared at her first (and only) horror convention, HorrorHound Weekend. The prices for her autograph and photo op were steep (a whopping $80 each), but the lines were huge regardless. Spending two days signing autographs virtually non-stop, graciously personalizing photos, posters, and even knives, Curtis then turned over her earnings to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She also appeared in the pro-gay play “8,” depicting one of the plaintiffs in the case agains the same-sex marriage ban.

Also known for several other roles, as well as ads for Dannon’s Activia yogurt, and her long series of children’s books, Curtis is still recognized and praised for her work in “Halloween.” And unlike other stars that started in horror films (such as Kevin Bacon in “Friday the 13th” and Jennifer Aniston in “Leprechaun”) she appears to be damn proud of it.

–Joshua Dean

Women in Horror Month: Heather Langenkamp

According to her IMDB and Wikipedia pages, Heather Langenkamp wasn’t always a horror fan and admits that before she was cast in the role that would change her life that she had never seen a horror film. Funny that now, nearly 30 years later, the actress is remembered as one of the greatest horror Scream Queens of all time.

While she was studying at Stanford University, Wes Craven cast her as teen heroine Nancy Thompson in the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” as he wanted someone very “girl next door” to play Nancy. He believed that Langenkamp met this quality. For the part, she beat out over 100 actresses including Courteney Cox and Demi Moore. The film, follows the story of a group of teenagers who are killed in their dreams one-by-one by a past child murderer turned supernatural serial killer, whom their parents killed. The film was continued the 80′s slasher movie craze, following the trend set by “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”.

The film introduced the iconic villain Freddy Krueger, played by Robert Englund. Nancy, as the film’s protagonist, lives, and defeats Krueger after he has killed all of her friends. Johnny Depp, in his feature film debut played Nancy Thompson’s boyfriend, Glen. Veteran film actor John Saxon played Nancy’s father, police lieutenant Donald Thompson. The film was both a critical and commercial success, earning a total of $25 million at the American box office. In 1985, she received the Best Actress Award at the Avoriaz Film Festival for this role. She also became one of the original scream queens and final girls.

She continued her role as Nancy in “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors”, in which she co-starred alongside Patricia Arquette and Laurence Fishburne, and “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare”, in which she played herself, and through events in the narrative, she is compelled to reprise her role as Nancy Thompson. John Saxon also returned with Langenkamp in “Dream Warriors” and “New Nightmare”. “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” earned nearly $45 million at the domestic box office, making it both the highest grossing film for the studio that year. What many consider to be the best of the series, myself included, “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” earned just $18 million at the U.S. box office. The three films in the series in which Langenkamp stars are considered the three best and are all certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. As Craven writes on the script that Langenkamp reads from in the final scene of “New Nightmare”, “Thank you for having the guts to play Nancy once last time”, the horror world couldn’t agree more.

She continues to tour conventions all of the world to promote the power of Nancy. She worked behind the scenes as well as provided the narrative voice to the definitive Nightmare documentary, “Never Sleep Again.” She also interviewed fans and those that were a part of the series for her own documentary, “I Am Nancy.” She clearly loves and cherishes her fans and the horror genre is simply better because she is a part of it.

Women in Horror Month: Feminism in Friday the 13th

Looking at Friday the 13th, it’s easy to see why the film was so controversial. Many feminist groups were so angered by these types of movies in the 1980’s. After all, aren’t these films merely an excuse to show a topless girl running through the woods waiting to get impaled on a killer’s “long blade”? The references to death and sex aren’t exactly subtle. As the awesome Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film book states, many feminists were downright disgusted by Friday the 13th finding it repulsive and borderline offensive that every female in the film, with the exception of the “final girl”, is killed because of her sexual experience and independence. What kind of message does this send to the female youth of America? Stay subservient to your male partner and everything will end up being okay for you?

Does Friday the 13th add to the “media’s representation of women as passive, dependent on men, or objects of desire” as many feminist film critics have stated? Well, that is left up to debate. For example, a select group of feminists actually applauded this film and other slasher films like it. In fact, while most feminists theorists label the horror film as a “male-driven/male-centered genre”, feminist critics like Carol Clover pointed out that in most horror films, especially in horror films like the Friday the 13th series, the audience, male and female, is structurally ‘forced’ to identify with the “innovative and resourceful young female” (“the final girl” as described earlier) who survives the killer’s attack and usually ends the threat. She argues that “while the killer’s subjective point of view may be male within the narrative, even the male viewer is still rooting for the “final girl” to overcome the killer.”

Nonetheless, many key film critics disagreed with the argument that horror films like Friday the 13th are “pro-feminist.” In 1981, Roger Ebert, film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, launched a “famous diatribe against the subjective point-of-view killing mechanism” of the slasher film which, as he argued, “placed viewers in the position of ‘seeing as’ and, therefore, ‘identifying with’ the maniacal killers.” Nevertheless, many filmmakers and other critics disagreed with the “simplistic association of subjective point of view shooting with audience identification by believing in point-of-view cutting as a stronger way of achieving audience identification with a character.” If anything, it could be argued that this point-of-view shooting makes horror films forces the audience to identify with the female protagonist that much more. Or, as feminist critic Clover calls it, “masochistic rather than sadistic.”

Looking at Friday the 13th, it is not hard not to see why the criticisms were made. The film was made on a minimal budget with a core story that, has been argued many times, rips off John Carpenter’s Halloween. However, this would be avoiding the very essence of why these horror films are so popular. People don’t go to Friday the 13th expecting a great, cinematic movie going experience; they are going to Friday the 13th to have fun. It can be argued that films like Friday the 13th are escapist entertainment at their very best. There is nothing fundamentally great about these films but that’s really the point. They are fun, they are scary (if, by today’s standards, cheesy and tame), and they are very entertaining.

The feminist critics that attack these films don’t seem to see the power these films contain. Here, in Friday the 13th, is a young woman who must put all the pieces of the mystery everything together and save her friends in order to survive the night. And survive she does, something that not a single other male does in the course of the film. In fact, looking at the series as a whole, it takes the franchise until Part 4 before it even allows a male to survive in the end. It should come as no surprise that this male is survived with a female who, once again, was forced to save the day on her own. Whereas in other film genres, such as romantic comedies and dramas, where females are pushed aside to “girlfriend support” roles, Friday the 13th tries to do something different with gender roles by making the males the “supportive partner” and forcing the young female teenager to go take charge and save the day. In essence, the female in this film, as in many other horror films, is the hero. I just wish more genres of film followed this lead.

Women in Horror Month: Rebekah Herzberg

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Rebekah Herzberg is a versatile model, actress, ballerina, columnist, WiHM Ambassador, and film festival director from Southeast Texas. Through the years she has been exploding all over the scene and taking notice as one of the hardest working women in horror. An avid VHS collector, dozens of VHS articles written by Rebekah can be found on Wicked Channel, Unleash the Fan Boy, and her own personal blog Your Friendly Neighborhood Jewish Girl that’s filled with colorful retro trash paired with her vast knowledge in horror with a dose of sarcasm.

Rebekah believes in living life to the fullest which is why you will see her involved with multiple projects at once. She has been active in modeling, dance, and theater since she was a toddler and continues to rock each subject. After working on student horror films, Rebekah eventually made her way into films like Princess and The Good Friend.

As much as she loves acting in horror films and musicals, this year she will be writing and directing her first film with her brother titled Hanukkill.

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This year she will also be returning as the director of the horror portion for The Lagniappe Film and Music Festival. In addition to judging the horror submissions, she will be assisting with the fashion show and The Rocky Horror Picture Show gathering. In the past, she has hosted conventions like Texas Frightmare Weekend and can be seen at conventions all over the US.

Rebekah is known in her hometown to throw charity events and fundraisers to support the local women and children’s shelters. This February 14th Rebekah will be putting together a WiHM celebration with a viewing of American Mary and Tiffany Heath’s trailer for Spavine. The girls are hoping to gather as many clothes, food, and cosmetics for the local shelters.

–Alex Holden

Women in Horror Month: Adrienne King (Friday the 13th)

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Adrienne King found horror fame in 1980 as she starred in the original Friday The 13th. As the first final girl in the popular franchise, Adrienne King played the role of Alice Hardy. Alice was a young, yet strong girl who took on the crazed Pamela Voorhees, played by the equally crazed Betsy Palmer. With one swift swing, this final girl was catapulted into horror lore.

Having been in the first two Friday films, it’s difficult to talk about 80’s final girls without speaking of Adrienne King. With her mop top haircut and soft spoken charm, Adrienne showed that even the most unsuspecting girl can become a fighter when backed into a corner. Although she didn’t quite make it through the second installment of the series, her quick cameo made for a nice beginning to the film.

Today, Adrienne can be found at film conventions where she will gladly sign an autograph and talk to you about pretty much anything. Having personally met her at a convention in Chicago, I can safely say she is one the nicest people I have ever met. Willing to not only answer your questions, but to keep the conversation going is something rare refreshing. And with a new wine passion, Adrienne has set up Crystal Lake Wines. With a variety of wine to chose from and a very cool label, these are a must taste for the truest of Friday fans.

Here’s to you Adrienne King! You gave us a strong final girl and a new reason to play a Friday The 13th drinking game. Can’t wait to see you at the next convention. Cheers!

Women In Horror Month: Katharine Isabelle

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When I decided to write something up for Women In Horror Month, a bunch of names ran through my head. Amy Steel, Barbara Crampton, Kelly Jo Minter but I decided to go with Katharine Isabelle. The main reason being is I was on IMDB a while back and someone had started a “Favorite Scream Queen” thread. So, I went in and said Katharine Isabelle. Within 10 minutes, I had a reply from someone who had previously said Scout Taylor Compton, Katie Cassidy and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. ” I don’t think she’s been in enough horror to be a Scream Queen.” I was in shock.

She started doing horror themed projects as a teen with roles in The X-Files, Goosebumps and Disturbing Behavior but it wasn’t until 2000 that she really made her first mark in the genre.

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Ginger Snaps was a little Canadian werewolf movie that surprised critics and most horror fans. It was a clever take on the genre and Katharine received great reviews as Ginger. Playing a rebellious teen who is stuck in suburban hell who is then attacked by a werewolf on the eve of her first period, Katharine is electric. As she further evolves into the wolf, you see all humanity slip away from her but even at her worst, she’s still a fascinating character. Both Katharine, Emily Perkins (who plays her sister Bridgette) and Mimi Rogers (who plays their clueless mom) make this movie a darkly comedic horror gem.

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Post Ginger Snaps, she did roles in Bones, Insomnia and the 2002 TV remake of Carrie but it wasn’t until 2003’s Freddy VS Jason that she made another mark in the genre. Originally auditioning for the lead Lori, Katharine ended up playing party girl Gibb. In what could have been a throwaway role, she ends up out-acting most of the leads and is one of the few characters I had sympathy for. She also serves as the catalyst to which Freddy and Jason start their battles. As she’s about to be killed in her dream by Freddy, Jason impales her sleeping corpse.

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After FvJ, she dabbled a lot in tv shows (having a memorable guest stint on season 2 of Supernatural and a homage to Freddy in an episode of Smallville) and direct to DVD horror (Hard Ride To Hell, 30 Days of Night 2, 13 Eerie). Some entertaining and some not so much. I will say no matter how bad the movie may have ended up, she always gives 100% in her role.

Then came 2012’s American Mary, Playing the tragic anti-hero Mary Mason, once again you witness a character’s descent into dark places. This time though, it’s not a werewolf that causes it but a traumatic incident at a party throw by her teacher. She not only gets her revenge but finds she has a knack for “alternate” surgeries. It’s another memorable character in the horror genre for Katharine Isabelle.

Now, she just wrapped See No Evil 2 and is finishing up a run on Syfy’s successful Being Human before headed to the amazingly dark and twisted Hannibal. A tragically under-watched series that trumps The Following in almost every way.

So, why is she so underrated?

I feel a lot of it has to do with the fact that she’s prefers to stay in Canada. She’s not an LA girl nor does she turn up in a bunch of horror remakes. She works when she wants to. She’s not a big “scene” queen nor does she promote herself endlessly on social media. But she has a loyal fan-base, myself included, that will hopefully keep growing.

–Andrew Beirl

Women in Horror Month: Jocelin Donahue (The House of the Devil)

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One of my favorite women in horror is not from an 80’s film, but one that just happens to be set during that time. I’m talking about Jocelin Donahue, who played Samantha in Ti West’s House of the Devil. Samantha is a character that seems very genuine and really makes you root for her in the film. The character is struggling with money problems, as many of us can relate to. There are several red flags about the babysitting job that would ordinarily make most people decide against it, but Samantha’s desperation to improve her living situation makes her decision to take the job much more believable (to her best friend’s dismay).

The majority of the film’s scenes feature Samantha alone in the house. You can feel her curiosity as she explores the rooms, and also her ever rising uneasiness as she begins to realize that something isn’t quite right. Donahue plays the character well, and is able to carry the movie on her shoulders without losing the audience. By the end, you really get invested with her character, which makes the climax even more intense. You want Samantha to overcome the evil forces out to get her and just hope she makes it out alive. The House of the Devil is one of my favorite horror movies, and a good part of that is because of Jocelin Donahue’s performance.

-Miles Wilson

Women in Horror Month: Neve Campbell (Sidney Prescott)

Throughout the years of horror, we have grown familiar with names such as Sally, Laurie, Alice, Ginny, and Nancy. These final girls from early slasher history left such a huge impression in the horror community that they are familiar by just first name basis. For a while it almost seemed that we’d never get another Final or Lead Girl to live up to these standards or become that legendary. That is until 1996 when a certain Wes Craven film opened in cinemas and soon became the most successful slasher film in horror to this day. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am referring to none other than Sidney Prescott, brilliantly played by Neve Campbell.

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When we first meet Sidney in the original film, she is scarred after the brutal death of her mother one year prior. It is only when she and friends become the targets of a maniacal serial killer that she must stand up to the plate. When Sidney is first attacked by the killer, she immediately fights back and uses her smarts to try and escape, which she does. By the end, even when she is revealed to gut-punching truth about who the killer is and who is actually responsible for her mother’s death, she always manages to stay strong, and ultimately take down BOTH of the killers who have been tormenting her and reap her of her once happy family.

Randy: “Careful, this is the moment when the supposedly dead killer comes back to life…for one last scare.”
Sidney: *after shooting Billy in the head*: “Not in my movie.”

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In Scream 2 we find Sidney at college, hoping to start anew, she has a close group of friends and a loving boyfriend with “no apparent psychotic tendencies.” It isn’t too long before Sid experiences déjà vu when murders start taking place, and once again Sidney and her friends become the initial targets. It is at this point Sid is conflicted her where her trust lies and is wondering if history will repeat itself. Despite all of this, she continues to still keep her strength as well as her guard up. This time she is not afraid of running, she willing to confront her “ghost” head on, from talking back to the killer during their calls, having the perfect chance to run, but chooses to see who the monster under the mask is, and once again giving one hell of a showdown when confronted by the killers. She doesn’t break once.

Sidney: “You’re forgetting one thing about Billy Loomis…I fucking killed him!”

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In Scream 3 we find Sidney now in seclusion, she’s not so much afraid of the world, but more so she is extremely careful and alert. Her home is fully secured and locked, she goes by a new name, and works from home. But yet again, the killer finds her and Sidney knows that her friends are in danger. Without even a second thought, she flies to Hollywood to help Dewey and Gale solve the murders and bring this new killer down. But this time it’s different. This killer is a real ghost from the past, and this means Sidney must confront all of her demons in order to fully rise to victory and bring the killer down. When it’s revealed the killer is Sidney’s long lost brother that her mother abandoned, and he is the reason why all of the horror in Sidney’s life happened, it becomes and all-out brawl. Sidney is at her most fierce and most cunning, all the way to the killer’s death, and she feels she can live at ease.

Sidney: “It’s your turn to scream asshole!”

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It is ten years after the original Woodsboro murders, and Sidney is now able to
return home to promote her book entitled “Out of Darkness” about her journey through the turmoil she went through. But with Sidney’s return, so do the murders. Someone is trying to remake the events of the events ten years ago. But now, Sidney finds her younger cousin Jill, her aunt, and Jill’s friends added to the list of targets. With a new decade, come the new rules, and Sid must put together the pieces as the bodies pile up. After all she has been through, Sidney is now no longer afraid. She does whatever she can to protect those around her, including racing to Jill’s friend’s house to protect her from her doom, throws herself in harm’s path to save Jill, as well as others. By the final showdown, Sidney shows that even when the enemy is family, she refuses to be weak, she stands her ground, fearless, stealth, and out of darkness.


Sidney: “You forgot the first rule of remakes Jill. Don’t fuck with the original.”

Throughout those ten years, Sidney has never once faltered in her actions. She always used her smarts, always stayed strong, and always confronted her internal and external conflicts head on. She also showed that she was always willing to put her life ahead of others to save them. In the moments where the average person would feel at a loss, Sidney kept on going. But what makes her the most special and unique is that she’s the one recurring Final/Lead Girl in a slasher series to never be killed off. To me, that makes her the ultimate Final Girl in slasher history.

–Cody Landman