10 Badass Horror Film Babes

October is about celebrating the autumn season with seasonal beers, pumpkin carving, feeling the leaf-crunch on the ground, and most importantly, marathoning scary movies. But for me, an avid fan of the horror genre, it can be incredibly distressing when a character decides to make the wrong move, especially when a female character goes all demure on us, or by stereotype, is killed off because of her looks, bra size, ditzy lines, or non-virgin status. Yes, sexing it up with some jock is a death wish—says the pro-lez serial killer lurking in the bushes.

For every girl running up the stairs in her blood-drenched negligee, there’s an entirely separate brand of female protagonist on the horror screen—the unstoppable badass ladies who call all the shots, leave no prisoners, wear their bravery on their backs like a hard-shelled maniac out for a vengeance and break the most sweat doing it. Here’s a list of iconic women in horror—women who’ve earned a lesbian-approved spot in the category of serial killers, aliens, prom-destroyers, cave survivors and babysitters.

10. Natalie Mendoza, The Descent and The Descent IINatalieMendoza

The character of Juno in these 2007 and 2009 claustrophobia-horror films is the ultimate adventurist who goes on a spelunking trip with close girl friends, while dealing with regretful feelings over her friend Sarah’s late husband who died in a car accident (and also happened to be her secret lover). But, honestly, I think I speak for others when I suggest she was bisexual, since character Holly makes (what I think was) a lesbian joke at the beginning of the film and makes Juno a part of that joke. Meanwhile in the cave, it’s discovered that Juno doesn’t know this system at all and has taken them to a cave that has been “undiscovered.” I mean, what could go wrong? Well, for starters, they realize they aren’t down there alone, and that these gnarly looking crawlers are hunting their noise. Sarah discovers the truth about Juno and her deceased husband and leaves Juno for dead. Sarah is the only survivor…or is she?

In The Descent Part II, (spoiler alert!) Sarah, must take investigators back into the cave to retrieve the missing party—which seems really inappropriate, right? Shockingly, Juno is discovered to still be alive! She’s now this totally ripped cave warrior who’s got this cave and the crawlers down pat. In a world where women so frequently turn on one another—even in the face of a terrifying situation where they should come together and work to help one another—these films are a lesson in girl power, power used for either good or evil. Truly, both Juno and Sarah should have been given the right to make it out of the cave alive. They mounted these cave crawlers and smashed their heads in—and for what? To die? Blood-soaked and roaring with strength, that was Juno, the possibly bisexual cave babe.

9.  Amy Irving and Emily Bergl in The Rage: Carrie 2EmilyBerglandAmyIrving

In this cult-sequel favorite from 1999, Bergl plays Rachel, a girl with telekinetic powers that resurrected Carrie prom survivor and school counselor Sue Snell recognizes and fears. Rachel is clearly an outcast bullied by a menacing group of popular jocks who taunt her while casting bets on which babe of the week they can bag. (See also: Gross.) When they show up at Rachel’s work,  one of them half-ass asks her out on a date. She shuts him down and he asks, “Why not?” She replies with the best line of the film: “Cause I’m a dyke.” Take that, jerks.

Sue Snell, icon by default, makes an attempt to warn Rachel of her powers and even turns up for the final showdown, a party at a jock’s house where all the popular kids have invited Rachel so they can play a nasty prank on her. This film completely stand up to the original Carrie, especially with inclusions like Mena Suvari as Rachel’s suicidal BFF who has a copy of Hole’s Live Through This in her locker, and Rachel’s beloved Bassett Hound named Walter who is struck by a car. In the film, Rachel carries out one particularly  masterful revenge scene—and there’s never been more ‘90s teenage rage.

8. Felissa Rose in Sleepaway CampFelissaRose

You guys, this film is literally campy. It’s begins as your typical ‘70s chiller, but it’s soon realized this is anything but ordinary as the progressive subplots put a spotlight on gender and sexuality. Angela, an unusually quiet girl who is nearly molested at the start of camp, is the kind of girl who refuses to swim in the lake with the other kids, much to the aggressive teasing of the teen counselors who think she’s so weird.

We learn that Angela lost her brother and father to a horrific boating accident. The only survivor was Angela and her father’s lover, Lenny. Angela was sent to live with her strange aunt who made Angela dress up in super girly clothing. Angela is mostly mute throughout the film, seemingly confused and traumatized by her sexuality and feelings of being misused. In  flashbacks, we see fragments of scenes in which she and her brother are giggling while spying on her father and Lenny in bed.

Angela kills off most of the campers and counselors—all the people who pick her apart, sexualize her, and attempt to treat her like she’s less than. The final scene exposes all of the secrets we already knew were coming. Who is Angela, anyway? This film takes a close look at how rigid gender roles are enforced, sometimes with deadly consequences.

7.  Camille Keaton in I Spit On Your GraveCamilleKeaton

This 1978 film with the alternative title, Day of the Woman, is perhaps the most disturbing film I’ve ever watched. It’s horrifying and graphically unforgettable and will make you extremely angry. Jennifer Hills, a writer who’s travelled to a cabin in the woods to work on her manuscript, encounters a group of men who brutally rape her and leave her for dead. Where anyone else would flee, Jennifer stays and seeks out revenge on each of the men, killing them in vicious ways, forcing them to beg for their lives. If you’ve been watching American Horror Story: Coven, you understand completely that the persecution of women has historically been a fight so interlaced in sexuality. Jennifer Hills may have used her sexuality to carry out her revenge, by making the men think they could “have her.” What that requires is for her to disconnect from her fresh, emotionally scarred state, and that’s plain witchy.

Jennifer Hills is turned into a savage, matching the hate and verve that these men have shown to her. She’s basically saying that women will not be persecuted for being women. Jennifer Hills will make you pay, and then she’ll spit on your grave, because she can.

6. Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox in ScreamNeveCampbellandCourtneyCox

Sidney Prescott is an uptight teen with an intrusive boyfriend named Billy whose only goal is to take her virginity. It’s the day before the one-year anniversary of her mother’s death and there’s a serial killer on the loose, killing teens and leaving everyone in a state of paranoia—which means a party should absolutely happen.

Let’s talk about the fact that when Billy surprises Sid in her bedroom in the first act, there’s an Indigo Girls poster behind him as he’s giving her a speech about respecting her body. C’mon, Billy—all lezzie roads lead back to the Indigo Girls. Also, Sid has the most badass boots in Scream. She boot-kicks just about everyone, and the karate moves save her life every single time. Note to self: Invest in a new pair of Doc Martens.

Now, Courteney Cox, also known as Gail Weathers, plays a sharp-shooting reporter who doesn’t care what she has to do to get the Top Story. For a woman who looks like she’s only concerned with the perfect mini-skirt suit and lip liner, Gail proves herself in the end when she shoots down the killer. Sure, Sidney punches Gail to let her know that her book defending Cotton Weary (best character name, ever) was absolute shit, but when all is forgiven and we see Gail and Sidney make a great team, the franchise comes together and sets the tone for future Scream sequels in which Gail grows more and more into a total bad ass. I admire Gail because she carries hidden cameras, has a female following of young girls who love her work, and she totally wears the pants in her relationship with Dewey. Sidney and Gail: Taking over the world one Ghostface at a time.