The horror genre is full of iconic movie villains like Jason Voorhees, Micheal Myers, Chucky, and Freddy Krueger, whose franchises dominate the media and pop culture discussions. We love these villains for their iconic imagery and frightening personas, and they are near and dear to the hearts of many horror fans. There are plenty of lists ranking some of the most iconic and terrifying killers of the genre, but this list focuses on some of the female baddies of horror films who have a blast being evil and who deserve some praise from their roles in the genre. Note: This is an updated list from October 2020 and features some wicked new additions to the original post.
Some of these ladies shine despite being trapped in terrible movies, while others are so obscure you might not know they exist. Regardless, they all share one thing in common, and that’s how good they are at being bad. So grab your crosses and holy water, dear reader. In no particular order of greatness, here are Nine Delightfully Devilish Female Villains from Horror:
Julia Cotton- Hellraiser
Hell hath no fury like Julia Cotton, the sexy villain of Hellraiser and its sequel. Trapped in what she sees as a dull marriage to the docile and uninteresting Larry Cotton (although Andrew Robinson is the exact opposite of uninteresting), Julia is so consumed by the erotic memories of her love affair with Larry’s brother Frank, she is willing to kill multiple men—including her own husband and eventually her stepdaughter Kirsty—to resurrect her true love. Julia wavers in her convictions throughout the movie, but she ultimately gives in to her carnal desires and pays the price with her life. In the sequel, Julia is resurrected when a man bleeds out on the mattress she died on, and after seducing two doctors to help her become whole again, Julia hunts Kirsty Cotton and her young charge with zeal.
Clare Higgins is perfect in the role of the corrupted yet two-dimensional Julia, and it’s a shame she didn’t return for more movies as the franchise shifted its focus onto Pinhead.
Asami Yamazaki- オーディション, (Audition)
Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is a middle-aged widower who bites off more than he can chew when he holds a fake casting call in the hopes of finding a new wife and encounters the intelligent and stunningly beautiful Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina), who of course turns out to be a terrifying monster. Her subtle body language provides small clues of the darkness inside hidden deep inside her, and when she lashes out and reveals her true colors, it’s absolutely horrifying. The chilling phone call scene and stomach-churning torture scene are among her most iconic. She’s calm and meticulous as she works her excruciatingly painful artwork over Aoyama’s body. She’s deadly and seemingly charming, but don’t be mislead for a moment. She can and will kill when the need or desire arises.
Evelyn- Mountaintop Motel Massacre
This is a terrible and low-budget 1983 slasher flick, but Evelyn racks up quite the body count. She’s the insane caretaker of a motel in—-you guessed it——the mountains, who murders her daughter after catching her practicing witchcraft. Before long, Evelyn begins picking off the guests at the creepy motel one by one and traverses the tunnels beneath the motel which allow her to sneak into her unsuspecting victim’s room. She enjoys trolling the guests by unleashing snakes and beetles in their presence before she fatally strikes from the shadows, most often with a sickle—her signature weapon.
Rhonda Johnson- Killer Workout
This is a trashy slasher flick from the 1987, but its wacky villain, Rhonda Johnson (Marcia Karr), picks off the patrons at her fitness club one by one with a GIANT SAFETY PIN! After a gruesome accident at the club she manages, a vengeful Rhonda goes on a killing spree and targets the unfortunate souls she thinks are more beautiful than she is. Rhonda gets a spot on this list because of how unashamedly absurd she is and how much fun she has spinning her web of deceit and murder. She’s also one of the few villains on this list who gets away with her crimes, and she’s the center of an insane twist that adds to this movie’s cheesy vibe.
Pamela Voorhees- Friday the 13th
Jason Vorhees may be the face of the Friday the 13th franchise, but his mother Pamela is the original Camp Crystal Lake slasher, and one of the most iconic women in horror. Following the drowning “death” of her son Jason, a vengeful Pamela goes on a killing spree, murdering the two counselors who were getting it on instead of watching her son and later the teenaged camp counselors working to reopen Camp Crystal Lake. Portrayed expertly by Betsy Palmer, Pamela Voorhees is frighteningly unhinged and delivers some truly memorable kills—including an arrow jabbed through Kevin Bacon’s throat from underneath the bed. There’s nothing Pamela wouldn’t do for her special boy, and her adoration and unwavering dedication push her to the most violent and bloody of acts.
Jason Vorhees is one of the most famous horror icons, but Pamela will always be the First Lady of Friday the 13th series.
Queen Akasha- Queen of the Damned
At the heart of Queen of the Damned, an early 2000s punk-vampire horror fantasy based on the bestselling novel by Anne Rice, stands Queen Akasha, played by R&B singer, model, and actress Aaliyah. In one hell of an explosive entrance, she rises from the stage and takes Lestat under her control. The world may have changed since this sexy and dangerous vamp Queen reigned, but she’s determined to take it back. “Humans are animals,” she declares, and it only makes sense to turn them into her blood slaves. She’s powerful and deadly, burning an entire club of vampires and later killing two of the vampire elders who taste her blood. Her beauty and villainy make her a perfect addition to this list.
Though Queen of the Damned received negative reviews upon release, it has since become a cult film. Sadly, Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001, and the film was released posthumously and dedicated to her memory.
Angela Franklin- Night of the Demons Trilogy
Let’s just say Angela Franklin (Amelia Kinkade in all three films) can throw one hell of a party. The young woman became the iconic demon she’s most famous for after she and her best friend Suzanne (Linnea Quigley) decide to throw their Halloween party at Hull House, an abandoned mortuary with a bloody past. Goth queen Angela is equally horrifying and sexy and clearly delights in causing all sorts of supernatural mayhem and mishaps. Her signature hair, black dress, and veil make this lady one frightening entity of evil. Angela’s devilishly fun as she seduces and kills many who stumble into Hull House, that dance—oh that dance! Flashing light warning if you dare to watch the video below.
The Hag- Curtains
Curtains is a deeply unsettling 1983 Canadian slasher film about a group of mostly younger actresses auditioning for a movie role at a sleazy director’s mansion when a killer with a hag mask straight out of a nightmare picks them off one by one. I don’t want to reveal the woman beneath the mask for this underrated horror gem, but the Hag is terrifying, and she kills her victims out of bitter jealousy. This film boasts one of the scariest scenes on the ice I’ve ever seen, and it’s all thanks to the Hag. She strikes when her victims least expect, and when she makes her presence known before going for kill, everyone is so terrified they can barely move.
Tiffany Valentine- Child’s Play Franchise
Every horror villain needs a frightful leading lady, and none hold a candle to Chucky’s main squeeze, Tiffany Valentine. Played by Jennifer Tilly, this blonde bombshell was Charles Lee Ray’s girlfriend before he used voodoo to transfer his spirit from his dying body into that of a doll. This doesn’t deter Tiffany, who rescues his mangled body from lockup before he electrocutes her in the bath and transfers her spirit into bride doll. Tiffany is tenacious, though, and gives herself a makeover, transforming herself into an unintentional fashion icon. She’s fierce, independent, and bloodthirsty, but’s she also driven to protect her family at all costs. Who wouldn’t want Tiffany by their side in a crime spree? Anyone? Anyone???
So there you have it! What do you think of the women on this list? Who do you want to see on the next list? Let me know in the comments! For all things horror and pop culture, check out my website. As always, stay nerdy!