19 Terrifying Female Horror Movie Villains Who Will Give You Nightmares For Days
From Queen of the Damned to Annabelle.
Horror movies are popular with all audiences, so why does the genre tend to gravitate toward villainous men? From Freddy Krueger to Leatherface to Pennywise to Michael Meyers, so many of the main characters of classic scary movies have been men. Thankfully, that isn’t always the case — and it’s getting even better, with recent villains like Hela in Thor: Ragnarok or Doctor Poison in Wonder Women owning the screen and proving women have the range. As the 19 vicious female horror villains on the list below show, great evil performances can come from anyone.
Women should get to play all kinds of roles, of course, but it's especially great to see female actors play evil slayers, crazy monsters, and deranged killers, just like men have for so many years. Seeing these women take on the full spectrum of emotions and complicated roles, as their male on-screen counterparts often do, can be thrilling — and certainly worth celebrating. If you want to feel empowered and terrified at the same time, revisit these 19 female horror villains who knew how to shake things up in movies.
1. Regan, The Exorcist
When you think female demon names, Linda Blair’s Regan is one that probably comes to mind. Regan is a curious little girl who accidentally summons a demon via an Ouija board and gets possessed. She curses like a sailor, uncontrollably vomits, and terrorizes anyone who comes into her bedroom. Definitely not a little girl you would like to babysit.
2. Rose Armitage, Get Out
Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) doesn't start off as the movie's villain. Yet the sweet, naive character we all see in the beginning turns out to be downright evil, as she helps her family lure one Black man after the other (and at least one woman) to be imprisoned and body-snatched for the benefit of older, rich, white clients. This terrifying commentary on racism brought home an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
3. Carrie White, Carrie
Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is just like Rose from Get Out in that she doesn't start out as an evil threat. She only becomes the villain when her telekinetic powers kick in after her classmates pull a prank on her at prom night. Doused in pig's blood, Carrie seeks revenge by destroying her high school's gym and killing the majority of the people in it.
4. Pamela Voorhees, Friday The 13th
Jason's mother, Pamela (Betsy Palmer), is the major influence behind the killings at Camp Crystal Lake. All the counselors are too busy trying to keep up with Jason, who eventually drowns in the lake, and Pam makes sure that all the bad teens at the camp pay for their behavior — by killing them.
5. Tiffany, Bride Of Chucky
Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) is as vicious as her husband, Chucky. Anyone who gets creeped out by realistic-looking dolls will be freaked by this pint-sized villain. The good news? If you like the Chucky films and Tilly’s performance, a new USA TV series continues the chaotic story and has received critical acclaim. But first, of course, head back to the beginning with this ’90s gem.
6. Lisa Sheridan, Obsessed
Lisa (Ali Larter) is a temp at Derek's (Idris Elba) office, who falls quickly and deeply in love with him. She begins to stalk him and jeopardizes his well-being, as well as that of his wife Sharon (Beyoncé). Fortunately, this pick doesn’t just feature an evil, dangerous femme fatale — it’s also got a strong woman willing to fight back against the chaos, resulting in an MTV Movie Award for Best Fight.
7. Queen Akasha, Queen Of The Damned
The late Aaliyah stars in this 2002 horror film in which she plays a vampire queen alongside her vampire rock star lover. Later, there's trouble when she is awakened from decades of sleep, ready to feast on any new blood. Thanks to the cult classic, “Akasha” might be seen as one of the more evil girl names around — but according to Parents.com, it’s “a tender and lovely name” that received a popularity spike after Aaliyah’s movie.
Stream Queen of the Damned here.
8. Amy Dunne, Gone Girl
Was Amy Dunne in the wrong here? It’s the perfect question to ask yourself as you rewatch the critically acclaimed 2014 film starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck as a not-so-happily married couple put to the test by a missing person case. Though not necessarily a true horror, Gone Girl explores the psychological aspects of the genre — not without a bit of slasher fare, too.
9. Samara Morgan, The Ring
The spirit of murdered little girl Samara (Daveigh Chase) makes a videotape that kills its viewer after seven days, but Rachel (Naomi Watts) doesn't know that and frees Samara's spirit. Hey, accidents happen! Rachel then spends the entire movie trying to discover the truth about the videotape and the terrifying presence who’s now haunting her — and, hopefully, help the girl along the way.
10. Jennifer Check, Jennifer's Body
Megan Fox plays Jennifer, a teen who always makes her best friend Needy (Amanda Seyfried) feel insecure. But, as time progresses, things get, um, a bit worse when Jennifer becomes possessed by a demon. As Fox prepares to play another horrifying villain in 2022’s Johnny and Clyde, now is the perfect time to revisit the role you know and love.
11. Annabelle, Annabelle
It's always a damn doll that scares you completely in horror movies. The premise here is pretty simple — a young family is plagued by a spirited porcelain doll with cult connections. (And if one movie isn’t enough, there are two more to catch up on after.) Just remember to remove all the toys from your shelves after watching this. Or maybe before. Of all the female demon names out there, the seemingly benign Annabelle has a knack for striking terror — even if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
12. Diana "Sugar" Hill, Sugar Hill
In this film, Diana's (Marki Key) boyfriend is murdered. To get her revenge on the all-white gangsters terrorizing her neighborhood, she goes to voodoo queen Mama Maitresse (Zara Cully) and The Dark Master Baron Zamedi (Don Pedro Colley) in exchange for her soul. It may feel dated now, but the movie is similar to Get Out's message of racism and microaggressions.
13. Queen Katrina, Vamp
Three men go to a strip club that they don't realize is full of vampires. The head vampire is Queen Katrina (Grace Jones), who murders one of the men and turns him into a vampire. The other two men are left trying to escape the queen and the town filled with vampires. It’s a female-driven addition to any great vampire movie lineup.
14. Ginger, Ginger Snaps
Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) starts off sweet, but after a werewolf attack, she develops a new persona and begins to lean into her new fate by killing people throughout her community. It’s a cult-classic movie that serves as a ready metaphor for the growing pains (literal and figurative) of adolescence, as Ginger’s first period is the event that catalyzes her monstrous new persona.
15. Asami Yamazaki, Audition
Audition is about Asami (Eihi Shiina) who becomes jealous when she sees a picture of her ex-boyfriend’s new love and decides to torture him. Carrying out sick acts of violence against animals and humans with a smile, Asami is determined to show her ex that she will not be ignored. If you like quality horror, you’re in luck — Time Out calls this one of the best horror movies ever made.
16. Evelyn, Stoker
After her husband dies, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) is left alone with their 18-year-old daughter India (Mia Wasikowska) and allows her former brother-in-law Charlie (Matthew Goode) to stay with them. As one might expect, things don't go smoothy, and intense jealousy arises. Like its name might suggest, Stoker pulls influence from a major name in horror: Bram Stoker, author of Dracula.
17. Alex Forrest, Fatal Attraction
It doesn’t get much more classic than this terrifying romance gone wrong. When Alex (Glenn Close) and Dan (Michael Douglas), who's married, have an encounter at a party, sexual sparks begin to fly. But when Dan ends their affair, Alex refuses to let go and a series of horrific events follow, including an infamous bunny scene that’s been canonized in pop culture history.
18. Brandi Web, A Thin Line Between Love And Hate
Darnell (Martin Lawrence) is used to getting his way with women, and although he has a girlfriend (Regina King), he goes after another woman, Brandi (Lynn Whitfield). But when Darnell tries to end things, Brandi sets out to get revenge. Think of it like a ’90s approach to the twisty, ill-fated romance of Fatal Attraction.
Stream A Thin Line Between Love and Hate here.
19. Sil, Species
Sil (Natasha Henstridge) is an alien-human hybrid whose personality leads to many men becoming her victims. Naturally, she starts to feast on every prey she can get. If you’re into the sci-fi side of the horror genre, you’ll be happy to know that there are three Species sequels to speed through after you’ve watched the original 1995 film.
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