Femme Fatales: Women of Horror

Horror films would not be the same without the presence of a strong female character. For those of you who are horror junkies, like me, you are well-acquainted with the damsel in distress. Praises upon praises are granted to the breathtakingly gorgeous and slightly innocent teenage girl for surviving a brutal attack by a serial killer. It’s sweet and all, but it also undermines women by only depicting weakness in a life or death situation. And then there’s that age-old stigma against women being survivalists or even killers themselves, so let’s not forget about the dangerously provocative femme fatales that have changed the face of horror!

As a kid, I was drawn to horror films mainly because of the seductive allure of a powerful female character. There is something quite magnetic about a strong woman in a horror movie. My father was probably the biggest horror movie fan I knew. He had so many horror films I couldn’t even count. Some dated back to the 70’s on Super 8mm film. He was also a subscriber to the horror magazine Fangoria. I remember when I was 8 years old (my first time ever seeing an actual horror movie) my dad would not allow me to view the extra gory scenes. The days he was not at home, I would watch the film alone and view the scenes I missed. I was especially fond of his older films that had legendary actors such as Vincent Price and Christopher Lee.

As I have been drawing and sketching since I was knee-high (doodling was my thing!), I would take my dad’s horror magazines and my mom’s beauty magazines and use them as reference for all my artwork. I owe my developed talent to my mom and dad. The films that I could never get enough of were all led by malevolent females. There was something about them that really resonated with me and to this day it continues to do so. To me, the dark side of a woman is the most attractive part, which is why women and horror are the perfect match.

First you will lust over them, then you will beg for mercy!

Sheri Moon as Baby in House of 1000 Corpses

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Rob Zombie’s films have a distinct quality to them and this particular one is crazy as fuck! There is a general trashiness about this movie and the sexy character, Baby, really nails it! I often am attracted to the combination of trash and class (I usually call it “trass”). Sheri Moon is the femme fatale of course and her cute voice mixed with her trashy rock n’ roll wardrobe will suck you right in.

Megan Fox as Jennifer Check in Jennifer’s Body

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I think it is safe to say that regardless if this woman was in horror films or not, she’s one smoking babe! I love Fox’s character in Jennifer’s Body because it really captures the power of physical attraction. With the added comedy, it is definitely the epitome of camp horror in all its glory!

Sissy Spacek as Carrie White in Carrie

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Traditionally femme fatales are very beautiful and have an enigmatic appeal. Spacek’s character as Carrie White has ripped that tradition to shreds. Her character is not the prettiest but she is so gentle and kind. She wouldn’t even hurt a fly. I instantly fell in love with Carrie when I first saw it in the early 90’s. Her revenge killings were tragic but well deserved. My first thought was, “I would kill them all too!” Carrie’s telekinesis powers grew stronger towards the end of the film, leading to one of the best endings of a movie in all of history!

Fairuza Balk as Nancy Downs in The Craft

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Easily one of my favorite femme fatales. This movie was my visual bible as a teenager. Nancy’s costumes were beyond lovable! Her dark goth attire matched with her messy black eyeliner made for such an unforgettable, killer witch. The 90’s were a funny time in movies: the clothing was particularly lame, but this movie had everything I ever wanted in my closet! Her demonic character portrays a white trash goth girl who wants more out of life by taking on witchcraft and creating a coven of badass witches. I could never and will never get sick of Nancy Downs!

Barbara Steele as Princess Asa Vajda/Katia Vajda in Black Sunday

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Drawing by Maheen Kadri

Barbara Steele is one of the most beautiful women to grace the big screen. The darkness of this film is surreal in a dreamy vintage kind of way. Her character is taken and tied to a tree while men carry a heavy spiked metal mask and place it firmly on her face. She curses them with her witchcraft and returns from the dead for her revenge as one the most classic tempestuous femme fatales!

Nastassja Kinski as Irena Gallier in Cat People

For 1982, this film gets two thumbs up for crafty prosthetic work! I have a strange attraction to movies that have transformation scenes. The scene below shows the process of Irena turning from a woman into a black leopard. Interestingly, women are often compared to cats. Maybe it’s the mesmerizing eyes they share or the fact that they both can stalk and enslave you! Either way, the combination of cats and femme fatales is genius.

Anjelica Huston as The Grand High Witch in The Witches

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Drawing by Maheen Kadri

I’ve always been a fan of Anjelica Huston especially as the Grand High Witch. Her character is evil but in such a classy way. Her costumes and jewelry are simply to die for! The Grand High Witch’s appearance in the film certainly matches the character’s personality. She will search and kill every child until the end of time – a rather persistent and determined witch. That, with the added bonus of it being a light-hearted children’s horror flick, makes for an epic femme fatale.

Camille Keaton as Jennifer Hills in I Spit On Your Grave

The overall premise of this story is sickening. Keaton’s character is raped by a bunch of rugged men in the middle-of-nowhere Connecticut. The scenes themselves are hard to watch but what happens after is what makes Jennifer Hills one of the most killer femme fatal’s ever. The men are rudely awakened by Ms. Hills with cold hard revenge on her mind.

Ingrid Pitt as Countess Dracula in Countess Dracula

I saved my favorite for last. Ingrid Pitt is known for her Hammer Horror films femme fatale role as Countess Dracula, which is based on the story of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Just by looking at the image of her it is clear that the film was beyond its years. Her irresistible character is hauntingly exquisite. She was a vision on screen and will always be the queen of all vampires!