Horror Cinema’s Greatest Final Girls, Ranked

Carol J. Clover’s 1992 book Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film is essential reading for horror cinema lovers. It’s also where the author coined the term “final girl,” referencing the last woman alive in a horror movie who faces off against the killer. She’s usually the quiet, practical, or smart one — the non-threatening girl whose competence (and sexual reluctance) will ultimately save her life. Brooklyn’s Nitehawk Cinema is celebrating the role of the final girl in horror film history with a special slate of screenings throughout October. We decided to join the party by ranking ten of horror cinema’s greatest final girls. Spoilers ahead.

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10. Alice, Friday the 13th

Adrienne King’s Alice became an early template for the final girl in 1980’s Friday the 13th. It’s established that the cheerful camp counselor is in a relationship with the campground’s owner, Steve (Peter Brouwer), but in typical final girl fashion they never consummate their love on the big screen. Against all odds, Alice lives to take down the monster—in this case, it’s the deceased Jason Voorhees’ mother (Betsy Palmer) who initially comes across as a kindly old lady. Female murderers in early slasher cinema were almost unheard of, and this does throw Alice for a loop. Still, she saves the day. But this is Jason’s film series, and Alice becomes a victim in the film sequel.