Saturday, November 29, 2008

ANGRY BITCHES! Women who kick ass.

So after some booze and a healthy dose of Quantum of Solace, what better way to remove the thought of Michael Myers penis from my mind than writing an article on horror film women?

Now before some of you get excited, no this is not an article on "Top 10 Women in horror I would consider scissoring". Even though Stac and I have had the "If I were a lesbian" conversation before, that is a post for another time...when we're really drunk.

I'm sure I just pissed off all my lesbian friends with the above statement.



No, I am talking about the hard heroine. The women who kick ass and take names. You know, bitches. Being a woman, I become delighted when I encounter a competent female heroine. Now, don't get me wrong. I love old school horror. A woman running through a dark forest armed only with her underwear, and screaming loud enough for every deformed loony with a sharp object to come after her is actually quite hilarious (On the screen that is. In real life it would be a bit disturbing.).



Despite my amusement, it gets tiring after a while. And when a woman comes around that is not in her underwear and armed with a BFG (or machete, or her teeth, or what have you) I get excited.

Now before you venture ANY further down this article keep in mind there will be spoilers! If you have a problem with spoilers, stop reading right now and go read Stac's article about horror icons she wants to do, again.



Okay....all set?


I'm going to start with the mother of all bad ass angry bitches in my book, Ellen Ripley.


Now I've already made it clear that Ripley is my hero. And I could probably go on and on stating the same things I've said (And everyone else has said) about her. I'll try to be brief. What I found so great about Ripley was she was an average blue collar woman. Yes she knew how to operate a power loader...and yes I do want to own one... but she was not a trained marine. Nor was she a shrinking violet. She was cool, calm, collected, and a professional. And when she DID lose her cool it made perfect sense why she did. Who wouldn't? have you SEEN those things?! wouldn't YOU want to beat the crap out of Carter Burke too?!


Though most people focus on Ripley in the Alien series there is one woman who is always over looked. Vasquez.



Now if there is any woman who could probably chew up and spit out Ripley, its this woman here. She tends to get overlooked because she died horrifically and well, she wasn't the heroine. I also noticed that she is overlooked because many people consider her "one of the boys" which for me, is pretty damn cool. She blended in rather well. There was no sub plot about how difficult it was to be a woman amongst some much machismo. Actually, given the group she was with, I felt Vasquez had the biggest balls out of all of them. She may not have been a leader, and she was hot headed, but when it came down to the wire, she was willing to blow herself up for the team. And do it with a funny quip to the guy she though was a douche bag.



Which leads me to Alice.



Alice, sweet Alice. Now I consider the Resident Evil movies action films not horror. The one that was the closest to horror in my mind was the third one Resident Evil: Extinction. In fact, I really didn't like Alice much UNTIL Resident Evil: Extinction. That was when Alice grew into her own as a character. No memory problems like the first one and no...huh...you know, I didn't pay much attention to the second one since I found it a bit dull. Regardless, Alice became kick ass in the third film. The fighting, the motorcycle, controlling shit with your mind, and the army of skinny naked clones at the end. Yes, the idea of being charged at by a ton of stick skinny supermodels with weapons does frighten me. What I liked about the concept of Alice was how the idea of her struck fear in the hearts of the villains. They wanted her dead because they KNEW she could probably snap their necks with her thighs.



Moving off the concept of super bad asses, the competent heroine is another concept I love. One of my favorites is Ana from Dawn of the Dead the remake.




I found Ana to be one of the stronger females in a horror film. Not only does she experience one of the most insane first 10 minutes of terror at the beginning of the film she makes it almost through the entire film without losing it. There is a brief moment where she breaks down in private after finally settling at the mall but she never flies off the handle in a fit of hysteria like a certain pregnant Russian woman. That was something I found extremely relateable about Ana. The fact that she hid her vulnerability to keep herself in control during such chaos. Not only does Ana become one of the leaders of the small group, she actually challenges the over zealous rent-a-guards by telling them to "Get that fucking gun out of my face" and pushing it aside as if he was waving a newspaper at her. I love a girl with hootzspah! Ana was a good example of a leader. She didn't have to be a gun toting she-hulk to be commanding. She had brains and bravery. When Ana spoke, the masses listened.



Sticking with the zombie genre, anyone remember Selena from 28 Days Later?




Sometimes it kind of hard to remember others when you have a movie containing full frontal Cillian Murphy in there. I liked Selena the moment she hacked into her partner, Mark seconds after she found out he was bitten. She was a survivor. And while some could argue that Selena grew weaker through out the film I felt she grew even stronger. As the story progressed, Selena realized she actually had something to survive for, and damn it if she wasn't going to survive kicking and screaming.
What I found so interesting about Selena is how her character evolved from a heartless surviving machine to someone who has a capability to care for others.
She had a big sister quality that she showed when her and Hannah were being held by the British soldiers and took care of her group whether it was with a machete or with words. When the zombie Apocalypse comes, I want Selena on my side.



Now for a woman with class. Clarice Starling.




What is so lovely about Clarice is her combo of strength and vulnerability. A lot of that is credited to Jodi Fosters' pitch perfect performance in Silence of the Lambs. While Clarice was obviously a woman in a man's world, she held her own. She chastises Jack Crawford for treating her like just another woman in front of the small town police men. She is shaken by what she is seeing in the Buffalo Bill murders but never relents and never gives up. She faces off with Hannibal Lecter, a man would happily carve your cheeks off for dinner and not only survives but earns his respect.





To end this far too long post I'm going to point out two characters in one of my favorite horror films. I'm sure I'll lose some of my "Street Cred" for naming this as a favorite but damn it, Silent Hill scared the crap out of me! It wasn't all terror all the time but the creepy factor was through the roof and the art direction was a thing of grotesque beauty.

Silent Hill is not without its flaws. The dialog is akin to a student play about motherhood. But this movie had not just one but two strong females in it, Rose and Cybil.




Now you can argue that if Rose wasn't such a friggin' bone head by taking her daughter to a haunted town with a constant coal fire burning under it, they wouldn't be in trouble in the first place! But then, if she didn't there would be no story and I wouldn't be writing this about this movie now, would I?
What I liked about Rose was her sheer stubbornness. Her complete and utter uncompromising decision to rescue her daughter. She was a mom on a mission! And if that meant dealing with howling coal midgets, roaches with people faces, and of course, Pyramid Head she would meet each one head on. She had her faults. She was shrill and annoying but I admired her tenacity and love of her daughter.


Cybil was another wonderful female. She also had a stubborn streak and didn't put up with Rose's shit. And trust me, there are times when you wanted to give Rose a sound slap in the face. The defining moment for me with Cybil was the scene near the junk yard when that weird, no faced no armed, acid spitting, God knows what thing was came at the two. The moment it looked dangerous, Cybil brought out the gun and open fired. No screaming "OH MY GOOOOOOD!, no terror, just recoil. And up to her dying breath she was Hell bent on protecting Rose's daughter, even while tied to a ladder and set on fire she was ready to take those cult fuckers on!
I will agree though that no cop has a uniform that tight. Thank God she as a nice ass to pull it off. What a wonderful way to end a mildly feminist article...with me talking about Cybil's ass.



I have a ton of other women in my mind for this but these are the ones I felt strongest writing about. Do you have any you want to share? Lay it on me!

11 comments:

Stac said...

This was AWESOME! I love that you mentioned Valasquez-- that woman was hard effing CORE.

I have a few to add to the mix:

Most of the cast of The Decent. Inappropriately, my favorite part was when Sarah stabbed Juno in the leg. that's what would happen to any skanks who screwed around in my personal playground. Sarah was awesome.

Next is Nancy, from a Nightmare on Elm Street. You MUST respect a girl who not only takes on Freddie Kruegar and wins, she manages to piss him off in the process.

BonesawLtd said...

Are we all sure that Velasquez wasn't a dude?

Bevin said...

I guess I don't have any to add at the moment, but I wanted to completely agree on both Ripley and Starling. Weaver and Foster are both terrific actresses with a lot of brains and an inner core of toughness that come across very clearly onscreen. Foster, specifically, has the most uncanny ability to play any role with this deep-rooted sense of humanity to them, and Starling is the epitome of that. With anyone else in that role, "Silence" would have been a far less weighty film and closer to a more typical horror movie (not that there's anything wrong with that, but it would have been very different). Michelle Pfeiffer was originally tapped to play the part, and she's a fine actress, but that would have been a vastly different movie with her in that role. Starling is incredibly human and we understand her immediately and relate to everything she's feeling: her fear, her drive, her shame, her compassion, how smart she is, and her obsession to rescue this one person. She conveys so much with her face, even when she tries to mask her emotions, we know what's under the surface. What makes her so kick ass is that she isn't a badass who kicks the door in and shoots up the place, she's terrified and trying to hide it. That's where Foster was captivating and Julianne Moore came up short, despite her also being a fine actress: Starling lost that innate human quality that made her so relateable and grounded the film in the midst of all the surrounding madness. "Hannibal" just wasn't the same without that staunch moral compass.

Metal Mikey said...

She may not have been an OVERTLY strong female presense, but Kristy from the first two "Hellraiser" movies was certainly not sitting around, playing the victim, while Cenobites ran around. But it's kinda hard to beat out dear Ellen Ripley.

Cins said...

Bonesaw>>Well she DID have tits...but then so did Bob in Fight Club.

Bevin>>I think you hit EVERY reason why I love Clarice so much. Thank you!

MetalMikey>>I almost put Kristy on my list actually. I liked her. She wasn't super badassery but she held her own against all that insanity expecially in Hellraiser 2.

M Brueschke said...

Vasquez and Hudson were my favorite characters in Aliens. For me the kick ass chick in there that is ignored is the dropship pilot Ferro, she dies in a bad way, but she is going for her sidearm as she dies...hard core to the end. Aliens lore...Vasquez was from the US State of Cuba in her background.

Vasquez's actress was in Near Dark and T2 as well, not a big role in T2, but memorable.

Didn't Nancy from Nightmare rig light bulbs with gunpowder to blow up? She was hardcore too

Cins said...

M.B.>> I totally remember her in Near Dark. Completely different character but really awesome. And T2 as well. Remind me never to drink out of the carton around her.
Nancy is another one I considered putting on the list. But its been so long since I've seen Nightmare that I couldn't remember much from it.

Cins said...

M.B>OH! And YES to Ferro! I loved that her first reaction was to grab her gun instead of scream. You never see that in films much!

Nojh said...

You know there was a third women in the marine team that was pretty kick ass in Aliens, although she didn't get a lot of screen time to prove it.

Cpl. Ferro, the drop ship pilot. Not that she carried a BFG but she made a regular habit of jumping off of space ships in a few hundred tons of metal and managing to pilot the hunk of metal safely to the ground, and then back up (supposedly). If we extrapolate, pilots in general are pretty insanely skilled, bad ass, and dare I say it, hard core. She just didn't get to prove her metal on this mission other than her usual combat drop. Her one bad-ass moment was right before she died, when she saw the alien and went 'oh shit' and immediately grabbed for her gun, rather than her seat belt.

So yeah she isn't as cool as Ripely or Vasquez but she deserves mention.

Nojh said...

I actually liked Selena from the very start, when I didn't even know she was a woman. She used fire correctly in a zombie film, which is insanely smart. Then it turns out she is smart and skilled to boot! She gives our hero sugar! She knows medicine! Finally a zombie survivor with actual skills! In a genre where women typically start off useless and have to learn to be useful, she started off useful and learned to be... human?

Bearded Weirdo Reviews said...

I actually had a crush on Vasquez. Which I suppose is kinda weird considering how dude-like she is.

Hmmm. That probably says something about me that I don't EVEN wanna think 'bout.

Whatever.