You’ve seen it countless times. The ditzy blonde girl in a horror movie goes wandering around in the dark wearing something skanky, only to meet a gruesome end. Such scenes are half the reason most people watch horror movies to begin with, which is why they’re often cast from the D-list. Does anybody mourn Paris Hilton in House of Wax? Tara Reid in Urban Legend? Jenny McCarthy in Scream 3?
Didn’t think so. But what about those few poor blondes who didn’t have it coming? The ones whose survival we were actually rooting for? It’s a rare thing to want the stereotypical victim to outsmart the villain, but it happens from time to time.
Here are eight horror blondes we wanted to make it to the sequel…
1. Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) from Carrie
She might be more of a strawberry blonde, but no matter. Granted, Carrie is technically the villain in Brian DePalma’s 1976 horror classic ― but after the onslaught the high school hells she’s faced with, can you really blame her?
From being mercilessly mocked about getting her period to having a bucket of pig’s blood dumped on her at the prom, the poor girl’s torments almost put you on her side as her budding telekinesis goes haywire, killing just about everybody in her graduating class (including a young John Travolta). Maybe we’d be reluctant to head over to her house for sleepover, but between that super-religious nutcase of a mother and the mean girls at school, Carrie White sure got a raw deal.
2. Jules (Anna Hutchison) from The Cabin In The Woods
Dying your hair blonde right before a trip to an isolated cabin in the woods? Fatal mistake. Jules and her boyfriend Curt engage in some hanky-panky in the woods just before a zombie attack, but it’s not their fault ― they’re being sacrificed by a team of scientists who use mild-altering drugs on teens so they behave like horror clichés.
Prior to giving in to her skanky bimbo side, Jules is a pre-med student with a good (brunette) head on her shoulders. She also has one of the most entertaining scenes in the movie ― a sexy fireside dance that culminates in her making out with a stuffed wolf — so at least she went out on a high note.
Gone too soon!
3. Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O’Rourke) from Poltergeist
Technically, the Carol Anne character doesn’t die in the Poltergeist films, though she is taken to a ghostly dimension (via TV set) in the first one. But poor Heather O’Rourke, the young actress who played her, died tragically just before the third film was released due to a misdiagnosis by her doctors. It’s proof that real life can be even crueler than horror.
Poor Carol Anne.
4. Newt (Carrie Henn) from Aliens
Ripley goes to a lot of trouble to save young Newt from the Alien Queen in James Cameron’s Aliens, prompting that classic line, “Get away from her, you bitch!” Happily, Newt survives.
But then, in David Fincher’s sequel, the poor child is senselessly, coldly, and randomly killed off-screen in a spaceship crash. (Harsh.) It invalidates everything Ripley did to save her in Aliens, and is one of several reasons we like to pretend Alien 3 never happened.
5. Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) from Scream 4
Every Scream film has that classic scene where the victim is quizzed about horror trivia while on the phone with the killer, and in last year’s Scream 4, the honor belongs to Hayden Panettiere’s horror buff Kirby. After ostensibly “winning” the round, she goes outside to free her crush (Rory Culkin), only to be stabbed in the belly by him for her efforts. Ouch!
It’s too bad, because Kirby is the spunkiest and most memorable new character in the franchise, a savvy, sexy blonde who just so happens to be a major film geek to boot. And since we never get 100% solid proof that she expired, we’re still holding out hope that she could pop back up in Scream 5. (Stranger resurrections have occurred in this genre.)
6. Helen Shivers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) from I Know What You Did Last Summer
Helen is the town beauty queen, bound for fame and fortune in New York when her boyfriend Barry’s drunk driving kills an innocent pedestrian (or so we think). She’s the one who ends up pushing the body off the dock, her crown in his clutches — an apt metaphor for the way her own future has sunk into the murky depths. One year later, she’s stuck working behind the makeup counter at her dad’s store, constantly picked on by her bitchy big sis, having fallen out of touch with her BFF Julie.
As if that weren’t bad enough, she also gets her hair chopped off by an evil fisherman, then has to run through town barefoot in a formal gown to escape his deadly hook. Helen almost gets away, then she’s distracted by some 4th of July fireworks and the fisherman attacks. Next we see of her, her corpse is frozen in ice. What a waste!
The newly-humbled Helen would have found her way in the world eventually, if not for that deadly hook, and once Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe are killed off, we’re stuck with the less interesting cast members in the sequel. No wonder it sucked. Gellar played ill-fated blondes in a number of other horror franchise installments, including Scream 2 and The Grudge, but it was this one that gave her the most fleshed-out character and the most tragic demise. R.I.P., Helen Shivers.
7. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) in Psycho
The granddaddy of all slasher films, which also contains one of the most surprising screen deaths of all time. Marion isn’t exactly innocent, seeing as she’s run off with a stolen $40,000 when she meets her untimely end at the hand of Norman Bates. But just before her iconic shower, she’s decided to give it all back.
Too little, too late. Instead, she’s dispatched by a crazy motel owner with serious mother issues. The rest of Hitchcock’s thriller is still great, but there’s a reason that shower scene is a shocker. We get to know Marion for just long enough that it feels cruel to have her so suddenly ripped away.
8. Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) in Scream
Casey, we hardly knew ye. Thanks to clever advertising and her prominent placement on the poster, many in the audience thought Drew Barrymore played the main character in Scream, making it a huge Psycho-like shocker when the film’s biggest star was killed off in the opening sequence.
The Scream franchise has a long history of killing off awesome blondes ―Rose McGowan getting crushed in a garage doggy door in this one also qualifies, but with her sarcasm and buxom bosom, she was kind of asking for it. Poor Casey, on the other hand, is just making popcorn in anticipation of a movie night on the couch. Then a stranger calls, she has to answer horror trivia, and her boyfriend gets killed before she, too, meets her maker (stabbed and hung from a tree).
It’s a gory, chilling sequence but also a truly sad one, because Casey’s a nice, relatable girl who doesn’t make the same mistakes as your typical blonde victim. (We also see her parents’ agony, the kind of aftermath most horror movies gloss over.) Once Casey dies, we know no one in this movie is safe. It’s what allows Scream to get away with so much meta comedy and yet still land as believable and legitimately terrifying.
2 thoughts on “In Memoriam: 8 Horror Blondes Who Didn’t Deserve To Die”
You make an excellent point about Scream. I’d always enjoyed that it was both hilarious and scary (at times in a very real way) and never thought about how it pulled it off. It points out the rules and then breaks them.
Yeah, more than almost any other horror movie, I think that one makes you feel the impact of the victims’ deaths. The comedy only works because it’s grounded by the more emotional aspect of the story.