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8 From the 80s: Slasher Movie Final Girls

Each installment Mike will look back to the decade of decadence and provide a list of eight things – from movies to music to memorable moments and everything in-between.  Keep in mind, this isn’t a TOP 8 list and any numerical notations are included to merely designate one item from another. Because, frankly, how can rate one thing over another when it came from a decade as totally tubular as the 80s?

8 From the 80s: Slasher Movie Final Girls
Last time out we looked at memorable slasher movie killers - this time we give the 'Final Girls' the credit where credit is due.  In no particular order (except for one), we have:

Jennifer RossIntruder (Elizabeth Cox, 1989)
Jennifer is capable enough but doesn’t quite measure up to some of the other girls on the list. She’s far more reactive than proactive and she doesn’t do much but act paranoid and afraid of her ex-boyfriend. But she’s likable and you want her to figure out who’s killing all of her night shift coworkers even though she never really does so (until the actual killer outright confesses). The ending of Intruder is atypical in that Jennifer doesn’t go bananas and she doesn’t die – instead we get a “realistic” ending.

Laurie StrodeHalloween II - (Jamie Lee Curtis, 1981)
Honestly, it’s tough adding Laurie to this list.  I couldn’t add the original Halloween since it came out before the 80s, but I felt like I HAD to add her because, well, she’s Laurie Strode. She really doesn’t do a lot in this, however, except get chased.  And once again it’s Dr. Loomis who (appears to) saves the day. So, you’re on here on name cred only, Strode (although she makes up for it in later years).

Kirsty CottonHellraiser (Ashley Laurence, 1987)
Like Nancy from Nightmare on Elm Street, Kirsty shows up in more than one of the Hellraiser movies, so she gets a little extra cred from that fact, but I almost didn’t include her.   Kirsty doesn’t really fit the “Final Girl” tropes  (if she’s “virginal”, it doesn’t seem that way, and she doesn’t exactly dispatch the killers like most everyone else on the list.  She DOES manage to avoid being killed, though and I guess you could say she used her smarts to survive by making a deal with Pinhead and the Cenobites. Still, I’m on the fence with her but am including her anyway.  For now.

Chris Higgins - (Dana Kimmell, Friday the 13th Part 3, 1982)
Chris tends to get overlooked (at least it seems that way) behind a couple of the other Friday the 13th girls on this list, but damn if she doesn’t really do a number on Jason. She stabs him, clobbers him with a log, whacks him with a shovel, hangs him like a lowdown, dirty cattle rustler and finally splits his noggin with an axe, all of which she does with no help from any of the guys. Granted, she goes a little insane at the end, but can you blame her?

Vanita “Stretch” BrockTexas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (Caroline Williams, 1986)
Unlike most of our list, Stretch isn’t some high school girl looking for a party or working during the summer at a camp – no, Stretch is a DJ which makes her one of the coolest Final Girls ever (not just of this list).  While the end of movie sort of counts as a nick against her (like Chris, she goes a little bonkers, but unlike Chris she seemingly embraces it), she still manages to hold her own against the whole cannibal family and (without trying) manages to get Leatherface to get googly eyes for her.  To top it off, she actually follows the cannibal clan at one point and is central to the “plan” in taking them down.

Alice HardyFriday the 13th (Adrienne King, 1980)
Alice is a prototypical “final girl” (the anti-Kirsty Cotton, if you will)  and spends most her time running and hiding from her antagonist – not that those are bad traits, mind you – so it’s hard to look at her as not much more than fortunate and/or lucky.  But along the way she DOES get her licks in with a fireplace poker and a frying pan (!) before wrestling the killer to the ground, snatching a machete and chopping their head clean off in one of the best slow motion shots you’ll ever see.  Like others, though, she goes a little loopy at the end.

Ginny FieldFriday the 13th, Part 2 (Amy Steel, 1981)
Ah, Ginny.  My personal favorite Friday the 13th survivor.  Ginny is well rounded, relying on her wits to survive but able and willing to play the physical game is need be. Plus, she’s about as “real acting” as one could expect, going so far as to be so afraid when things start to go South that she literally pisses herself. Maybe it was the humiliation, but something clicked on for her after that.  Using her brain, she tricks Jason into letting his guard down long enough to slam a machete home and put an end to sack-headed Jason. 

Nancy ThompsonNightmare on Elm Street (Heather Langenkamp, 1984)
I know the opening says that I don’t rank my lists and I generally don’t. But here’s a rare exception. Nancy is, hands down, the best Final Girl of the 80s.  She doesn’t just run from her stalker, locking herself behind doors and hoping for the best.  No, Nancy comes up with a plan to confront her tormentor and while said plan doesn’t play out like it was drawn up, it’s still Nancy and her alone that manages to beat Freddy Krueger.  Or does she?


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