News

16 Awesome Horror Sidekicks: A Tribute to Our Favorite Not-So-Final Girls

From Black Christmas's Barb to Scream's Tatum, these smart, funny, and strong horror sidekicks ran away with their movies... even if most weren't quite able to outrun their killers.

by | December 11, 2019 | Comments

Horror’s consistent focus on stories that double as morality tales often leads to protagonists who are dutiful and serious, leaving a big blank spot in charisma and personality. But that’s why god invented the sidekick. They are the color to the protagonist’s black-and-white, the fiery, funny fools who often drive the story’s complications, as the protagonist runs around putting out all the fires.

Because a fair number of horror films feature female leads, many of these sidekicks are also female characters. Sometimes they bolster the protagonist’s confidence, sometimes tear it down. Occasionally they take on traits of a villain, only to be revealed as the true center of the film. Often they perish, and their deaths trigger an extra significance: If this person with quick wit and endearing flaws can die, then things are about to get serious.

One of the greatest – to our mind – is Barb, played by Margot Kidder, in the original Black Christmas. As we prepare for the release of Blumhouse’s Black Christmas remake this week, here are 15 of the most colorful sidekicks of horror cinema.


Barb in Stranger in the House (1974) 71%

Black Christmas

(Photo by Courtesy Everett Collection)

Played by Margot Kidder

Very few horror films possess the kind of joy Bob Clark’s Black Christmas emits when resident alcoholic and prankster Barb (Margot Kidder) patiently explains to a befuddled cop that her phone number begins with the word “fellatio.” Nor do they revel in a character’s tangential knowledge as much as when Barb interjects with some serious turtle-sex facts while a father is grieving his missing daughter. Barb may not be the final girl, but she fills our stockings with delightful coal.


Tatum in Scream (1996) 79%

Scream

(Photo by © Dimension Films)

Played by Rose McGowan

Wes Craven consistently delivered some of the best female sidekicks, but Tatum (Rose McGowan) earns a spot for her 1990s “girl power” feminism that had her trying to convince her boyfriend, Casey (Matthew Lillard), that the new Woodsboro slasher could be a woman, because girls can do anything boys can do. Her kid-sister vibe – she’s literally Dewy’s kid sister – makes her a sparkling verbal sparrer, and she’s talking s–t right up until the very garage-door end.


Annie and Lynda in Halloween (1978) 96%

Halloween

(Photo by © Compass International Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Played by Nancy Kyes and P.J. Soles 

Before slashers were a thing, John Carpenter and producer Debra Hill’s prototype for the genre showcased the possibilities for fully fleshed-out sidekicks with sporty Lynda and sarcastic Annie, the bad and badder devils on Laurie Strode’s shoulders. They poke fun at the latter’s virginal purity with the kind of ribbing realistic for angsty teen girls. Both act as comic relief, proving there can and should be more than one funnywoman in the group.


Pam in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) 89%

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

(Photo by Courtesy Everett Collection)

Played by Teri McMinn

Tobe Hooper specifically asked for actress Teri McMinn’s costume to be backless and short to show off most of her “meat,” giving her a visually vulnerable feel in this slaughterhouse classic. Pam is a small role, but McMinn fills her out with a genuine openness and curiosity, a young woman of the perilous 1970s whose kind and trusting nature leads her to disaster.


Juno Kaplan in The Descent (2005) 86%

The Descent

(Photo by © Lionsgate)

Played by Natalie Mendoza

Juno is both the sidekick and the foil of Neil Marshall’s spelunking disaster. It’s her fiery, fierce, and selfish nature that draws her estranged best friend Sarah into the unexplored caves, but also the spirit that gives Sarah the will to leave her as bait and escape. Natalie Mendoza’s empathetic performance speaks to what one is capable of when scared, but not so much that her fate doesn’t seem a little fitting.


Lambert in Alien (1979) 98%

Alien

(Photo by © 20th Century Fox / courtesy Everett Collection)

Played by Veronica Cartwright

Joan Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) was the navigator of the USCSS Nostromo, and she spent just as much time trying to guide the crew of the ship in the right direction. She was the first to say exploring that distress call was a bad idea and the first to say they should “get the hell out of here.” Her hysterics are a natural and appropriate reaction to an alien attack and an extension of the audience’s reactions, so Lambert becomes the lens through which we view the film.


Jeryline in Tales From the Crypt Presents Demon Knight (1995) 37%

Demon Knight

(Photo by MCA/Universal Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.)

Played by Jada Pinkett-Smith

Jeryline (Jada Pinkett-Smith) may be a criminal on work release at a rural hotel, but she’s got more smarts and morals than many. Demon Knight is the rare horror movie willing to off its protagonist, and Jeryline steps up from sidekick to lead, showing off her cunning by using the demon’s Don Juan charm against him and ultimately saving the night.


Tina Gray in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) 95%

Nightmare on Elm Street

(Photo by © New Line Cinema)

Played by Amanda Wyss

If you’d only watched the first act of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, you’d think Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss) were the protagonist of the film, but she’s in actuality the sidekick and catalyst for the film series. She exudes both vulnerability and strength, which is why her iconic demise and subsequent use as a puppet for Freddy Krueger’s mind tricks is a huge punch to the gut.


Helen Shivers in I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) 43%

I Know What You Did Last Summer

(Photo by © Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection)

Played by Sarah Michelle Gellar

The key to Helen Shivers’ success as a sidekick is her unabashed and shameless vanity. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s portrayal of the character paints her as the beauty queen with depth, the most likely to succeed. She’s the woman with the plan to track down the killer and the guts to charge into the crowd of the Croaker Queen Pageant talent competition to save her friend. Unfortunately, luck just wasn’t on her side.


Paige in House of Wax (2005) 27%

House of Wax

(Photo by © Warner Bros.)

Played by Paris Hilton

When it was announced that Paris Hilton would play a supporting character in Jaume Collet-Serra’s remake of House of Wax, there was a resounding cheer that audiences would get to see this real-life heel bloodily sacrificed for the movie gods. The thing is: Hilton killed it. She infused Paige with the same detached and fascinating poppy materialism she possessed in her reality show, becoming the best love-to-hate-’em sidekick.


Vasquez in Aliens (1986) 97%

Aliens

Played by Jenette Goldstein

The descriptor “badass” is tossed around for really any female character who demonstrates anything remotely “strong.” But Jenette Goldstein’s Vasquez is potentially the only character worthy of being called a badass. Her barbed quips and buff biceps are perhaps the most memorable aspect of an extremely memorable film. She exudes fearlessness and feels nearly immortal… until she doesn’t.


Yara in It Follows (2014) 96%

It Follows

(Photo by © RADiUS-TWC/courtesy Everett Collection)

Played by Olivia Luccardi

Olivia Luccardi’s Yara is more than a sidekick, she’s the one-woman Greek chorus of It Follows. At first, she seems like a typical tech-obsessed, disinterested teen, constantly reading things on her fictional clamshell e-reader, occasionally glancing up to sneer at her friends’ poor choices. But nearly everything Yara reads aloud to her friends contains a philosophical key to their situation, advice, and omens.


Alexia in Raw (2016) 93%

Raw

(Photo by © Focus World /courtesy Everett Collection)

Played by Ella Rumpf

The genius of Ella Rumpf’s Alexia in Julia Ducournau’s Raw is that Alexia at first seems the antagonist of the film, the source of all of her sister’s problematic cravings, but it turns out she’s really the sidekick. She’s a cutting bully who can turn on a dime to become the doting and generous big sister. Even as she emotionally tortures Justine, Alexia clearly wants to snap her sister out of her goody two-shoes demeanor and have some fun.


Lily in Black Swan (2010) 85%

Black Swan

(Photo by © Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Played by Mila Kunis

Just like Alexia in Raw, Lily’s the false antagonist, the projection of all the protagonist’s fears and anxieties. In reality, she’s a smart, grounded ballet dancer, probably the sanest of the bunch, whose only hope is to nab the lead role and maybe coax Nina out of her cocooned and infantile life. In a story of paranoia and delusion, Lily’s the realest of the real.


Nam-joo in The Host (2006) 93%

The Host

(Photo by ©Magnolia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

Played by Bae Doo-na

There are few things more admirable about director Bong Joon-ho than his ability to create characters who are both wildly inept and also extremely vain and self-satisfied with their limited abilities. Nam-joo (Bae Doo-na) as the protagonist’s gold medalist archer sister who rubs her mediocre success in his face is one of Bong’s greatest creations. It’s impossible for her to swallow her pride, even as she’s face-to-face with a monstrous adversary.


Black Christmas is in theaters December 13, 2019


Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

 

Tag Cloud

cancelled TV shows theme song Ovation Rocketman broadcast DirecTV jurassic park green book justice league facebook Film genre comiccon Christmas new star wars movies Comic Book popular trophy RT21 Tags: Comedy canceled TV shows streamig VH1 The Witch GoT Martial Arts Superheroes cars Pride Month king arthur international Fargo LGBTQ kong stand-up comedy animated dragons Reality Tomatazos Extras Nominations sequel Mary poppins obi wan Holidays scene in color series PlayStation DC streaming service E3 ratings criterion true crime summer TV preview South by Southwest Film Festival IFC Films Spike Horror Turner Classic Movies TV One comic books Image Comics Best and Worst pirates of the caribbean boxoffice Crunchyroll child's play spinoff OWN Pop TV Freeform Discovery Channel Neflix singing competition Best Actress X-Men debate black comedy diversity Britbox zombies fresh Winners spider-man new zealand twilight Peacock batman classics rotten movies we love Marvel Television Marvel Studios sports TV renewals cooking Lifetime deadpool universal monsters medical drama casting Endgame Warner Bros. DC Comics Chilling Adventures of Sabrina reboot cancelled Comics on TV slashers The Arrangement Emmys Netflix free movies DC Universe wonder woman Best Director Cartoon Network American Society of Cinematographers TCM posters Adult Swim Syfy game show Watching Series Character Guide docuseries rotten space HBO Go streaming italian Thanksgiving 21st Century Fox young adult Netflix Christmas movies SXSW Paramount Pictures crime Musicals award winner Sci-Fi 2016 all-time TBS USA 2018 vampires legend saw critics Instagram Live Awards Tour 72 Emmy Awards satire 20th Century Fox Ellie Kemper TV movies Tarantino TV richard e. Grant leaderboard Binge Guide cinemax streaming movies Tokyo Olympics dreamworks stoner Trivia CMT heist movie YouTube Premium spy thriller The Walt Disney Company halloween tv police drama RT History harry potter 4/20 Oscar politics cults comic book movies Arrowverse book adaptation Television Critics Association Fantasy aapi Classic Film CBS Prime Video Amazon cats suspense vs. worst movies mutant godzilla transformers Apple TV Plus science fiction Comic-Con@Home 2021 women Logo APB composers jamie lee curtis kids 2021 dogs YA sag awards Drama Food Network Bravo teaser Black History Month TIFF Fall TV Fox Searchlight 94th Oscars Song of Ice and Fire documentaries trailers Mindy Kaling Paramount Wes Anderson Disney Channel Winter TV TV Land ABC Signature Exclusive Video binge GLAAD psycho HBO Max Musical sopranos FX Reality Competition Kids & Family Captain marvel prank Calendar Vudu children's TV spain spanish language latino live event nature ABC Family Photos Star Wars know your critic Western Acorn TV Women's History Month Pirates movie YouTube Set visit dark disaster Hear Us Out foreign superman revenge video scene in color Universal telelvision ITV Ghostbusters french Lifetime Christmas movies franchise hidden camera high school Turner independent kaiju Marathons Certified Fresh anthology AMC Plus nfl Crackle romantic comedy Sundance Now Masterpiece 2017 Best Actor Apple royal family Legendary halloween BET Awards Spectrum Originals CNN screenings psychological thriller south america GIFs nbcuniversal 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards See It Skip It 2015 TCA Awards king kong MTV movies Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt technology The Academy video on demand Quiz hollywood Star Wars Celebration Indigenous VOD crossover Universal Pictures rt labs critics edition Emmy Nominations superhero breaking bad ABC Shudder football australia Music razzies quibi Columbia Pictures 99% christmas movies hist Video Games Nat Geo dexter Comedy Central concert reviews IMDb TV TNT venice joker Amazon Prime Premiere Dates The Walking Dead Rock blockbusters Trophy Talk Fox News japanese olympics basketball Grammys thriller 2019 finale cancelled TV series festivals game of thrones Black Mirror cartoon Sony Pictures target talk show TLC comic book movie marvel cinematic universe LGBT Mary Poppins Returns Disney Plus dramedy fast and furious Paramount Plus television Countdown MSNBC IFC Starz Sundance TV slasher archives asian-american dc travel gangster summer TV San Diego Comic-Con Stephen King SundanceTV Alien emmy awards mob Broadway NYCC canceled stop motion MCU Amazon Prime Video Brie Larson Writers Guild of America 45 aliens marvel comics comics ghosts Oscars National Geographic 93rd Oscars Pop USA Network miniseries golden globes strong female leads Animation SDCC The CW docudrama elevated horror 73rd Emmy Awards FOX TCA Winter 2020 Dark Horse Comics Country Film Festival screen actors guild Native sequels Cosplay worst zombie The Purge BET blaxploitation Television Academy Rom-Com blockbuster summer preview monster movies anime scorecard rom-coms Schedule BBC rt archives serial killer parents Rocky discovery ViacomCBS Teen History Election a nightmare on elm street Hallmark Christmas movies Hallmark crime thriller DGA name the review toy story sitcom Awards werewolf documentary indiana jones Polls and Games hispanic action-comedy spider-verse ESPN Hollywood Foreign Press Association MGM Super Bowl 79th Golden Globes Awards NBA Shondaland rt labs Avengers Pixar BAFTA doctor who festival Showtime Hulu YouTube Red OneApp adventure 007 live action Action what to watch james bond Baby Yoda news witnail remakes robots Disney+ Disney Plus biopic Creative Arts Emmys PBS E! series Focus Features Podcast 2020 indie SXSW 2022 unscripted spanish VICE scene in color film series BBC America obituary FXX BBC One Tumblr Family art house new york PaleyFest biography toronto WarnerMedia Star Trek ID CW Seed 90s Valentine's Day Infographic natural history Cannes japan dceu Spring TV Academy Awards FX on Hulu Travel Channel scary movies A&E golden globe awards Apple TV+ Mystery tv talk die hard Disney streaming service Best Picture Mudbound First Reviews Superheroe Opinion First Look feel good cops Mary Tyler Moore comic comedies Comedy TruTV based on movie Esquire directors Marvel Toys A24 social media best President critic resources book Amazon Studios Nickelodeon scary Chernobyl Year in Review hispanic heritage month HFPA Elton John period drama 1990s Trailer Interview New York Comic Con Biopics Anna Paquin mcc Heroines HBO Tubi Lucasfilm 71st Emmy Awards war TCA adaptation boxing 24 frames AMC Paramount Network black supernatural Pet Sematary Walt Disney Pictures adenture Lionsgate mockumentary laika Disney mission: impossible Sneak Peek Epix Sundance El Rey Box Office cancelled television Geeked Week WGN CBS All Access renewed TV shows NBC Pacific Islander romance target scene in color Red Carpet Holiday lord of the rings Funimation historical drama political drama versus zero dark thirty interviews Summer crime drama TCA 2017 Sony chucky films