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) 38%

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) 45%

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) 92%

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

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