In many horror movies, the black woman is a mere friend – cannon fodder, to put it bluntly. She’s there to throw in a splash of diversity before killing her off. Luckily, people in the real world are beginning to acknowledge black women and their abilities to create real change, and it’s time the horror scene did the same.
It can start with the women on this list. They provide new knowledge and strength because of who they are as black women and kick-ass characters.
1. Marie Laveau
In American Horror Story: Coven, Angela Basset plays the voodoo queen, Marie Laveau. She spends the season battling with her sworn enemies, until her butchering at the wretched hands of Madame LaLaurie. Marie’s demise is bloody and slow, much like her rise to power. Her journey began when she gave her soul to Papa Legba for the chance to live evermore. With that one horrid deal, immortality became one of her greatest strengths.
Say you find yourself trapped in a house with an invincible killer trying to gut you. They have no motivation other than to find you, kill you with an oddly phallic shaped weapon, and move on to the next helpless victim. Thing is, you’re not so weak with Marie Laveau by your side.
While you’re fighting to escape, Marie will serve up some serious vengeance. If there’s one thing she hates, it’s someone trying to kill her and her companions. After all, most of the memorable scenes from the show involve Marie dealing out a sour dish of revenge to those who wronged her. If you die, the killer will wish they protected your life like their prized weapon. Sure, Marie’s seen all her loved ones die, so she’ll get over your passing. But not before absolutely ruining the killer.
It’d be a shame to forget that the number one reason you’d want her by your side is that she is the voodoo queen of New Orleans – not just some back-shop priestess or girl dabbling in magic. She is magic. She is power, and there’s little a slasher villain can do against that.
The fourth season of Black Mirror closes with a banger called Black Museum. The episode stars Letitia Wright playing Nish. Nish is a young woman traveling cross country on a family trip that gets darker as the episode progresses. Throughout the episode, Nish employs a cunning plan to trap and punish her opponent, but she is motivated by love and empathy for her enemy’s victims.
Now imagine after a day of cruising around the backroads, you and Nish find yourselves in one of those demonic-possession type of situations. The demon is in full control and has you two in its sights.
When demons come knocking, there’s one type of magic you need. The only force greater than any demon is love. In many cases, love is the only thing that will bring someone back from the dark side. Nish’s top motivation is purely that. She has more than love; she has faith in that love and in doing what is right. If Black Museum does nothing else, it shows that Nish is a woman who believes that love will set you free.
Now that you know the demonic spirit can be banished through the power of love, all you two need to do is trap it long enough to perform an exorcism. Fortunately, Nish is a three steps ahead of the antagonist. Working with all her talents, she’ll plot out ways to capture the baddie so that the ritual can be performed.
When things come down to the final battle, just you two and the demon, brawn will count for nothing. You’ll need a mind that’s not like a steel tank, but an open door. A person that can take whatever the demon deals out because she knows that she is strong enough to withstand the punishment. You’ll need someone like Nish. Nish can look evil in the eye and destroy it without losing herself.
3. Kendra Young
Bianca Lawson only appears for a short while in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as the second slayer after Buffy dies the first time. Lawson’s character, Kendra Young, shows a whole new side to the world of being a slayer. Kendra displays discipline, dedication to life, and a sense of duty that Buffy, for all her amazingness, lacks.
But the fictional town of Sunnydale is far from where you and Kendra find yourselves. You’re stranded and out of gas on a long grisly road with no name. So you do the thing you should never do: you set off into the woods to look for help. Soon, the local cannibals pick up on your scent and begin to hunt you down.
When trying to outrun a pack of bloodthirsty individuals, you need to know if you can trust the person running along beside you. If they end up deciding that their odds would be better with you as a tasty distraction, then you’re a goner. There’s no fear of that with someone like Kendra. Her allegiance isn’t to something that can be swayed or challenged. She fights for good and the destruction of evil in all forms. After years of training, it’s who she is at her core.
She wasn’t just doing any old training either. Since she was a kid, Kendra Young trained to be a slayer. For those who are not familiar with the power of a slayer, she is a woman possessed with near unparalleled strength, speed, and healing abilities. The cannibals know the woods like the insides of a freshly butchered human, but that’s nothing compared to someone who is trained to hunt and battle demons. Those mere mortals will fall at Kendra’s hands, leaving an open path for both of you to get back to safety.
4. Alexa Woods
In the sometimes-vilified spin-off Alien vs Predator, Sanaa Lathan plays the environmental technician Alexa Woods. She is hired to lead a team down into a mysterious Antarctic ruin. When things go wrong, she battles to protect her team from newly born aliens and ruthless predators.
Though Alexa is no stranger to otherworldly killers, she has never tested her skills against flesh-eating zombies. No doubt the skills she used to survive her night of horror will come in handy when you two must survive the zombie apocalypse.
When people are faced with a horde of undead shamblers, sense and reason go out the door. They panic, allowing the zombies to get the upper hand. Once you lose your head, you’re eaten. But Alexa is a character who consistently makes well-reasoned decisions. When the world throws strange things at her, she does this right in the moment.
When zombies start ripping throats out, people forget those shamblers were once human. Alexa would not only remember but also use it to her advantage. Alexa is the sole survivor of the horrific events not because she was physically strong or had fire power; she lived because she was able to see the beasts around her as more than just rampaging brutes. Understanding your enemy on a deeper level is the first step in coming up with a new and innovative way to outlast your opponent, even if that enemy is a flesh-hungry corpse.
Once the zombies take over, going off the grid is the only way to start living a long and prosperous life. In extreme environments, Alexa is at her best. With her training as a guide, she’d lead you two to a place where the dead could never reach you.
5. Roberta Warren
Z Nation takes the zombie apocalypse to whole new heights. Kellita Smith plays Roberta Warren, an ex-sergeant in the National Guard on a mission to save humanity from being overtaken. The show follows Roberta and her team across the country as they fight fellow survivors, gangs, the undead, and secret government organizations.
Unfortunately, the dead you two will face is of the vampire kind. A new neighbor moves into the creepy dark house at the end of your cul-de-sac. At first, you’re not sure if your bad feeling about this is justified. Then you see the movers bring in a coffin during the dead of night. You realize you’ll need Roberta Warren to help you defeat your vampire menace and their minions.
Roberta’s years in the service provide her with the necessary skills to take out many threats, alive or dead. She is proficient with more weapons than you can shake a stick at. Guns? Yuppers. Blunt objects? Totally. Rocket launcher? Yup. With such an arsenal, Roberta will take out and slow down the vampire’s cronies long enough to for you to get close to your kill.
A battle with vampires is not one that is started and finished in one night. It is a battle that can rage on for what may feel like forever. Your vampire adversary is immortal and incredibly dangerous, so plan on being on the move until a stake is driven through the monster’s heart. Don’t panic, your bud Roberta is used to running on low fuel and fighting through it to make it to the other side.
After a prolonged battle with the vampire, it corners you. Alone and weak, you prepare for a desperate struggle, but wait! Roberta Warren comes from left field to deliver a weakening blow to the immortal. This gives you the perfect chance to vanquish the demon by decapitating it with your sword.
Rest assured that no matter what is thrown at her, Warren will always come back for the members of her crew. Only death can stop her, and she’s a hard woman to kill.
6. Debi LeCure
Vivica A. Fox plays the demon-hunting high priestess Debi LeCure in the 90s movie Idle Hands. The movie is stoner horror with a lot of problems, but none of them are Debi. She adds another layer to what would have been a mediocre horror comedy. During the movie, Debi seduces creepsters and overcomes obstacles, all in pursuit of squashing evil.
In this next case, there is a serial killer who’s leaving hints of the bloody variety at your doorstep. They started out just being leftover meat scraps from the local butcher, but when you awake to find something much worse waiting for you on your pillow, Debi is the first person you call.
If there’s a sadistic killer toying with you, you’ll want someone trained to look for the subtle signs of demonic possession. What is an uncontrollable killer if not a person plagued by darkness? Demons are Debi’s job, and being a high priestess isn’t all spell work. What Debi does is deliver death. So when the moment comes to take down your stalker, don’t worry, she will not hesitate to put them down.
With Debi’s mind on the hunt, the cat and mouse game will be flipped. You two will chase down the killer – Debi’s mighty research skills leading the way. As you close in to strike, you two will be donning all sorts of costumes to evade detection. Your stalker won’t know what killed them when Debi comes a-knockin’.
7. Maeve Millay
Thandie Newton plays Maeve Millay in Westworld, a dark sci-fi story of androids becoming sentient. The androids are part of an immersive game where the human guests use them to live out fantasies, no matter how dark. When she realizes who she is, Maeve’s top goal is to escape into the real world. In doing so, she ups all her parameters, or personality stats, so that she becomes more charming, manipulative, and intelligent.
Though Maeve’s never encountered aliens, she has dealt with threats her whole life and responds to them with a hard hand. When aliens take over, you position yourself close to Maeve. She takes a manipulative interest in you that borders on care. Now it’s time to face grotesque monsters in space ships, armed with pulse guns that destroy buildings. Fortunately for you, they are organic matter and can be killed – unlike your parter in crime.
Expecting to encounter mere humans, the alien soldiers will find Maeve to be an unbeatable opponent. She has heightened intelligence, strength like that of a machine, and near infinite pain tolerance. She’ll take out a fair number of the enemy before they catch wise to what she is. By that point, she’ll have found other refugees to whip into shape to take down the new overlords.
Presenting yourself as a useful sidekick will make Maeve want to keep you alive. Fresh to the real world, Maeve has little understanding of humanity beyond the wealthy folk who can afford to play at Westworld. This is where you come in: educating her on the ways of the world. Your friendship will be beneficial as long as you stay on her good side. Meanwhile, the space invaders battle against the unexpected foe that is Maeve Millay.
Black women have shown their grit in the face of monsters looking to beat them down or turn them into mere meat sacks. Whether it is on the screen or in real life, they have not backed down from those wishing to do them harm. After all is said and slain, these women are strong capable characters who would make great additions to any horror crew, real or imagined.
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