Anyone who has watched the work of George A. Romero enough knows that the filmmaker made a career out of writing and directing horror films featuring unconventional heroes who broke with the norm and ushered in a new era of protagonists, just as he revolutionized the zombie. kind. Revisit All Late Horror Icon Entries Undead franchise and you’ll see badass female characters and black heroes take charge while a large portion of the white men are self-serving morons at best and maniacal psychopaths at worst.
March being Women’s History Month, I thought it would be the perfect time to go through Romero’s zombie movie franchise and break down the really badass female characters who left their mark in each title as well as in the horror industry as a whole.
Barbra (Night of the Living Dead)
Although Barbra (Judith O’Dea) did not achieve some of the heroic feats or undergo a dramatic change like some of the female characters that would follow throughout subsequent George A. Romero films, she held on until the very end of night of the living dead. The character, who will at times be dismissed as a damsel in distress, is anything but, and serves as a perfect example of the kind of impact trauma, terror, and stress can have on someone dealing with death.
Over the course of a few hours, Barba witnesses his brother (his next living relative) being brutally murdered by a zombie in a graveyard, escapes to find himself trapped in an old farmhouse surrounded by the undead, falls into a catatonic state from all the stress, wakes up to protect the house, and is eventually dragged away by her resuscitated brother.
Francine ‘Fran’ Parker (Dawn of the Dead)
Francine “Fran” Parker (Gaylen Ross) is anything but a damsel in distress throughout dawn of the dead. In fact, she’s been pretty much a badass since the start of the George A. Romero sequel in 1978 and only gets stronger and more confident with every turn. When we first meet the producer of WGON TV, she leaps straight into action and removes the lifeboat stations that have since fallen to stop people from walking into death traps despite the station manager wanting to do them. work to prevent people from logging off. And it only gets better from there.
Throughout the film, a pregnant Fran insists on learning to shoot a gun, fly a helicopter (the group’s only means of escape from the zombie-infested mall), and wants to be part of any decision made. . At one point, Fran even takes a stand for her personal rights after overhearing her boyfriend and the other survivors discuss the prospect of an abortion, to which she tells them not to think any differently from her because of her pregnancy.
Sarah Bowman (Day of the Dead)
George A. Romero’s third zombie movie, The day of the Dead, doubles down on the central argument of his previous films that what’s left of humanity can be far more dangerous than the flesh-eating zombies waiting outside the barricaded shelters of survivors. This time around, the survivors of Romero consist of a small group of deeply divided and frustrated soldiers and scientists, with one of the only voices of reason being Dr. Sarah Bowmen (Lori Cardille).
Throughout the 1985 zombie movie, Sarah seems like the only person willing to stand up to tyrannical Captain Henry Rhodes (Joseph Pilato), a man who leads the search operation with a short temper and an iron fist. Never one to back down or let psychopathic soldiers walk all over her, Sarah does everything she can to ensure the survival of the human race. It’s just a shame she doesn’t talk about the most badass female characters in sci-fi and horror.
Barbara Todd (Night of the Living Dead Remake)
Although 1990 by Tom Savini night of the living dead remake follows the story of the original beat-for-beat for the most part, George A. Romero made some major changes to the script. The most important of these is the character of Barbara (Patricia Tallman), who is no longer the calm and terrified young woman, but rather an armed badass who really takes nothing from anyone and becomes one of the most vocal survivors.
And while she’s an example of the “Final Girl” trope, this reimagined version of the Barbara character is one of the most badass heroines to appear in a horror movie. And it’s also cool how Romero was able to cast her as the hero of this version like he did with Ben’s character 22 years earlier.
Slack (Land of the Dead)
George A. Romero’s first zombie movie to be released in the 21st century, land of the dead tackles many of the same themes as previous installments in the franchise and features some of the best characters in the series to date. One of them is Slack (Asia Argento), who arguably is one of the most badass protagonists in general.
Over the course of the film, Slack shows time and time again that she’s not only a great fighter, shooter, and soldier, she also wants to do well and does everything she can to protect the poor and forgotten residents of Fiddler’s Green. Never one to back down from a fight (against zombies and humans alike), Slack is partly responsible for his gated city’s survival once the zombies overtake it.
Debra Moynihan (Diary of the Dead)
While not as well-received (or remembered) as the installments that preceded it in George A. Romero’s zombie franchise, the found-picture horror film Diary of the Dead has a few perks, including a badass heroine named Debra Moynihan (Michelle Morgan) who gets quite the transformation.
Throughout the film, Debra goes from a mild-mannered student alongside a group of movie majors to an absolute badass who isn’t afraid to take down zombies, deal with hardened survivors or making the difficult decision to kill a loved one. to keep them from spinning. And sure, her outlook on life is negative at the end, but who can blame her after all that’s happened.
Each of the badass female characters bring a little something different to George A. Romero’s zombie films and help show how the horror icon went out of her way to flip the script with gender norms. and show how society has changed over the past 50 plus years. . Who knows when we’ll see Romero’s Twilight of the Deadbut in the meantime, check out all the new 2022 movies hitting theaters.