Take Back the Knife: Women You Love in Movies You Don’t


“Take Back the Knife” is a monthly column about women in horror by genre writer/director Stacie Ponder.

Whether you’re a fan of an actress’s ability or looks, chances are at one time or another you’ve sat through some soul-sucking piece of crap cinema just because it starred someone you dig. It’s okay – we’ve all done it. Seriously, I’ve picked up and watched more bad movies than I can count – and trust me, I can count pretty damn high – solely because of the names on the box — and I’m not just talking horror movies!

Don’t tell anyone, but I set my DVR to record Uptown Girls simply because it stars Brittany Murphy. It took me four separate viewings to get through it and my DVR laughed at me the whole time, but I did it. It was fairly terrible (unless you like it, then, you know, it’s great), but there was also something oddly satisfying about watching it. Perhaps because it meant that there are a couple of actors I like them so much, I’ll watch anything they do. And liking things is nice. Yes, we’ll go with that reasoning, as it’s less weird-sounding than any alternatives.

In the interests of science, I have compiled the following list of actresses who have made some pretty bad horror films. Actually, I think every actress ever has at least one bad horror movie on her resume like some sort of rite of passage. But I’m banking that you really like at least one of the women on this list, and you’d suffer through a bad movie just to watch her. Mind you, I’ve seen all of these movies and yes, I’ve lived to tell the tale. I’m sure that says something about something or other, doesn’t it?

Amber Heard,

The Stepfather (2009)

In this bland remake of a 1987 cult favorite, a psychopathic man insinuates himself into fatherless families, making with the whole “nice” routine until the crazy takes hold and he kills them all and moves on to the next. Heard plays the girlfriend of Penn Badgley, who’s more than a bit leery of his new stepdad. The movie is completely predictable and about as scary as a boxful of puppies, but fans of Heard will be glued to the screen as she parades around in a bikini, in her underwear – it’s one of the most gratuitously cheesecake roles this side of a Russ Meyer movie. Props also go out to the random lesbian couple in the film, one of which is played by Sherry Stringfield (E.R.).

Lena Headey and Piper PeraboThe


Before they appeared together in Imagine Me and You and caused lesbians around the world to gnash their teeth and cry “But why aren’t you a couple in real liiiiiiife?” Headey and Perabo teamed up to battle monsters in a cave deep under Romania. I mean to say they did that in the movie The Cave, not in real life. Probably. Anyway, Headey plays a no-nonsense scienceologist while Perabo plays a reckless cave-diving scientist given to lines like “This is sick, dude! Totally rockin’!” Monsters abound, and neither actress wants to admit to being in this film. It’s bad horror movie heaven!

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