Throughout cinema history, women have traditionally been seen as dismissive and obedient. They were the caretakers, mothers, and keepers of the household while the men were working for the day.
Well, there is certainly nothing sweet and passive about these hardcore women. They come from different backgrounds and cultures likes as crime leaders and nurses, and bring a different perspective to their situation. They all bring a certain kind of uniqueness to their villainy that isn’t just using arsenic to kill their husbands. Through violence, backstabbing, and dictatorship, these women prove that they can dominate in a man’s world without them by their side.
20. Veda Pierce (Mildred Pierce)
While not a traditional villain per se, Veda is the epitome of the “spoiled daughter” trope. Despite having a single mother break her back to provide her with a good life, Veda just spits on her face every time. She’s embarrassed to be seen with her mother in her waitress outfit because she thinks it’s beneath her. She showed her disdain by making their maid wear it. She also has no trouble sleeping and eloping with her mother’s new husband.
While some people love and cheer for the villains in films, everyone cringes whenever she comes on screen. She’s not misunderstood or had a particularly hard life. She’s just a spoiled brat who exploits her mother’s hard work to pay for her luxurious expenses. And when that stopped working, she attempted to fake a pregnancy to blackmail a wealthy family. As her father says in the last line of the book, “To hell with her.”
19. GoGo Yubari (Kill Bill)
O-Ren Ishii’s bodyguards are tough baddies to beat, especially GoGo Yubari. From her innocent schoolgirl demeanor, it’s hard to guess that she stabbed a guy in the groin for flirting with her (after she persuaded him to). But when she’s fighting, she’s ruthless, violent, and pretty damn good with a ball and chain. Her ability to cut down multiple men at once shows that her power is way deadlier than imagined.
And her fight with The Bride shows that power at work when she’s able to swing that ball and chain around like it was cloth. She may not be in Kill Bill for long, but she is one hell of an adversary.
18. Princess Asa Vadja (Black Sunday)
Regarded as one of the first formidable female villains in horror, Princess Asa (Barbara Steele) is one of the forgotten greats. Loosely based on Nikolai Gogol’s short story, Viy, Mario Bava’s Black Sunday is a gothic classic, revolving around demons and witchcraft.
The film tells the story of Princess Asa Vadja, a 17th century Moldavian witch whom her brother sentences to death. While she’s being burned at the stake, she swears revenge and places a curse on his descendants. 300 years later, she gets her wish by possessing a princess (also played by Steele) and attempting to drain her blood to achieve immortality.
Steele uses the classic seduction approach to murder the men getting in her way, and it works so well. She especially has a way with resurrecting dead bodies to do her bidding. Her oozing sexuality and her obsession with power make her a great villain that deserves more attention.
17. Ma-Ma (Dredd)
We all know that Lena Headey can play the manipulative woman well on Game of Thrones, so this should come as a no-brainer. Unlike Cersei, Ma-Ma didn’t play the game just through whispers; she went straight for the torture devices.
Madeline Madrigal (Ma-Ma) had a very hard life growing up; at 13, she was a drug-using prostitute desperate for a way out. So she decided to “feminize” her pimp by biting his penis off while he was high on the drug, Slo-Mo (which made the pain even more agonizing). She then created her gang—called the Ma-Ma Clan— and slowly killed off the rival organizations, making her the boss around the sector,
Peachtrees. She’s a headstrong leader who isn’t afraid to create bloodshed when necessary, even at the expense of her own men. She didn’t take any blame for her actions such as killing dozens of innocents with mini guns meant for Dredd. Apparently, it was his fault for making it too “messy”.
16. Kathryn Merteuil (Cruel Intentions)
Before Regina George, there was Kathryn Merteuil: the face of the privileged and bored. Since she is based on Isabelle Merteuil from Dangerous Liaisons, you know that she will be the queen of secrets and deception.
But no one would know that by looking at her. She puts on the religious model student facade for the public, but behind the scenes, she uses people as pawns in her own twisted games. She uses her sexuality in exchange for a car with her narcissistic step-brother, Sebastian, and uses her “saintly” personality to con a naive girl into losing her virginity. She even threatens the reputation of Sebastian’s new girlfriend just because it amused her. Petyr Baelish could learn a thing or two from her.
15. Regina George (Mean Girls)
While we all may not have encountered gun slinging, sword-fighting women in our time, we’ve all been victimized by Regina George in our life.
From the cliques to the parties, Regina is a symbol for all of the high school bullshit we’ve encountered in our lives. She’s spread horrible rumors, framed her friends, and had a knack for being incredibly two-faced. She’s someone who will make you think she’s your best friend, but is planning your demise at the same time. She stole Aaron Samuels away from Cady simply because she wanted to torture her like a hungry cat does to a mouse.
And let’s not forget about the infamous “burn book” which caused an all out war between all of the high school girls. And regardless of what happened, people still seem to love her. Instead of losing in the end, she still is the same person, but just focuses on destroying lacrosse players instead.