13 Guilty Pleasure Movies From The 20th Century That Feature Great Heroines

7. Rabby / Gall Force: Eternal Story (Katsuhito Akiyama, 1986)

The only animated heroine on this list, Rabby, belongs to the race of Solnoids who look very much like human women and who lead the war against the amoeban Paranoids. This ginger-haired babe (apologies for the term to all of the easily offended) is the member of Star Leaf battleship crew who are sent to defend a terraformed planet Chaos, not aware they’re part of a secret experiment.

Rabby is next in command to Elza who’s supposed to be the eldest, even though all the girls look the same age, with the exception of Rumy. She seems to be the voice of reason and the one to root for, regardless of the characterization which is this anime’s weakest component.

When the protagonists start dying, she gets the most space in the story, including “the mourning over her comrade loss while taking a leak to a ballad” scene, and demonstrates she’s fit to be a team leader. During a “mandatory” shower sequence we are introduced to her body features.


8. Kelly Carter / If the Shoe Fits (Tom Clegg, 1990)

Jennifer Grey of “Dirty Dancing” fame takes the role of a talented, yet hapless shoe designer, Kelly Carter, in a modern, lighthearted, delightfully cheesy rendition of “Cinderella” that puts the capital C in Camp (aesthetics). Set in Paris, her rom-com story is all about inner beauty and being yourself whatever it takes which is, in her case, a pair of enchanted shoes and a pretty-face alter ego.

There’s no stepmother to bother her, but she has to live with a pair of vain roommates and work as a dressmaker for a self-absorbed fashion designer, Francesco Salvitore (Rob Lowe). After helping a puzzle-headed tourist whose eccentric sense of dressing implies that she must be the fairy (Andréa Ferréol, superb), Lady Luck smiles on her.

Shy, sincere, virtuous and “ordinary” Kelly transforms into a glamorous supermodel, Prudence, and assisted by her loudmouthed best friend and colleague Véronique (Élisabeth Vitali), rises to the position of Salvitore’s right hand and muse. Eventually, her dreams come true, un-tinseled and with the “prince” molded into a better person, thanks to the “original” her.


9. Swell / Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (Stephen Herek, 1991)

Just like Kelly Carter, Christina Applegate’s 17-yo character Swell is also compelled to lead double life in this late “Brat Pack” piece. After her mother goes on vacation, she and her four siblings are left with an old babysitter, and all of their plans are thwarted. Things go from bad to worse when “deranged Merry Popins” dies of a heart attack, taking their pocket money to the grave.

After losing heads or tails game to her metalhead brother Kenny (Keith Coogan), it’s up to Swell to find a job, so that their disfunctional family can make it through the summer. As washing greasy dishes at McDonald’s-like restaurant called Happy Clown doesn’t make her happy at all, she fakes her CV and applies for the receptionist position at a fashion agency, but ends up as the executive administrative assistant for the senior vice president Rose (the wonderful Joanna Cassidy).

Yes, it is nothing like real life, but Swell’s self-imposed initiation to adulthood is an amuzing game of playing a career woman, a responsible mother and a sweet girlfrind after hard day at work. Also, you shouldn’t miss David Duchovny as one of Sue Ellen’s haters and the quirky Kimmy Robertson of “Twin Peaks” fame as her support.


10. Buffy / Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Fran Rubel Kuzui, 1992)

Joss Whedon’s first attempt at writing a horror-comedy about a flighty cheerleader turned vampire slayer is cheesy as hell, with the cast that makes you wonder what on Earth attracted them to the film. OK, Kristy Swanson who portrays Buffy already appeared in the tacky productions, so she’s at home here and the same goes for Hilary Swank, Luke Perry and David Arquette who were just the beginners at the time.

But, what about Donald Sutherland as a mysterious Van Helsing-type figure, Merrick, and Rutger Hauer as the bloodsuckers’ boss Lothos? Were they that desperate? All jokes and pokes aside, this is not a tragic stain on their careers, considering Kuzui’s second and last directorial effort doesn’t take itself seriously at all, so they probably wanted to have some easy breezy fun.

And now, back to Buffy. She’s the popular, bitchy girl we usually see making some nerdy heroine’s life miserable, but in Whedon’s twist on teen-flick conventions, it is she who has the chance to be heroic. So, after plenty of Merrick’s lessons, she learns that keen fashion sense and shaking booty with pom-poms in your hands are not the most important things in life. A frivolous flapper proves to be the most skillful “chosen one”.


11. Julia / Fist of the North Star (Tony Randel, 1995)

Tony Randel who directed the best “Hellraiser” sequel gives a shot at Buronson and Hara’s popular manga in this straight-to-video B-fantasy set in a dirty post-apocalyptic world where everything has been mixed-up.

The British kick-boxing champion and actor Gary Daniels stars as the goggle-eyed hero who goes by the Japanese name of Kenshiro, whereas the Japanese actress Isako Washio brings her cute accent as his love interest with a Latin-origin name Julia. Go figure!

Trapped in the past, as she herself claims, Julia paradoxically symbolizes the better future, not only to her boyfriend, but to her captor and Kenshiro’s rival, Lord Shin (Costas Mandylor), as well.

Even though she doesn’t get enough screen time, her face can be seen on propaganda posters throughout the film and she appears as the embodiment of hope, purity, nature and rebellion. Accordingly, she’s treated as a queen worthy of Tamara de Lempicka-styled portrait on the wall of Shin’s throne room.

However, once the kingdom of terror starts to crumble, one of Shin’s sleazebag henchmen tries to rape her and in that very situation, she’s forced to overcome the status of damsel in distress.


12. Rebecca / Tank Girl (Rachel Talalay, 1995)


Based on the eponymous British comic-book, “Tank Girl” takes a cheerful spin on the familiar post-apocalyptic tropes and victim/avenger complex. Funny, delightfully anarchic and crammed with the craziest of details, it stars Lori Petty who has a whale of a time as Rebecca – a cheeky, playful, bull-riding water thief who becomes the titular renegade by force of circumstances.

Her feisty spirit, mischievousness and punkish attitude are nothing short of inspirational, especially when she ends up in the clutches of Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell) – a sadistic, poetry-quoting head of a villainous mega-corporation which monopolizes the water supply. Irreverent and unbreakable, she repeatedly emasculates her archenemy with witty remarks, so it’s pretty safe to say there’s a bold feminist lying or rather constantly defying inside of her.

On her road of vengeance, she’s assisted by an introvert mechanic, Jet Girl (Naomi Watts), and later, by a wild bunch of neo-hippie mutant-kangaroos. The cartoonishness of her character is intensified by the hyper-stylized animated sequences, whereby her high-octane vigor is supported by the killer soundtrack.


13. Barbara Kopetski / Barb Wire (David Hogan, 1996)


In a sleazy cyberpunk remake of “Casablanca” with biker subculture aesthetics, the famous Playboy cover girl and hopelessly aspiring actress Pamela Anderson plays Barbara Kopetski, aka Barb Wire – an over-sexualized bounty hunter and owner of the Hammerhead nightclub.

Barely holding her breasts from forcing her tight corsets to burst open, this mercurial, dominatrix-like woman lives and operates in Steel Harbor – the only free city of fascist governed America in 2017. (Well, you have to forgive Hogan and his screenwriters for not predicting the future down to the last detail.)

Those who dare to call her ‘babe’ end up with a stiletto stuck between their eyes or even worse. A retired member of the resistance, she speaks haughty and silently, taking no sides, until the ghosts of her tumultuous past return to haunt her.

Behind the tough lady mask, she conceals a soft spot (or two) for her blinded brother, Charlie (Jack Noseworthy), her bald waiter, Curly (Udo Kier), and her faithful Rottweiler Camille. She’s good at “exotic dancing”, as well as at kicking butts (kudos to a stunt double with a bad wig).

Author Bio: Nikola Gocić is a graduate engineer of architecture, film blogger and underground comic artist from the city which the Romans called Naissus. He has a sweet tooth for Kon’s Paprika, while his favorite films include many Snow White adaptations, the most of Lynch’s oeuvre, and Oshii’s magnum opus Angel’s Egg.