Even at a young age, I drew definitive lines for myself when it came to horror movies. I swore off the Friday the 13ths because the first not only plagued me with nightmares since my sneaky eyes caught it at a way-too-young age, but it also helped give me a healthy fear of the rural darkness. Yet I adored the Nightmare on Elm Street series -- whether I was watching the film drastically cut for Saturday afternoon TV or renting the flicks in their full horrific glory. It was campy fun, and I always figured that a mixture of laughs and horror was the magic mix that made things interesting. But there was another reason I made a distinction, one that didn't become clear until much later in life.
I adored Debbie Stevens and Alice Johnson, Sydney Prescott and Tatum Riley because they didn't just scream and quiver -- even if they didn't survive. They fought in a real, flawed, and human way. They weren't some sort of Kill Bill gang of women wildly skilled and powerful. They simply did what they could, and if they were lucky enough to survive the first few rounds, their fighting prowess would grow accordingly.
They were scared -- who wouldn't be? -- but they didn't let fright immobilize them. They were a nice and welcome comfort in a world where women usually were good for nothing but screams and bloody death.