It’s time to press play on Bauhaus and dance around in sexy black leather outfits. Regardless of what folks might think, being goth isn’t new. So if you’re rather young and think Billie Eilish kicked off being goth and or alternative, then you’re sorely mistaken. The fact of the matter is that goth culture has existed for ages, and that’s especially so in the horror genre.
The horror world has its fair share of goth icons to ponder about. Instead of broadening the focus to horror in general, I’m zooming in on the goth women in horror films that deserve to be mentioned. It’s no secret that goth representation hasn’t always been the most diverse in regard to goths of color. I’m crossing my fingers that we see more goths of color moving forward. But this list did its best because we are indeed talking about some of the best goth women in various horror films.
Elvira (Elvira: Mistress of the Dark and Elvira’s Haunted Hills)
If I failed to mention Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) then what would this list even be? The ultimate queen of the goths is absolutely the insatiable mistress of the dark. People often stereotype goths as people without much humor or personality. Meanwhile, Elvira subverts all those expectations because she’s sexually confident, hilarious, and silly. Who the hell can tell her who to be? Not a single fucking person. She is larger than life and has no qualms about it! Also, her whole look is iconic, cleavage and all. It’s also important to note that Cassandra Peterson is a queer woman!
Lydia Deetz (Beetlejuice)
Imagine Beetlejuice without Lydia Deetz’s (Winona Ryder) cynicism and overall disdain for everything that isn’t her surrogate ghost parents. I certainly don’t want to. Lydia is that goth teenager that doesn’t care if she’s wearing funeral outfits to the dinner table. She’ll talk about the bleakness of life while eating takeout, and doesn’t hold back when the truth needs to be said. Ultimately, she’s the goth character that teens and adults alike can find enjoyment in. Not to mention, she helps make Beetlejuice the incredibly loved horror comedy that it is.
Wednesday Addams (The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, and Wednesday the Series)
Wednesday’s child is full of goth. It’s safe to say that Wednesday Addams (most notably played by Christina Ricci and Jenna Ortega) is one of the most well known goths in pop/horror culture. She oozes mystery and macabre humor that you won’t soon forget about. Both Christina Ricci and Jenna Ortega play Wednesday differently, and that’s appreciated. Of course, both have a love for dark colors, macabre activities, death, and everything that would make hardcore religious people shake in their boots. What’s not to love?
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Nancy Downs (The Craft)
Discussing The Craft almost always leads into mentioning Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk), the character that we wish was the main character. Nancy’s entire look and identity as a witch makes her a peak ‘90s goth. Her character delivers some of the best lines of the entire film, she isn’t ashamed of being weird, and her outfits are fire. Exploring a goth character such as Nancy is fascinating because of her swerve into becoming an antagonist (in the eyes of Sarah) before the end of the film. Goths tend to be outcasts in society and with Nancy’s socioeconomic status, it only adds another layer. Also, she’s just really fucking cool and absolutely can be read as a chaotic bisexual.
Tiffany Valentine (Child’s Play franchise)
There is no questioning the icon status that Jennifer Tilly holds, especially when it comes to Tiffany Valentine. She ushered in a new (and necessary) energy to the Child’s Play franchise, she’s queer as hell, and Jennifer Tilly is also a woman of color. Her character is chaotic, a serial killer, and isn’t afraid to make that known. Goth characters aren’t always like her, and they sure as hell don’t get transferred into a doll or into a real-life celebrity. But that’s the magic of her as a character and the universe she exists in. There’s nothing wrong with having a goth character that’s hot and complex.
Ginger Fitzgerald (Ginger Snaps)
People often regard Ginger Snaps (2000) as one of the best werewolf movies, and they aren’t wrong. Ginger Fitzgerald (Katharine Isabelle) is a huge component of why this Canadian horror gem has become a cult classic. Her character is unapologetically goth (minus the stereotypes) and her becoming a werewolf only elevates her goth status. From her outfits (especially her most notable outfit), to her attitude, to the overall essence that she oozes alongside her sister. Exploring puberty and girlhood/womanhood through the lens of a goth teenager transforming into a werewolf is unique in itself.
Black goths are still relatively scarce in terms of horror, but thankfully Wendell & Wild exists. Animated films are just as valid in regard to representation, and Kat Elliot (voiced by Lyric Ross) is pretty damn great. She’s full of angst and has no problem displaying just how much. Seeing Black goths is exciting for Black nerds, especially those of us that love horror. Kat’s look is inspiring, and she’s just so lovable that you’re rooting for the entire film.