“It’s some stupid killer stalking some girl who can’t act, who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. It’s insulting.” —Sydney Prescott, Scream
Halloween is nearly upon us, and with it comes a festival’s worth of horror movies. It can be tough for NRA Women like us to watch some of them—not because they’re too scary, but because sometimes they’re insulting. As horror-movie heroine Sydney Prescott pointed out above, many such plots would end in three minutes if only the writers had given their heroines just a little bit of gumption. We fully agree, but we’d like to raise the ante with one more plot-stopper: a home-defense shotgun. Here are our three favorite classic horror flicks that would end in three minutes flat (if she had a shotgun)…
This classic horror flick from writer/director John Carpenter was the template on which dozens of chillers have since been made. Antagonist Michael Myers’ relentless pursuit of scream-queen Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode has haunted viewers for 42 years. Much of the horror comes from the movie’s premise that Laurie the babysitter is (as far as she knows) a random target—she has done nothing wrong, yet she must fight for her and her charge’s lives against an aggressor with superhuman persistence and durability.
But what if the babysitter has more than an impressive scream at her disposal for self-defense…say, a 12-gauge shotgun?
Although later sequels in the Halloween series gave Michael Myers superhuman powers that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator raise a mechanical eyebrow, in this one, Michael is human. In the climactic sequence of the movie, Michael has managed to trap Laurie in a house (and no, it wasn’t because she was too dumb to open a door), and stab her in her non-dominant shoulder. She’s terrified and wounded, but she does have some use of her support hand and a Biblical flood’s worth of adrenaline.
Our judgement? Laurie absolutely would have been able to shoulder and fire a 12-gauge shotgun right into Michael Myers’ center of mass…and then there wouldn’t have been any sequels.
This horror/comedy (or is it comedy/horror?) from the Reagan era isn’t set at Halloween, but Christmas…but it’s a nightmare all the same. The movie’s premise is that the titular gremlins are harmless until they’re exposed to water or fed after midnight. Their only weakness, claims the movie, is bright light. The movie’s putative hero and heroine are Billy Peltzer and Kate Beringer, but our favorite no-nonsense protagonist is definitely Billy’s mom. After Billy does exactly everything he’s been warned not to do—thus unleashing the evil side of gremlinhood onto the town of Kingston Falls—it’s Billy’s mother who’s left to clean up. By the time she realizes that something is wrong, the gremlins have already completely overrun her house and are doing their best to destroy it and everything in it.
So what happens if Mrs. Peltzer reaches for her 12-gauge instead of her knife before she goes to investigate those weird noises?
Although the evil gremlins aren’t exactly “natural,” they’re not supernatural…and as Mrs. Peltzer quickly realizes, they can be killed. In fact, they can be killed in a number of highly amusing ways, including “Death by Microwave” and “Julienned Gremlin.” Furthermore, Mrs. Peltzer is one cool cat under pressure.
Our judgement? Mrs. Peltzer not only could have ended the gremlin invasion single-handedly, she probably would have come up with a brand-new shooting sport called “Mogwai” and designed a shotgun just for playing it. We’ll also guess that said shotgun will feature a factory-installed (and very, very bright) flashlight.
Part of the reason why this 1990s horror flick is a classic is that it’s a self-referencing sendup of the horror genre as a whole. We quoted the lead character, Neve Campbell’s Sydney Prescott, as an introduction to this article for a reason: Although Sydney knows that running out the door is a better escape tactic than heading for the stairs as well as the viewer does, she isn’t given a choice. By the time her erstwhile boyfriend and would-be killer (and his weirdo best buddy) corner her in her kitchen, the three of them have already run through just about every pursuit-sequence trope that exists. None of them have helped her; she is exactly where the Scream Queens of the 70s and 80s would have found themselves despite everything she has tried.
But what if Sydney’s dad had quietly showed her where he keeps the Mossberg and the ammo before he left for his business trip?
There’s a scene relatively early in the movie in which Ghost Face menaces Sydney in her home. She’s able to escape by jamming the door and e-mailing the Sheriff’s department—this was the very height of high-tech plot advancement in 1996—and of course contacting law enforcement is always a strong survival strategy. But as we here at the NRA have pointed out many times in the past, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.
Our judgement? In that particular scene, Sydney would absolutely have had time to deploy a home-defense scattergun against Ghost Face. However, what Sydney doesn’t know at that point is that there are two killers, not one. Would the second one have attempted to complete their plan alone, or would he have been deterred by the notion that Sydney could defend herself?
There’s no way to know how a fictional character would have reacted to seeing his partner in crime stopped with lethal force. What we do know for sure is that real-world criminals are very much deterred by armed women ... and if they aren’t, they should be.
3 Movies That Would End in 3 Minutes (If She Had a Shotgun)