By Rachel Shatto

In a word, Buffy. With just that single role Sarah Michelle Gellar would have earned a spot on our list of Diabolical Dames, but add to that her turns in I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 2 and she becomes a bona fide ’90s scream queen, and one well worth celebrating.

Gellar returned to horror in the ’00s just as the J-horror remake trend crested, in The Grudge and the Grudge 2. She also popped up in straight to DVD genre titles like and The Return and Southland Tales.

But let’s talk more about Buffy, shall we? Long before Twilight (oh excuse me, I mean, the Twilight Saga—snore) came along to rot tender female tween brains (with its horrifying depiction of an abusive relationship as the ideal romance yeech! Don’t even get me started) we had a vampire franchise worth celebrating: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Acerbic, clever and tough as nails, Buffy Summers was the ultimate suburban heroine. We believed it when Buffy completely dominated all manner of beasties, we bought her teenage angst in the face of grownup responsibility and sacrifice and we even went along for the ride when she waxed romantic with the occasional undead dude. While some of the credit for the character must go to the series creator (and genius) Joss Whedon, Gellar embodied Buffy and sold the stylized dialog in a way that that brought her to life and succeeded in creating not only a beloved fictional protagonist, but an iconic third-wave feminist character, as well.

If Sigourney Weaver blazed the trail for bad ass female heroines, Geller made it modern. And where as Weaver was the every man, Gellar was the every girl. And in a time where riot grrrl fury was being watered-down, packaged and sold at Target (thanks a lot Spice Girls) Gellar created a feminst pop culture touchstone from which a real message of female empowerment could be gleaned.

Plus, she she could totally kick Cullen’s emo crybaby ass, see:

Genre Cred: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997), I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Scream 2 (1997), Angel (1999), Scooby-Doo (2002), Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004), The Grudge (2004), Southland Tales (2006), The Grudge 2 (2006), The Return (2006), Possession (2009)