By Rachel Shatto
No discussion in women’s contribution to horror is complete without taking a look at Sigourney Weaver, the grand dame of bad ass bitches. Weaver’s turn as the Xenomorph decimating Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise set the gold standard for female action heroes, and her subsequent roles in genre films have endeared her to the fangirl masses. An Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe Award winning actor, Weaver has continued to embrace genre films throughout her stellar 30-year career, returning time and time again to star in horror, thriller and sci-fi films.
Weaver kicked off her film career with the 1979 sci-fi classic Alien, as warrant officer Ellen Ripley, aboard the ill-fated Nostromo. Having come upon a derelict ship, the crew investigate and discover a blood-thirsty alien which makes it’s way aboard the Nostromo via a facehugger and swiftly lays waste to the rest of the crew leaving only Ripley to face it down. In her role as the iconic Ripley (a character who’s reprisal in the 1986 sequel Aliens garnered her an Oscar nod), Weaver demonstrated an intellect and physicality that made her both a feminist icon and put to shame former shrinking violet scream queens the likes of Laurie Strode and Sally Hardesty.
In 1984 she starred alongside comic legends Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray in the much beloved Ghostbusters franchise (OK the much beloved Ghostbusters and lesser-so sequel) as Murray’s love interest and sometimes “Gate Keeper” Dana Barrett. The statuesque no-nonsense Barrett was the perfect foil for Murray’s disarmingly sleezy Peter Venkman.
In the ’90s and ’00s she continued to appear in genre favorites including Copycat, the made for TV film Snow White: A Tale of Terror (for which Weaver received both a SAG and Emmy nod), M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village and two more entries in the Alien franchise.
And it of course has to be mentioned that Weaver lent her distinctive velvety voice to an episode of the fantastic animated sci-fi brilliance known as Futurama. In the episode “Love and Rocket” Bender takes up with the Planet Express ship when it is given a new femme fatale voice (Weaver)—homicidal intergalactic hilarity ensues.
At 60 she continues to make frequent appearances in genre films, including this year’s sci-fi epic Avatar, for which Weaver did all of her own motion capture, as well as the upcoming Simon Pegg and Nick Frost joint, a sci-fi comedy entitled Paul. Not to mention a certain—much anticipated and hyped—reunion with her Bustin’ buddies.
This cinematic trailblazer blasted her way through the horror-film glass ceiling, carving out a place in the genre for heroines of the ass kicking variety—and to this day there is nothing like the scene in Aliens that finds Ripley going to fisticuffs in a loader with mama-alien to work me up into a girl-power fervor. It proves that in space no one can hear you scream—but they sure as hell can hear an extraterrestrial get bitch slapped!
Genre Cred: Alien (1979), Ghostbusters (1984), Aliens (1986), Ghostbusters II (1989), Alien3 (1992), Copycat (1995), Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997), Alien: Resurrection (1997), Galaxy Quest (1999), Futurama (2002), The Village (2004), Avatar (2009), Paul (2010), Ghostbusters III (2012)