Top 10 Femme Fatales of the 1990s


Make no mistake about it -- the '90s are back. Myriad people are sporting flannel and backwards baseball hats, Furbys are the "new" hot toys, and even Nirvana seems to have gained popularity again recently. Since one of the most gnarly decades is rearing its grungy head again, how else should one reminisce about the good 'ol days than to list of the baddest Bettys of the 1990s? Read on, and count down the boss femme fatales of the '90s.

10. Vera Cosgrove - Dead Alive (1992)

You may think she's just another crazy old white woman, but Vera Cosgrove is much more sociopathic than the average spinster. She won't let her son go, even after she's dead and walking. When Lionel Cosgrove takes his mother to the zoo, she gets bitten by a Sumatran rat monkey, and immediately feels ill. Her health goes downhill quickly, and after much pain and swelling, she passes away. However, Vera returns from the grave just as quickly as she entered it, and comes back with an even greater hold on her son Lionel than before. Vera was hard to handle when she was alive, but after she becomes undead, she’s even more demanding. Instead of just guilt-tripping Lionel into spending all of his time with her like she did in the past, she now needs constant supervision so she doesn’t murder every person she comes across. Her talents in controlling the men around her, as well as leaving a trail of bodies in her wake, easily makes her one of the top femme fatales of the 1990s.

9. "Mommy" Robeson - The People Under the Stairs (1991)

Despite his young age, a boy who goes by the name “Fool” is quite aware of his family’s financial situation. To keep them from being thrown out of their apartment, Fool joins an older group of boys in robbing his landlord’s house. Supposedly, there is a fortune hidden away somewhere in the home, so even though it’s a great risk, Fool assumes that it’ll pay off in the end. He couldn’t be more wrong. The lady of the house, "Mommy" Robeson, is so demented that she actually keeps people in her basement and feeds them trespassers. She and her brother, who oddly enough, have a slightly incestuous relationship, work together to find Fool and his friends once they discover the group’s presence in their home. First, their huge Rottweiler attacked the guys, then they tried to turn Fool into a nice snack for the people beneath their floorboards, and when they still couldn’t rid themselves of the boy, they resorted to shooting the walls fervently with a shotgun, hoping to kill the boy before he could escape. If there’s one lesson to be learned from this movie, it’s that femme fatales do not make for good parents.

8. Tiffany - Bride of Chucky (1998)

When her boyfriend, Charles Lee Ray, transfers his soul into a Good Guy doll and passes away, Tiffany doesn’t fret. She simply finds the doll, repossesses it with Chucky’s spirit, and begins the search for a human body home for his essence. Of course, after her soul is moved into a doll too, she has to find a female human companion for herself, but Tiffany isn’t worried. She’s too busy having fun murdering kids with Chucky, and framing the teenagers with whom they’ve hitched a ride. Jennifer Tilly is so sassy and psychotic that she can even make a doll seem sexy. Barbie, eat your heart out. 

7. Selina Kyle/Catwoman - Batman Returns (1992)

Selina Kyle is just an ordinary woman. She works overtime to barely make enough money to afford a tiny apartment in the city, she’s extremely shy, and completely self-loathing. That is, until one night, when her boss pushes her out of his office window. After she plummets to her death, she is reborn as Catwoman, the suave, irresistible cat burglar, who is as much of a menace as she is a hero to the public. Just because she saves a woman on the street from abuse, doesn’t mean she won’t hassle the victim herself. One of the things that made Tim Burton's Catwoman so memorable was her inability to distinguish between male and female prey. Just like a domineering feline, Selina Kyle picked on everyone, because in her mind, the only life (or lives) worth salvaging was her own. The leather ensemble wasn’t too hard on the eyes, either.

6. Brenda Bates - Urban Legend (1998)

When a series of murders occur on a college campus, Natalie picks up on a pattern: they’re all modeled on urban legends. First, one woman was hacked to death by a stranger hiding in the back seat of her car. Then, a supposed gang member who wasn’t too fond of headlights runs another person off the road. Even Natalie’s roommate is murdered in the same room as Natalie while she was sleeping, with that read “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light” written in bloody font on the wall. After going through a list of suspects, the killer turns out to be the one person Natalie didn’t suspect: her good friend Brenda. Brenda developed a deadly fascination with urban legends after her boyfriend’s untimely death, and she’s been taking her frustrations out on the entire student body. Female serial killers may seem prominent by today’s standards, but in 1998, the big reveal was pretty shocking. Without disturbed women like Brenda Bates, who knows where we’d be today?

5. Hedra Carlson - Single White Female (1992)

Sure, she'll go after boyfriend, but that's not what she really wants. Hedra Carlson doesn't desire your loved ones, but your identity. You might think it's odd how your newfound roommate mimics your motions, you might think you're imagining her flirting with your man, and you might even think you're going crazy when she seems to be taking on your entire personality, but what's really petrifying is that you're absolutely right. She's the one you don't see coming -- and you can't get rid of. She makes you look crazy for suggesting that she's done the things she has, but the truth is, it's all a part of her plan. But who would suspect her? We women are protective of our personality, so when someone mocks it, we grow suspicious. But who would ever think that little Hedra Carlson wouldn't just be looking to knock off a victim, but replace them completely? This rare and psychotic attribute is what earns her a spot amongst even the most malicious of women.

4. Asami Yamazaki - Audition (1999)

She may look sweet and innocent, but don't be fooled. Asami isn't the stay at home, tend-to-your-every-need type. Her pure appearance makes luring men in as easy as snapping her fingers, and once they're caught in her trap, the only way out is death. The most frightening aspect of Asami is how convincing she is as a lover. The majority of Audition is just Asami and Shigeharu dating, so it's a long time before the tables turn. This approach works in Asami's favor just like it would for any femme fatale, because men are so caught up in her feminine wiles, they can't see the knife behind her back.

3. Annie Wilkes - Misery (1990)

What makes this femme fatale so frightening is her trickery. She may seem patient and sincere, but under her facade lays a monster in wait. Once she has gained the trust of her companion, the sociopath within emerges, and preys on their good faith. Annie Wilkes may give you the world, but she'll expect the world in return. She grabs poor Paul Sheldon from his car wreck in the mountains, and nurses him back to health in her faraway cabin At least, that's what Paul thinks. As time goes on, and Annie refuses to allow Paul to speak to his family or leave her home, he realizes that he isn't being rescued, but imprisoned. See, Paul just happens to be Annie's favorite author, and her fandom has reached the point of obsessive. Annie expresses her love through torture, restraint, and deception, making her one of the best femme fatales of the 1990s, and of all time.

2. Morticia Addams - The Addams Family (1991)

The key ingredient to any femme fatale, besides the black wardrobe and red lips (although she has those too!), is an unrelenting confidence in one's own madness. Morticia Addams never questions her own sanity, only everyone else's. She loves torture, darkness, and arranging a bouquet of rose-free stems, and when people don't approve, she boils it down to their strangeness, not hers. Her calm delivery makes her unorthodox statements that much more terrifying. It says she's been doing this a while -- maybe even hundreds of years, like the dead come back to life. In other words, she’s the perfect sociopath. She's so wonderfully demented that her greatest asset is that you can't torture or kill her -- she'll only enjoy it.

1. Nancy Downs - The Craft (1996)

Greasy hair, schoolgirl attire, and a general hatred of authority figures? What more could a '90s viewer ask for? Nancy Downs oozes sleaziness and debauchery, and is pretty much the perfect example of a bad witch with power in the 1990s. If things don't go her way, she doesn't sit back and cry about her troubles. When she tires of living in a tiny trailer, she just asks Manu to send her riches, and poof! Her mom's boyfriend takes the big sleep, leaving behind a mountain of money. When a boy turns her sexual advances down, she conjures up a spell to make sure he'll never take another girl out again. When she's not busy taking lives, Nancy enjoys calling the corners with her coven of friends, scaring the popular kids for fun, and taking overall delight in being one of the "weirdos" to watch out for. Nancy earns the top spot because she's everything a femme fatale encompasses: cocky, dangerous, and unforgiving.