Whilst my tongue may be a little in cheek when writing the film briefs below, I never want to undermine the role of alternative women in 90s film. They inspired and included girls like me, who felt isolated by popular culture’s myth of beauty (think Baywatch). However whilst reflecting on this blog, it irked me a little, that most girls on this list turned out to be dangerous, evil or psychotic. These characters helped me explore my individuality, that I carried through to adulthood and explore in my own writing. My generation are now creating more positive alternative role models for young women, and turning the world on its head.
Before I knew I wanted to be an alternative indie chick, I wanted to be Fairuza Balk. In the 80s, in my pre-teens, I was a huge fan of fringe films, Return to Oz and The Worst Witch being top of the list. Fairuza Baulk was lead in both movies. She looked like magic, even on dodgy VHS you could see the sparks behind her eyes.
Fairuza Balk – The Craft
I have seen The Craft too many times. My special friends and I used to go to the pub for underage drinks and then go back home and wrap up under duvets. We used to try and levitate each other (with varying levels of success) and call on Manon.
The power in that film lay beyond the sorcery and all in the friendship dynamics of the girls. A film that acknowledged that unique closeness girls can share, but can so quickly turn into cruelty. A film that called out that the superficial hot guy was not a frog who became a prince, but was just a fucking frog. The film had an amazing soundtrack starting with a cover of How Soon is Now, that drummed into your arteries. And the girls dressed how I always wanted to dress if only I could put an outfit together.
Poison Ivy – Drew Barrymore
This film was very weird. Trashy hair, leather jacket, cool sunnies, no wonder Sara Gilbert’s Sylvie, wants to be her friend. But then it all gets really inappropriate and Ivy stops being the cool girl in the thrift-shop clothes and starts to be the elegant dad-loving, mother-killing psychopath and at that point it’s not ok to want to emulate her.
Clueless – Brittany Murphy
Cher and Dionne were fly, but Britany Murphy was da bomb – eyeliner, check shirt, big boots -she didn’t need making over! Harriet/Tai is probably the worst character written by Austin but Brittany Murphy gave her sweetness and naivety a well-needed edge. I miss her.
Heathers – Winona Ryder
Not a 90s film but its legacy was influential. Which 90s teenage girl didn’t want to go out with Christian Slater, cover for his string of murders disguised as suicide and then blow up their school. Winona went on to play 1000 other kooky characters but this is the stand-out, intelligent, vulnerable, witty, with a slight superiority complex.
I watched these films again and again growing up as a teen in the 90s and the sass, determination and coolness of the lead characters is something that’s mirrored in my own main female characters.