To celebrate Women in Horror Month, I will be highlighting some of my favorite undersung female characters in horror films each day this month. These posts will contain some spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movies mentioned do yourself a solid and check them out before reading all the way through.
Today I’m celebrating Carol Malone from the 1993 Body Snatchers because I guess this has inadvertently become villains week. While I’m celebrating a truly memorable moment from when Carol is a villain, she starts the movie as a protagonist. Namely, she is the actual protagonist’s resented but not outright wicked stepmother.
We first meet Carol while her family is at a gas station where Marti, the film’s protagonist and Carol’s teenage stepdaughter, is intimidated by an erratic soldier warning her “they are everywhere and they get you in your sleep.” Marti runs out the gas station bathroom and warns her father “there’s a psycho!” Marti’s dopey dad runs to the bathroom along with the station owner who brandishes a gun, while Carol tries to tell him “honey there’s a dude with a gun working here…maybe let him go in first?” So we already know Carol has more common sense than the entire family at this point.
Unfortunately, all the common sense in the world doesn’t stop one from sleeping, so Carol falls asleep and she’s the first in the family to get replaced. We learn this when her 6-year-old son stumbles across her real body’s carcass.
Moments later, her replica walks out of the closet completely naked and just looks at her son with an alien-like indifference.
Carol continues to act alien and cold, but only her son appreciates the danger the family is in. The next evening, she offers to give her husband a back massage in order to lure him to sleep so his replica can take his over. The process gets disrupted when Marti bursts into the room and saves him after she is nearly replicated.
Carol calmly walks away, goes downstairs, calls someone, and tells them their address. Somehow Marti’s dad Steve is still clueless that Carol is in on this. He rushes downstairs to tell her they must leave immediately, and Carol delivers one of my favorite lines in all of horror film history before letting out an Invasion of the Body Snatchers‘ “here are the humans!” scream.
Although we only know the real Carol briefly, she seems like a somewhat ditzy but well-meaning woman. But this movie is ingenious in how it makes her seem much more confident and content to be a body snatcher. As she tells Steve, all his confusion and fear will just melt away and he will feel wonderful. It is actually a pretty appealing proposal some days…
Hats off to you Carol, and may this delightful under-the-radar remake get the love it deserves someday.