CHARACTER: Sally (Marilyn Burns)
By the time poor Sally drives away from Leatherface in the back of a pickup truck, she's been taunted, terrorized and smashed in the head with a hammer. Oh, and she saw all her friends die and also jumped from a second story window. Her maniacal laughter at the end indicates this was a pyrrhic victory as far as her psyche is concerned.
CHARACTER: Rynn (Jodie Foster)
Throughout this taut seventies suspenser, Foster's character is assumed to have killed her father and mother, and possibly a nosy landlady, until the audience is told the full story. It turns out that even though she is leading a secretive, autonomous existence sans parents she did not (at least knowingly) kill either of them, although she is hiding two bodies in her basement. She doesn't willingly kill anyone until the end, when Martin Sheen's despicable pederast Frank forces her to do what she has to do to survive.
CHARACTER: Sue (Amy Irving)
Even though Susan D. "Sue" Snell starts the film taunting its title psychokinetic teenager, she later feels guilty and gets her boyfriend to ask Carrie to the prom. Little does she know others are planning a dirty trick involving pig's blood, which sets off the murder of pretty much the whole prom. A horrible nightmare sequence in the film's final moments indicates Sue will carry the survivor's guilt with her, forever haunted by the memory of Carrie.
CHARACTER: Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)
If you believe having the Xenomorph beastie jettisoned from her escape pod in the final moments of Ridley Scott's original Alien made Ripley a stronger warrior, one need only watch the sequel Aliens to see how much PTSD she's suffering as a result of her experience. The only cure? Go back! Wait, what? Yeah, James Cameron seems to think immersion therapy is the only way to heal...
CHARACTER: Wendy (Shelley Duvall)
Hyperventilate much? Wendy sure did as she spends most of the running time of Stanley Kubrick's haunted house masterwork screaming and crying at the site of her child being accosted by ghosts, her husband driven insane and watching a 50-year-old dead furry blow a guy in a tuxedo. We'd need a shrink after all that too.
CHARACTER: Veronica (Geena Davis)
Its bad enough that Veronica has to witness Jeff Goldblum's character go through a physical and mental deterioration (not unlike the AIDS epidemic at the time), but once he's turned into an acid-barfing fly creature forget about it. By the time he's accidentally fused with his own machine and mimes to her to blow his head off, she's crying like there's no tomorrow.
CHARACTER: Jim (C. Thomas Howell)
Rutger Hauer's character of John Ryder is playing a sick game with Jim, and not unlike Heath Ledger's Joker he has no problem causing absolute mayhem in order to reach his objective. Ryder's objective is, of course, for Jim to kill him, but poor Jim doesn't realize that until he's at the literal breaking point. The final frames show Jim as a shattered shell of a man.
CHARACTER: Ben (Nathan Phillips)
The cliche of the "Final Girl" surviving the horror film was so pervasive to the genre that by the time Wolf Creek came out it was shocking when the survivor was, in fact, a MAN. Unlike a lot of his female counterparts, though, Ben doesn't seem to have gained any confidence or passed any metaphorical trail-by-fire by the end. The dude just seems traumatized.
CHARACTER: Paxton (Jay Hernandez)
Paxton sees things in this film's paid torture factory that no human was meant to experience (blowtorching eyeballs, anyone?) Yes, he loses a couple fingers but manages to escape his captors, though the look on his face as he rides the train says he's in for a long recovery period. Unluckily for him, Hostel Part II has the poor guy decapitated almost immediately.
CHARACTER: David (Thomas Jane)
We can understand why, given the horrifying monster invasion he's witness, David thinks killing everyone in his car (including his young son) is the way to go. Then, minutes after doing the deed, the military comes in to the rescue, and David lets out a scream that pierces the heart of any viewer, ultimately to drive home a very simple point: Don't ever give up, stupid.