5. ASHLEY LAURENCE
Kirsty Cotton is a tragic character, yet in each film she seems to still carry a “glass half full” mentality. Not to mention, Ashley Laurence is just beautiful to behold- and her innocent look (beautifully rendered by simple facial expressions), even after all she has been through, is just flat out sexy. If Hellseeker is the last time we will see Ashley Laurence portray Kirsty, then at least she went out with a fight.
4. SHERI MOON ZOMBIE
In both movies (House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devils Rejects) we find a woman with a no-holds-barred attitude. She takes what she wants, and almost all of the time she gets it by any means necessary. Baby is dominant in every relationship we see her in- with her mother, her brother, her father, and of course her victims. But what made this character so crucial to my many years of watching these movies was that by the end of The Devils Rejects, I was on the edge of my seat (literally) rooting for her. I wanted her to break out of that chair and snap Officer Wydell’s neck right off of his shoulders, and this is all the while knowing full well the actions she had performed and the violence she was capable of.
3. NEVE CAMPBELL
All of this aside, as true as it may or may not be, it’s only an afterthought. If the self-critical nature of these movies doesn’t hook you, then the natural beauty of its lead actress sure as hell will. In all honesty, this might be the only scream queen on my countdown that appears solely based upon her looks. That is not to say that I don’t love the Scream movies, on the contrary. They were important landmarks in the genre and set a standard and a direction that many directors are following to this day. To be frank, the first Scream film was a wake-up call to producers and singlehandedly got the horror genre back on track.
2. JAMIE LEE CURTIS
The relationship between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode made cinematic history with one film; but it was the franchise that kept the hardcore fans satisfied. What was it about Halloween that made this particular series stand out among all the rest? It certainly wasn’t the plot, or the treatment of some the films most beloved characters, or the “fast turnaround” between movies. So what could it be? This is a question I will not attempt to answer, as my personal bone to pick with the Halloween series is too extensive to explore in this countdown.
Jamie Lee Curtis is phenomenal in her performance, and it was the first time the average American saw a horror film based upon real people in real suburban neighborhoods. Suddenly the fear wasn’t set in some abandoned castle, outer space, or archaic manuscript. It was set squarely on the shoulders of the movie goer and played upon the fear of the unknown that lurks in his or her own backyard. This was absolutely crucial to our genre and changed everything forever.
It would be impossible to mention Jamie Lee Curtis and not touch briefly on her mother, the beautiful and talented Janet Leigh. To say that Janet paved the way for Jamie is a huge understatement, and to not recognize the importance of Psycho in the horror genre is blasphemous. Psycho was a precursor of what was to come, and without it, Halloween may very well have never happened at all.
Jamie Lee Curtis went on to do many more staples in every fans collection, such as Prom Night, Terror Train, and The Fog (also featuring Janet Leigh). Another noteworthy film starring Jamie Lee Curtis, though not horror related, is Trading Places. Just fast-forward until you see it. Trust me, you will know it when you see it and I PROMISE you will not be disappointed!
1. DANIELLE HARRIS
It’s in her blood and there is no denying her place in horror history. Jamie Lloyd is still a Halloween fan favorite and her performance as a child cemented her destiny of being associated with the title of Scream Queen. The horror fan has absolutely everything with Danielle Harris: Sexuality, talent, believability, excitement, great story telling and not to mention a compelling social commentary with almost every movie.
It is for these reasons and so many more (do a quick Google image search and you will find 27,400,000 other reasons) that Danielle Harris will always be my number one Scream Queen. I look forward to every movie she is in, and after Among Friends, can’t wait to see the other pictures she writes and directs.
Linda Blair might very well have my vote for the most beautiful woman to ever live, let alone grace the screen. She petrified millions of viewers with her portrayal of Regan MacNeil in the Exorcist, a film so horrifying that it hasn’t been rivaled in over 40 years. Though the Exorcist franchise is usually left out of conversation save for the first film, it was 1977’s Exorcist II: The Heretic that introduced the jaw dropping beauty of its lead actress, Linda Blair. It is for this reason alone that The Heretic is even in my personal collection.
Heather Lagenkamp will always be Nancy Thompson. Many other actors and actresses that have started in horror, or made frequent visits to the genre, have usually been able to soar past the heights of our misunderstood and morbid niche of the cinematic world and claim worldwide recognition; but not Heather Lagenkamp. And this works in our favor, both hers and ours. Johnny Depp, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore and Sharon Stone all began their careers in horror, and once the world discovered them, we lost valuable assets to our genre. That isn’t to say that these actors didn’t come back and revisit us a time or two, but it was never quite the same as when they were originally ours. With Heather Lagenkamp, she was, is, and will always be uniquely ours. We are the most rabid and diehard fan base in the film world, and Heather Lagenkamp is a staple in our fondest memories.
I have never been one to rush passed the trailers, so I watched them all intently. Suddenly, one commercial began playing that seemed much darker than all the rest. It seemed evil, and I was transfixed from the second it started. I couldn’t look away, and I didn’t want to. The trailer was from an older movie, much older than any I had previously explored, and as the title dripped across the screen I mumbled the words aloud: “The House That Dripped Blood”.
I immediately paused the movie, counted the change I had left over from my purchase, and ran back down the stairs to beg my father to take me back to town so I could rent this terrifying movie I had just become aware of. Reluctantly he agreed, and what transpired next was one of the scariest nights of my adolescence.
Okay, so in retrospect, this movie isn’t particularly terrifying, and it might be the last movie that comes to mind when someone says the name Ingrid Pitt aloud (both The Wicker Man and The Vampire Lovers are better films than The House That Dripped Blood), but as a child the dark atmosphere and eerie iconography that this movie provided was exactly what I needed to set the stage for my life-long affinity for and obsession with the horror genre, and Ingrid Pitt especially sent a hormone fueled young boy right over the edge. Watching her performances, even to this day, Ingrid gave an almost ethereal and other worldly transience to the screen, as if we were seeing a window directly into the ancient past. She will always be remembered as one of the original scream queens for all of these reasons. Rest in peace.
It’s also badass. The very first time I watched Friday the 13th, I would have never guessed that the person guilty of impaling people through the neck with arrows, hacking victims apart with an axe, and slitting throats wide open with hunting knifes was a woman, and an old woman at that! If that doesn’t scream “Scream Queen”, then I don’t know what does.
L.A. Gore has been writing professionally for many years, with his articles appearing in numerous publications including Bibliotheca Alexandria, Waters of Life, Pangaia, Witches and Pagans, Playgrounds and The Circle. He has spent most of his life studying ancient and modern religion, and most of his work thus far represents his findings. He is a self-proclaimed horror movie fanatic, with over four hundred in his personal collection. A few of his personal favorites are Hellraiser, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Phantasm, Suspiria, Return of the Living Dead and Dead Alive.