The month of March is Women’s History month, and what better way than to celebrate with a listicle of amazingly talented women in the world of horror. These are 5 of my favorite female performers in the horror genre, and in no way encapsulate all of the outstanding actors that have contributed to some of my favorite films. While many lists will have Jamie Lee Curtis, Heather Langenkamp, and Sigourney Weaver at the top due to their horror royalty, I’d like to give my personal top 5 women in horror.
#5. Danielle Harris. From her early beginnings in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and its sequel Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers to her cameo in Urban Legend, I have been enamored with Danielle since I was a kid. She could be considered my first celebrity crush, since she was pretty close to my own age (I remember her first from Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter is Dead and Roseanne). Danielle is one of a handful of child actors who started off in horror and was able to make a lucrative career from it. While I’m not a huge fan of the Rob Zombie Halloween films, she does a serviceable job portraying Zombie’s version of Annie Brackett. With a career spanning over 30 years, Danielle Harris is a true scream queen worthy of being included in my top 5.
#4. Dee Wallace. What can be said about Dee Wallace that hasn’t been said already? If you’re in the elder-millennial age range like myself, Dee Wallace is probably best known for being the mom in E.T., and while that’s not exactly horror, she’s been in a number of amazing flicks in her 50 year career. Starting out in the Stepford Wives, she’s played iconic roles in The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, Cujo, Critters, Popcorn, Alligator II, The Frighteners, and Rob Zombie’s Halloween, along with many others. If you needed a “mom” character in your movie, Dee Wallace was definitely on your radar.
#3. Adrienne Barbeau. This scream queen was also married to the master of horror himself, Mr. John Carpenter. Having met on the set of the television film Someone’s Watching Me!, the two were married for over five years, making appearances in Carpenter’s films The Fog, Escape from New York and as the sole female presence in The Thing. In addition to her work with Carpenter, she was also in horror staples such as Swamp Thing and Creepshow, along with also having a deleted roll in Rob Zombie’s Halloween (I absolutely despise this movie, but three of my favorite women are credited to the film!) Barbeau is to this day one of the most stunningly beautiful women in horror, and is still acting, seen most recently in the horror reboot of Creepshow on Shudder.
#2. Barbara Crampton. Another acclaimed scream queen of the ‘80s, Barbara Crampton has graced the screen with dozens of amazing performances. Notably, she was one of many actors that Stuart Gordon cast in some of his best work. Who can forget the role of Megan in Re-Animator, or her Saturn-Award nominated role in From Beyond? One of my favorite movies of all-time, Chopping Mall has her baring-it-all in a stellar performance. More recently, she was a Critic’s Choice Super Award nominee for Best Actress in a Horror Movie for her performance in Jakob’s Wife. Gracing the screen for nearly 40 years, she may actually be a vampire, as she looks nearly identical today as she did in her debut in Body Double.
#1. Linnea Quigley. While Linnea may not be a household name to the general public, she has appeared in over 100 roles, many of which are in the horror genre. Jamie Lee Curtis may be considered the scream queen, but for my money, that title belongs to Linnea. Even if you don’t know her name, she would be easily recognizable in such films as Graduation Day, Silent Night Deadly Night, Return of the Living Dead, and Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (the epitome of a Mikey movie that somehow has not been covered to this date). A fun fact about Linnea: she was the naked woman inside Freddy’s chest in ANOES 4: The Dream Master!
While this in no way is a complete list of the many women who have contributed to the world of horror, these are 5 of my favorite. So take some time, crack open a cold beer, and pop in a few of these women’s films (except Rob Zombie’s Halloween; even though you would see 3 of them in it, I implore you to stay far, far away from that movie!) Until Next Time, Nerds!!