The term "scream queen" once carried a stigma and was associated with typecasting and ‘B-list’ status. In recent years, the title of scream queen has taken on a different connotation and is a designation that is more readily embraced. Many consider it to be an elite status only bestowed on a select few. A scream queen is more than just an actor who stars in a couple of horror films. A scream queen is someone who embraces the horror film genre and their work within it.
See our top fifteen picks listed inside!
Voted the scream queen of the decade (1990-1999) by readers of Draculina magazine, Debbie Rochon has been in countless horror films. Debbie is also a Troma favorite, having starred in multiple Troma Studios releases. Notable roles include Santa Claws, The Theatre Bizarre and Satan Hates You.
14. Heather Langenkamp
Heather is best known for her role as Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street. She portrayed a strong female when that wasn’t commonplace. Other notable roles include A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and New Nightmare. She also worked on Wes Craven’s highly forgettable film, Shocker.
13. Linnea Quigley
One of Linnea Quigley’s most memorable roles was as the perpetually naked "Trash" in Return of the Living Dead. Quigley was in an all girl rock band called The Skirts and has starred in a horror themed work out video. Other notable roles include Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Silent Night, Deadly Night and Night of the Demons.
12. P.J. Soles
P.J. Soles gained notoriety in genre films in the ‘70s, with roles in two of the biggest horror films of that decade. Notable roles include Carrie, Halloween, and more recently, The Devil’s Rejects.
11. Barbara Crampton
Widely known as the legendary Stuart Gordon’s muse, Barbara Crampton was featured in several of Gordon’s films throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. She has made a recent return to horror, with roles in You’re Next and Lords of Salem. Notable roles include From Beyond, Chopping Mall and Re-animator.
10. Adrienne Barbeau
Barbeau started as a television actress, but made a appeared in several fright flicks, shortly after. She was briefly married to John Carpenter, and has starred in several of his films. Notable roles include The Fog, Swamp Thing, and Creepshow.
9. Milla Jovovich
Thanks, largely in part to the success of the Resident Evil franchise, Milla Jovovich has become a breakout star. Jovovich brings the perfect mixture of vulnerability and "tough as nails" bad assery to her role as Alice in the Resident Evil films. Notable roles include the Resident Evil films, naturally, and Faces in the Crowd.
8. Asia Argento
Raised by horror royalty, Asia Argento was born to be a scream queen. Father, Dario Argento, helmed classics such as Suspiria and The Bird With the Crystal Plumage. Her mother, Daria Nicolodi, co-wrote Suspiria and starred in Deep Red and Inferno. Asia has been rated the sexiest woman in the world by Maxim Magazine. Notable roles include Land of the Dead, The Stendhal Syndrome and the long-awaited, but ultimately disappointing Mother of Tears.
7. Katherine Isabelle
Katherine Isabelle made a name for herself in horror cinema with her role as Ginger in the Ginger Snaps series. She has continued to work regularly in genre films since. Other notable roles include Freddy vs. Jason, Carrie (2002) and the upcoming American Mary.
6. Sara Paxton
A relative newcomer to genre films, Sarah Paxton’s genre work has made a big impression on audiences in a short time. While she has worked in film and television since the mid-‘90s, it wasn’t until 2009 that she began to find her niche in the horror genre. She has a likeable girl next door quality to her screen persona. Notable roles include The Last House on the Left (2009), The Innkeepers and Shark Night.
5. Rose McGowan
McGowan dabbled in genre film in the '90s, but really gained attention and earned credibility with horror fans via starring roles in both films featured in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’ double-feature Grindhouse. Rose McGowan brings a "take no prisoners" kind of badass quality to her roles. Notable roles include Scream, Death Proof, and Planet Terror.
4. Angela Bettis
Lucky McKee is largely to thank for Angela Bettis’ status as a genre regular. McKee featured her in his film May and also in his Masters of Horror episode, Sick Girl. Bettis has a vulnerability that immediately endears audiences to her. Other notable roles include Toolbox Murders, Carrie (2002), and Lucky McKee’s The Woman.
3. Amber Heard
The gorgeous Amber Heard broke on to the horror scene with the titular role in All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. She has continued to work regularly in horror, as well as mainstream cinema since. She has a sultry, yet down-to-Earth vibe. Other notable roles include And Soon the Darkness, Zombieland and The Ward.
2. Danielle Harris
Danielle Harris grew up making horror films. Her first film roles were in Halloween 4 and 5 and she has worked steadily since. Many of her subsequent roles have been in horror films. She has recently tried her hand at directing with the upcoming horror-comedy Among Friends. Other notable roles include Urban Legend and Hatchet II.
1. Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis is widely regarded as the ultimate scream queen. Her portrayal of "final girl" Laurie Strode in Halloween is pitch perfect. She deftly portrayed an empowered female with a measure of susceptibility. Although, she never set out to be a genre regular, Curtis has always been good natured about getting her start in horror. Other notable roles include Halloween II, Prom Night, Terror Train and Halloween: H20.
Honorable mention goes to Dee Wallace Stone, Felissa Rose, and Neve Campbell.
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