Scream queen

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Actress Fay Wray (1907–2004) is considered to be one of the first scream queens.

A scream queen (a wordplay on screen queen[1]) is a term used to describe an actress who is prominent and influential in horror films; this happens either through an appearance in a notable entry in the genre or recurring roles in the genre. The term is commonly associated with Jamie Lee Curtis who portrayed Laurie Strode in the Halloween franchise (1978–present) and Neve Campbell who portrayed Sidney Prescott in the Scream franchise (1996–present).[2] Other actresses include Fay Wray, Janet Leigh for starring as Marion Crane in Psycho (1960), Barbara Steele in the films of Mario Bava and Roger Corman, Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist franchise (1973–1977), Heather Langenkamp for appearing as Nancy Thompson in the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise (1984–1994), Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar for starring in I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Ali Larter for starring as Clear Rivers in the Final Destination franchise (2000–2003), Mary Elizabeth Winstead for starring as Wendy Christensen in Final Destination 3 (2006) and Danielle Harris for her Halloween roles of Jamie Lloyd and Annie Brackett as well as appearances in several other franchises such as Urban Legend or Hatchet.

Definition[edit]

The term "scream queen" is more specifically used to refer to the "attractive young damsels-in-distress"[3] characters that have appeared in a number of films in the horror genre. Lloyd Kaufman, co-founder of Troma Entertainment, noted that being a scream queen is "more than just crying and having ketchup thrown on you. You not only have to be attractive, but you also have to have a big brain. You have to be frightened, you have to be sad, you have to be romantic."[3]

Debbie Rochon, often described as a scream queen herself, wrote in an article originally published in GC Magazine that "a true Scream Queen isn't The Perfect Woman. She's sexy, seductive, but most importantly 'attainable' to the average guy. Or so it would seem."[4] And although the earlier scream queens might be women that "just had to look pretty and shriek a lot until the hero of the film got around to save (them)", the later scream queens "showcase women worrying about something other than a guy...unless said guy is the one trying to kill them", with some of them "wreaking vengeance" by defeating the villain.[5]

History[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

The prominence of women in horror films dates back to the silent film era, with films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and Nosferatu (1922). George Feltenstein, film historian and senior vice president of theatrical catalog marketing at Warner Home Video, states, "Women screaming in terror has been a Hollywood mainstay — even when films were silent".[3] One of the first scream queens in the talkies was Fay Wray, as her character in King Kong (1933) spent a good part of her interactions with the ape shrieking in terror. Barbara Steele, who is best remembered as Mario Bava's muse in the Italian gothic horror masterpiece, Black Sunday (1960), can also be considered one of the greatest scream queens in horror history due to her constant appearances as the female protagonist in Italian horror films. She was adept at playing the damsel in distress or the monster, and her exotic looks separated her from the stereotypical blonde starlets featured in countless horror films.

1970s[edit]

Four actresses in the 1970s became seminal examples of a "scream queen" for the decade: Sandra Peabody, who portrayed Mari Collingwood in The Last House on the Left (1972), Marilyn Burns, who portrayed Sally Hardesty in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Olivia Hussey, who portrayed Jess Bradford in Black Christmas (1974), and Jamie Lee Curtis, who portrayed Laurie Strode in Halloween (1978).[6]

After The Last House on the Left, Peabody went on to appear in the horror films Voices of Desire (1972), Massage Parlor Murders (1973), Case of the Full Moon Murders (1973), and Legacy of Satan (1974). Burns followed her performance in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with roles in Helter Skelter (1976) and Eaten Alive (1977). In Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of Psycho actress Janet Leigh, had her first film role. Portraying Laurie Strode in Halloween, Curtis established herself as the "ultimate 'scream queen'" and was even referenced as such in the horror film Scream (1996) by Randy Meeks. Curtis went on to star in several other horror films after that, two of them being The Fog and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, in both of which she appears with Leigh.[citation needed]

Dee Wallace appeared in Wes Craven's 1977 horror film The Hills Have Eyes before going onto establish herself as a scream queen in the 80s by appearing in The Howling (1981), Cujo (1983) and Critters (1986).[citation needed]

Daria Nicolodi played the role of the scream queen in most of her films (Deep Red, Inferno, Phenomena, Terror at the Opera). Also Mario Bava called on Nicolodi for Shock (1977). In 1982, Nicolodi played Anne in Dario Argento's Tenebrae.[citation needed]

1980s[edit]

The success of Halloween made slasher films known again, and so that type of film saw a revival during the late 1970s and entire 1980s.[7] A few such films worth mentioning include Terror Train and Prom Night, in which Jamie Lee Curtis would again essay this type of role; Friday the 13th, the first entry to have both a female antagonist (Betsy Palmer) and protagonist (Adrienne King);[8] and A Nightmare on Elm Street, now considered a slasher-classic,[9] which introduced supernatural serial killer Freddy Krueger, and whose leading actress, Heather Langenkamp, was dubbed a scream queen, and went on to become one of the most influential. Linnea Quigley also became a scream queen during the 1980s, appearing specifically in low-budget and cult-classic films such as Silent Night, Deadly Night and Return of the Living Dead. Mark Patton, star of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985), has in recent years been touted at horror conventions as mainstream horror's first "male scream queen".[10] Bruce Campbell, lead actor of the Evil Dead franchise, has been branded as "the definitive scream king."[11]

British actress Catriona MacColl became a scream queen after appearing in three Italian horror films directed by Lucio Fulci. City of the Living Dead (1980), The Beyond (1981) and House by the Cemetery (1981) have all gone on to gain a cult following.

Following her Saturn Award-nominated turn in Exorcist II: The Heretic, Oscar-nominee Linda Blair parlayed her classic 1973 The Exorcist role into a slew of 80s horror performances, including Hell Night, Witchery, Grotesque, and The Chilling. She would continue making horror films into the 1990s, with a cameo in Wes Craven's Scream and the lead role in the Australian thriller Dead Sleep. In 2008, at the Malaga Fantasy & Horror Film Festival, Blair received a lifetime achievement award for her work in the horror genre. After a long hiatus from horror films, Blair returned to form in Juliana Brafa's All Is Normal (2005) and the upcoming thriller Landfill (2021).

1990s[edit]

During the 1990s, Debbie Rochon starred in dozens of Troma Production horror films and was voted by Draculina magazine as its "Scream Queen of the Decade". Sheryl Lee played murder victims Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson in the TV series Twin Peaks (1990–91) and spinoff movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) and has been described as a "scream queen", in particular for scenes in the otherworldly Black Lodge.[12][13][14][15] Neve Campbell also began her career in horror with The Craft (1996), and later went on to star as Sidney Prescott in the Scream film series. Jennifer Love Hewitt was reckoned a scream queen after her I Know What You Did Last Summer films.[16] The first film of that trilogy also had a starring role for Sarah Michelle Gellar, who is best known for her television role as the title character in the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and went on to appear in other horror films made during the 1990s and new millennium, including Scream 2 and The Grudge film series.[17]

2000s[edit]

In 2000, Ali Larter became one of the biggest scream queens with her performance in the film Final Destination and its sequel Final Destination 2 along with Resident Evil: Extinction, Resident Evil: Afterlife and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. In 2002, Jodelle Ferland appeared in Carrie and They and has since appeared in multiple horror films. Ferland's horror acting credits include Silent Hill (2006), The Messengers (2007), Seed (2007), Case 39 (2009), The Tall Man (2012) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012), along with three episodes of R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: The Series. In 2002, Abigail Breslin made her debut in the horror genre in Signs which led to her appearing in Zombieland, The Call, Haunter and Zombieland: Double Tap. In 2015, she began starring in the series Scream Queens. In 2005, Shauna Macdonald starred in The Descent, which established her as a scream queen[18][19][20] and for which she was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Actress.[21] Elisha Cuthbert starred in the horror film House of Wax (2005) and Captivity (2007), gaining the status by from films.[22][23] 2006 saw Kate Beckinsale earn the award for "Best Scream Queen" at the Scream Awards for her role in Underworld: Evolution (2006). In 2007, USA Today published an article listing on modern scream queens interviewing actresses Sheri Moon Zombie, Jaimie Alexander, Andrea Bogart, Mercedes McNab, Tiffany Shepis and Cerina Vincent.[3] Since 2007 and her appearance in Halloween, Danielle Harris has increased her genre work, being subsequently called "horror's reigning scream queen" by the NY Daily News.[24] In 2006, Laurie Holden was a main character in Silent Hill, which was then followed by a role in Stephen King's, The Mist. In 2010 Holden became a main cast member in the horror show The Walking Dead, playing Andrea which she received positive feedback for her role in the three seasons she was in, and most recently she starred in Pyewacket.

2010s[edit]

The Walking Dead has brought several scream queens into the show including Holden (mentioned above.) Lauren Cohan is one of them having appeared in 2016's The Boy and six episodes of Supernatural. Melissa McBride also starred in The Walking Dead but before that she appeared with Holden in The Mist, and also appeared in The Walking Dead's spin-off show, Fear the Walking Dead. Several actresses, such as Chloë Grace Moretz, sisters Vera and Taissa Farmiga, Emma Roberts, and Maika Monroe have built careers in the horror genre. Moretz is known for her roles in remakes such as Let Me In (2010), Dark Shadows (2012), Carrie (2013), and Suspiria (2018), and also appeared in The Amityville Horror (2005), Room 6 (2006), Wicked Little Things (2006), Hallowed Ground (2007), and The Eye (2008). Taissa Farmiga starred in multiple seasons of the series American Horror Story, and had lead roles in Mindscape (2013), The Final Girls (2015) and the fifth film in The Conjuring Universe franchise, The Nun (2018). Roberts co-starred in Scream 4 (2011) and The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015), and appeared in the series Scream Queens with Abigail Breslin and American Horror Story with Taissa Farmiga. Monroe is best known for her starring roles in It Follows (2014) and The Guest (2014). Despite her status as a child actor for her performance in the Disney show Jessie, Peyton List has been in numerous horror and thriller films, starting with Bereavement (2010), The Thinning (2016) and its 2018 sequel, and is set to appear as a younger Aileen Wuornos in the prequel to Monster. Internationally, Bipasha Basu has been referred as "Bollywood's Scream Queen" due to her contributions towards horror in India with her blockbuster horror movies like Raaz (2002) and Raaz 3D (2012).[25] Betty Gabriel has recently became a scream queen with her roles in The Purge: Election Year (2016), Get Out (2017) and Unfriended: Dark Web (2019). Most recently, Lulu Wilson and Anya Taylor-Joy have been labeled scream queens for their performances in Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016), Annabelle: Creation (2017) and The Haunting of Hill House (2018) for Wilson, and The Witch (2015), Split (2016), Marrowbone (2017), Glass (2019) and The New Mutants (2020) for Taylor-Joy. Mckenna Grace also has been labeled a scream queen after having a lead role in Annabelle Comes Home (2019) and also after her performances in The Haunting of Hill House (2018), Amityville: The Awakening (2017) and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018). Samara Weaving has shown her expertise in playing characters in horror films, first starring as a villain in The Babysitter in 2017 and then a hero in Ready or Not in 2019, she reprised her role as Bee in The Babysitter: Killer Queen in 2020.

In 2016, Screen Rant listed the "15 Greatest Scream Queens in Horror History", which includes Linda Blair, Danielle Harris, Lisa Wilcox, Vera Farmiga, Janet Leigh, Marilyn Burns, Veronica Cartwright, Neve Campbell, Naomi Watts, Heather Langenkamp, Eva Green, Chloë Grace Moretz, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Barbara Steele and Jamie Lee Curtis.[26]

2020s[edit]

After breaking through numerous supporting roles in drama movies, Thomasin McKenzie gained reputation as Scream Queen after starring in two major horror movies in 2021, M. Night Shyamalan's Old and Edgar Wright's Psychological Horror Last Night in Soho

Scream Queens Illustrated magazine[edit]

Scream Queens Illustrated magazine featured pictorials, interviews, reviews, and other content concerning such Hollywood scream queens as Barbara Bauer, Becky Sunshine, Tina Krause, Julia Hayes, Julie Strain, Monique Gabreille, Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley, Rhonda Shear, Xenia Gratsos ("Brioni Farrell"), Lorissa McComas, June Wilkinson, Debbie Rochon, Sherri Frazer, Melissa Wolf, and Cassandra Peterson ("Elvira").[27]

Scream king[edit]

More recently, the term "scream king" has been used to refer to male leading actors who have made their name through taking on leading roles in horror movies as a “final guy" character. Rachel Roth defines the rise of the "scream kings" as a result of moving away from formulas where men are typically cast as monsters for a female character to fight off and female actresses being cast less as victims and sometimes as the monster or villain themselves. Roth cites Bruce Campbell as an early example of a scream king for his role in the Evil Dead franchise.[28] Notable actors who have earned reputations as scream kings include Patrick Wilson who has appeared Annabelle Comes Home, Insidious and The Conjuring, Evan Peters for being the only male actor to appear in eight of the nine seasons of American Horror Story,[28][29] Ian Ogilvy for his earlier screen roles in British cult horrors such as Witchfinder General, Daniel Kaluuya for his performance in Get Out, and Shawn Roberts.[30][31] Alexander Ludwig has also came to prominence as a scream king for his roles in Final Girl, The Final Girls and Blackway, and is set to appear in Night Teeth.

List of scream kings/queens[edit]

Years active Actor First horror film Notes
1920–1980 Fay Wray King Kong (1933)
1977–present Jamie Lee Curtis Halloween (1978) Daughter of Janet Leigh
1991–present Neve Campbell The Dark Best known for the Scream franchise
1997–present Mary Elizabeth Winstead Wolf Lake Best known for Final Destination 3
1958–present Barbara Steele Black Sunday
1965–present Sandra Peabody The Last House on the Left
1970–2014 Marilyn Burns Texas Chainsaw Massacre
1965–present Olivia Hussey Black Christmas (1974)
1967-present Judy Matheson The Exquisite Cadaver Best known for her appearances in Hammer Horror films.
1967-present Françoise Pascal Burke & Hare (1972) Best known for her appearance in The Iron Rose.
1969-1980 Lynne Frederick Vampire Circus Best known for her appearance in Schizo.
1950-1990 Luan Peters Lust For A Vampire Best known for her appearances in Hammer Horror films.
1968-1982 Candace Glendenning Tower of Evil Best known for her appearance in Satans Slave.
1946–2004 Janet Leigh Psycho (1960) Mother of Jamie Lee Curtis
1974–present Dee Wallace The Hills Have Eyes (1972)
1970–2020 Daria Nicolodi Deep Red
1983–present Heather Langenkamp A Nightmare on Elm Street
1978–present Linnea Quigley Psycho From Texas Best known for Return of the Living Dead
1982–present Mark Patton A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
1976–present Bruce Campbell Evil Dead
1978–present Caitriona MacColl City of the Living Dead
1984–present Johnny Depp Nightmare on Elm Street
2004–present Riley Keough Kiss of the Damned Best known for The Lodge (1972) and The Devil All the Time
1982–present Debbie Rochon Lurkers
1986–present Sheryl Lee Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me Best known for Twin Peaks (TV); also appeared in John Carpenter's Vampires
1989–present Jennifer Love Hewitt I Know What You Did Last Summer
1981–present Sarah Michelle Gellar I Know What You Did Last Summer
1999–present Shauna Macdonald The Descent
1996–present Elisha Cuthbert Are You Afraid of the Dark? Best known for House of Wax (2005)
1991–present Kate Beckinsale Haunted Best known for the Underworld franchise
1996–present Sheri Moon Zombie House of 1000 Corpses
1997–present Ali Larter Final Destination
2001–present Jaimie Alexander Rest Stop
2001–present Andrea Bogart Darkwolf
1991–2011 Mercedes McNab Hatchet
1996–present Tiffany Shepis Terror Firmer
1999–present Cerina Vincent Fear Runs Silent Best known for Cabin Fever (2002)
1986–present Asia Argento Demons 2 Best known for Land of the Dead
1986–present Naomi Watts Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering Best known for The Ring (2002)
1985–present Danielle Harris Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
2011–present Taissa Farmiga American Horror Story Younger sister of Vera Farmiga
1996–present Vera Farmiga The Conjuring Older sister of Taissa Farmiga
2001–present Emma Roberts Scream 4 Best known for American Horror Story
2012–present Maika Monroe It Follows
2004–present Chloë Grace Moretz The Amityville Horror (2005)
2012–present Olivia Cooke The Secret of Crickley Hall Best known for Bates Motel and The Quiet Ones (2014)
1996–present Bipasha Basu Raaz (2002)
2012–present Lulu Wilson Ouija: Origin of Evil
2013–present Anya Taylor-Joy The Witch (2015)
2012–present Mckenna Grace Frankenstein (2015)
1962–present Linda Blair The Exorcist
1984–present Lisa Wilcox A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
1958–present Veronica Cartwright The Birds
2001–present Eva Green Dark Shadows
1995–present Patrick Wilson Insidious
2002–present Jodelle Ferland Carrie (2002) Best known for Case 39
2004–present Evan Peters American Horror Story
1997–present Shawn Roberts Goosebumps Best known for the Resident Evil franchise
1994–present Sarah Paulson American Horror Story
2002–present Abigail Breslin Signs (2002) Best known for Scream Queens
2004–present Betty Gabriel The Purge: Election Year
2006–present Daniel Kaluuya Get Out
2002–present Peyton List Bereavement
1980–present Laurie Holden Silent Hill Best known for The Walking Dead
2005–present Lauren Cohan Supernatural Best known for The Walking Dead
1991–present Melissa McBride The Mist Best known for The Walking Dead
2013–present Jane Levy Evil Dead
2008–present Samara Weaving The Babysitter (2017)
2015–present Billie Lourd Scream Queens (TV, 2015) Best known for American Horror Story
2000–present Alexander Ludwig Final Girl
1985–present Milla Jovovich Resident Evil
1999–present Oliver Hudson Black Christmas (2006) Best known for Scream Queens (TV, 2015)
1974–1991 Janus Blythe The Centerfold Girls Best known for The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
1983–1991 Marya Gant A Polish Vampire in Burbank
1980–present Connie Britton The Last Winter Best known for American Horror Story: Murder House
1981–present Briana Evigan Spectre Best known for S. Darko
2014–present Victoria Pedretti The Haunting of Hill House
1988–present Carla Gugino Gerald's Game
2003–present Katie Cassidy When a Stranger Calls (2006)
2010–present Jessica Rothe Happy Death Day
2005–present Jessica Stroup Vampire Bats Best known for The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007)
1989–present Katharine Isabelle Disturbing Behavior Best known for Hannibal (TV series) and Ginger Snaps
1941–1974 Faith Domergue Cult of the Cobra
1974–present Dee Wallace The Hills Have Eyes (1977) Best known for Cujo
2002–present Danielle Panabaker Mr. Brooks (2007) Best known for Friday the 13th (2009) and Piranha 3DD
2018–present Diana Silvers Into the Dark Best known for Ma
1984–present Jennifer Tilly Embrace of the Vampire Best known for Child's Play franchise
1973–present P.J. Soles Carrie (1976) Best known for Halloween (1978)
2012-present Samantha Scaffidi Terrifier (2016)
2012-Present Thomasin McKenzie Old Best known for Old and Last Night in Soho

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  25. ^ "Bollywood Scream Queen Bipasha Basu Starts Shooting For Alone". India Times. Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-08-05. Retrieved 2018-08-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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