13 Killer Scream Queens

In honor of Friday the 13th, Logo (the parent company we have lovingly tucked away in our fruit cellar) is airing a scream queen double feature today. Check out some of horror’s finest shriekers in Scream 3 (10:00am & 2:30pm) and I Know Who Killed Me (12:30 & 5:00pm)!

We thought we’d join the fun by compiling a list of some of our top scream queens – including a few fearsome fellas – that we think are worth shouting about.

13. Linda Blair (The Exorcist, Exorcist II: The Heretic, Grotesque, Hell Night)

Lindablair

The youngest scream queen on this list, Blair did much more than just scream in her legendary performance as poor possessed little Regan in the classic Exorcist films. Hell, in the atrocious sequel, they even made her tap dance:

Blair – who moved on from Satan’s underage crush to classic “final girl” roles in flicks like Hell Night and Grotesque – was such a famous scream queen that she appeared in this awful parody bit (from a…. comedy? called Imps) playing a prototypical scream queen from a fake movie called Don’t Scream on My Face:

12. Dee Wallace (Cujo, The Howling)

Deewallace

Now that Danny Pintauro is openly gay, I think it’s fair to read Cujo as an extended metaphor for a parent protecting her gay child from rabid haters.

And of course Wallace was also a Howl Queen, thanks to her committed performance in one of the greatest horror movie endings of all time (from The Howling):

Cutest… Werewolf… Ev-OMG SOMEBODY SHOOT THAT THING IN THE FACE!!!

11. Neve Campbell (Scream 1-4, The Craft)

neve-campbell-scream

The undisputed Scream queen of the ’90s, Neve brought mopey virgin chic back in style for an entire generation of Doc Marten-loving flannelheads.

Now, I’m not sure if they dubbed her screaming in this hilarious German trailer for the original, but it’s worth watching either way:

10. Amy Steel (Friday the 13th Part 2, April Fool’s Day)

amysteel

Soap opera vet Amy Steel played her “final girls” smart, no-nonsense, and tough as nails – but even she had a tendency to pee a little when the cards were on the table:

Happens to the best of us, girl. As the kick-ass Ginny in Friday the 13th Part 2, she even used her college major – child psychology – to outwit Jason and save a dog named Muffin from certain death. (Her boyfriend, not so much.) We love her.

9. Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead, Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama, Night of the Demons, Creepazoids)

linnea-trash

Linnea ruled the direct-to-VHS horror boom of the ’80s (along with her Nightmare Sisters, Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer) and her graveyard strip dance in the horror comedy classic Return of the Living Dead is the stuff of legend. Be it getting mounted on a deer’s head by a deranged Santa (in Silent Night, Deadly Night) or jamming a lipstick into her nipple (Night of the Demons), Linnea was up for absolutely anything. But I think her greatest contribution to the genre was her horror-themed workout video. Even zombies can let themselves go!

8. Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Creepshow)

M8DFOGG EC001

Barbeau got her big break playing Bea Arthur’s daughter on Maude, but we’ll always remember her for starring in some of our favorite drive-in movies. Her turn as an overbearing wife in the camp classic Creepshow was unforgettable (and brilliantly filmed in the style of the old horror comics):

7. Joan Crawford (I Saw What You Did, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Strait-Jacket, Berserk!)

straightjacket

Like many actresses who were “of a certain age” when horror films became a huge hit with the drive-in crowd, screen legend Crawford found herself the reluctant star of lowbrow delights like Strait-Jacket and Trog, as well as the William Castle teen screamer I Saw What You Did and the now cult classic Baby Jane.

Check out the amazing trailer for the circus-set Berserk!, which is what we all hoped American Horror Story: Freak Show would turn out to be:

6. Gerrit Graham (Phantom of the Paradise, Demon Seed, Child’s Play 2)

phantombeef

Frequent Brian de Palma collaborator Gerrit Graham notably played gender-bending glam rocker Beef – who looked like Bea Arthur at a My Chemical Romance concert – in the giddy rock horror fantasia Phantom of the Paradise, even going so far as to play Janet Leigh in a Psycho shower scene gag:

5. Fay Wray (King Kong, The Mystery of the Wax Museum, The Vampire Bat)

Fay-Wray-King-Kong-1933

Wray was arguably the first scream queen, and she put those pipes to good use as the beauty to King Kong’s beast. She was so legendary that even Dr. Frank-N-Furter wondered aloud what had happened to her…

4. Daria Nicolodi (Deep Red, Tenebre, Phenomena, Inferno, Opera)

darianicolodiscream

To be fair, most of us don’t know if Italian horror star Daria Nicolodi has a good scream or not because she’s always dubbed over by an American voice actress by the time her films make it Stateside. Still, this former wife of legendary shock director Dario Argento more than earned her place on this list.

Here, in a scene straight out of our own Ed Kennedy’s nightmares, poor Daria is only left alone for a few minutes before she is brutally murdered by a marauding band of killer housecats (from Inferno):

3. Janet Leigh (Psycho, The Fog, Night of the Lepus)

Psycho (1960) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock Shown: Janet Leigh (as Marion Crane)

We know that the acoustics in the shower are great for singing, but Leigh proved to a traumatized moviegoing public that your screams sound better in there, too.

Psycho wasn’t Leigh’s last outing in horror, either – she appeared alongside her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis (more on her later) in The Fog, and also starred in the cult classic Night of the Lepus. Oh – you don’t know Night of the Lepus, where humankind is terrorized to the brink of extinction by giant, slo-mo bunny rabbits? You’re in for a treat:

“Call the army – and tell them to bring carrots!!”

2. Mark Patton (A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2)

JesseScream

Self-proclaimed “first male scream queen” Patton starred in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2, which has the distinction of being the most homoerotic (otherwise straight) horror movie ever made. In the scene with the gym coach (Marshall Bell) in the locker room showers, he proved he could give any of the ladies on this list a run for her money in the eardrum-piercing department:

And he will see Linda Blair her tap dance and raise her… whatever the hell this awesomeness is:

All night long, indeed! Mark, you were our slumber party spirit animal.

1. Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Prom Night, Terror Train, The Fog)

jamieleecurtishalloween

Jamie Lee descended from scream queen royalty (Janet Leigh) and she did her momma proud, becoming the face of the American horror boom of the late ’70s and early ’80s (starting with her starring role in Halloween, above).

Horror haters think that all scream queens need to do is run, trip, and shriek in the face of certain death. Not true! Sometimes they have to execute complicated disco sequences (from Prom Night):

And here’s Jamie showing off those golden pipes in a legitimately terrifying chase sequence from the woefully underrated (and unexpectedly gender-bending) Canadian gem Terror Train, which co-starred hunky Hart Bochner and, for some reason, David Copperfield:

Atta girl! Now let’s get back to the disco before last call.

So those are just a few of our favorite leading ladies (and gents) of horror. Care to share any of yours? Scream about ’em in the comments!

Writer-filmmaker Brian Juergens launched CampBlood.org, the world's first website devoted to horror films from a gay perspective, in 2003.