Since the dawn of horror, women have been a staple of the horror genre. They are known as scream queens and these women are recognized for their abilities, to run, act, and most of all scream. We had Fay Wray in King Kong and Janet Leigh in Psycho…but for one decade that had some of the most notable and some of the best scream queens, it would be the 80’s. It was a decade filled with slasher films and final girls…and had some sexy and great scream queens.
The Ladies of Friday the 13th
How can I do an article on scream queens and not mention one of the most popular franchises of the 80s, the Friday the 13th franchise? This series gave birth to the notorious Jason Voorhees, but it also had some of the greatest scream queens. The series is full of women, and so many of them rock. In the first film of the series we got Adrienne King
as the sweet final girl, who had a cute innocence to her that made one root for her to live. Lar Park Lincoln
of Friday the 13th Part 7 is the telekinetic and badass final girl, that you can’t help but love, while part 6 has Jennifer Cooke
as tough cookie Megan who won’t take no for an answer and does what she wants. Part 7 also has one of my favorite slasher film bitches in Susan Jennifer Sullivan
as bitchy rich Melissa. She was just so much fun as the antagonist to Tina, and I had so much fun watching her on screen and rooted for her to die at the same time. In Part 5 (underrated sequel in my opinion) there is one woman so hot even I remember her and that is Debi Sue Voorhees
. I know a lot of horror fans love her nude scene, while I personally prefer her shirtless male lover, she left enough of a mark for me to remember her. But for me the best Friday the 13th girl will always be Amy Steel
, who plays the tough and awesome Ginny. She is a great final girl that is different from the norm yet still easy to root for. She didn’t follow the usual clichés and she still made it out alive.
The Sexiest Scream Queens
One thing the horror genre is known for is the nudity and the sexiness. Some women were such a staple of the 80s horror genre for their arousing appeal alone. One such woman is Linnea Quigley who was one of the sexiest women around. All you have to watch is Return of the Living Dead and Night of the Demons to see why she is remembered. When she was in a movie, you knew you were in line for something sexy, and the same can be said for Barbara Crampton. Crampton was both talented and beautiful. You could find her in fun horror films such as Chopping Mall and Re-Animator or something weird like From Beyond. No matter the film, she always brought the talent and looked good. A personal favorite of mine is Caroline Munro who played the final girl in a few horror films, such as Slaughter High and she is so damn beautiful and she always looked sexy. Her looks could turn anyone’s head.
Underrated Scream Queens
There is a long list of underrated scream queens and at the top of my list would be Lesleh Donaldson
, star of Funeral Home, Happy Birthday to Me, and Curtains. In each movie she came off as such a sweet and likable young girl and when she was in trouble you wanted her to live thanks to her talent. The same could be said for Ellie Cornell
. Now, some may think she is not underrated as she starred in Halloween 4, but no one ever discusses her enough for my liking and I think she is lovely! [SPOILERS] She is so easy to root for and when she dies in Halloween 5, I always feel the series loses something special. [END SPOILERS] I don’t know if she is considered underrated or not but I have to mention Adrienne Barbeau
. She could fit in so many categories as she is quite sexy and very talented, but I’m putting her in this one because I feel she doesn’t get the love she deserves. Yes, she is popular, but with her performances in the horror genre such as The Fog and Swamp Thing, she should be a more household name in the world of horror.
The Final Girl to End All Final Girls
For me the best final girl will always be Nancy Thompson of A Nightmare on Elm Street fame. The writing of such a strong final girl helped, but it is Heather Langenkamp’s performance that really imbues the character with spirit and strength. Langenkamp has a very-down-to earth everyday girl quality to her and it really helps the audience relate to her, and I love the fact that she just comes off as a major dork in the film (I mean that in the best way possible). She has a sweet vulnerability that makes her lovable, but then there is a resourcefulness to her, that when Heather goes after Freddy, you believe it! Heather doesn’t come off as an idiot waiting to be killed; she just has an intelligence to her that really develops her character, and Heather is the reason Nancy is the best final girl of all time.
The Reigning Scream Queen
The overall reigning scream queen is the one and only Jamie Lee Curtis. She was mentioned in the article about scream queens of the 70s, but I can’t do an article on the 80s and not mention her again. Jamie Lee was the queen of 80s horror! What started as a low budget slasher film in 1978 lead to her ruling of the 80s! She acting in a barrage of horror films, and in each one she was brilliant. She was likable, easy to root for, cute as a button, and she had an amazing set of lungs! When she was in a horror film in the 80s you knew you were in for something special. Halloween 2, Prom Night, The Fog, Terror Train, Road Games…this is just a list of the horror films she did in the early 80s and each one is a winner. I hereby crown Jamie Lee Curtis the reigning Scream Queen of the 80s!