Top 8 Scream Queens of the 80s: A Women in Horror Month List
I’m back again, and this time I’ve brought the 80s along with me.
I’ve been compiling lists of the top scream queens from the past few decades, and now it’s time to end Women in Horror Month with a bang. If you don’t see your favorite females in this list, make sure to check back in the coming days, as many of these actresses worked over multiple decades.
If you’re going to come out of the gate full throttle, do it like Felissa Rose in Sleepaway Camp. This 1983 exploitation/horror extravaganza was Rose’s first film, and thanks to its shocking ending, it’s still one of her most memorable.
Although the actress has gone on to complete an impressive amount of film credits, she is always willing to make time for her horror fans via convention appearances and interviews.
When you’re making a top list of 80s anything, adding Heather Langenkamp is a no-brainer.
Langenkamp’s performance as Nancy in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street is the stuff of legends. Not only was she a believable foe for Freddy Kruger, she was also an instant girl-next-door heartthrob.
The role of Nancy is so iconic that its vast influence is still active today. Don’t believe me? Where do you think Stranger Things got the name for Mike’s older sister?
If you’re looking for an honest-to-god 80s scream queen, look no further than Barbara Crampton. From De Palma’s Body Double, to Re-Animator and Chopping Mall, this actress has done it all.
Perhaps best known for her performance as Megan in Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator, Crampton isn’t afraid to fully immerse herself in a role, no matter how absurd the plot may seem . This results in fantastic performances with high rewatchability.
Recently, Crampton has doubled down on her scream queen identity, starring in several horror films including Beyond the Gates, Tales of Halloween, and We Are Still Here.
I probably don’t need to explain to you why Dee Wallace is awesome, but just in case… Wallace seems to have been born with the strong, maternal vibe. Whether she’s protecting her children from a faceless government threat in E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial or from most slobbery psychotic dog in history, Wallace does it with the ferocity that only a mother can bring.
Wallace is no stranger to the horror film, and she frequently revisits the genre. Even so, it’s her work in The Howling, Cujo, and Critters that cements her place in the top 80s scream queens.
Look out! Here comes the Adrienne invasion.
Although King’s horror resume isn’t extensive, she will always be remembered for her performance as Alice in Friday the 13th. King was the definition of the brave and beautiful final girl. Although the Friday the 13th franchise films have always been more ensemble based, King stood out from her first moments on screen, subtly signalling that she would be the one to make it to the final showdown with the mysterious Crystal Lake murderer.
I was first introduced to Adrienne Barbeau as the voice of Catwoman in Batman: The Animated Series (what can I say, I was born in the mid-80s) and became an immediate fan.
Most people, however, know Barbeau from her work from the 80s classics The Fog, Escape from New York, Swamp Thing, and Creepshow. With a voice like red velvet, she was the perfect choice to play the nighttime radio DJ in John Carpenter’s The Fog. In fact, Carpenter loved her voice so much that she even makes an uncredited voice cameo as the computer in his 1982 masterpiece, The Thing.
If there were an actual vote on queen of the scream queens, Linnea Quigley would have a good chance of winning. She has acted in more horror movies than almost any of the other women on these lists.
Whether as Ginger in Witchtrap or Samantha in Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Quigley isn’t afraid to dive into any role, regardless zany plots, small budgets, or even smaller costumes.
Even though you can’t throw a nickel without hitting a film that Quigley was in, her best known 80s work is without a doubt the Christmas horror classic, Silent Night, Deadly Night where she plays the topless older sister and as Trash in the incomparable Return of the Living Dead. She’s tough, she’s spunky, and she’s sexy, what more could you ask for?
Although Cassandra Peterson, the brilliant actress behind the Mistress of the Dark, would probably argue that she is more of a jester than a queen, there’s no two ways about it, Elvira is horror royalty.
As the host of Movie Macabre from 1981 to 1985, Elvira went from an odd TV personality, to an 80s icon in no time, resulting in the super-fantastic, super-campy feature film Elvira: Mistress of the Dark in 1988.
Peterson’s Elvira is quirky, spooky, and not above and off-color joke. She loves horror movies of all kinds and delivers them up on a platter of b-movie positivity that has never been matched since.
This decade boasts more memorable final girls and horror films than any other, and Elvira is the queen of them all.
What do you think of our list? Are there 80s scream queens we forgot? Check back tomorrow for the Top 9 Scream Queens of the 90s.
You had me all the way up to Elvira. I wouldn’t exactly class her as a scream queen, unless you’re referring to all the fanboys as they have fantasies about her… well, her. My brother thinks she’s great, I find her a bit tedious. Go figure.
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