"Fame" by Mike Smith
Series Retrospective: Our Gang by ED Tucker
The Top 30 Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Actresses, #21-30 by Lisa Scherer Ciurro
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The Top 30 Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Actresses, #21-30 Scream queens. Horror heroines. Sci-fi divas. Cult/genre film and TV legends. We know them. We love them. We’ve watched them run, hide, yell, scream, seduce, bleed, karate chop, cry, plot, plan, die, strip, flirt, cower, kick, fight, kill and kick ass in numerous science fiction, fantasy and horror films and TV shows over the years.
Who are the top -- the most memorable and important -- genre actresses? I’m not talking about their on-screen characters, like Alien’s Ripley or Dana Scully of The X-Files, but the women who portrayed these scream queens and sci-fi heroines. I’ve chosen thirty actresses who I think have made the most important contributions to the sci-fi/horror/fantasy/cult genres, in both film and television. Not thirty feminist icons; not my top 30 favorite genre actresses; not necessarily the thirty biggest names.
My criteria for this Top 30 List were as follows: the sheer number of roles in horror/fantasy/sci-fi movies and TV shows; the famous, outstanding and genre-defining roles/characters portrayed; and, the actresses’ acceptance of and participation in fandom and fan events. I developed a complex algorithm to evaluate these factors and determine list ranking. (In other words, my list is completely subjective and only slightly more advanced than throwing darts at a dart board.)
30. Connie Mason
Playboy model -- and Florida resident – Connie Mason was a scream queen-lite (a scream princess?) in two Herschel Gordon Lewis movies: 1963’s Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs! in 1964. She had a smaller scream princess role in the 1974 witchcraft horror flick Black Mamba.
29. Jenny Agutter
Hailing from England, Jenny Agutter was a successful child actor who won an Emmy Award at the age of 19 for her role in The Snow Goose. She’s familiar to genre fans through her roles of Jessica 6 in Logan’s Run and Nurse Price in An American Werewolf in London. Agutter also appeared in Dominique is Dead, Child’s Play 2 and in two episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man as Dr. Leah Russell.
28. Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour’s genre roles began with Frankenstein the True Story in 1973 and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger in 1977. Then she made a brief but memorable appearance as Serina on Battlestar Galactica and starred with Christopher Reeve in 1980 in the beloved time travel fantasy romance Somewhere in Time. Seymour also appeared in the TV movies The Phantom of the Opera and Jack the Ripper and in several episodes of Smallville.
27. Amy Irving
A classically-trained theater actress, Amy Irving made her feature film debut as “mean girl” Sue Snell in Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Carrie. Irving was also in De Palma’s movie The Fury, Carrie 2, The Twilight Zone TV series in 1994, and in Alias.
26. Bobbie Bresee
How do you sell a movie that’s cheesy? That’s easy. Just make it sleazy. Throw in some naked Bresee. Her films include Mausoleum, Ghoulies, Prison Ship Star Slammer, Surf Nazis Must Die, and Evil Spawn.
Rosalba Neri/Sarah Bay
25. Rosalba Neri/Sarah Bay
Rosalba Neri was a sultry, vampy villainess of gothic Italian B-movies. She was in several Hercules series films, including Hercules in the Haunted World and Hercules Against Moloch, as well as the prison horror flick Island of Despair and Lady Frankenstein (billed as Sarah Bay).
24. Erika Blanc
Another Italian Giallo film sexpot, Erika Blanc deserves a spot on this list for her unforgettable seductive striptease (from a coffin!) and S&M scream queen role in The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave. Her other standout roles, from her many films, were in The Devil’s Nightmare and Mario Bava’s Kill, Baby, Kill.
23. Asia Argento
The daughter of legendary director Dario Argento, Asia Argento has come into her own as an actress, writer and director. She was in her father’s films Trauma, The Phantom of the Opera and The Stendal Syndrome. Her other genre roles include Demons 2, Demons 3, and Land of the Dead.
22. Lindsay Wagner
Ah, the Bionic Woman herself. Wagner will always be remembered for her career-defining role as the intelligent, athletic, attractive bionically-enhanced tennis pro-turned government agent Jamie Somers in The Six Million Dollar Man spinoff The Bionic Woman. Wagner’s other genre roles include two episodes of Night Gallery, one episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and the TV horror/thriller movies Contagious and Voyage of Terror. Wagner is a frequent convention guest. Florida fans had a chance to see her at F/X in Orlando this past April and at the BioniCon in Tampa in 1996.
21. Lynn Lowry
Stage actress, writer and singer Lynn Lowry played the mute hippie who cuts off a woman’s hand with an electric knife in I Drink Your Blood, had a lesbian sex scene with Mary Woronov in Sugar Cookies, was shot by soldiers in George Romero’s The Crazies, appeared in the infamous pool parasite scene in Cronenberg’s Shivers, and finds something most unpleasant under her bed in Cat People. An occasional convention guest, Lowry revels in and is proud of her reputation as a cult film star.
Next week: #11-20 of the Top 30 List. Did I list your favorite genre actress? Have I forgotten someone? Have I gotten the rankings exactly right or completely screwed up? Tune in next week!
[I owe PCR columnist Chris Woods a big thank you for his help with this article: for the brainstorming ideas, the debates over ranking, and for pointing out the many glaring omissions on my original list.]
"FANGRRL" is ©2009 by Lisa Scherer Ciurro. All graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.
Scream queens. Horror heroines. Sci-fi divas. Cult/genre film and TV legends. We know them. We love them. We’ve watched them run, hide, yell, scream, seduce, bleed, karate chop, cry, plot, plan, die, strip, flirt, cower, kick, fight, kill and kick ass in numerous science fiction, fantasy and horror films and TV shows over the years.