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The Top 30 Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Actresses, #16-13 by Lisa Scherer
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The Top 30 Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Actresses, #16-13 [Part three of a series. And you're right -- publishing only three or four names at a time IS pretty damn weird. Can't be helped, though. Crazy work schedule and all that. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.]
Scream queens. Horror heroines. Sci-fi divas. Cult/genre film legends. We know them. We love them. We’ve watched them run, scream, bleed, cry, die, strip, cower, fight, kill and kick ass in numerous science fiction, fantasy and horror films over the years.
Who are the most memorable and important genre actresses? I’m not talking about 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.
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.)
Here’s the list so far:
30. Connie Mason; 29. Jenny Agutter; 28. Jane Seymour; 27. Amy Irving; 26. Bobbi Bresee; 25. Rosalba Neri/Sarah Bay; 24. Erika Blanc; 23. Asia Argento; 22. Lindsay Wagner; 21. Lynn Lowry; 20. Michelle Bauer; 19. Linda Blair; 18. Shawnee Smith; 17. Sarah Michelle Gellar
So, without further ado:
16. TIFFANY SHEPIS A horror movie fan herself (Motel Hell and Return To Horror High being two of her faves), Tiffany Shepis has appeared in dozens of horror films, including Troma Entertainment's Tromeo and Juliet (her first film), The Hazing, Bloody Murder 2, Death Factory, Delta Delta Die!, Devils Moon, Abominable, Nightmare Man and -- from central Florida -- Zombies, Zombies, Zombies and Hoodoo For Voodoo. (She also admits to being a Grey's Anatomy fan, which is one of those things you really have to have two X chromosomes to understand.)
Shepis is a film producer and distributor through her company Prescription Films, and is very active on the convention circuit. She's also back on the market now, fellas, since her spring wedding plans with Corey Haim fell through.
15. BRINKE STEVENS Having earned a master's degree in oceanography, Brinke Stevens has brains as well as beauty. Speaking of brainiac trivia, it should be noted that "Brinke Stevens is known by this semi-rhyming title" was the answer to the question "What is a scream queen?" on Jeopardy.
A veteran of 100+ films, Stevens has gone beyond the scream queen stereotype, according to RacksandRazors.com, and "has become the slayer, the neighbor, the doctor, the psychic, the activist, the neighbor, the nurse, the oracle, the demon..." She has also written several screenplays, co-produced a documentary film, profiled other scream queens for Femme Fatale magazine, written short stories for horror anthologies, and been portrayed as a comic book character.
Her scream queen creds ain't too shabby, either. Stevens' films include The Slumber Party Massacre, Sorority Sisters, The Jigsaw Murders, Haunting Fear, Teenage Exorcist, Hybrid, Mommy, and the first few minutes of the local film Web of Darkness. She was killed by a giant scorpion in Deadly Stingers, strangled -- by living electrical wires, no less -- in Horrorvision, shot in the back with a crossbow in Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity, torn in half (off-screen) in Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, poisoned in Transylvania Twist, and had her neck snapped in Delta Delta Die!.
Stevens averages about eight convention appearances each year. (Plus she donned a home-made Vampirella costume when she attended the Comic Con in 1973, where she won first place in the costume contest and met Forry Ackerman. How cool is that?)
Nancy Allen in DRESSED TO KILL
14. NANCY ALLEN Nancy Allen is one of my personal favorites and is -- IMHO -- often underrated and overlooked. Like others on this list, Allen was a classically trained child star who modeled and starred in TV commercials prior to her feature film career. She attended an open casting call for Brian De Palma's film adaptation of Stephen King's novel Carrie and won the role of high school über-bitch Chris. Allen also won De Palma's hand in marriage in 1979, after which she appeared in several of his films, including Dressed To Kill and Blow Out. Her portrayal of a call girl in Dressed To Kill earned her nominations for both a Golden Globe Award and a Golden Raspberry Award (a.k.a. a "Razzie").
Nancy Allen in ROBOCOP
Allen made her New York cop father proud by portraying policewoman Anne Lewis in the sci-fi flick Robocop in 1987. Along with the two Robocop sequels, her other genre film roles include The Philadelphia Experiment, Poltergeist III, Children of the Corn 666:Isaac's Return and the 1984 documentary Terror In The Aisles. Terror In The Aisles is a little cheesy nowadays, but it remains near and dear to my heart. Back in the pre-internet, pre-cell phone, pre-everything days, I was trapped in a small town with no access to horror/sci-fi fans or magazines or pretty much anything until I stumbled upon this documentary. During the Terror In The Aisles credits, I paused the VCR, wrote down the names of the films listed, and began a game of fan catch-up that I'm still playing today. But I digress; back to Nancy Allen.
Allen is semi-retired from acting these days, appearing on-screen (mostly on the TV screen) only sporadically during the past decade. In March 2001 she became the program director of the weSPARK Cancer Support Center in LA.
13. CAROLINE MUNRO I'm referring to Hammer horror icon Caroline Munro here, by the way, and not the porn star Carolyn Monroe. (One mouse click on the wrong name and I needed to gouge my eyes out. Bad internet!)
A former British model and Bond girl, Munro is the only actress to have been signed to a long-term contract with Hammer Studios. She's also one of the few actresses on this list who have refused to do nudity. (70s sci-fi bikinis are ok, though. See her Barbarella-esque character Stella Star in Starcrash.) SoundonSight.org included Munro on their greatest scream queens list.
Caroline Munro in STARCRASH
Munro played Vincent Price's dead wife (sans lines) in The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again, a princess in At The Earth's Core, a slave girl in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, a sexy galactic adventurer in the aforementioned Starcrash, and a movie star dealing with an obsessed fan in 1985's The Last Horror Film. During her one year with Hammer, she appeared in two Hammer films: Dracula A.D. 1972 and Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter. (Alas, the planned Captain Kronos sequel didn't work out.) Additionally, Munro has appeared in Maniac, Slaughter High, Faceless, Demons 6, Howl of the Devil, Flesh For The Beast, I Don't Want To Be Born, as well as a cameo appearance in the cult classic slasher film Don't Open Til Christmas.
Munro is a frequent and popular guest on the convention circuit. Those of you on Facebook should check out her fan page there.
To be continued in future columns...
[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.]
[Sources include Cinemorgue, RacksandRazors.com, Cinematical, Brinke.com, Cult Sirens, Vampirella Revealed, SoundonSight.org, SciFiHottie.com, Horror-Wood.com, CarolineMunro.org, ScreamShepis.com, ObscureHorror.com, Wikipedia, IMDb and probably some others I’ve forgotten.]
"FANGRRL" is ©2009 by Lisa Scherer. 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.
[Part three of a series. And you're right -- publishing only three or four names at a time IS pretty damn weird. Can't be helped, though. Crazy work schedule and all that. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.]