"Sherlock Holmes" †by Mike Smith
A Very Fanboy Christmas 2009 †by ED Tucker
The Top 30 Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Actresses, #12-9 †by Lisa Scherer
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Sex in Japan: How To Have A Truly Merry Christmas †by Jason Fetters
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My 10 Favorite Films of the "00" .... A Very Merry Big Box Christmas .... Christmas @ The Waters Chick-Fil-A †by John Miller
Final Thoughts .... The Year In Review: Part Ii .... Next Year .... But Mike, What About... .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2 i †by Mike Smith
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The Top 30 Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Actresses, #12-9
[Part four of a series.]
Scream queens. Horror heroines. Sci-fi divas. Cult/genre film legends. We know them. We love them. Weíve 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? Iím not talking about on-screen characters, like Alienís Ripley or Dana Scully of The X-Files, but the women who portrayed these scream queens and sci-fi heroines. Iíve 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 actressesí 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.)
Hereís 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; 16. Tiffany Sheppis; 15. Brinke Stevens; 14. Nancy Allen; 13. Caroline Munro
So, without further ado:
Marilyn Burns in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
12. MARILYN BURNS Marilyn Burns is indelibly seared into horror film fans' brains as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Sally Hardesty, one of the unluckiest -- and fiercely memorable -- damn teeny-bopper road-trippers on the face of the earth. While earning her drama degree at the University of Texas, Burns landed her first film role in Robert Altman's Brewster McCloud in 1970. After losing out to newcomer Susan Sarandon for a role in a Sidney Lumet film, Burns went to a TCM casting call and the rest is bloody, gory, chainsaw-buzzing, window-jumping history. Speaking of window jumping, Burns told a TerrorTrap.com interviewer that her character has a limp at the end of TCM because of an injury she suffered while doing one of the two jumps through a window herself, for real.
The vast majority of Burns' few film roles are in the horror genre. She re-joined director Tobe Hooper in his 1976 film Eaten Alive, playing another unlucky traveler. (After stopping at a hotel to ask directions, Burns' character, husband and family end up being terrorized by the hotel's crazy sadistic manager and his hungry alligator.) In the 1976 TV movie Helter Skelter, Burns played Linda Kasabian, the Charles Manson "family member" who testified against Manson and his followers at the Tate-LaBianca murder trial.
In the 80s, Burns appeared as the counselor of two telepathic twins who witnessed their father's death and are intent on revenge in the horror film Kiss Daddy Goodbye and then as the wife of a killer in the sci-fi/action/thriller Future Kill. She also had an uncredited cameo appearance in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre:The Next Generation in 1994.
Currently doing community theater in Texas, Burns has become more active in the convention circuit in the last few years and does interviews now and then.
11. DEBBIE ROCHON Although she personally doesn't care for the term "scream queen," B-movie actress/writer/radio show host Debbie Rochon has built her career on scream queen iconography, through both her film roles and her writing career. She rose above childhood obstacles -- ill mom, alcoholic dad, running away from the foster home at age 12, living on the street, being knifed by pimps because she refused to work for them -- to move to New York City to study acting. After her first (uncredited) film role in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, Rochon went on to appear in 100+ genre movies, most of which have been B-movie caliber horror films.
Rochon has been in several Troma Entertainment movies: Tromeo and Juliet, Terror Firmer, Citizen Toxie:The Toxic Avenger IV, the satirical "infomercial" The Troma System, and several episodes of Troma's Edge TV. She was stabbed in the back in Corpses Are Forever, beaten to death with a brick in Dead and Rotting, shot three times in Final Examination, stabbed in Skin Crawl, and stabbed to death in a hot tub in Head Cheerleader, Dead Cheerleader. She won the 2009 International Haunted Horror Award for Best Actress for Game Over and the 1997 Barbarella Award for Best Actress for Broadcast Bombshells, was named Scream Queen of the Decade (1990s) by Draculina Magazine in 2003, and was inducted into the B-Movie Hall of Fame in 2004.
Debbie Rochon at the Ladies of the Night Double Feature afterparty
She's a fan, too. Rochon has co-hosted NYC radio shows focused on film and pop culture, and currently co-hosts Fangoria Radio with Dee Snider every Friday night. She has co-written the books The B-Movie Survival Guide and Attack of the B Queens, and written for numerous magazines, including Videoscope, Femme Fatales, Sirens of Cinema and Scream Queens Illustrated. Rochon also sings in a parody band called The Slice Girls, singing Spice Girls' songs with horror movie lyrics.
Rochon's adult life has included about as many obstacles as her childhood did, it seems. An on-set accident in 2002 almost severed all the fingers of her right hand, and then bankrupted her because the filmmakers didn't have the proper insurance to cover her medical bills. In 2008, she had surgery to remove a benign pituitary tumor and de-activated her MySpace page because of a crazy, suicidal fan (whose life Rochon saved by calling the police after reading the fan's suicide note online).
No matter what's going on in her personal life, Rochon stays busy with acting jobs, writing, radio and on the convention circuit. She's a regular at many cons and is notorious for socializing and hanging out with fans and convention attendees. (This fan got the chance to eat dinner with her after the Ladies of the Night Double Feature event last year.)
10. SYBIL DANNING Dubbed "the world's #1 female action star" by Entertainment Tonight, Sybil Danning started out as a dental assistant and earned a cosmetology school degree in her native Austria. The multi-lingual Danning played a bareback-riding farm girl in Whispering Death with Christopher Lee, a swordswoman in The Seven Magnificent Gladiators, a sadistic terrorist in Operation Thunderbolt with Klaus Kinski, a "werewolf queen" in The Howling II, a haughty queen in Amazon Women on the Moon, a high-class prostitute in the cult classic Bluebeard with Richard Burton, a prison gang leader in Chained Heat, Commander Kruger in the TV show V, and a Valkyrie warrior in the sci-fi/fantasy/adventure film Battle Beyond the Stars (for which she won the Golden Scroll of Merit Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films).
Danning -- a.k.a. Queen of the Action Flicks, according to Playboy in 1983 -- kicks ass off screen too. In addition to being an expert shot who has trained in judo and karate, she owns her own production company (Adventuress Productions), was immortalized as the comic book character Black Diamond, and has her own perfume brand, Sybil's Secret Scent. (I really want to buy some just to see what in the hell it smells like, although the name kind of grosses me out.) Danning is a frequent convention guest and has a very active Facebook fan page.
9. FAY WRAY Widely considered to be the first scream queen, Fay Wray began acting in silent films in her teens. Successfully making the transition to talkies, Wray appeared in a string of horror, thriller and adventure/fantasy films throughout the 1930s, including The Most Dangerous Game, The Woman I Stole, The Jury's Secret, Smashing the Spy Ring and The Clairvoyant.
Fay Wray in KING KONG
She was the mad scientist's daughter in 1930's Doctor X, the good doctor's assistant in The Vampire Bat and the "final girl" who confronted masked murderer Lionel Atwell in "the horror screen's second greatest unmasking," according to Horror Movies:Tales of Terror in the Cinema, in The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933). Wray is most remembered, of course, for playing Ann Darrow in King Kong, the film that saved studio RKO from bankruptcy in 1933. The Washington Post's description of Wray's infamous role is perfect: "As the beauty, Ms. Wray became a prototype of the horror-film heroine, a character who decorated more than dominated a movie and was gamely willing to shriek in terror". Wray had agreed to make a cameo appearance in Peter Jackson's King Kong remake, but died before filming commenced. The day after she died (at age 96; wow), the lights at the Empire State Building were extinguished for fifteen minutes in her honor.
Divorced once and widowed twice, Wray semi-retired from acting -- appearing mostly on TV or on the stage -- for the latter half of her career, preferring to concentrate on writing. She published her autobiography at age 80 and had a play produced for the stage at age 91. Wray has received numerous film festival and "scream queen best of" awards, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was commemorated on a postage stamp by the Canadian Post Office.
Tune in next week for the next installment (and possibly the conclusion??)...
[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.com, RacksandRazors.com, TerrorTrap.com, WorchesterMovies.com, DebbieRochon.com, Buried.com, MacabreCadaver.com, SybilDanning.net, Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion, 12th Edition, ed. by John Walker, Horror Movies:Tales of Terror in the Cinema by Alan G. Frank, The Washington Post, ElitesTV.com, Wikipedia, IMDb and probably some others Iíve 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.