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The Top 30 Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Actresses, #8-6 [Part five of a series.]
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; 16. Tiffany Sheppis; 15. Brinke Stevens; 14. Nancy Allen; 13. Caroline Munro; 12. Marilyn Burns; 11. Debbie Rochon; 10. Sybil Danning; 9. Fay Wray
So, without further ado:
8. LINNEA QUIGLEY B-movie scream queen Linnea Quigley was a very shy only child who began acting in L.A. after her family moved there from Iowa in the late 70s. Best known for dancing naked on a tombstone in Return of the Living Dead, she has appeared in enough horror films to earn her the nickname “Queen of the Bs” and a spot on SoundOnSight.org’s list of greatest scream queens.
On screen, Quigley has been shot in the head in Stone Cold Dead, impaled on a deer antler trophy in Silent Night, Deadly Night, killed by zombies in Return of the Living Dead, stabbed in Witchtrap, and had her head bitten off by a monster in Creepozoids. In Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers she got to turn the tables as a prostitute who chops up pimps with a power saw. And then there’s that memorable lipstick scene in Night of the Demons. Quigley has also appeared in Nightmare Sisters, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama, Pumpkinhead II, Hoodoo For Voodoo and many other movies. In an interview with People in 1989, Quigley described the scream queen gig by saying, “In this business, you have to scream well, run well and die well.”
One of the films most memorable to Quigley is Nightmare on Elm Street 4, where she played the soul of one of Freddy’s victims. Her boyfriend, special effects guy Steve Johnson, proposed to her immediately after she finished filming the “victims’ souls in Freddy’s chest” scene and was still covered in special-effects goo. (Quigley and Johnson later divorced.)
Currently living in south Florida, Quigley – who is a horror movie fan herself – is an avid animal lover and PETA supporter. She is the author of two books about B-movie actresses titled Chainsaw and I'm Screaming As Fast As I Can. She’s also a frequent and popular convention guest.
7. ADRIENNE BARBEAU Adrienne Barbeau didn’t really play a “scream queen” all that often, yet she has appeared on SoundOnSight.org and Cinematical’s greatest scream queens lists (and many other lists). A sex symbol from the get-go because of her DD bust line, Barbeau is a talented singer and stage actress who was nominated for a Tony Award for her role as Rizzo in Grease. She did a lot of TV in the beginning of her career -- Quincy, The Love Boat -- before getting the role in Maude as Maude's divorced daughter Carol.
Barbeau first met director John Carpenter on the set of the TV movie Someone’s Watching Me!, married him in 1979 and was cast by him in The Fog, in one of her many memorable roles. Her other notable films include Swamp Thing, the cult classic Escape From New York, The Cannonball Run (as the winning driver), Creepshow (her role of Billie in this film is her self-proclaimed favorite), Back to School (as Rodney Dangerfield’s wife), and Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. Barbeau was also in the horror/thriller films Two Evil Eyes, The Darker Side of Terror with Ray Milland, Terror At London Bridge, the slasher film Open House and many others. Her TV appearances include The Twilight Zone (the 80s version), Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine, Carnivale and as the voice of Catwoman in the 90s animated Batman.
Barbeau has attracted a lot of notoriety throughout her life – for her figure, her role on Maude, her marriage to Carpenter, her film roles – and when that notoriety started to fade a bit, she made the news again when she gave birth to identical twins at age 51. She’s kept a daily journal for 40 years, which came in handy when she wrote her autobiography There Are Worse Things I Could Do. She has also written a novel titled Vampyres of Hollywood and is working on the next books in the series. Although she’s not a horror fan herself, she appreciates her fans and appears at horror conventions. And like just about everyone else, she’s on Facebook.
6. DEE WALLACE STONE Born in Kansas as "Deanna", Dee Wallace – or Dee Wallace Stone, depending on how she’s billed – describes herself as an "author, teacher, dancer, actress [and] healer.” After earning an education degree from the University of Kansas, Wallace Stone briefly taught high school acting in the early 70s before launching her own acting career.
She’s appeared in The Hills Have Eyes, Critters, Popcorn, Alligator II:The Mutation and Killer Instinct, among other genre films, but is most known for her roles as the newscaster-turned-werewolf in 1981’s The Howling, the devoted mother who is terrorized by a rabid St. Bernard dog in Cujo (1983) and the iconic mom in E.T. in 1982. Wallace Stone was also in cult faves The Stepford Wives and 10 and had a small cameo role as Mrs. Strode in Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake. Her TV show appearances include the 80s The Twilight Zone, Bones, Without A Trace, Murder She Wrote and Criminal Minds. On screen she often plays a mother and is often victimized in one way or another (by werewolf, rabid dog, crazy inbred murdering family, etc.), although she’s always longed to play a nun. While filming The Frighteners, a movie about a series of bizarre heart attack deaths, Wallace Stone was the victim of an unfortunate real-life coincidence when her husband, actor Christopher Stone, died of a sudden heart attack.
The death of her husband set Wallace Stone on a path of reflection and introspection that resulted in a second career as a healer. She wrote a book about self-healing called Conscious Creation and frequently lectures and consults on her self-healing methods. Wallace Stone still acts steadily and explains her dual career path by saying, "People often ask me how I justify horror films and healing. My answer? Who better knows how to want and create balance than those of us who have walked viscerally through fear and conquered it." She has also opened an acting studio and teaches when she can.
Wallace Stone is a fan of horror films – "true horror films" that have "complete character development and … people you honestly cared about up on the screen" – and isn’t a fan of slasher films and torture films ("those aren't horror films to me"). She has a good reputation with fans and tries to attend about five of the bigger conventions every year. She’s also active online, with MySpace and Facebook pages, acting studio and healing websites, and acting and healing blogs.
To be continued...
[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, TerrorTrap.com, Horror-Asylum.com, People, abarbeau.com, ugo.com, SoundOnSight.org, DeeWallaceStone.com, OfficialDeeWallace.com, OddityCinema.com, DenOfGeek.com, Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion, 12th Edition, ed. by John Walker, Horror Movies:Tales of Terror in the Cinema by Alan G. Frank, Wikipedia, IMDb and probably some others I’ve forgotten.]
"FANGRRL" is ©2010 by Lisa Scherer. All graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.
[Part five of a series.]