Horror movies are something we tend to find our taste for as we enter our teens. You’re up late at night, flipping through the channels (or, I guess Netflix suggestions these days) and come across something that looks… different. Maybe it was one of the eleven Friday the 13th movies, or it could have been Paranormal Activity. Heck, it could be something more respected like Silence of the Lambs or Get Out. Whatever the case, either the genre grabbed you, or you’re a big baby and got too scared to keep watching.
If you stuck around, if you found that the jump scares and blood and guts were right up your alley, if you liked that feeling that came over you when the music swelled and the tension kept getting thicker, then you became a horror hound.
As a horror hound – or if horror is something you like but aren’t obsessed over, a horror pup – you’ve found your favorite killer, be it Jason, Michael, Freddy, or someone a little more outside the box. You have your favorite kill and your favorite scare. You have a decade that you swear was the best for the genre, and a favorite sub-genre (Giallo maybe?). You also have your horror crush.
Your horror crush is personal, and it probably says a lot about your personal preferences in a significant other. From innocent final girls to goth/punk types, to the sexually awakened best friend of the final girl who will totally die (usually after getting naked), we all have one that stands out. How about we reminisce on a few?
15. Jennifer Love Hewitt
She didn’t start off in horror, but we need to be honest, is Jennifer Love Hewitt going to be remembered for Party of Five? No way. JLove will live in the hearts and minds of us all for her work in I Know What You Did Last Summer and the lesser loved follow-up I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.
Add in five seasons of The Ghost Whisperer, and you can’t argue that Jennifer Love Hewitt is a horror icon. Hewitt, one of the biggest stars of the late 1990s, became the center of the universe for many a horror fan, and she did it all while staying strictly PG-13, which is no easy feat.
Hewitt is also the only person on this list to record a song for their horror movie. Her single “How Do I Deal,” which appears on the I Know What You Did Last Summer soundtrack, reached number 59 on the Billboard US Hot 100. Now that’s killer.
14. Alexandra Daddario
A whole lot of people learned about Alexandra Daddario when she appeared in the first season of True Detective, but we horror hounds learned about her a year earlier when she starred in the not very good Texas Chainsaw 3D. The movie, the seventh in the franchise, ignored all the others except for the original, but that didn’t help make it any good.
Still, one thing was clear to those of us who sat through it – Alexandra Daddario was bound for stardom. A year later, that stardom hit when we all tuned into HBO’s True Detective and became insanely jealous of Woody Harrelson. Since then, Daddario has appeared in a number of surefire box office hits that haven’t exactly lived up to their money making promises – at least not at the US box office. While she hasn’t had a breakout movie yet, it is only a matter of time before Daddario finds her way to a massive hit.
13. Sarah Michelle Gellar
This whole list could have just been women from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Aside from being an amazing show with fully realized characters, it is filled with women I still crush on to this day. But that wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the horror genre, so I chose to boil it down to a singular person, and if you’re going to focus on one person from Buffy, it has to be Buffy herself.
Not only did she co-star in I Know What You Did Last Summer, but Sarah Michelle Gellar, of all the women on the list, had the hardest job on Buffy. As Buffy, she battled monsters for seven years and her character went through all the growing a person goes through in that time. She lost friends and family members. She fell in love and got her heart crushed. She battled demons both in the literal and figurative sense of the word. She died and came back to life. Twice.
12. Jessica Biel
Coming to the attention of the world on the family drama series 7th Heaven, Jessica Biel took a lot of work that let her show the world that she was more than a good girl on a good person TV show. This included the underrated The Rules of Attraction and the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
With Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Biel reached an audience that more than likely wasn’t tuning in to a WB show about a reverend and his family. The movie had a real rough job to pull off — the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is not unlike a holy item to horror fans, and remaking it was seen as sacrilege. Add in that Michael Bay was producing this remake, and horror fans were more than ready to write it off.
But they couldn’t. Biel and the rest of the cast and crew were able to do the impossible and overall, horror fans liked the remake (I mean, not nearly as much as the original, but they liked it enough not to riot).
11. Holland Roden
For six seasons, horror fans watched a dark version of the Michael J. Fox classic (and Jason Bateman not so classic) Teen Wolf play out with more monsters, more high school drama, and more tweets to the wrong Jeff Davis on Twitter.
One of the highlights of the hit MTV series is Holland Roden as Lydia Martin, your average popular high school student who has a genius level intellect and is also a secret banshee. Holland became a fan favorite quicker than Scott McCall can grow facial hair and with the series coming to a close at the end of the sixth season, many of us wondered where Roden would end up next.
Luckily, we didn’t have to wonder for too long. Roden will star in the third season of the hit SyFy horror anthology series Channel Zero. Sadly, Roden’s season doesn’t have a premiere date yet – it is scheduled for sometime in 2018, but that is all we know.
10. Alexandra Breckenridge
Alexandra Breckenridge was working on her horror resume for a while. In 2002 she starred in the pretty much forgotten about Wishcraft and the based on a true story Vampire Clan. That same year, Breckenridge showed up on two popular horror based TV shows – Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
For nearly a decade, Breckenridge left horror behind, but in 2011 the genre called her back. Along with appearing in four episodes of True Blood, Breckenridge played the young, sexy version of Moira O’Hara in the first season of American Horror Story. In 2015, Breckenridge joined the biggest horror TV show of all time, Walking Dead, taking on the role of Jessie Anderson for two seasons.
9. Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis isn’t just one of the best-known horror icons, she’s horror royalty (we’ll get into that later on in this list). With her first movie, John Carpenter‘s Halloween, Curtis became an instant horror hit. From 1978 to 1982, Curtis appeared in seven horror movies, including classics like The Fog, Halloween 2, and Prom Night. While the rest of the movie loving world would finally see just how amazing Curtis was when she starred alongside Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy in 1983’s Trading Places, the horror community was already in love with her.
Curtis would stay away from horror for nearly twenty years, but her return in 1998’s Halloween: H20 made her old school fans very happy, even if the movie itself wasn’t the best. Curtis waited even longer to dip her toe into the horror pool again, most recently appearing on the now canceled Fox series Scream Queens. Hopefully, Curtis won’t make us wait another twenty years before we get to see her get bloody again.
8. Janet Leigh
From 1947 to 2005, Janet Leigh appeared in nearly 90 movies and TV shows and while many of them will be remembered until the end of time, one stands out from all the others – Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
In Psycho, Leigh, who is the mother of fellow horror icon Jamie Lee Curtis, plays Marion Crane and for the first act of the movie, she sure seems to be the star. Then she goes off and takes the most famous shower in film history, changing the world forever.
Leigh’s performance in Psycho created a sense of shock that audiences had never had before – the movie was sold with her as the star, and when she dies just forty-seven minutes into the film, viewers honestly had no idea what to expect. These days, her death scene in Psycho has been recreated in countless comedies, including Mel Brooks‘ love letter to Hitchcock, High Anxiety.
7. Vera Farmiga
Vera Farmiga is, and this is not hyperbole, one of the best actors of her generation and if you doubt that, watch her in the highly underrated Running Scared and then watch her in Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed. Two totally different roles, and she handles them both perfectly.
Even more amazing is how Farmiga has been able to show off just how great of an actor she is with a variety of horror projects including the creepishly good Orphan, the hit TV series Bates Motel, or the based on true stories paranormal franchise The Conjuring. In this time of great horror shows and movies, Farmiga stands out as one of the best in the genre, and with a new Conjuring movie in the works, we’ll be seeing a whole lot more of her.
6. Linnea Quigley
If you love horror, you love Linnea Quigley. With nearly 150 movies and TV credits to her name – and most of them in the horror genre – chances are you’ve seen her get killed quite a few times. Quigley is in so many great horror movies that trying to focus on just a few is nearly impossible, but we’re going to try anyway.
While A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 is likely her most watched movie, chances are big time horror fans will first think of her as Trash in the cult classic Return of the Living Dead. Quigley, with her hair cut short and dyed a bright red, stands out in the zombie comedy for a number of reasons, and I know that was the one that made me a forever fan of her work. Between those two films, as well as Night of the Demons, Creepozoids and countless others, it is impossible to ignore the impact Quigley has had on the genre.
5. Adrienne Barbeau
There are few women in film as sultry and sexy as Adrienne Barbeau. From her role as a DJ in The Fog to her voice work as Catwoman on Batman: The Animated Series, Barbeau’s words have captured the hearts of generations.
Along with that voice and her good looks, Barbeau brings some great acting that is only made better by her joy in going over the top when the role calls for it. From the drunk emasculating wife of Hal Holbrook in Creepshow to her role as Ruthie the snake dancer on Carnivàle, Barbeau knows how to bring the talent to every role.
4. Patricia Arquette
You may not think of horror when you think about Patricia Arquette, but that is where she got her start. Before she became an indie darling with True Romance, Arquette took the lead in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors.
Arquette has continued to dabble in horror from time to time, including David Lynch‘s Lost Highway. Her family has a long list of horror credits to their name as well. Brother David is best known for his work as the goofy but lovable Dewey in the Scream movies. Sister Alexis was in a number of horror movies, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sometimes They Come Back… Again, and Bride of Chucky.
3. Danielle Harris
Danielle Harris grew up in horror. She came to fame at an early age when she starred as Jamie Lloyd, daughter of Laurie Strode and niece of Michael Myers in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and its sequel Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. Harris had a tough job not only being the eleven-year-old star of a horror movie but the eleven-year-old star of a much-anticipated horror movie. Harris pulled off her role like a pro, and while these two Halloween movies aren’t as loved as the original, they do hold a special place in the hearts of fans.
For the next twenty years, Harris pretty much stayed away from horror until she was cast in Rob Zombie‘s Halloween remake and its sequel. Since then, Harris has appeared in a number of great horror films, including Hatchet II and Stake Land. Harris has also showed up as herself on the horror loving sitcom Holliston
2. Elsa Lanchester
You may not recognize Elsa Lanchester’s name, but it is pretty much impossible not to have seen her. From 1925 to 1986, Lanchester appeared in just under 100 movies and TV shows. She played Katie Nanna in the Disney classic Mary Poppins, Aunt Queenie Holroyd in the amazing Bell, Book, and Candle, and Madame Magloire in the 1952 version of Les Miserables.
Funny enough, her name isn’t in the credits for her most remembered film appearance. In the movie, where her name should be listed in the credits, you will only find a question mark. Still, her hair and hiss will never be forgotten, because Elsa Lanchester is the titular character in the horror classic Bride of Frankenstein.
Lanchester’s look in Bride of Frankenstein may be one of the most iconic images in the history of film. Her face, mouth open wide as she hisses at the creature she was created for, can be found on posters, t-shirts, and pretty much any other object you can put a face on. Elsa Lanchester will forever live as the Bride.
1. Barbara Crampton
In the annals of horror history, few names will be spoken with as much reverence as Barbara Crampton. The actress has had one of the longest careers in horror, and for good reason. Crampton is a fantastic actress who has never shied away from giving a movie everything she had. Starting with Brian De Palma‘s Body Double, Crampton has been in some of the best horror movies of the last 30 years, including Re-Animator, From Beyond, You’re Next, and We Are Still Here (which if the world was fair she would have received an Oscar nomination for).
Crampton started her career as the young attractive girl who is destined to get killed. Over the years, she transitioned into a beautiful mother figure and the horror community loves her more now than ever before. In a time when it is harder and harder to really figure out if a horror movie will be good, seeing Crampton’s name in the credits is a sure sign of quality.
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