The best horror movies have female heroines. To the viewer, there’s nothing that gets you on the edge of your seat faster than a young lady in a frightening predicament. It’s one of Wes Craven’s finest methods—to cast a girl in a vulnerable position with a nasty villain coming to catch her.
The following scream queens will forever be known best by their roles in quintessential horror flicks. As is the Hollywood effect, everything outside of their iconic roles become secondary interests to audiences. But these actresses have stayed busy (save for Shannon Elizabeth, spoiler!) and have expanded their repertoire beyond the realm of the silver screen. Most of these women were big in the 90s, some earlier, and today they’re still at it. Here’s what they’ve been up to.
10. Neve Campbell
Neve Campbell’s second name might as well be Sidney Prescott. Campbell starred in all four Scream films, including Scream 4 in 2011—Wes Craven’s last film before he died. After his passing, Campbell gave a touching eulogy: “We lost a great deal of magic yesterday. I’m devastated to hear of Wes’s passing. My life wouldn’t be what it is without him. I will be forever grateful for his brilliant direction, his wicked sense of humor and his consummate kindness and friendship…”
As of late, she’s had sporadic TV roles in shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Mad Men, and she’s become a regular in the Netflix series House of Cards. In 2012, Campbell had a baby with JJ Feild, her third marriage, so she’s probably been deep in the motherly grind. It may come as a shock to some, but Campbell is now only 42 (she was cast as Sidney Prescott at only 22). She’s still a knockout.
9. Jennifer Love Hewitt
Jennifer Love Hewitt is a jack of many trades. But she was once known as a horror movie bombshell, starring in I Know What You Did Last Summer as Julie James. Both the 1997 flick and its 1998 sequel were box office hits.
Aside from acting, Hewitt dabbles in music and writing. In 2010 she published a book called The Day I Shot Cupid, which became a New York Times Bestseller. In the book she talks about the wonder of “vajazzling”—the fad that I’d prefer not to give the definition for here—and Hewitt claims she helped bring it to the mainstream. Hewitt said on Twitter that she’s working on another book.
She recently married her co-star in The Client List, Brian Hallisay, and they had two kids, Atticus and Autumn. While she may dive head first into the duties of rearing two rug-rats, if her body of work is any indication, she’ll be keeping busy with her eclectic array of talents off-screen.
8. Jennifer Tilly
One of Jennifer Tilly’s most memorable roles was playing killer doll Chucky’s girlfriend in Bride of Chucky. It turns out that acting isn’t her primary passion. Tilly loves nothing more than killing it on the poker circuit.
As of 2015, her poker earnings totaled a wow-worthy $890,000. In 2005 she won the World Series of Poker in the Ladies’ No-Limit Texas Hold-Em Event, beating out 600 others, and winning a nice paycheck of $158,625. Tilly took a brief hiatus in 2008 and reentered the cardsharp scene in 2010. She’s even married to poker extraordinaire Phil Laak. After place 14th in the 2015 World Series of Poker Event #32, she told Poker News that her side gig as an actress has nothing on her poker prowess: “I actually think I’m a very good player. I’ve got a lot of cashes, almost a million in tournament earnings and I’m like number 30 on the Women’s All-Time Money List. I feel like I’m a good player and if I have something to prove it’s only to myself.”
7. Heather Langenkamp
Heather Langenkamp was a student at Stanford before she starred as Nancy Thompson in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. So it’s obvious she’s got smarts. Over the years she’s used those smarts to build an Academy-Award-winning special effects company called AFX Studio. (She did the creature effects in Star Trek: Into Darkness.)
But makeup and monsters aren’t her only interests. Langenkamp released a documentary called I Am Nancy, in 2011 which explored how iconic scream queens sometimes get forgotten in the shadow of infamous male villains. Like Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Ghostface. Although she has her fingers in many pies, including heading an LA beach clean-up crew and a gum-manufacturing company called Malibu Gum Company, she’ll forever be known as the toughest teenager walking Elm Street, a girl who fearlessly stood up to her nightmares and the menacing specter who haunted them.
6. Clea DuVall
Clea DuVall had noteworthy parts in thrillers such as The Faculty, Identity and The Grudge. She hit the limelight at 18 years old, so she’s still young and kicking. You might remember her playing Cora Lijek in Ben Affleck’s political thriller Argo, in 2012. Acting seems to be her prominent foray, but rumor has it she recently made her directorial debut in a film she wrote, working with Jason Ritter and Cobie Smulders.
5. Shannon Elizabeth
Who could forget Nadia? Shannon Elizabeth is best remembered as Jason Biggs’ sexy foreign muse in American Pie movies, but she did have stints as a scream queen in the 90s. She chilled us all in Jack Frost, Thirteen Ghosts and Night of the Demons. Some have wondered where the heck she’s been, since she hasn’t been in anything of note since American Reunion in 2012, and I’m wondering the same thing.
It seems old Nadia has fallen off the radar a bit in Hollywood. But she did found Animal Avengers, an organization that rescues homeless pets and rehabilitates them back to health. So that probably takes up a helping of her time, along with making hip hop label founder Russell Simmons, her boyfriend, the happiest man in the universe.
4. Rose McGowan
The entertainment industry hates Rose McGowen right now. Seriously. The Scream, Devil in the Flesh, and The Black Dahlia star was recently fired by her agent for “pointing out the bullshit in Hollywood.” McGowen called out sexism on the set of an Adam Sandler flick after the crew allegedly encouraged actresses to wear push-up bras and flaunt their cleavage. She then took to Twitter to call it out. Even though she was let go by her “wussy acting agent” (as she put it), it appears she’s still working. Last year she made her directorial debut in indie thriller The Pines.
3. Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Gellar lives a charmed life as the mother of two with husband Freddie Prinze Jr. She’s had starred in I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream 2 and The Grudge once upon a time, but her bread and butter in the industry was playing the vampire slayer. In 2012, she was presented with the Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award for members of the entertainment community “who have excelled in establishing meaningful and lasting programs that contribute to the welfare of the world’s natural and civic environment.” In both 2014 and 2015, she hosted successful fundraisers for Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. If the Internet is any indication, both her and Freddie are incredibly happy together with their children, Charlotte Grace and Rocky James.
2. Linda Blair
She haunted everyone with a bone-chilling portrayal of Regan MacNeil in 1973’s The Exorcist. But since then, the life of Linda Blair has revolved around animals. One could even call her an animal freak. Just check her Twitter.
A decade ago she founded the nonprofit Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, and she’s been a savior ever since. According to her website, the organization “provides animals with needed medical care, proper nutrition, socialization, physical and emotional rehabilitation, and obedience training before heading to their forever homes.” Seems there’s nothing scary about her at all, as Blair remains a full-time animal rights activist.
1. Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis has become one of the most acclaimed actors of her generation. But in the beginning, she was Laurie Strode—a teenager haunted by her psycho brother Michael Myers. After the 1978 horror classic Halloween, her career took off as a scream queen, starring in Halloween II, The Fog and Terror Train. But as the nineties came she expanded her resume.
Today she is still acting. You might have also seen her as a spokesperson for Activia. More recently, she played Zooey Deschanel’s mom in New Girl. As of September of last year, she began starring in Fox’s Scream Queens, which ironically features a few of the people on this list.
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