When it comes to slasher films, it seems that the perfect formula requires a villain, some gruesome deaths, and a gorgeous but terminally victimised scream queen. The “scream queen” is typically the story’s leading lady, who tries to overcome the villain and make the world a better place. Scream queens are much more than damsels who are good at screaming on camera - although that's essential. The world's favourite scream queens need a certain kind of poise and charisma, as the slasher film's success is often predicated on the audience falling in love with her and continuing to root for her until the end of the film and beyond.
In many cases, scream queens will make repeat appearances, since horror films seem to be destined for a few sequels. Some of these on-screen beauties garner a bit of a cult following for their formidable vocal chords and their ability to look good in a state of panicked semi-undress. Many scream queens will start out as no name actresses who get their big break screaming and taking down the murderer. Other scream queens will already be well established and use their fan base to draw in horror fans.
The following are ten of the richest scream queens who have made quite the impact on the horror film industry. Some of these names will be very familiar to the masses - others may only be well known to die-hard slasher fans.
10 Linnea Quigley - $2 Million
If you watched a low-budget horror movie in the 1980s and 1990s, it is likely that you probably saw Linnea Quigley more than once. Highly regarded for her work as a B-movie actress, Quigley is one of the most well known scream queens, without the Hollywood paycheck. She is best known for her role in the 1985 movie, “Night of the Living Dead” as well as the 4th “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie. She has also starred in horror movies like “Deadly Night” and “Night of the Demons”.
9 Adrienne Barbeau - $5 Million
Before Adrienne Barbeau became a scream queen, she started out as a stage actress with a successful career on Broadway. In the 80s, Barbeau was practically royalty among scream queens with starring roles in films such as “Swamp Thing”, “Creepshow”, and “The Fog”. Ironically, this scream queen has admitted that while she holds a high title in the horror world, she’s not a fan of scary movies. Recently, many of her films are being re-released in Blu-ray and Barbeau is having something of a popularity resurrection.
8 Ali Larter - $8 Million
Before her “Heroes” days, Ali Larter made a name for herself in the horror film industry where she earned her title Scream Queen. She took on a false identity so she could attend a party at a haunted house in the film “House On Haunted Hill” and then starred in the film, “Final Destination” where we were all reminded that death should never be cheated without dire consequences. She also reprised her role in the sequel. That wouldn't be Larter’s last time in a horror movie, as she made an appearance in “Resident Evil: Extinction”.
7 Danielle Harris - $10 Million
6 Sarah Michelle Gellar - $15 Million
Sarah Michelle Gellar may as well tattoo “scream queen” somewhere on her body. She’s beautiful and exudes strength in all of her roles in the horror world. Most of us know her as Buffy from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, but when Gellar wasn't carrying around her wooden stake; she was also starring in horror films like “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, “Scream 2”, and “The Grudge”. Gellar is no stranger to the world of killers, monsters, and ghosts, and no doubt that she'll continue to kick butt in the horror world in future.
5 Neve Campbell - $16 Million
Some people debate Neve Campbell’s true scream queen title, but she was the star vehicle behind the “Scream” movie franchise. She played the female heroine who continued to battle against psychotic killers determined to end her life and the lives of her friends. The first “Scream” movie, which was released in 1996, became such a success that several sequels followed. But the famous franchise wasn't the only horror role for Campbell. She also starred in the horror film, “The Craft” in the same year as the first “Scream” movie.
4 Jennifer Love Hewitt - $18 Million
Jennifer Love Hewitt has made quite a name for herself in the world of dysfunction and horror. In 1997, she starred in the film, “I Know What You Did Last Summer” which made huge waves in the horror world to the point where producers were already getting her ready to star her in the sequel “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” in 1998. After the sequel didn't do so well, Hewitt went on to star in the series, “Ghost Whisperer”, but her screams of terror are forever burned into our memories.
3 Jessica Biel - $18 Million
When Jessica Biel stepped out of her pleasant and positive role as the pastor’s daughter in the series “7th Heaven” she dove head first into a world that was quite the polar opposite of the family-friendly series. In 2001, she starred in the remake of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. This wouldn’t be her last time in the world of horror as she also starred in “Blade Trinity” in 2004, and most recently in 2012 starred in the movie, “The Tall Man”. With her innocently perfect good looks and her serious acting chops, Biel is a scream queen to be reckoned with.
2 Rose McGowan - $18 Million
Rose McGowan may have caught our attention when she was in a seriously high-profile relationship with Marilyn Manson, but this actress has quite the acting career under her belt establishing her as a reigning scream queen. Her role in “Scream” gave us all a grim reminder to be careful around our garage doors, and she had a regular role on the supernatural series, “Charmed”. McGowan has also starred in horror films such as “Planet Terror” and “Death Proof", making her a darling of the horror world.
1 Jamie Lee Curtis - $35 Million
Daughter of one of the original scream queens, Janet Leigh (“Psycho”), Jamie Lee Curtis got her big break in the 1978 film, “Halloween” and captivated audiences as Laurie Strode. Her performance was so successful that it helped the film become one of the most successful indie movies of its time (yes, "Halloween" was an independent movie).
Curtis went on to have a very successful film career and even reprised her character in several “Halloween” sequels, battling her brother Michael Myers. She has also appeared in the movies, “The Fog” and “Prom Night”, thus sealing her title as the richest scream queen of horror films and the longest-serving slasher darling.