The importance of women in horror cannot be overstated. Damsels in distress, final girls, and straight up bad asses the genre s filled with important and influential females. This is not a new development. Women have been integral to horror since the earliest stories. In honor of Women in Horror month, Regina Chavez Muir, David Hildebrand, Rory Wilding, and Nathaniel Muir talk about their favorite women in horror.
Regina Chavez Muir: 1950’s model/actress Vampira, was more than just an hour-glass shaped muse to The Misfits. Maila Nurmi of The Vampira Show, was the first TV horror host. Even by watching clips on YouTube, one can see how she charmed audiences from decades past and holds a place in cult and horror fandom today. The vampire image, the campiness, and the film selection; it’s easy to see how her show paved the way for future hosts like Elvira, Svengoolie, and even the Crypt Keeper, whose puns punctuated the comic turned TV show Tales from the Crypt in the 90’s. Nurmi took control of her Vampira persona bringing her glamour ghoulishness to the modeling world and appeared in films like Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space. Nurmi embraced the horror aesthetic and made it her life.
It’s been seventeen years since the series ended, but the legacy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer continues and I will argue this is because of the charisma Sarah Michelle Gellar brought to the character. Gellar became associated with vampires and the macabre while she reigned as Buffy. In addition to being a vampire slayer with a dark side, she took on scream queen roles, appearing in I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream 2, and The Grudge. She also appeared in the video for “Sour Girl” by Stone Temple Pilots. Gellar brought an edgy glamour to her roles, featuring her cleverness and humanity. Buffy, come back!
Ingrid Pitt is the queen bee of Hammer Films. Pitt’s performances exude power and dominance, making her a terrifying and beautiful force to contend with. From The Vampire Lovers to Countess Dracula, Pitt’s performances give her a legendary chapter in Hammer history.
David Hildebrand: I have chosen five excellent women of horror. This is in no particular order. I love each one of these ladies and their work always entertains and puts a smile on my face.
First up, is one of the most famous scream queens, Linnea Quigley. Quigley has been in well over 100 features and is probably best known for her sexy graveyard dance in Return of the Living Dead. And rightfully so! But, my favorite performance is when she played Suzanne in Night of the Demons. Poor Suzanne gets possessed by a demon, teases the audience with her lipstick and ends up burning at the end of the film. Other fun films of hers to check out are the Vice Academy films and Nightmare Sisters.
Next up is Lynn Lowry. Lowry has also been in numerous films, but is best know for her work in The Crazies, Shivers, and I Drink Your Blood. She is also a writer, producer, and director. She was recently in Necropolis: Legion and currently has many projects in the works. Lowry is talented as she is beautiful and pure horror royalty.
Barbara Crampton is probably one of my first horror crushes! Crampton was a soap opera star who found cult popularity when she starred in Re-Animator. Re-Animator is also the film that I would sneak and watch at a young age where I became infatuated with the gorgeous Crampton. Her career has been remarkable. After a brief retirement she returned to the big screen in the film You’re Next and from there her popularity soared again like she never left. I’m a huge fan of her and her work and I know to never call her a “Scream Queen!”
Keli Maroney first starred in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but quickly became known for playing the uzi wielding cheerleader, Samantha in the cult hit Night of the Comet. She then became even more famous being chased down my murderous machines in Chopping Mall. She had a lucrative career on daytime television as well, but to many of us she will always be Allison Parks!
Rounding out my five is Darcy the Mail Girl, Joe Bob Briggs’ right hand ghoul from The Last Drive-In on the Shudder streaming service. Each episode she interacts with all the mutant fam via Twitter. And we all start an uprising when she eventually gets jailed. She is such a sweetheart and a joy to talk to. She keeps Joe Bob in line and tolerates his bad jokes. What makes her incredible is that she legit loves the movies that get shown on The Last Drive-In. She’s as big of a fan of horror films as the rest of us. And her love for Halloween 3 is immeasurable. She will always be our Drive-In Queen!
Rory Wilding: Prior to being dubbed the “Queen of Sci-Fi”, Sigourney Weaver was frankly an unknown actress who gained recognition by starring in 1979’s Alien. Although Ridley Scott’s second feature wouldn’t have been made without the success of Star Wars beginning the resurgence of sci-fi films. The premise of Alien is a B-movie space horror and personally my favorite horror film of all time.
Providing her with her first lead role that launched her acting career, Weaver’s performance as Warrant Officer/Lieutenant Ellen Ripley is the very definition of the “Strong Female Character” as she was all about authority and tries to maintain order amidst the chaos involving the Xenomorph. From being the final girl (in horror terms) in the original to being the bad-ass mother figure in James Cameron’s Aliens, Ripley has always been the most compelling figure in the series as she changes in every subsequent installment. No matter how the quality dipped as the series went on, Weaver always brought some gravitas to these films.
Nathaniel Muir: Lauren Ashley Carter has continued the legacy of the iconic names mentioned above. Carter’s performance in Darling is amazing. More than a simple horror movie, the story looks at fear and paranoia in a terrifying tale that relies completely on Carter. Jug Face is a more traditional horror movie in which Carter earned rave reviews. And just in case you don’t think she can play a villain, check out Artik.
Barbara Steele may be the most recognizable woman in horror movie history. The star of Black Sunday, Steele is the inspiration for every sexy witch costume that roams the streets on Halloween night. She has memorable roles in the aforementioned Shivers and The Pit and the Pendulum. Plus, how many horror icons can lay claim to being in one of the greatest films of all time?