In the horror genre, a scream queen is essentially the "babe" of the cast. She is often considered to be pretty, appealing overall, and can be either a heroine or villain. Just like any other genre, horror has utilized the female role to both grab attention and maybe surprise the audience with their intention or stupidity. Even to a predominately female audience, scream queens can be just plain fun to watch.
This list will focus on the top 8 scream queens of the horror genre. The criteria is quite wide as this list includes heroines, villains, and regular "token" hot girls who get killed in the end. Basically, this is the best women of the horror genre. And sorry, no horror-action or horror-comedy so don't freak out when you don't see Emma Stone or Kate Beckinsale.
8. Sheri Moon Zombie
Sheri Moon Zombie has pretty much become a slight horror icon since her husband, Rob Zombie, entered Hollywood and began making horror films. An actress/model prior to her husband's entrance into Hollywood, the major films seemed to skyrocket her popularity a bit more and she became recognizable as one of the top female actresses of the genre. Even if the only films she's appeared in have been ones her husband has directed.
Her versatility and ability to play both sympathetic and completely crazy is documented in her appearances in the 2007 remake of Halloween as well as playing "Baby" Firefly in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. She's exciting to watch and she's drop-dead gorgeous. That's basically all you need to succeed as a scream queen.
7. Janet Leigh
Janet Leigh was one of the prime actresses of the 1950s and beyond and had a wide filmography that included a lot more than just horror films, but her performance in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 classic, Psycho, is what made her a legendary icon within the genre.
Marion Crane is an odd character in the sense that she is killed quite early in the movie, but that didn't stop Leigh from taking home the gold for her portrayal of the victim. In addition to those, she managed to be part of the most iconic shower scene in film history and perhaps the most recognizable murder of the horror genre.
6. Marilyn Burns
Marilyn Burns isn't the first person who comes to mind when the topic of scream queens comes up, but she deserves a place on this list. Starring as the "final girl," Sally, in the 1974 horror classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, she proved her spot in the genre by screaming her way through the last 30 minutes of the film. Continuing her work throughout the genre, she mainly stuck with horror appearing in Texas Chainsaw sequels as well as the 2013 3D remake.
5. Danielle Harris
One of the youngest scream queens in genre history, Danielle Harris made her mark first appearing in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers at the age of 11. Continuing through the franchise, including appearing in Rob Zombie's 2007 remake, Harris further embedded her feet into the horror genre. Her filmography is primarily horror and she's considered by many fans to be one of the best scream queens the genre has ever had. Similar to others, her versatility is what ranks her highly on the list as she has played heroine, victim, and villain.
4. Shawnee Smith
I bet you're wondering, "wait, who is that?" Trust me, you know who I am talking about. Shawnee Smith burst onto the horror scene with the 1988 remake of The Blob and never really left. Beloved by many due to her work as Amanda Young in the popular Saw franchise, she has appeared in web series and films related to The Grudge and 30 Days of Night. She even served as a judge in a VH1 reality series titled "Scream Queens."
She's equally known for her comedic presence in Hollywood as well as her horror chops, as she starred on television comedies such as Becker and Anger Management, but the Saw franchise is what most fans recognize her for. Her dedication to bring life and true emotion to her character of Amanda can really tug at your heart and her perseverance to continue Jigsaw's work came at a hefty price.
3. Neve Campbell
Neve Campbell is one of the darlings of 90s film as a whole, but she firmly planted her feet into the horror genre with her portrayal of Sidney Prescott in Wes Craven's 1996 film, Scream. Quickly rising to become one of the most recognizable actresses of the modern horror genre, Campbell appeared throughout the Scream franchise and never let up her dedication to the character.
Campbell played heroine and victim with a perfect balance and showed viewers that no matter what you have been through, there is still a way to push through and survive. Scream came with its own sense of humor and satire, but those attributes don't kill that message.
2. Jennifer Tilly
Mainly known in the horror genre for her portrayal of Tiffany in the Child's Play franchise, Jennifer Tilly has several qualities that make her unforgettable. Her trademark voice makes her easily recognizable as Chucky's bride and the ability to cross over from live-action to voice work is not a transition most can successfully make.
First appearing in Bride of Chucky, Tilly played the role in a sexy and dangerous way only to be killed and have her soul placed into a wedding doll. As the franchise went on, she managed to parody herself in Seed of Chucky, playing both Tiffany and an alternate version of her real, Hollywood self. It's fun and she's a scream queen overlooked by a lot of viewers.
1. Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis made her Hollywood debut at the age of 20 with John Carpenter's 1978 horror classic, Halloween. The daughter of Psycho actress Janet Leigh and the legendary Tony Curtis, some consider her to have been born into Hollywood royalty. Curtis' portrayal of the victimized babysitter, Laurie Strode, skyrocketed her to fame and she was subsequently cast in a series horror films such as The Fog, Prom Night, and Halloween II. She quickly gained the title of scream queen.
Curtis' filmography expanded past horror but upon returning as Laurie in Halloween H2O: 20 Years Later, her horror credibility returned as she remains to be one of the most beloved scream queens in history. She is even currently starring in Ryan Murphy's television show, "Scream Queens."