It’s been 37 years since the original Carrie shocked audiences with killer telekinetic powers, with Chloe Moretz now taking on Sissy Spacek’s iconic lead. But usually the blood is on the other hand, and from flocks of vengeful birds to marauding masked men, leading ladies have faced the most horrifying nemeses Hollywood has to offer. They excel at emptying their lungs and widening their eyes, and their unflinching terror demands audience attention. The New Daily brings you our picks for Hollywood’s best scream queens in all their gutsy glory.
1. Janet Leigh in Psycho
The original and the best, Janet Leigh managed to transform a simple shower scene into a chilling blood bath with little more than creative editing, fake blood and appropriately horrified facial expressions. Her sudden death was made worse by the fact that it occurred so early in the film, jarring audiences who were rooting for Leigh’s character and demonstrating the genius of Alfred Hitchcock.
2. Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween
Carrying on the family business of instilling terror in moviegoers, Janet Leigh’s daughter made her debut as the “final girl” in 1978’s Halloween. Her bloodcurdling scream made her a horror film favourite and she went on to star in The Fog, Prom Night and follow-up Halloween instalments.
3. Sissy Spacek in Carrie
With the remake hitting theatres this week, pressure is high for lead actress Chloe Grace Moretz to fill the shoes of Spacek’s creepily sympathetic telekinetic teen. Spacek possessed just the right amount of weird to emulate Carrie’s loner status and you couldn’t help but still feel sorry for her as she unleashed a torrent of destruction on her peers.
4. Neve Campbell in Scream
Playing perpetual psychopath target Sidney Prescott in the Scream franchise, Campbell had the stoic victim act down pat. She somehow survived all four movies while injecting a healthy dose of girl power.
5. Shelley Duvall in The Shining
Apparently director Stanley Kubrick treated Duvall terribly on set and encouraged fellow crewmembers to do the same to increase her sense of isolation in the movie. It certainly paid off. Duvall’s character Wendy must cope with her husband’s descent into insanity while trapped in the ultimate haunted house. Her big, stricken eyes make you feel like you’re stuck in the Overlook Hotel right there with her.
6. Tippi Hedren in The Birds
Who knew birds could be so darn freaky? Tippi Hedren played a convincing, perfectly-coiffed heroine under attack from enemies of the avian variety in a small American town. Her performance, along with her green two-piece outfit, is a classic.
7. Jennifer Love Hewitt in I Know What You Did Last Summer
A reigning teen queen in the 90’s, Hewitt was the perfect choice to play terrorized girl-next-door, Julie James. Burdened with a killer secret, Julie and her friends (played by fellow teen phenomenons Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Ryan Phillippe) transition from guilt to terror as they realize someone is keen to make them pay for their mistakes.
8. Naomi Watts in The Ring
Watts plays Rachel Keller, a journalist sent to investigate a mysterious videotape which kills viewers within seven days of watching. Her job was never going to be easy. With unfailing determination, Watts consistently eludes the wrath of her black-haired little girl foe and manages to protect her son too. Plus, she gets points for being an Aussie.
9. Heather Langenkamp in Nightmare on Elm Street
As teen heroine Nancy Thompson in the 80’s slasher film, Langenkamp is appropriately young and innocent until she bravely faces up to terrifying child-killer Freddy Krueger and wins through sheer youthful determination.
10. Sarah Michelle Gellar in The Grudge
In addition to kicking supernatural butt as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Gellar has serious horror film chops. She shrieked her way through I Know What You Did Last Summer as a second string to Jennifer Love Hewitt, but took the lead in this 2004 remake of a Japanese film about a supernatural curse. Who can forget that horrible shower scene?