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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The 20 Most Memorable Performances by a Female in a Horror Film (The 80's)


     Out of all the great horror films from the 1980's, I've racked my brain to come up with what I believe are the Top 20 most memorable performances by an actress. Every one of these actresses and performances made some sort of an impact on me and millions of other young, impressionable kids renting these films from your local video store or catching them in theaters. (These are in no particular order as to me they are all incredible in their own right...)

POSSIBLE SPOILERS!!!

01.  Shelley Duvall- THE SHINING, 1980


     Shelley Duvall delivers a downright excellent performance in Kubrick's masterpiece. The scene where she discovers what Jack has been typing while he was supposed to be writing his novel, and how she reacts to it without saying a word alone puts her on this list.

02.  Betsy Palmer- FRIDAY THE 13TH, 1980


     Betsy Palmer downright kills it (no pun intended...) as the demented Pamela Voorhees out for revenge in FRIDAY THE 13TH- all the while creating not only but two iconic characters and jump-starting one of the most successful franchises in horror film history. Enough said.

03.  Jobeth Williams- POLTERGEIST, 182


    The entire cast of the 1982 smash hit POLTERGEIST were extremely likable, but Jobeth Williams as Diane Freeling really helped seal the deal if you ask me. She came across as 150% believable as a terrified mother desperately trying to save her daghter from the terrors of the superatural, and plus she reminded me very much of my own mother.

04.  Adrienne Barbeau- THE FOG 1980


     As the husky-voiced DJ Stevie Wayne at KAB, Antonio Bay, California in THE FOG, Adrienne Barbeau won the hearts of millions of movie-goers in John Carpenter's ghostly follow-up to HALLOWEEN. You simply can't take your eyes off Barbeau when she's on screen and I can't imagine anyone else bringing Stevie Wayne to life like she did. Plus her delicious cameo in CREEPSHOW helps matters a lot...

05.  Heather Langenkamp- A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, 1984


    Yes, Freddy Krueger became a sensation in Wes Craven's 1984 shocker- but an iconic movie murderer is only as good as the final girl who battles him, and Heather Langenkamp's Nancy was a formidable foe to Freddy in his first outing. Their chemistry and interaction are to me what made the movie. I simply can't imagine A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET with any other final girl than Nancy.

06.  Angie Dickinson, DRESSED TO KILL, 1980


        A well-known star in the 60's and 70's, Angie Dickinson gave the performance of her career in Brian DePalma's slasher DRESSED TO KILL. Angie plays a bored, lonely housewife who finds trouble while cruising a museum, while giving the role her all. She's utterly fantastic.

07.  Adrienne King, FRIDAY THE 13TH, 1980
   

     Adrienne King's Alice was the first final girl to survive the horrors of Camp Crystal Lake, and there was something instantly familiar and genuine about her portrayal. Alice in her canoe at the end of the original FRIDAY THE 13TH is one of the most famous and iconic scenes in horror movie history, kids. Adrienne proudly carries on the FRIDAY THE 13TH tradition in conventions around the world and is as much a part of the phenomenon as Jason Voorhees and the hockey mask.

08.  Alice Krige, GHOST STORY, 1981


     For the many faults the film version of Peter Straub's terrifying book GHOST STORY has, I still love the movie, and mainly it's because of how frightening Alice Krige is. Her performance as Eva Galli/Alma Mobley completely gets under your skin, and it's the stuff of nightmares. And she gave me plenty as a ten year old seeing this on HBO one dark, stormy night.

09.  Lesleh Donaldson, CURTAINS, 1983


     Although Lesleh Donaldson didn't have a huge part in the infamous slasher CURTAINS, her chilling scene on ice skates being chased by a scythe-wielding murderer in a hag mask is a part of horror history. Lesleh is one of the top 80's Scream Queens, appearing in such fun flicks as FUNERAL HOME, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, and DEADLY EYES- easily earning her title as Scream Queen.

10. Amy Steel, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, 1981


     Tough and resourceful Ginny was wonderfully brought to life by Amy Steel in the first sequel to the mega-smash FRIDAY THE 13TH. In PART 2, Ginny battles Baghead Jason back to avenge the death of his mother Pamela, and Ginny simply doesn't take any of his shit. She kicked ass in this role, and won many fans for it in the process. (She's just as good in APRIL FOOL'S DAY, by the way...)

11.  Dee Wallace, CUJO, 1983


     Dee Wallace is an excellent dramatic actress who won the hearts of millions as the mom in E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL in 1982. However, she delivered a completely underrated yet amazing performance in the 1983 adaption of Stephen King's CUJO. Dee delivers one of the greatest performances I've ever seen in a horror film here, and why she wasn't nominated for an Oscar as Donna Trenton is simply beyond me. A fantastic job by a fantastic actress, and she's almost as good in Joe Dante's werewolf masterpiece THE HOWLING as well.

12.  Catherine Deneuve, THE HUNGER, 1983


    Glamourous Catherine Deneuve is excellent as the icy and immortal vampire Miriam in the 1983 vampire flick THE HUNGER with David Bowie. Miriam doesn't even speak that much in this film,yet truly makes an impact. Her erotic love scene with Susan Sarandon made waves as well. She's completely hypnotic when she's on screen in this stylish vampire tale.

13.  Barbara Hershey, THE ENTITY, 1983


     Barbara Hershey delivers one of the most brave and frightening acting performances in horror as the tormented Carla Moran, a single mother being attacked and raped by an invisible force in the harrowing film THE ENTITY. Based on actual events, it's a disturbing supernatural shocker with a lead role many actresses couldn't handle, but Barbara winningly brings Carla to life.

14.  Deborah Foreman, APRIL FOOL'S DAY, 1986

     
     Deborah Foreman's Muffy is the performance that keeps on giving. Being one of my all-time favorite slashers, I've watched this film a thousand and one times, and I get something different from her each time I view it. She has so many unique and unusual quirks and odd patterns in her speech, facial expressions, and even just her walking that make her performance the marvel that she is. Deborah is truly spell-binding on screen as Muffy St. John and has developed a strong cult following for her role in APRIL FOOL'S DAY.

15.  Jill Schoelen, THE STEPFATHER, 1987


     Terry O'Quinn and Jill Schoelen are what makes 1987's THE STEPFATHER so damn enjoyable- no offense to Shelley Hack! Jill would prove herself to be a bona-fide Scream Queen of the late 80's and early 90's, but it's her performance in THE STEPFATHER that I remember her the most in. Jill effortlessly portrays troubled teen Stephanie who knows something just isn't right with Mom's new husband.

16.  Susan Tyrell- BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER aka NIGHT WARNING, 1982.


    Putting Susan Tyrell's deliriously demented performance as Aunt Cheryl in BUTCHER, BAKER, NIGHTMARE MAKER aka NIGHT WARNING on this list was a no-brainer. Words just can't do her performance or the film itself justice- one just needs to experience it all on their own. It's a doozy, kids.

17.  Karen Fields- SLEEPAWAY CAMP, 1983


     Any self-respecting horror fan of the 1980's can quote any of Judy's lines from the infamous summer camp shocker SLEEPAWAY CAMP. As resident bad girl of Camp Arawak, Judy viciously mocks, connives, and snubs pretty much everybody around her with a sort of glee that make her irresistible. Karen Fields became a part of pop culture with her wonderfully bitchy Judy and her performance is the gift that keeps on giving.

18.  Rutanya Alda, AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION


     Panned upon its release, 1982's AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION has now achieved a rather large cult following, much like leading actress Rutanya Alda has on her own. I've always loved the film, finding it every bit as good if not a bit more polished than the original. Rutanya delivers one of her strongest performances here, in my opinion- she makes the film work, plain and simple. And if you don't have the original trilogy on blu-ray yet, shame on you.

19.  Clare Higgins- HELLRAISER, 1987


     Clare Higgins' Julia is ruthless, heartless, conniving,manipulating, violent, and cold- and does it all so well we love her for it. Her performance in HELLRAISER could have come across as flat or hokey, but Clare does it just right. She's often under-looked in this role and it's a cryin' shame.

20.  Nancy Allen- DRESSED TO KILL, 1980


     Nancy Allen's hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Liz Blake is delightful as a call girl who witnesses a brutal murder in an elevator. The police suspect her instead, and it's up to her to find the true identity of the mysterious killer wielding a straight razor. Nancy actually carries the film to its brutally suspenseful climax after lead star Angie Dickinson's character is killed off early on in the film.

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