For more than 80 years, ugly deviants have been scaring beautiful girls. Now, KING documents the evolution of the horror hottie. Holla, if you hear them
By Matt Barone
The Phantom of the Opera’s scariest scene hints at what future “scream queens” will make audibly clear. Upon unmasking the disfigured Phantom, our revolted heroine—opera singer Christine—screams, before fainting. Yes, silence is golden.
In what’s widely considered horror’s moment of conception, Bride of Frankenstein climaxes with two mad scientists bringing Frank’s corpse bride to life in a laboratory. (Hey, isn’t that how Sarah Palin was created?) Unfortunately for our lumbering antihero, his scientifically assembled wifey violently dismisses him, which predictably causes Frank to go apeshit. Consider him the original sensitive thug.
For Janet Leigh, a sensual shower scene quickly degenerates into the most disturbing cleansing since 50 Cent and Terrance Howard’s romp in Get Rich or Die Tryin’. With Psycho, director Alfred Hitchcock shattered plot structure conventions by killing his lead halfway in. If only Cuba Gooding Jr.’s movies followed suit.
Black Christmas—the largely overlooked genesis of the full-on “slasher film”—features a never-seen psychopath mingling with co-eds in a sorority house. His favorite reindeer games include suffocation by plastic bag and impaling. Somebody definitely got coal in his stocking.
Cinema’s quintessential scream queen careerist, Jamie Lee Curtis, first evades Michael Myers in the original Halloween. Curtis, the daughter of Psycho’s Leigh, later headlined The Fog, Prom Night, Terror Train and Halloween 2. But she broke horror junkies’ hearts by saving her first nude scene for the 1983 Eddie Murphy comedy Trading Places. No wonder her death in Halloween: Resurrection felt so satisfying.
Generation X got its own slasher film with Wes Craven’s sarcastic and blood-drenched Scream. Most notable, however, was how the genre’s typically D-list casting was replaced with above-the-title talent such as Drew Barrymore, Courteney Cox and Rose McGowan’s nipples.
In I Know What You Did Last Summer, buxom brunette Jennifer Love Hewitt confronts a fishhook-wielding killer in ideal fashion: The more danger she’s in, the fewer clothes she sports. By the film’s final reel, she’s wearing a towel. Finally, a scream queen we didn’t want to see kick the bucket.
If you can sing, you can undoubtedly scream. In the surprisingly well-made Freddy Vs. Jason, modern horror’s titans clash, racking up an impressive body count in the process. The sexiest of the fatalities was Kelly Rowland, who survived for about three-quarters of the film before being hurled into a tree by Jason. Hey, at least she wasn’t in The Pink Panther.
Take a bow, Mr. Costume Designer, you deserve it. In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, Jessica Biel battles the demented (and inbred) Leatherface in a dirty, sweat-drenched wife-beater. Sadly, it’s her lone horror-movie moment. Unless you count her flirtation with Adam Sandler in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.
Cursed was a laughable attempt to reinvent the werewolf genre. Honestly, it sucked. Really. But the one thing it has going for it is Mya’s extended death sequence, which she performs in a form-fitting, leopard-print dress. It’s the only redeemable part of the movie’s 90-minute running time. And the reason why the fast-forward button is precious.