Calling somebody a Scream Queen is something of a misnomer. This point is brought up because an actress can be called that and not actually scream in a film. It truly comes down to how she distinguishes herself in a given role. It's not about how much she exercises her vocal talents. It's more about how many squeals she can illicit from the audience.
Some Scream Queens do, in fact, scream very well. Others do things in a horror movie to make people scream. It all comes down to the kind of scary movie that it is. A film like Scream is filled with people hollering at the top of their lungs, hence the title. A movie like It Follows is not. Yet, they are both very scary horror movies.
However, the Scream Queen resides on a certain block in pop culture. Usually, they are inordinately attractive. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Some have the "girl next door" look. And it is only after following them through a horror movie (perhaps even seeing them scream), that their beauty comes out in their survival instincts. It is emotionally possible for someone to get better looking as the movie plays.
Next is the subject of nudity. A lot of scream queens take it off. Again, this is not a hard and fast rule. Often times it depends on the kind of horror movie it is. Usually, nudity happens as a way to express the vulnerability of said Scream Queen. This is why when a Scream Queen dies in the nude, the kill takes on another dimension.
Great care was taken in putting together our list for 13 Best Horror Movie Scream Queens of All Time. However, there was one guiding principal. How do these Scream Queens make us feel emotionally? What happens to men and women alike when these people come on the screen? So, sit back and enjoy this list. We're sure it will give you something to yell (and scream) about.
While not nude in the original 1978 Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis certainly screamed a lot. This isn't what makes her one of the best Scream Queens. What sets Jamie Lee Curtis apart is her ability to be both smart, sexy...And normal. In Halloween, the film that put her in the Scream Queen realm, she uses her brain to outsmart the brother that wants to murder her. Halloween is the quintessential girl next door, and we as viewers really think she might shuffle the mortal coil. Halloween would go on to build a diverse resume that included many Scream Queen roles, even returning to the Halloween Franchise a few times. However, it is pretty impressive that one film all but cemented her status as a Scream Queen.
When you look up Scream Queen and Sigourney Weaveron IMDB, the title that comes up next to her name is Aliens. Truthfully, the title accompanying her name should probably be Alien. This was the film that showed us just how much of a survivor Sigourney Weaver could be. Her role here unfolds like a slow burn. That she ends up being the one who not only survives, but beats the alien was pretty darn groundbreaking for 1979. Considering that this was the era when Women's Liberation and the ERA really took the national spotlight, like Betsy Palmer later, Sigourney Weaver also elevated what a Scream Queen could be. Sure, Sigourney Weaver has more "straight" movies on her resume than slasher ones, but she is so good in the Alien films that it almost doesn't matter. And, while it may not be a horror movie, her work on the Ghostbusters films puts this Scream Queen in league all her own.
Some may scoff at Neve Campbell being on this list. After all, she isn't known as a horror actress and, as of late, we haven't really seen her on the big screen as much. Scream, despite whatever else the franchise has done or might do, is a damn good horror movie. When it came out, it took viewers by surprise with it's clever plot and self reflection on the very genre it was both celebrating and skewering. Amidst all this is Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott. She is the crux of the movie because we see it through her eyes. As the events unfold, her surprise, fear, and confusion are everything we are experiencing. The stakes keep being raised and in the process we are seeing a reinvention of the Scream Queen. This 2.0 version is different than before. It has a past to account for. More girl next door than bad girl, Neve Campbell, for this movie at least, is a Scream Queen's perfect spokesperson.
With over 30 films to her credit, this Scream Queen seems pretty comfortable being Nancy from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series. Her work in this role is so good, so solid, so uniquely her own (anybody remember how groundbreaking this movie was when it first came out?), that it is honestly hard to imagine anybody else playing this role. In fact, this character must've had an indelible effect on Heather Langenkamp as well... She produced a documentary about playing this role! While not your traditional Scream Queen siren, or "girl next door" beauty, Heather Langenkamp is tough, smart and all Scream Queen.