noun: teenager; plural noun: teenagers
1. a person aged between 13 and 19 years.
synonyms: adolescent, youth, young person, boy, girl, minor, juvenile, teen, teenybopper
On this day in 1978 we saw the Antichrist himself begin the transition from boy to man. I’m referring, of course, to the release of ‘Damien: Omen II’. To mark this occasion I am going to give you one hell of a countdown, looking at 6 different teens in 3 different categories – 666.
Teenagers very rarely play significant roles in film, and if they do the characters are rarely strong or memorable. With all their adolescent emotions, never knowing what they could do next, you’d think there would be more notable characters out there. These lists were difficult to compile but I believe I have found the best of teens in horror, characters/stars out there.
Teenage girls, when they are not being used simply to move along the plot in a horror film, are dangerous and unpredictable characters. They are growing in to themselves and realising the strength they have inside while they pack away their childish things in order to explore their sexuality and power. Below are 6 girls you don’t want to mess with.
6. Lola (‘The Loved Ones’)
Lola is a character from ‘The Loved Ones’ (2009), an Australian film about the lengths a jilted girl will go to have her guy. Filled with delusions from her father, Lola (played by Robin McLeavy) thinks herself like a princess looking for her prince; but whenever she comes across a “frog” she takes them hostage with the help of her father in order to torture and keep likeanimals by performing crude surgery involving a drill and boiling water.
Like most Australian horror movies, it is filled with graphic and fairly inventive, artistically shot scenes that beautify and capture the dynamics of this torture family. This is Sean Byrne’s first film as a director and he captures perfectly the twists in Lola’s psyche and you really experience the justifications for her actions.
5. Dawn (‘Teeth’)
I remember when this film made it to the Edinburgh Fringe and my friend at the time would come up to me with her hands clasped, mimicking jaws and the teeth of vagina dentata – the film created a lot of buzz. This 2007 film starring Jess Weixler as Dawn, the girl with the extra set of teeth, sets itself around this folklore and the fear of female sexuality. For me it was less about Dawn as a person, she was a character designed to encompass women as a unit, and more about showing the ways in which cis (comfortable in own skin) women are oppressed by others taking control of our sexuality from birth. For Dawn her sexuality was owned by her family to her religion to the men around her as she began growing up, and when her boyfriend raped her. Her systematically taking back of her sexuality is what makes her a dangerous girl to the men who objectify her.
Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein, this indie horror; with its use of a B-movie horror tool; goes to extremes to show how powerful a woman can be when she is in control of her sexuality, and therefore her life – whether it was intended as a feminist piece or not.
4. Carrie (‘Carrie’)
In 1976 Sissy Spacek began to study the bible and a book called “The Body Language of People Being Stoned for Their Sins” while hiding in corners and behind the set between takes. She isolated herself from the rest of the cast and crew with hope to express a lifetime of religious abuse and neglect to the cameras. I have to say I think the hard work paid off.
Directed by Brian De Palma and based on Stephen King’s novel of the same title, ‘Carrie’ is about an isolated girl who faces abuse from her heavily religious mother at home and bullying at school for her inability to fit in. It is on the day of her first period, as she panics and thinks that she is dying that she starts to make things move. As her telekinetic abilities grow she finds strength in herself. That strength ends up killing everyone at the school dance when she realises she was part of a horrible prank. In the final scenes of the movie you see just how powerful she has become and how much destruction she can cause when she has reached her limit.
3. Pauline (‘Excision’)
This very artistically grotesque movie starring AnnaLynne McCord as Pauline follows a teenage girl who has lost herself in a delusional world and seems to have a difficult time differentiating between that and reality. Breaking up the plot were dream sequences in which our little misfit has vivid, orgasm inducing dreams of blood and gore. Her obsession with one day becoming a surgeon and her need to cause trouble and be blunt with those around leads to the suspicion that something terrible is going to happen; and it does in the most tragic and insane way when we finally get to experience just how delusional Pauline has become. Pauline’s obsession with blood and dissection, her love for her sister but clear illness makes her an unpredictable and dangerous teen to be left alone in a room with.
2. Alice (‘Alice, Sweet Alice’)
Alice, played by Paula E. Shepard, is a young girl with severe emotional issues that makes her take pleasure in terrorising her little sister, scaring people at church and teasing her overweight landlord with a sexuality she is too young to understand. Directed by Alfred Sole in 1976, this masked killer film was even before ‘Halloween’ and ‘Friday the 13th’, although it did not get much notice. Due to Alice’s sociopathic behaviour and ability to make things look like accidents, when her little sister is murdered at her first communion eyes fall on her as a suspect. Throughout the investigation people are attacked by a masked person – a mask that everyone knows as Alice’s. Whether or not the killer is Alice, she is certainly a dangerous girl and capable of anything in this creepy horror movie.
1. Jenifer (‘Jenifer’)
Jenifer is not from a film but rather an episode of Masters of Horror – but she has always been a really memorable teen character to me and I felt she deserved a place on the Dangerous Girls Countdown. Directed by Dario Argento and starring (my personal favourite) Steven Weber the story is about a cop that saves a young girl from being slaughtered by a man. This girl is Jenifer (played by Carrie Fleming) and any man to save her from the previous suddenly cannot stop thinking about her. She is a take on the black widow archetype, with what I think are banshee-like similarities. Jenifer, although blessed with a beautiful, natural body and the ability to make sweet come-hither sounds, has the face of a demon and has predatory traits. She will fight with animals, eat children because they are easy prey and all the while the man obsessed with her cannot leave her or stop her, leading to their eventual death and a new man taking on the cursed Jenifer.
It was especially difficult to find good male teen characters in the horror genre, but I got there. Below are 6 of the most crazy, delusional, creepy and dangerous teen boys in horror.
6. Billy (‘Scream’)
Billy is played by Skeet Ulrich in this 1996, first instalment of the ‘Scream’ franchise. Directed by Wes Craven, Scream is based on the true events of a town terrorised by a killer, the ‘Gainesville Ripper’. Billy is pretty much the lowest of the low when it comes to teen bad boys: he becomes long term boyfriend to the girl he wants to murder, he hassles her to have sex with him, he terrorises her, kidnaps her dad and makes her think he is guilty just to prove his innocence, finally gets her in the sack, kills all her friends and confesses everything right before he tries to kill her. Starring Matthew Lillard as his equally delusional partner in crime, he pressures his friend in to going on a killing spree with him with hope of getting revenge on his girlfriend, Sidney (Neve Campbell), because her mother broke up his family.
5. Brett (‘Eden Lake’)
Brett, played by Jack O’Connell, is the leader of a gang of teenagers in this movie that shows exactly how bad things can go when group mentality kicks in. Though I can’t say this for sure, I think the film is loosely based on a French-Romanian film called ‘Ils’. In the film the gang, led by Brett, begin to hassle then eventually torture and kill a couple on a camping trip because they were asked to turn down their music. Brett’s character was played as though he could only feel his own suffering; so if someone did or said something to him that he didn’t like, he made sure to bully and control his friends until they all played equal roles in his revenge scheme. Although an over-the-top example of violent gang culture in Britain, it was very in a very real manner.
4. Malachai (‘Children of the Corn’)
It can be argued that Isaac is the most evil boy in this film, but he’s not old enough for this countdown so we’re having to settle with Malachai (Courtney Gains), Isaac’s henchman. Although Isaac tells the kids what to do, Malachai is ruthless and vengeful and does not think twice about slicing the throats of anyone that does not do right by “he who walks behind the rows”. Directed by Fritz Kiersch, this 1984 film is based on a Stephen King novella about a farming community with a bad run of crops. The children, led by a prophet child, kill all the adults because they believe their sinning ways are causing the poor crops. From this a child cult is created to worship a god of corn with human sacrifices. Malachai makes it to number 4 on the countdown because of his heartless ability to slaughter children, because he turns against Isaac and ties him up as sacrifice, and because he is generally just one evil looking teenager.
3. Damien (‘Damien: Omen II’)
Johnathan Scott-Taylor plays the now adolescent Damien in this 1978 sequel. Directed by Don Taylor and Mike Hodges, thisinstalment shows Damien almost grown up and realising who he is. Plans continue to fall in to place for the Antichrist, with a disciple of Satan working his way up the Thorn Industries ladder to make it so they will soon be profiting from bringing famine on to third world countries – preparing it for when Damien eventually becomes sole heir. No one can ever get close to Damien, even the people that love him, unless they want to die inexplicably – it is not this, but his eventual acceptance of who he is that makes him truly a force to be reckoned with.
2. Martin (‘Martin’)
‘Martin’ (1977) is probably my favourite vampire movie. Written and directed by George A. Romero, this is one of his best films that rarely gets recognised. John Amplas plays the role of poor, unfortunate Martin; a young boy who moves to Pennsylvania to live with his very old cousin. Martin has to live every day being reminded that his family think he has the family curse – that he was born a vampire – and that members of the family who are not cursed have to take him in. There is never any definitive proof that Martin is a vampire and he often torments and terrifies his elderly cousin about the concept; but whether delusion or not, the family have beat the idea in to him for so long that he hunts women, drugs them, rapes them while they sleep, and drinks their blood until they are lifeless. “Cat-face” Amplas makes such a convincing performance out of poor old Martin that it is hard to feel fearful of him even when you know what he is capable of.
1. Todd (‘Apt Pupil’)
Todd (Brad Renfro) is a high school student that finds proof of an elderly Nazi war criminal living in his neighbourhood, and uses his evidence to blackmail the old man in to telling him the gruesome Holocaust stories they don’t tell in the history books. The power struggle between Todd and the old Nazi (Ian McKellen) is vividly shown as they are both pulled in to the darkness of events from the old man’s past. Todd is obseesed with the Holocaust because he wants to know the power that can make people do something so profoundly evil, and how he can harness it to be powerful himself. He succeeds, forming a strong bond with the old man and their secrets and ending the film by telling the school councillor he threatens, “You have no idea what I’m capable of”. Todd is the darkest teen character that I have ever come across, and with such a beautiful and powerful film as the backdrop it only enhances him.
Scream Queens in the Making
Some Scream Queens made their way in to the genre by working in it from the beginning and I feel are the ones most dedicated to the genre. Below are 6 women who became Scream Queens by starting out in horror as teenagers, and the roles they played.
6. Amber Heard (Mandy; ‘All the Boys Love Mandy Lane’)
I remember having a lot of respect for Amber Heard trying to stick to horror, dark and cult films during the beginning of her career. Although she does play more light-hearted roles I feel she has a place here, and it all started with her teen role as Mandy. Mandy is up there with the beauty queens in terms of looks, she is considered a “good girl” and keeps to the side lines in high school. Her looks still get her in to trouble with boys accidentally killing themselves trying to impress her and when she is invited to a girl’s ranch with a handful of students a killing spree occurs. Amber Heard got noticeable recognition in this role and from there on in has been working on her horror icon image.
5. Heather Langenkamp (Nancy; ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’)
Considered one of the original Scream Queens, Heather Langenkamp got her name in the cult horror franchise ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’. Heather Langenkamp played Nancy in the original ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, where she earned her stars as Freddy’s biggest problem – the girl who was going to fight back. In the film Nancy and a group of friends all start to dream about a man with a burnt face who was coming in to their dreams and killing them in their sleep. Although Heather Langenkamp rarely made an appearance in horror outside of this franchise, it was all she needed to make a dramatic impact on the horror film genre.
4. Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy; ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ – series)
Sarah Michelle Gellar has a long history with horror with films such as: ‘The Grudge’, ‘The Grudge 2’, ‘Scream 2’, and ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’. Although I don’t appreciate a lot of the horror she has played a role in, I do appreciate her dedication to darker genre work and that is why she makes it to number 4 on the countdown with a show I once really loved, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’. Originally set in a high school with a 16 year old Buffy Summers and gang fighting monsters and evil forces and getting in to comical mishaps, it was a fun cult horror show and it is what put her on the road to Scream Queen status.
3. Neve Campbell (Sidney; ‘Scream’)
Neve Campbell is well known for her roles in both ‘The Craft’ and ‘Scream’ franchise, but it was definitely her role in ‘Scream’ that launched her in to horror fame. Neve Campbell played protagonist Sidney Prescott as a teenager in the original ‘Scream’ film back in 1996. She continued to play Sidney in the next 3 ‘Scream films’, the last being released in 2011. I felt Sidney was a convincing character, even in the original film and from then on you saw her evolve as she grew in each instalment. Sure, because it’s a slasher film she has to be a victim, but she was a damn good victim – and she always won the fight.
2. Kathrine Isabelle (Ginger; ‘Ginger Snaps’)
Kathrine Isabelle first became a well-known face in horror after starring in Indie flick ‘Ginger Snaps’ as an elder sister who is attacked by a werewolf in woods one night when she suddenly has here first period. Yes, it is a film that uses the werewolf archetype as a metaphor for coming in to womanhood, but it is also a damn good werewolf film. Throughout the film Ginger’s symptoms worsen as it gets closer to the full moon, hyped up with a sexual and blood lust she is hungry to indulge in everything while at the same time facing an inner turmoil at the changes in her body (she grows a tail and gets pretty hairy). She is almost exclusively a genre actress now and since her teen days she has starred in ‘American Mary’, ‘Freddy vs. Jason’, ‘Hannibal’ (TV series), ‘Torment’ and ‘Vampire’ – just to name a few.
1. Jamie Lee Curtis (Laurie; ‘Halloween’)
Do I really need to explain how Jamie Lee Curtis is a Scream Queen?
Her role as Laurie in the ‘Halloween’ horror franchise is what gets her in to this teen category. Once she starred as Michael’s little sister; hunted by him once he escapes from a mental facility when she is a teenager; there was no going back. She has done so much in the way of films but she will always be known for her horror films. She has starred in other horror films such as ‘The Fog’ and ‘Prom Night’.