1. BARBARA STEEL
Given the title ‘Queen of Italian Horror’, she is none other than Barbara Steel. Appearing in over ten horror films through the 1960’s, Ms. Steel definitely earned a spot on this top 5, it simply wouldn’t be right if she wasn’t included. Young, beautiful and full of promise Barbara Steel made her debut appearance in Mario Bava’s ‘Le Macherio del dominio’ also known elsewhere as ‘The Mask of Satan’ or ‘Revenge of a Vampire’ The film itself is credited as being ‘unusually gruesome’ resulting in its release being banned until 1968 in the UK.
Steel was a popular face among the horror genre of the 60’s although she went on to lend her talents to three horror films in the 1970’s, ‘Piranha’ being one of them! If you are a horror buff and constantly comb the catalogue of macabre then Steel’s name will surly jump out at you!
Recommended performance – The Mask of Satan
2. MIA FARROW
We all remember Mia Farrow’s performance in Rosemary’s Baby right? (If you don’t then where have you been?) Well, that is why she has earned herself a spot on my top five. Delivering such an intense and believable performance in Roman Polanski’s infamous adaption, Ms. Farrow undoubtedly has to be heralded for her epic contribution to the horror genre.
The beautiful Mia Farrow has appeared in numerous roles throughout the years including playing the nanny in 2006 remake of ‘The Omen’. However, it was her performance in Rosemary’s Baby that her earned her the title as ‘leading actress’ and projected her career into the success it has become.
If you like a powerful leading lady then you will love Rosemary’s Baby!
Recommended performance – Rosemary’s Baby
3. JUDITH O’ DEA
“They’re coming to get you Barbara!”
How could any horror fan not smile at hearing that line? It’s even better knowing George. A Romero created this zombtastic classic horror Night of the Living Dead and gave life to the films leading lady Barbara.
Throughout the years O’ Dea has appeared in a few low budget horror movies such as ‘Claustrophobia’ ‘Evil Deeds‘, ‘October Moon‘ and ‘Women’s Studies.’ But she is most well known for her performance as Barbara in Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. If you enjoy cheesy, zombie horror then this film should definitely be on your list. thanks to Judith O’Dea’s over the top performance we have a staple leading lady forever etched in the minds of horror fans universal.
The film itself has made many appearances and has been used as references throughout its years existing an iconic piece of horror cinema. Night of the Living Dead has also been used in Horror/Goth musician Wednesday 13’s classic song ‘I walked with a zombie’ (it’s a fun song)
So what you waiting for? Go walk with a zombie!
Recommended performance – Night of the Living Dead
4. TIPPI HEDREN
‘The Birds’ – where do I even begin? When Alfred Hitchcock set out to make this movie he went about it on full power. I have always been amazed by Tippi Hedren’s performance in this horror classic. I was introduced to Hitchcock in early childhood and remember always being fascinated with how Tippi portrayed herself in the film. Her character was so convincing, her terror ‘real’, however It never really occurred to me though that throughout each scene Hedren was disgusting her own real life horror. It is no secret that Alfred Hitchcock was obsessed with his icy blonde leading lady but it was when her on screen horror became offscreen that Tippi started suffering greatly.
I suppose it is this notion alone as to why she sits at number two in my list. Not only did she play a strong role on screen but off screen she was a strong woman. ‘The Birds’ being her first ever debut into the film industry after emerging from a modelling background, Hedren was a name that you would hear quite often in the 60’s especially for her association with Hitchcock.
Recommended performance – The Birds
5. JANET LEIGH –
“We all go a little mad sometimes!”
But of course Norman Bates didn’t have to tell us that for us to believe him. Thrusting a knife repeatedly into a vulnerable woman’s back when showering pretty much speaks for itself, or am I the crazy one in thinking that?
For decades the infamous shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho has repeated itself over and over in a variety of different ways. But of course if hadn’t of been for Janet Leigh’s amazing performance then we would never have been graced with the over the top death scene!
It was psycho that forever solidified Leigh’s reputation as an actress. Psycho is a film that she will forever be associated with and a film that horror fans everywhere will be grateful she starred in.
Throughout the following years Janet Leigh starred in many other films, ‘The Fog’ (1980) being one of them.
Not only did this woman make herself infamous forever but she gave to us our very own scream queen (Jamie Lee Curtis) and that is why she has to take the number one stop.
Recommended performance – Psycho
Every actress mentioned on this list is unique and personally recognized for their talents as women in horror. Without these women we wouldn’t have the classics and I thought it time that a woman of horror myself, take the time to appreciate them for what they have contributed to such an awesome genre.