Happy Friday the 13th! Last week I posted my twenty favourite horror film actors and this week I bring you the lovely and talented ladies of horror! There are loads of awesome and memorable performances from actresses in the horror genre. I short-listed 73 women which I whittled down to 20. You’ll notice I didn’t include many of the newer generation of horror actresses. There are a few reasons they did not make the cut. I am not a big fan of a good chunk of the horror films made after 1989. You know that trend of putting the actors and actresses faces on the poster? In case you don’t know what I mean, here is a picture.

I don’t know if the 1997 film I Know What You Did Last Summer started this infection, but I blame it anyway. Covers like these seem to practically guarantee I am going to hate the film. I detest this quartet of films and their entire ilk. There are of course some gems among the post 1989 ruins. The Descent, May, Martyrs, Ginger Snaps, Inside, Audition, High Tension all have great strong female performances. There were a few women I struggled with including that deserve some mention. Stunning and sexy Soledad Miranda who died when she was only 27 years old was a heavy contender with her Jess Franco offerings Vampiros lesbos, She Killed in Ecstasy and Count Dracula. Ms. Danielle Harris definitely has a solid horror resume. Her first two film credits are Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5. Many more horror films follow this including Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween 2, Stake Land and Hatchet II. I actually think Harris is a very likeable scream queen but I haven’t been too moved by the films themselves (other than Stake Land), so she did not make the list. I also wanted to include P.J. Soles who is a lot of fun in Carrie and Halloween and also happens to be in one of my fave non-horror 80s guilty pleasures; Stripes. But Soles only had a couple other horror credits and they are not good ones. A few other women who made the shortlist were Dee Wallace, Judy Geeson, Eihi Shiina, Joan Crawford, Sheri Moon Zombie, Martine Bestwick, Nancy Allen, Mimsy Farmer and Suzy Kendall.


One of my favourite saucy sex kittens of Giallo (Gialli?) is Barbara Bouchet. Bouchet even looks like a kitty cat with those tiny little features. Her eyes are just amazing and despite generally playing the victim Bouchet never comes off as dumb or useless. Bouchet absolutely oozes confidence and struts about naked with such ease you’d think she was born that way. I like every film on this list but Don’t Torture A Duckling (1972) and Red Queen Kills 7 Times (1972) are my two personal favourites. Here is a sampling of her Giallo resume; The Man with Icy Eyes (1971), Black Belly of the Tarantula (1971), The French Sex Murders (1972), Amuck (1972),



The daughter of director Dario Argento and actress Daria Nicolodi (see below). Like mom, she has been featured in numerous titles from Mr. Argento. Asia is a striking woman. I think it is a bit of shame that she tends to plays victims not vixens. Although she is aces at looking frightened! She was 11 years old when she was in her first horror film, Demons 2: The Nightmare Returns (1986) which was written by her father and Lamberto Bava (son of Mario Bava). Trauma (1993) was the first film she was in that was directed by her father. The Stendhal Syndrome (1996) was probably the last decent horror film Argento made. I definitely prefer Ms. Argento’s early entries; Demons 2 (1986), The Church (1989), Trauma (1993) and The Stendhal Syndrome (1996). Other notable horror films (notable doesn’t necessarily mean good); The Phantom of the Opera (1989), Assenzio, L’ (2001), Love Bites (2001), Land of the Dead (2005), Mother of Tears (2007)



Daria Nicolodi is the significant other of director Dario Argento and as a result a good chunk of her horror credits are Argento’s films. This list contains two of not only my favourite Argento films, but my favourite horror films, period; Deep Red (1975) and Tenebre (1982). Nicolodi is an unusual looking woman and always reminds me a little of a man in drag. Not a particularly flattering description, but there is something I can never quite put my finger on that does make Nicolodi stand out in a room. She brings plenty of confidence and a cheeky attitude to her characters and I think she gives a great performance in my two aforementioned favourites. Ms. Nicolodi’s horror list also includes; Shock (1977), Inferno (1980), Phenomena (1985), Delirium (1987), Opera (1987), Paganini Horror (1989), La setta (1991), Mother of Tears (2007)



Debbie Rochon has a huge list of horror titles! She has 200 acting credits on IMDB and a good slice of those are horror. I stopped counting the horror films at 80 some odd! Frankly, I only recognized about 30ish titles and have probably only seen 20ish of those. They are not all winners by any means, but Debbie knows how to leave an impression. Rochon is a great vixen who always brings a lot of spunk to the table. She has been in several Troma films; some of which are among her most entertaining roles. Some of my favorites from her list are Terror Firmer, Hellblock 13, Parts of the Family, Vampyre Tales, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead and Colour from the Dark. Debbie Rochon is still gamely employed in the horror industry. Rock on Rochon! Here is just a taste of Ms. Rochon’s horror titles; Banned (1989), Valerie (1992), Black Easter (1994), Shriek of the Lycanthrope (1995), Santa Claws (1996), Stumped, Vampire Seduction, Head Cheerleader Dead Cheerleader (2000), Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV (2000), Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker! (2001), The Underdogs (2002), American Nightmare (2002), Dead Clowns (2003), The Bog Creatures (2003), Deadly Stingers (2003), Tales from the Crapper (2004), Wolfsbayne (2005), Heather and Puggly Drop a Deuce (2005), Skeleton Key (2006), Bikini Bloodbath (2006), Mulberry Street (2006), Chicago Massacre: Richard Speck (2007), Splatter Disco (2007), Fearmakers, Bikini Bloodbath Car Wash, Bikini Bloodbath Christmas



Alida Valli has an amazing face. It is almost like a sculpture its angles are so sharp. I think Valli is a beautiful woman, but her angular face also has the ability to look severe. Valle was in a number of horror films in the latter half of her career and some damn fine ones too. I love Eyes Without a Face (1960) and recommend it often. Valli was also in a number of strong Italian entries including Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980) and Mario Bava’s Lisa and the Devil (1974). Valli is a talented actress and the horror genre was richer for her appearances. Also notable horror entries; Tendre Dracula (1974), The Antichrist (1974), The Killer Nun (1979), Eye in the Labyrinth (1972), That House in the Outskirts (1980). Alida Valli died on April 22, 2006 at the age of 84.



That picture is oh-so-80s! That is why it is the perfect picture for Linnea Quigley who is one of the first people that pops in my head when I think of the 80s! The perky and petite actress with the big blond hair even had a horror workout video! Linnea’s willingness to don her threads and die with gusto has kept her gamefully employed in the horror industry. Her horror list is monstrous! She has 115 acting credits on IMDB and 90ish of those are horror! She is in some of the shlockiest but most enjoyable horror films from the 80s. One of my all time favorites is Return of the Living Dead (1985) but I sure do love me some Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988), Night of the Demons (1988), and Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)! A few of Ms. Quigley’s other notable horror films; Don’t Go Near the Park (1981), Graduation Day (1981), Fatal Games (1984), Savage Streets (1984), Nightmare Sisters (1987), Creepozoids (1987), Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Dead Heat, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Witchtrap (1989), Innocent Blood (1992), Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1993), Vampire Hunter (1994), Burial of the Rats (1995), Stripteaser (1995), Jack-O (1995), Wolfsbayne (2005), It Came from Trafalgar



Margot Kidder always seems very natural in her roles. She has a casual confidence and a mildly quirky personality that appeals to me. Kidder was absolutely adorable when she was young and her performance in her first entry, Sisters (1973), is as charming as it is psychotic. I absolutely love her sweet French-Canadian accent! She gets extra points for being a Canadian. While Margot Kidder may be known for her role as Lois Lane in Superman and its sequels I think it is more than fair to say that she is equally well known for her horror films. Not a big list but I love Sisters as mentioned and Black Christmas (1974), The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975), and while I have my issues with The Amityville Horror (1979) I enjoyed the performances from both Kidder and James Brolin. Kidder has also been in some horror flicks in the last few years including Rob Zombie’s Halloween II (2009); probably the best known of the lot.



While Bette Davis may be an Academy award winning actress I think she is equally well known for the mysteries, thrillers and horror films she did in the latter half of her career. I think Bette Davis is bad-ass. She is cool, confident and hard as nails. Davis is a wonderful, talented well-rounded actress and like Ms. Valli in position #16 horror was lucky to have her in her later years. My favourite Davis entries are (two of this quartet are more thriller/mystery than horror but are nonetheless great films); What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), Dead Ringer (1964), and The Nanny (1965). Also notable; Burnt Offerings (1976) and The Watcher in the Woods (1980) (this one is awfully “PG”). Bette Davis died on October 6, 1989 at the age of 81.



Caroline Munro was in a handful of Hammer films; and who loves their busty, Leggy women more than Hammer films?! Although I did not include it in her list; Munro’s first horror credit was The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971). She was featured as the dead wife to Price’s Dr. Phibes and had no lines. Besides being lovely to look at Munro is a solid woman with some height who does not look like she would have any trouble taking care of herself. She is sweet and likeable with just the right hint of naughty. I love Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter (1974), Maniac (1980) and The Last Horror Film (1982). Below are most of Caroline’s horror film titles; Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), I Don’t Want to Be Born (1975), Slaughter High (1986), Howl of the Devil (1987), Faceless, Demons 6: De Profundis (1989), Flesh for the Beast (2003), The Absence of Light (2006)



Anita Strindberg is another lovely lady on the list from the world of Giallo. Strindberg has some seriously brilliant Giallo titles on her list. I think she is one of the most talented actresses in the genre and plays the victim every bit as well as the vixen. You throw a wig on this woman’s head and she looks like a completely different person! Her slender face and big doe eyes are surprisingly moldable. She can be a frightened horrified mother or shoot a look that kills. Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971) is my favourite on the list but Strindberg is also superb in the excellent The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (1971), Who Saw Her Die? (1971) and Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972). Other notable entries from Strindberg’s list include; Tropic of Cancer (1972), Women in Cell Block 7 (1973), Man Without a Memory (1974), The Antichrist (1974), Murder obsession (1981)



There is no one quite like the Seductive Ingrid Pitt. It is a bloody shame she did not get more and better quality roles. I’m pushing it including Ms.Pitt on the list with her scrawny resume; never mind a top 10 position. But screw it! I love Ingrid Pitt to death! Pitt broke her celluloid cherry rather late in life beginning in her late 20’s. She caught the eye of Hammer Studio’s in 1970 who cast her in The Vampire Lovers. Ingrid Pitt is absolutely, positively the best female vampire of all time ever! She is bad-ass and sexy and a shitload of fun! My favourite Pitt role is definitely The Vampire Lovers (1970), and she is also a hoot in the horror anthology The House that Dripped Blood (1971) and the classic The Wicker Man (1973). Ingrid loved and embraced her iconic horror status and the passion in her performances makes that clear. I am begrudgingly adding Pitt’s other horror credits. With the exception of the mediocre Countess Dracula (1971), this is a pretty crummy selection; Sound of Horror (1966),  Transmutations (1985), The Asylum (2000), Minotaur (2006), Sea of Dust (2008). Ingrid Pitt died on November 23, 2010 at the age of 73.



The talented and unique Angela Bettis has been in two of my favourite horror films from the past decade-ish; May (2002) and The Woman (2011). Bettis is one of the few women of the newer generation of horror actresses to make my list. Bettis has a fragile exterior and quiet demeanor but it always seems as though there is something just bubbling underneath. She can be incredibly intense for a woman who looks as though a strong wind might knock her over. The multi-faceted Bettis has even directed. To be honest, I found her directorial debut Roman (2006) a little dull, but I see the potential and I anxiously anticipate her short film entry in the upcoming anthology The ABCs of Death. Bettis’ horror contributions are a bit iffy after the two aforementioned but I loved the Masters of Horror Sick Girl segment (2006) and Toolbox Murders (2003) is okay. I thought Bettis did a good job in two absolute disasters; Bless the Child (2000), and Carrie (remake made for TV 2002). God-awful films this duo, but Bettis still shines.



Adrienne Barbeau has had an interesting career. I vaguely remember my parents watching Maude when I was a kid on which Barbeau was a regular. I don’t think it made any impression on me whatsoever except when I seen The Fog for the first time I recognized her. Apparently her roles in John Carpenter’s The Fog and Escape from New York were written specifically for her. Fun fact; Barbeau was married to John Carpenter (now divorced) and they have one child together. Barbeau is a strong actress who like many of the women on this list is as good at playing the bad-ass as she is the damsel in distress. I loved Barbeau in Creepshow (1982), The Fog (1980) and Two Evil Eyes (1990). While it may not be horror, I still love Escape From New York and Adrienne’s character Ruthie in the HBO series Carnivale was quite fantastic (a shame that series ended on a low note). Here are more of Barbeau’s horror entries; Someone’s Watching Me! (TV -1978), The Darker Side of Terror (TV -1979), Swamp Thing (1982), Bridge Across Time (1985), Open House (1987), Burial of the Rats (1995), The Convent (2000), Ring of Darkness (2004) and Unholy (2007)



The statuesque Barbara Shelley is an absolute delight! Shelley is another horror actress from the stables at Hammer films. Although my favourite film on Shelley’s list is Village of the Damned (1960), her list also contains two of my all time favourite Hammer Films; Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) and Quatermass and the Pit (1967). Barbara Shelley always gives an outstanding performance and makes it look easy. Shelley is a class act! Shelley’s other entertaining horror offerings; Cat Girl (1957), Blood of the Vampire (1958), The Shadow of the Cat (1961), The Gorgon (1964), Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966)



Jamie Lee Curtis; daughter of actors Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis got her first big break in film playing Laurie Strode in 1978’s Halloween. She followed it up with a handful of solid horror films before she made a conscience decision to seek roles in other genres. After Halloween II in 1981 she did not do another horror film until 1998 when she starred in Halloween H2O: 20 Years Later. She sports a fairly small list of films, but what is there, is pretty impressive. Jamie Lee Curtis is one of horrors most likeable scream queens. She may have moved on to other things but she will always be remembered as the actress who got her start is horror. Here’s Jamie’s Horror film list; Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), Prom Night (1980), Terror Train (1980), Roadgames (1981), Halloween II (1981), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Virus (1999), Halloween: Resurrection (2002)



When it comes to bad-ass woman you can’t beat Sheila Keith. Keith is one hard looking woman! She even scares me a little when she is smiling. Keith spent a long time working in television until she met director Pete Walker who put her in four of his horror films. And Satan bless Walker for doing so! Keith is fantastic in this quartet especially in Frightmare (1974) which I highly recommend! The Comeback (1978) is the weak link of the four but Keith is still fabulous! I would definitely recommend watching House of Whipcord (1974) and House of Mortal Sin (1976) first if you like Frightmare. She was also in House of the Long Shadows (1983) with Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and John Carradine. If you pretend Desi Arnaz Jr. isn’t in it, it is actually quite fun. Sheila Keith died on October 14, 2004 at the age of 84.



Beautiful and exotic Florinda Bolkan has a small but powerful list of Giallo including two of my favourite Fulci entries Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971) and Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972). A friend lent me Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970) recently which I loved! Even the flawed Flavia the Heretic (1974) and The Last House on the Beach (1978) have their moments. Bolkan is a fantastic actress and always gives a top notch performance regardless of the material.



Barcelona’s brunette beauty Lina Romay is a sexually-charged, unabashed, atom of energy! Romay met low budget, independent filmmaker Jess Franco in the early 70s and has been featured in a massive number of his films. Romay’s alluring and steamy presence on the screen and her enthusiastic sexual endeavors have made her a favorite of those of us who are fans of European horror. Jess Franco has some truly awful films, almost unwatchable, but he does have some gold nuggets if you sift through. Franco/Romay titles are a bit of an acquired taste. I find I enjoy them more when I watch two or three in a row. I have no idea why. It is like a fungus or something. My favorite Romay roles are Countess Irina Karlstein in Female Vampire (1973), Barbed Wire Dolls (1975), Die Marquise von Sade (1976), Macumba sexual (1983), and Jack the Ripper (1976). Lina has also written, directed and produced films. Here is just a small selection of Lina’s huge list of Horror Films; The Erotic Adventures of Frankenstein (1972), Daughter of Dracula (1972), Gloutonnes, Les (1973),  Al otro lado del espejo (1973), Lorna, the Exorcist (1974), The Perverse Countess (1974), Chatouilleuses, Les (1975),  Wicked Women (1977), Ilsa, the Wicked Warden, Demoniac (1979), Barbarian Goddess (1980), Revenge in the House of Usher (1982), Mansion of the Living Dead (1985)



Edwige Fenech is 1970’s style, glamour and beauty personified. I do love my Giallo and Fenech’s list is jam-packed full of the most desirable among them. The brilliant Sergio Martino’s The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971), All the Colors of the Dark (1972) and Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) are all outstanding Giallo. Giuliano Carnimeo’s The Case of the Bloody Iris (1972) is another stylish and quirky Giallo I thoroughly enjoy. The grandfather of Italian horror; Mario Bava’s 5 Dolls for an August Moon (1970) and Andrea Bianchi’s Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975) plots are summed up in their title but are nonetheless tons of fun. Phantom of Death (1988) is awfully lightweight for Ruggero Deodato but its okay. Fenech also made an appearance in Eli Roth’s Hostel: Part II (2007). It is a shame that Fenech usually plays women in peril because I think her devilishly delightful role as the naughty Floriana in Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key is her best. But she certainly does make a lovely, not to mention unabashed woman in peril. In Goregirl’s world Edwige Fenech is the Queen of Giallo.



Classically beautiful Barbara Steele’s was 21 years old when she appeared in her first horror film; Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960). She followed up the role with Roger Corman’s The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) and several other genre films would follow. The aforementioned duo are actually my two favourite Steele flicks but I also enjoy The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962), The Ghost (1963), The Long Hair of Death (1964), Castle of Blood (1964) and Nightmare Castle (1965). Barbara declared publically that she was tired of being type cast, and took a break from horror for a few years although a few sporadic horror titles popped up including David Cronenberg’s Shivers (1975) and Joe Dante’s Piranha (1978). These days, Steele has developed a fondness for her horror queen status and even shows up at horror festivals. Barbara Steele is a delight whether she is playing naughty or nice. She has played dual roles in at least three films (maybe four or more?). Barbara Steele is a talented actress who has contributed an impressive Legacy of classic Horror that will live on forever.



  1. AWESOME list! Ah Hammer, where a boy became a man haha

  2. I’m happy to see that Barbara Steele is #1, and I also love Asia Argento, Daria Nicolodi and Edwige Fenech.

    Off-topic slightly, when I first clicked onto your site today “What’s in the queue?” was showing La Residenica, which is the second mention I’ve seen of that movie in the last 15 minutes! I guess the universe is telling me to watch that one. It happens to feature a woman who would definitely be in my top 20, Cristina Galbo.

    • goregirl Says:

      Same guy who directed Who Can Kill A Child. Very conservative – they actually wear nightie looking things in the shower. Great twist ending although a bit obvious who the killer is…I actually liked it.

  3. Awesome! You posted it! I’ve been anxiously waiting for it! Some very great choices. I have a major crush on Asia Argento so I’m psyched she is on here. Also psyched to see Margot Kidder on here. ‘Sisters’ is such a fucked up movie! And Adrienne Barbeau from ‘The Fog’ is another one of my personal favorites. Barbara Bouchet is absolutely gorgeous!

  4. goregirl Says:

    Glad you like. It is a bit heavy on Giallo actresses (damn close to half the list). I have been obsessed with Giallo for three years and have made an effort to see everything I can get my hands on. I am running out of titles as a matter of fact. I changed the list several times as i usually do. There were a lot more North American woman on my original list but when i started looking at their actual film credits there were a bunch who just did not belong. I think this final least represents my taste in film fairly well. And than again, in the next year I’ll see another 400 films and probably discover all manner of important men and women I left off of these two lists.

  5. Oh man, I’ve never heard of a lot of these. But Bette Davis in Baby Jane is a freaky deaky for sure.

    • You definitely have to be a horror film fan to recognize most of these ladies. Lots o’fun What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?…Davis is off her rocker.

  6. Great list. The most recognisable are Jamie Lee Curtis, Linnea Quigley, and Barbara Steele. If I can add one more: Takako Fuji who plays the vengeful spook Kayako Saeki in Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-On films. She hasn’t worked much beyond them but boy is she scary!

    • Thanks Jason. The list is sadly lacking in Asian actresses. Most of the women I shortlisted didn’t have more than one horror credit. I have seen only one Ju-on film which I liked but still did not really think of Takako Fujion. Fujion is in the American remake The Grudge also, but I really did not care for that film. Eihi Shiina made the shorter shortlist, but in the end her 3 films couldn’t beat others. We should chat about the podcast…I’ll send you an email in the next few days. I am still trying to set up Skype. Problems.

      • Eihi Shiina is one of the few actresses I can think of who has made a place for herself in horror movies. I cannot think of any Japanese equivalents of Jamie Lee Curtis or Barbara Steele – there are probably some.

        I look forward to the email.

  7. I agree! This is an excellent and very thorough list of “Favourite Horror Film Actressess.” Even though I’m also a fan of all of these ladies, I couldn’t have done a better job compiling the list! My personal favorite is Caroline Munro. I’ve met her a number of times and spent a good amount of time talking to her. “She is sweet and likeable with just the right hint of naughty.” I couldn’t agree with that more!

    • Okay, I’m going to spell “actresses” once more and get it right this time! That’s what I get for staying up way too late!

    • Thanks Chris! Does not surprise me at all to hear Caroline Munro is as charming in person as she is on screen. I like that she embraces her cult status. When I was looking up pictures for this post there were quite a few shots of Munro at conventions. Sadly, we don’t have any horror festivals or conventions here in Vancouver. Toronto has Rue Morgue Festival of Fear which I have been to just once. I really should make an effort to go again.

  8. Excellent list! Thoughtful and impressive. I’m a fan of all these ladies,and I’m very happy to see your top three favorites as I love each of these talented actresses. There are so many actresses I like,too numerous to mention all of them. I adore Brett O’Hara as Madame Estella and Erina Enyo as her sister Carmelita in The Incredibly Strange Creature Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies,and I could go on and on. I would have a tough time picking a top twenty list,but as always,you did an amazing job.

    • goregirl Says:

      It was difficult picking just 20! I probably change these lists a dozen times before I post them.

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