A true Scream Queen can't just shriek, cry and cower -- she's got to know how to fight to the death if need be, digging deep to find previously unknown survival skills. A Scream Queen might not be the last one standing, but you know she looked good while she was standing ... and being chased … and dragged … and bludgeoned.
"Scream 4" slices its way onto DVD and Blu-ray this week, and Ghostface has some new ladies who he wants to hear scream, namely "Heroes'" Hayden Panettiere and Emma Roberts of "Nancy Drew" fame.
Do they figure into the discussion around classic scream queens? Here's at look at their strongest (and loudest) competition ...
9. Katie Cassidy
The Scream Queen of horror remakes. This blond beauty, daughter of pop star and actor David Cassidy, has given her lungs a good workout in the new versions of "When a Stranger Calls," "Black Christmas," and most recently, "A Nightmare on Elm Street." Now that Cassidy has been on the wrong end of Freddy Krueger’s glove she seems to have moved on to less gory roles, but we’re hoping she hasn’t left the horror genre behind completely… not every actress can make her screams that convincing, or make being terrified look that good.
8. Naomi Watts
Watts fought the powers of darkness in 1996's "Children of the Corn IV," but it wasn't until 2002 that her Scream Queen status was fully recognized with her starring role in Gore Verbinski's "The Ring." The Japanese remake's eerie atmosphere was anchored by Watts' steely performance as journalist Rachel Keller, who had "seven days" to unravel the film's foreboding mysteries. Watts keeps a shaky calm throughout, but in the final moments her resolve snaps as she sees the ruined face of another victim, this one hitting close to home. "The Ring" spawned one sequel, giving Watts' scream another chance to echo off the walls of a haunted well.
7. Danielle Harris
A miniature Scream Queen, Harris is known as Michael Myers' young niece Jamie Lloyd. Harris is notable not just for her convincing terrorized scream, but for the fact her character got knocked around so brutally, especially in "Halloween 4." Poor little Jamie was dropped off a roof, fell down the stairs and battered about on the floor of a car when she wasn't being stalked by Mike. All this didn't deter Harris from going up against her evil uncle again -– she returned in 2007, all grown up and ready to scream in Rob Zombie's re-imagining of John Carpenter's franchise.
6. Adrienne Barbeau
If you haven't seen George A. Romero and Stephen King's horror anthology "Creepshow" you need to queue up your Netflix right now just to behold Barbeau's reaction to the thing in "The Crate" in the segment by the same name... to say she screams is a bit of an understatement. Barbeau was hilarious playing against type as a sloppy mess, proving her worth as an actress went way beyond the two things usually mentioned when her name comes up. She was fun in camp like "Swamp Thing" but truly affecting in "The Fog," where her pleading cries for someone to help her son gave an unexpected emotional edge to the creepiness of John Carpenter's 1980 thriller.
5. Anna Faris
The only Scream Queen on this list (or maybe any list) to get attacked and knocked out by a possessed cat has to get a mention. Anna Faris, star of "Scary Movie" and its sequels, classed up the parody franchise by hilariously treating each ridiculous horror and pop culture reference like the real deal. Whether she was busting out "Matrix"-style fight moves or getting out of "Saw"-esque torture devices, Faris was a Scream Queen force to be reckoned with. If recent rumors turn out to be true, Faris will have more scares and laughs in her future in the long-awaited "Ghostbusters 3."
4. Linnea Quigley
Younger horror fans may not know her name, but they've have undoubtedly seen Quigley, who has appeared in nearly 100 feature films making her both a Scream and B-movie Queen. With credits that include "The Return of the Living Dead," "Silent Night, Deadly Night," "Nightmare on Elm Street 4," and – wait for it… "Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama," Quigley has been screaming her head off and entertaining us for years. She headlined a ‘’Horror Workout” and wrote two books, the titles of which, "Chainsaw" and "I'm Screaming As Fast As I Can" demonstrate why this Queen rules.
3. Janet Leigh
Labeling anyone "the original" is asking for trouble (especially around film geeks like us) but you can't think "Scream Queen" without thinking of Janet Leigh in "Psycho." No one expected Leigh, a huge star at the time, to be brutally murdered in the first half of the film, but that's exactly what director Alfred Hitchcock did in the classic shower scene. Despite her premature demise, Leigh left a lasting impression, from her first shocked expression to her chilling futile fight against "Mother," when Bernard Herrmann's famous score slowly dies along with our Queen, the light going out of her eyes as bloody shower water swirls down the drain.
2. Neve Campbell
The ultimate survivor of the original "Scream" and its two sequels, the trilogy that sliced tired horror conventions to pieces. We may have thought we knew "the rules" and seen Sidney Prescott’s "nice girl" type many times before, but Campbell's intelligent and gutsy performance made her a heroine for a new breed of horror where things were never quite what they seemed. Fifteen years have passed since the first Woodsboro Murders, let's hope Sidney still has some fight left in her when she goes up against Ghostface for the fourth time.
1. Jamie Lee Curtis
Following in mom Janet Leigh's bloodied footsteps, daughter Jamie Lee Curtis became a second generation Scream Queen when she starred in the iconic 1978 slasher "Halloween." Curtis was soon to become the cliche virginal character that makes it to the end, fighting Michael Meyers with everything from knitting needles to coat hangers. She did it all in killer JC Penney '70s style, too -- rocking feathered hair and flared jeans while she fought for her life. Jamie Lee loosened up a bit in "The Fog," getting in some snuggle time (with a guy she just met!) before squaring off against vengeful ghosts, but her awesome scream remained the same.
Originally published April 15, 2011.