25 Memorable Scream Queens of the Big Screen
While many of us are guilty of shrieking in our seats during scary movies, horror film actresses have screaming down to a science, perfecting everything from the pitch to the look of terror in their eyes. With Halloween coming up and tons of new horror flicks out, we're taking a look at actresses who have managed to make our hair stand on end with their bloodcurdling screams. From Janet Leigh's iconic Psycho moment to Drew Barrymore's Scream opener, check out the ladies who made their mark — and made themselves heard!
— Additional reporting by Maggie Pehanick
Heather O'Rourke, Poltergeist
This pint-size horror movie star has a lung capacity that rivals that of an adult scream queen — when she's not announcing "They're heeeeeeere."
Brittany Snow, Prom Night
While high school girls are known to squeal with excitement over boys and high school dances, Donna (Brittany) has a legitimate reason to scream when a killer who has stalked her in the past turns up at her high school prom.
Tanedra Howard, Saw VI
Tanedra Howard won her role on Saw VI through VH1's reality competition show Scream Queens, where she learned how to perfect the scream.
Drew Barrymore, Scream
The original Scream kicked off with, well, lots of screams in a memorable opening scene that starts with a prank call and ends with Casey (Drew Barrymore) becoming the film franchise's first victim.
Jane Levy, Don't Breathe
Don't Breathe is full of tons of horrific twists and turns, all of which its heroine, Rocky, has to navigate in near-silent terror.
Maika Monroe, It Follows
Jay (Monroe) makes for one great scream queen in 2014's critically acclaimed It Follows. She gets the worst sexually transmitted disease you can imagine when a shape-shifting creature relentlessly starts following her after a random encounter.
Allison Lohman, Drag Me to Hell
When a loan officer kicks a woman out of her home for failing to make her payments, she gets paid back in a curse that has demons trying to drag her — kicking and screaming, of course — to hell.
Naomi Watts, The Ring
Between realizing she only has seven days to live and that her young son faces the same fate, Rachel (Naomi Watts) has a lot to be upset about and she's certainly vocal about it.
Jennifer Carpenter, The Exorcism of Emily Rose
A priest tries to coax the demons supposedly inhabiting Emily Rose's body, but what he gets instead is a whole lot of screams and gibberish when she starts speaking in tongues.
Beverley Mitchell, Saw II
The diabolical Jigsaw returns for the second installment of the Saw franchise, and this time around he forces a group of people to torture themselves before they can gain freedom.
Janet Leigh, Psycho
Perhaps the most iconic screamer in Hollywood history, Janet Leigh made hundreds of moviegoers think twice before shutting their eyes while shampooing their hair.
Bijou Phillips, Hostel: Part II
When Whitney (Bijou Phillips) decides to travel through Europe with her two best friends, the trio ends up fighting to escape the owners of the hostel they decide to stay in.
Paris Hilton, House of Wax
The heiress screams her way through this movie as she tries to escape a group of brothers who are intent on turning her and her friends into the next real-life figures in their wax museum. Unfortunately for her character, she's one of the first to get the axe.
Essie Davis, The Babadook
Single mother Amelia (Davis) has her hands full with her problematic son; the last thing she needs is a horrific monster lurking in her house. Amelia isn't a traditional scream queen, but if you had to deal with her life, you'd be screaming too.
Rachel Nichols, The Amityville Horror
Lisa (Rachel Nichols) has some unfortunate adventures in babysitting when she heads to the Lutz family's haunted home to take care of their children.
Betsy Russell, Saw IV
As the ex-wife of the murderous Jigsaw, Jill (Betsy Russell) has more to be upset about than a failed marriage.
Katie Cassidy, A Nightmare on Elm Street
While snoozing in class might get most kids in trouble, it can get Kris (Katie Cassidy) murdered by the infamous Freddy Krueger, who thrives on tormenting his victims while they sleep.
Emma Roberts, Scream 4
Ten years after Ghostface terrorizes Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) in Woodsboro, he goes after her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts), causing a whole new generation to holler in Scream 4.
Radha Mitchell, The Crazies
There's something in the water in the small town of Ogden Marsh, and it causes the locals to become murderous, out-of-control, screaming maniacs.
Martha MacIsaac, The Last House on the Left
When Paige (Martha MacIsaac) and her friend befriend a teenage boy who offers them pot, they end up getting abducted by his criminal father and futilely screaming for help.
Amanda Wyss, A Nightmare on Elm Street
Freddy Krueger causes Christina to wake up screaming from many a bad dream in the original version of this film, which also probably gave a fair share of viewers nightmares too.
Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween
One of the screen's most iconic scream queens is Ms. Curtis, who just so happens to be the daughter of another legend on this list, Janet Leigh. (She recently reenacted her mother's famous shower scene!) Curtis rose to fame as Laurie Strode, the woman tortured by Michael Myers in the Halloween franchise.
Parker Posey and Courteney Cox Scream, Scream 3
Those who lived through the Woodsboro murders (and the actors who play them in a film within the film called Stab 3) shriek as they try to dodge the killer who mimics the murders in the script. Both actors and non-actors give movie-worthy screams.
Mia Wasikowska, Crimson Peak
Edith (Wasikowska) can't believe what a lucky girl she is when she falls for a handsome suitor (Tom Hiddleston), only to move into his haunted mansion. The real monster, however, is his creepy sister (Jessica Chastain).
Shelley Duvall, The Shining
If ever there was a woman who was in need of a divorce, it's Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall), whose husband Jack (Jack Nicholson) causes her to scream bloody murder as he terrorizes her in an isolated hotel during the dead of Winter. Here's Johnny!