Horrific Beginnings - Women of the Fright

September 13, 2016


I get a cheap thrill whenever I’m watching an old horror and I spot a present star in her past. It’s fun to pretend that it wasn’t about padding a resume or a few bucks earned, you gotta do what you gotta do, that these women sought to scream, run, fight, gouge, or occasionally die in a bloody heap.

Now, lists like this exist all over the internet, usually they pound home the idea that Jennifer Aniston duelled with the Leprechaun or that Naomi Watts and Charlize Theron both battled the evil Children of the Corn. So I’ll skip the commoners and offer up a dose of potentially new-to-you information.

Without any further yammering, here are 10 famous actresses that had early roles in horror:

Marishka Hargitay, famous for her role as Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order SVU, took her first step toward(?) stardom as a damsel taking to arms in the cheesy classic horror.  

The Ghoulies (1984) : Donna​

Eva Mendes has worked alongside some pretty big names, Will Smith, Marky Mark Wahlberg. They weren't there in the beginning. Is there a better way to begin a career on the big screen than staring in the straight to video gem? Uh, maybe.

Children of the Corn V:

Fields of Terror (1998) : Kir

Before Seinfeld, before Veep, Julia Louis-Dreyfus dwelled in an apartment building heading for trouble in a mostly gag-worthy feature. Not to be mistaken with Troll 2, Troll doesn’t quite verge so far into the so bad it’s good zone. Mostly it lingers like tepid bath water.

Troll (1986) : Jeanette Cooper

Not her first role... and as a child it was probably unlikely that a caregiver didn’t have a hand in choosing roles, Helen Hunt appeared in some bad things. One of the early credits beyond an ancillary role was in the made for TV Carrie rip-off.

The Spell (1977) : Kristina Matchett


Sharon Stone has carved a career making use of the physical traits afforded to her, her early work wasn’t much different. Her first role listed on IMDB is playing a character known only as Pretty Girl on Train. 1981. Alongside Ernest Borgnine later that same year she found herself spending about half her screen time in silky sleepwear.

Deadly Blessings (1981) : Lana Marcus​

Lea Thompson, though never reaching the great heights of many stars of Hollywood, has a recognizable face, mostly from the Back to the Future series. Before she played a mother to a boy she tried to bang in high school, Lea Thompson took her chances with a shark.

Jaws 3-D (1983) : Kelly Ann Bukowski​

Before The Piano or Saving Grace, Holly Hunter showed up as ancillary camper in an A-typical slasher flick. There’s a lot to like about this one, though Holly Hunter really has little to do with it. This gem will prove to be a repeat offender, though on a different list.

The Burning (1981) : Sophie​

Vanna White hasn’t always spun letters, in fact, in 1981 she appeared in two, count’m two, horrors (and a sci-fi dud). Both were bit parts, just another pretty twenty-something playing a pretty teen. A year later, she was doing what would define her career as a pretty face that could walk in a straight line and gesture to boxes.

Midnight Offerings (1981) : Devona

Graduation Day (1981) : Doris

In her first biggish role, Brooke Shields, ten at the time, played sister to the title character’s horror. This is one of the most irritating films I’ve ever watched. The screaming... ugh.

Alice Sweet Alice (1976) : Karen Spages​

The Godfather franchise, the Rocky franchise, Talia Shire knows huge success, in her second film credit she knew huge, no wait, cosmic terror in the 1970 adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft classic. Adrian! Er, I mean, come back Old Ones!

The Dunwich Horror (1970) : Nurse Cora

There are a few movies in this list I’ve never seen. Most of these movies aren’t great and often the future star was nothing but a blip in the credits. I guess lists like this can offer hope to anyone, because most of this is shit and these women still made it big.


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Powell River, British Columbia, Canada
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