Best of Houston

Best of Houston: Top 10 Houston Scream Queens

Houston produces plenty of great actors and actresses. We also produce a lot of horror movies and when the two meet, we end up with a gallery of wonderful thespians that can embody silver screen terror. Today we take a look at the scream queens that have graced our fair city with their impressive wails and murders.

10. Renee Zellweger I understand that I'm stretching my credibility a bit here. Zellweger is an Academy Award-winning actress better known for playing Bridget Jones than running from psycho killers. All true, but her performance in 1994's Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is an underrated marvel. Not only does she hold her own against Leatherface, Matthew McConaughey with a remote controlled robotic leg and the freakin' Illuminati (I sincerely love this batshit insane mess of a movie), but Zellweger was a good enough sport to allow her actress character in White Oleander to poke fun at the film as an embarrassing early role using actual footage from TCM:TNG. That's class enough to make the list.

9. Denise Williamson Williamson is a local girl with a very hefty scream queen pedigree. She was in Spirit Camp, Killer School Girls From Outer Space and appeared on Macabre Theatre, among other roles. The one you really need to check out is last year's Bigfoot horror flick Exists, directed by The Blair Witch Project's Eduardo Sanchez. Williamson absolutely kills as Elizabeth, one of the four young people who go hunting for the legendary cryptid in East Texas and end up getting more than they bargained for.

8. Shannon Elizabeth Another mainstream Houston actress who deserves nods for her contributions to horror is Shannon Elizabeth. One of her very first roles was in the cult classic Jack Frost, in which she is killed by the murderous mutant snowman while taking a bath. From there she appeared prominently in Thirteen Ghosts and then went from victim to maniac when she played the iconic Angela Franklin in the 2009 remake of Night of the Demons.

7. Kirby Bliss Blanton Hailing from The Woodlands, Blanton got her start on Disney shows such as Hannah Montana, of all things. Once she grew up a bit, she went on to make some really underrated but fantastic horror films. She's in Eli Roth's frustratingly still unreleased cannibal film The Green Inferno, which if the clips are anything to go by will be a doozy when it finally sees release. Even better, she paired with scream queen Angela Bettis in 2007's Scar, a terrifying bit of 3D torture porn.

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6. Keefer Barlow Barlow won critical acclaim for starring in Joe Grisaffi's film Conjoined, which featured her as the evil half of a set of conjoined twins. Unable to curb her insane violence, she draws her sister and her new boyfriend into an increasingly deadly string of murders. She also had a part in Pick-Axe Murders Part III: The Final Chapter, but one of her best scream-queen outings is actually playing herself in the short Stalking Miss Barlow. There she gets to show off her surprisingly funny side, which you rarely see in her more frightening characters.

5. Michelle Ellen Jones Barlow's Conjoined co-star, Michelle Ellen Jones, went from good girl to bad in one of the highlights of last year's horror season, Jeremy Sumrall's Pick-Axe Murders. There she combined a powerful mix of sex and sadism to star in one of the greatest opening scenes in a horror movie in the past decade. Her résumé is branching out as her career takes off, but she's set to feature in the upcoming film Fun With Hackley: Axe Murderer, which follows a serial killer going through a mid-life crisis and having to deal with his boss at a murder corporation.

4. Julin Another local heavyweight with all the right credentials is Julin, who sometimes goes by Julin Jean. She's another Spirit Camp alumna who also appeared in Sweatshop as Miko. She had a big part in the After Dark Horrorfest-selected film The Final, where her mean-girl attitude gets her gruesomely tortured. Her best outing is as the star of Cherry Bomb, in which Julin plays a stripper who goes on a revenge spree after being sexually assaulted by a group of men.

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3. Devanny Pinn Devanny Pinn does not mess around when it comes to horror films. Her IMDb page has enough blood in it to technically be considered an American Red Cross office. Some of her more notable appearances were as the lead in The Black Dahlia Haunting and as Satan in The Devil's Nightmare. Those are honestly just drops in the bucket of blood, though. Look for her this year in Room and Board and The Zodiac Legacy.

2. Roxy Vandiver Our Roxy has been in everything. Literally. There's almost no Houston horror film that doesn't at least have a cameo by her. She's best known for Spirit Camp, but has also appeared in nearly every other local production that I've listed here plus Jacob and The Haunted Trailer. Out of all that, though, the role I love her best in was the dark fantasy short Castle of the Damned, seen above.

1. Marilyn Burns As if it could be anyone else in the top slot. The famous final girl of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre remains one of the greatest scream queens of all time. In addition to her most famous role, she appeared in Eaten Alive and as Linda Kasabian in an unforgettable performance in Helter Skelter. She was due to produce a biopic about the filming of Chainsaw to be directed by our own Josh Vargas, but sadly passed away last year in her Houston home before production began. She was 65, and the project has been indefinitely shelved. She will be remembered as one of the leading ladies in horror for as long as people go to be scared at the movies.

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner