Ever since Fay Wray screamed at the sight of King Kong way back in 1933, the horror genre's scream queen has been an iconic figure in cinema history.
From Psycho's Janet Leigh to her own daughter Halloween's Jamie Lee Curtis, the scream queen's role may have ranged from unfortunate victim to resilient final girl, but the archetype's importance in the genre has always remained.
A horror isn't a horror without a leading lady to scream up a storm, outside of a small handful of exceptions (The Thing and Session Nine come to mind, but maybe there are a future WhatCulture list's worth of genre subverting flicks which feature no women in their scary stories).
So today's list is here to honour the best of horror’s leading women, from the original damsels in distress through to the tough final girls of the slasher golden age, right up to the subversive heroines of more modern horror.
Some are esteemed actors who got their start in the genre, some stayed in the critically derided but audience-adored hallowed halls of horror throughout their careers, but each of these exceptional stars has more than earned the title of scream queen in their terrifying tenure onscreen.
10. Jamie Lee Curtis
Starting off our list, it's the leading lady who truly deserves the top spot, but who's here at number ten solely because savvy readers knew her presence was inevitable on a list like this and there's a little suspense required in these run-downs.
The greatest to ever do it, horror heroine and iconic scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis was not only born to play the role of final girl as the daughter of Psycho’s unfortunate shower-er Janet Leigh, but even starred in Ryan Murphy’s self-referential horror comedy Scream Queens in 2015.
The tremendously talented actor is more than a horror icon, but an iconic run of starring roles during the early eighties' slasher boom including Halloween, The Fog, Prom Night, Terror Train, Roadgames, and Halloween II ensured her a place in cinema history.
That's without even mentioning the likes of Halloween H20 and Virus in the late nineties (which, to be fair, not many people do), and the more recent rebooted Halloween trilogy from Pineapple Express helmer David Gordon Green.