Horror is an interesting paradox. On one hand, it is a genre that breaks the rules of what is and is not acceptable by society, and on the other, it is a genre of strict rules that cannot be beat from under penalty of obscurity. Dimly lit areas and the targeting of friends are commonplace in this world, and though there are films that break these rules and go on to hold a place in our hearts, one rule is strictly enforced, the women of a horror film must rock. No other genre consistently gives you eyeful after eyeful of beautiful women like the horror genre (porn not withstanding). Every era has its own beauties, today we're going to look at the top 13 celluloid sinners of grindhouse gothique.
The Grindhouse Gothique era which ranges from the mid-60s through the mid-70s was a time when the horror was simply “dirty”. This is a time when all the rules were broken, and horror mutated from dark fairytales into explorations and manifestations of our most primal urges. Though the horror starlet was born on the stages of Universal Pictures, it was the European starlet that brought power to the convention.
13. Veronica Carlson
Veronica was an aspiring model before a newspaper ad changed her life. Seemingly overnight, she was touted as Hammer’s new star discovery. She went on to star in two Frankenstein films and a Dracula film before branching out with other studios. She remains a part of the Hammer family today and often talks about the genre that she loves.
See: Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968) Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) and The Horror of Frankenstein (1970
12. Rosanna Yanni
bearing a striking resemblance to adult film star Janine, Rosanna burst onto the scene in 1968 would Frankenstein's bloody terror, following up with a constant stream of horror and jealous throughout the 1970s. Often a good girl but never once be trifled with, Rosanna helped set the standard for starlets they came in her wake.
See: Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror (1968), Fangs of the Living Dead (1969), Count Dracula's Great Love (1973), and Hunchback of the Morgue (1973).
11. Erna Schurer
Italian born Erna really leaves you wanting more. From Giallo’s like “Strip Nude for Your Killer” to Gothic horrors like “Scream of the Demon Lover”, she leaves you wishing she'd done more in the genre.
See: Satan’s Babydoll (1969), Scream of the Demon Lover(1970), Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975)
10. Erika Blanc
Erika's name is synonymous with European horror of the 1970s. Though she did more yellow than horror, she will forever be the epitome of the succubus that she embodied in The Devil's Nightmare.
See: The Devil's Nightmare (1971), The Night Evelyn Came out of Her Grave (1971), The Red Headed Corpse (1972)
9. Ingrid Pitt
How does a woman become known as the Queen of horror when she only made three films? The answer, blow everyone’s mind right out the gate. Nothing can be said about Ingrid that hasn't been said before, she was playful, sexy, mature, and had a presence unmatched and those genre. With her portrayal of Carmilla in Hammer films the vampire lovers she owned the vampire like no woman ever had and to this day, no one else does.
See: The Vampire Lovers (1970), Countess Dracula (1971), That House that Dripped Blood (1971). And The Wicker Man (1973)
8. Caroline Munro
Often linked with Hammer films, Caroline's horror career actually started by playing Vincent Price’s wife in The Abominable Dr. Phibes. She shared the screen with everyone from Dracula to James Bond and is still active today. Now that's staying power.
See: The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), Dracula A.D. (1972), Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974)
7. Linda Hayden
Linda was a force to be reckoned with. Often alternating between horror films and British sex comedies, Hayden kept our attention even if the film as a whole did not.
See: Hammer's Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), Madhouse (1974), Blood on Satan's Claw (1971)
6. Luan Peters
Undeniably, one of the most absolutely drop dead gorgeous women to ever grace the horror screen. With roles in all three Hammer Karnstein films, the occasional vampire comedy, and a grip of pop singles, Luan Peters has carved out a place in our hearts (among other organs).
See: Hammer’sKarnstein Trilogy(1970-1971), The Flesh and Blood Show(1972), Land of the Minotaur (1976)
5. Edwige Fenech
A French born Italian actress, Edwige was one of the busiest actresses in Europe. Playing everything from horror to Giallo to comedy. She’s worked with such legendary directors as Mario Bava and Sergio Martino and produced films starring powerhouse actors like Al Pacino. So ingrained in the minds of European horror cinema fans, Eli Roth convinced her to return to acting in his ode to the Giallo; Hostile Part II.
See: Strip Nude for Your Killer (1975), All the Colors of the Dark (1972), Blade of the Ripper (1971)
4. Lina Romay
During the 1970s and early 1980s, Lina Romaine was the embodiment of Spanish horror cinema. While functioning as the primary muse for director Jess Franco, they know what bombard our senses with unparalleled sexuality and undeniable innocence. Working almost until the day she left this world, Lina proved time and again that she loves this genre as much as it loved her.
See: The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff (1973), TheErotic Rites of Frankenstein (1972), Dracula’s Daughter (1972), Female Vampire (1973)
3. Helga Line
I doubt they'll be another Helga Line. She attacked every role with so much force that you thought you might actually get blood (or other fluids) on you just watching the film. With a prayer spanning over 50 years and working almost exclusively in horror, Helga has earned her a place amongst the Masters of horror.
See: NightmareCastle (1965), Horror Express (1972), Vengeance of the Mummy (1973), Vampire’s Night Orgy (1974), Black Candles (1982)
2. Rosalba Neri
She may not be the only daughter of Frankenstein to grace the silver screen but she was definitely the most memorable. So saw the also had great roles in the Devil's Wedding Night and the Devil's Lover, as well as Amuck and 99 Women. Like many horror starlets of the time, she often alternated with erotic film roles and Giallo, or auditing her appeal.
1. Barbara Steele
You probably saw this one coming, but really, no one rule the roost like Barbara. After the universal boom of the 1930s and early 1940s, horrors lied dormant, filled with atomic monsters and alien invasions. But in 1960, the world turned, and with it, horror grew up. Each film pushing the boundaries of the art of storytelling, not only in style but in substance. Barbara brought a credibility and disturbingly sexual aspect to her roles a haunting subtext that is still examined and analyzed to this day. Barbara started films dealing with Satanism, lesbianism, necrophilia, incest, infidelity, and murder. And even though she didn't invent the genres or write the films she starred in, she simply did it better than anyone else.
See: Black Sunday (1960), The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962), Danse Macabre (1964), Nightmare Castle (1965)
What do you think? Did I leave any one off the list that you feel deserves a spot? Let me know.