The most powerful female performances in Horror Films

In the world of horrorfilms, there are good films and there are bad films. The tragic part for me is that it seems like the truly haunting, bold, and simply unnerving performances by some of its heroines are often overlooked. Just because a film is of the horror genre does not mean it cannot have solid acting. Here a list of the greatest perfomances in Horror Movie History.
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1.
Carrie (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Carrie White, a shy, friendless 17 year-old girl who is sheltered by her domineering, religious mother, unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates at her senior prom. (98 mins.)
Director: Brian De Palma
“ Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie both did a truly magnificent job in this film. They were rightly rewarded by getting nominated for Oscars. Terrific acting if there ever was any. ” - JustBo
 
2.
The Exorcist (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
When a preteen girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter. (122 mins.)
“ Ellen Burstyn was robbed at the Academy Awards. It is truly a shame and pity that such a powerful perfomance did not win the Oscar in the 'Best Actress' category. A shame, but it certainly does not change the fact that Ellen Burstyn gave a truly remarkable performance. ” - JustBo
 
3.
Aliens (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
The planet from Alien has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough? (137 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
“ Another widely recognized performance by Sigourney Weaver. Bold, strong and with very much onscreen presence she should have won the Oscar as well. ” - JustBo
 
4.
Hellraiser (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
An unfaithful wife encounters the zombie of her dead lover; demons are pursuing him after he escaped their sadomasochistic underworld. (94 mins.)
Director: Clive Barker
“ Clare Higgins as the cold and manipulating Julia gave a truly fantastic performance and brought an unquestionable layer to an otherwise 'flat' character. A very good job here. ” - JustBo
 
5.
Sisters (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A journalist witnesses a brutal murder in a neighboring apartment, but the police do not believe that the crime took place. With the help of a private detective, she seeks out the truth. (93 mins.)
Director: Brian De Palma
“ Somewhat of a strange and confusing film, Margot Kidder does the best she can with a not-so-perfect script and gives a fine performance in this flawed but interesting thriller. ” - JustBo
 
6.
Scream (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Sidney, attempting to cope with her mother's mysterious murder, and her horror movie-obsessed friends are stalked by an unknown killer who seems to have a hard time letting the past go. (111 mins.)
Director: Wes Craven
“ Drew Barrymore gives the best performance of her entire career in the opening moments of this film. Although some might argue that acting in a horror film would not be very difficult, I find that Drew's performance in this film was nerve-wracking and added a terror and power to the film, which has not been recaptured in neither the rest of the film or any of its sequels. ” - JustBo
 
7.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
After being mortally wounded and taken to the morgue, murderer Jason Voorhees spontaneously revives and embarks on a killing spree as he makes his way back to his home at Camp Crystal Lake. (91 mins.)
Director: Joseph Zito
“ Kimberly Beck is the main heroine Trish Jarvis gives a very good performance in this one. I will say that her character obviously did not have much depth, but in my opinion she gives the best and most convincing performance in the entire franchise. ” - JustBo
 
8.
The Shining (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future. (146 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
“ Although it is a well-known and infamous fact that in certain scenes, Shelley Duvall TRULY was scared of the impeccable Nicholson while shooting this classic film, it is undeniably a powerful and sympathetic performance which should have gotten more credit, from the Academy Awards perhaps. ” - JustBo
 
9.
Mary Reilly (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
A housemaid falls in love with Dr. Jekyll and his darkly mysterious counterpart, Mr. Hyde. (108 mins.)
Director: Stephen Frears
“ I do not care for Julia Roberts as an actress in general, but in this film she proves to be a master of understated, subtle acting which does leave a lasting impression. A very good job from Ms Roberts. ” - JustBo
 
10.
Candyman (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
The Candyman, a murderous soul with a hook for a hand, is accidentally summoned to reality by a skeptic grad student researching the monster's myth. (99 mins.)
Director: Bernard Rose
“ Always an actress to rely on, Virginia Madsen gives a wonderful and well-rounded perfomance in Candyman. A terrifying film either way, the movie only benefits greatly from the acting skills of Madsen, who truly shines as our main heroine. ” - JustBo
 
11.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind. (81 mins.)
“ Even though all three main actors were astounding in this film, I found Heather Donahue's fearless and moving performance one to remember forever. It is astonishing to me how none of these gifted actors received more credit for the work they did in this simple, no-budget thriller. The film would have never been a critical or commercial succes without these fantastic performances. ” - JustBo
 
12.
[Rec] (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying. (78 mins.)
“ Manuela Velasco did a great job in this tense horrorfilm. She was endearing, likeable and very convincing in the lead role. ” - JustBo
 
13.
Poltergeist (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A family's home is haunted by a host of ghosts. (114 mins.)
Director: Tobe Hooper
“ A very nice and classy performance from JoBeth Williams, who does a remarkable job is the matriarch of the films family. She gives a great performance and manages to seamlessly portray courage and fear at the same time. ” - JustBo
 
14.
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
Four teens are in great danger one year after their car hits a stranger whose body they dump in the sea. (101 mins.)
Director: Jim Gillespie
“ I am certainly no fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar, but I will be the first to admit that she gives the single best performance in this luke warm teen thriller. As the suspence builds, and we as an audience are slightly baffled with the casting of Love-Hewitt and particularly Prinze Jr., there comes along Gellar who actually makes the film work in her main moment as she is stalked by the killer. A very nice performance and the only good moment in the film. ” - JustBo
 
15.
High Tension (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Best friends Marie and Alexia decide to spend a quiet weekend at Alexia's parents' secluded farmhouse. But on the night of their arrival, the girls' idyllic getaway turns into an endless night of horror. (91 mins.)
Director: Alexandre Aja
“ A very fitting title for this flawed but certainly tense horrorfilm, in which our main heroines Cecile DeFrance and Maiwenn LeBesco give very fine performances which only add to the tension so brilliantly shot by the Director. very strong work from both actresses. ” - JustBo
 
16.
Inside (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Four months after the death of her husband, a woman on the brink of motherhood is tormented in her home by a strange woman who wants her unborn baby. (82 mins.)
“ A simply terrifying turn from Beatrice Dalle is the villain in this very nasty French film. Our main heroine, Allyson Paradis also does a nice job in this movie, but in the end she is blown out of the water by Dalle who is truly one of the most frightening villains in horrorfilm history. Dalle is perhaps the sole reason this otherwise bleak and gritty film doesn't venture into ridiculousness by its over the top gore. ” - JustBo
 
17.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Two siblings visit their grandfather's grave in Texas along with three of their friends and are attacked by a family of cannibalistic psychopaths. (83 mins.)
Director: Tobe Hooper
“ In one of the most believable and truly astounding performances in a horror film ever, Marylin Burns gives us a performance that will haunt the viewer for a long time. We do not only feel sorry for her character in the film, we feel truly sorry for the actress whose panic, fear and sheer madness by the end of this film feel like anyting but an act. ” - JustBo
 
18.
The Stendhal Syndrome (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A young policewoman slowly goes insane while tracking down an elusive serial rapist/killer through Italy when she herself becomes a victim of the brutal man's obsession. (120 mins.)
Director: Dario Argento
“ In this interesting thriller from infamous director Dario Argento, his daughter Asia gives a powerful and severely overlooked performance. And I am sure this was not an easy task, because she portrays a character who has many layers, and Asia Argento somehow manages to go from vulnerable to tough, endearing and innocent to terrifying in a seamless blink of and eye. ” - JustBo
 
19.
The Fly (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong. (96 mins.)
“ Geena Davis is very good in this special effects filled horror from master director Cronenberg. She has a very likeable quality, and towards the climax gives some of her best work and truly pulls off the emotional scenes with some believeable fear thrown in for good measure. ” - JustBo
 
20.
Ringu (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Ruthlessly murdered by her father, the ghost of a seer's daughter kills all those who watch a weird video after 7 days; unless the viewer finds the escape clause. (96 mins.)
Director: Hideo Nakata
“ Nanako Matsushima gives a very nice performance in this classic Japanese chiller. What starts of as a cool and very much in-control character, slowly but surely descends into pure terror, along with the audience. ” - JustBo
 
21.
Black Christmas (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
During their Christmas break, a group of sorority girls are stalked by a stranger. (98 mins.)
Director: Bob Clark
“ A very subtle, but very good performance by charismatic lead actress Olivia Hussey. She starts of as a well grounded and tranquil character, so when in the end even she is screaming for her life, the audience is on the egde of their seats. Very well done. ” - JustBo
 
22.
28 Days Later... (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary. (113 mins.)
Director: Danny Boyle
“ Naomi Harris is pure power and presence in this haunting film from British director Danny Boyle. She represents the perfect horror heroine in her ability to be sensitive and strong at the same time. I very much liked her in this film and she should be doing more movies. ” - JustBo
 
23.
Halloween (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
On Halloween night of 1963, six-year-old Michael Myers stabbed his sister to death. After sitting in a mental hospital for 15 years, Myers escapes and returns to Haddonfield to kill. (91 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
“ In the classic among the classics, Jamie Lee Curtis gives a very likeable performance as Laurie Strode. The ill-fated main heroine has the audience rooting for her in a way that has not been experienced so greatly in any horror film. A very nice debut from Curtis, who thankfully garnered much recognition for being the wonderful actress that she is. ” - JustBo
 
24.
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A young couple move into an apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life. (136 mins.)
Director: Roman Polanski
“ Mia Farrow does a subtle and haunting film more than a favor by giving a subtle and haunting performance to go with it. I cannot imagine any other actress in this role, and Farrow did very well. ” - JustBo
 
25.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A former child star torments her paraplegic sister in their decaying Hollywood mansion. (134 mins.)
Director: Robert Aldrich
“ Classis screen legends Joan Crawford and Bette Davis both do very well in this disturbing thriller. Davis is frightening as the villainess here, giving a film that is both scary and yet oddly funny a performance which is the same. The performace of Crawford however, has nothing to do with dark humour, and she gives the movie balance which makes it disturbing to watch. ” - JustBo
 
26.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
After his parents are murdered, a tormented teenager goes on a murderous rampage dressed as Santa, due to his stay at an orphanage where he was abused by the Mother Superior. (79 mins.)
“ Lilyan Chauvin as mother superior does a remarkable job in this slasherfilm, even given her limited screentime. She manages to make the seemingly evil mother superior, who would have been a one-dimensional character on paper, a human side. Mother Superior is both cold and human at the same time, which I found very well done. ” - JustBo
 
27.
Night of the Living Dead (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
The unburied dead return to life and seek human victims. (92 mins.)
Director: Tom Savini
“ Patricia Tallman does a very good job as Barbara in this remake of the classic Romero chiller. The film is not bad, but I do feel most of it is owed to a very good performance by our lead heroine. ” - JustBo
 
28.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
In San Francisco, a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one, with clones devoid of emotion. (115 mins.)
Director: Philip Kaufman
“ Veroncia Cartwright is a master of hysteric, borderline over-the-top performances which somehow still work. Here she is effective as one of the lead characters, and in my opinion outshines some of the other actors in the film. ” - JustBo
 
29.
The Others (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A woman who lives in a darkened old house with her two photosensitive children becomes convinced that her family home is haunted. (101 mins.)
“ Nicole Kidman steals the scenery in a powerhouse role from director Amenebar. A good suspense chiller in which Kidman does very good as the aloof, but caring and protective mother who ends up descending into madness. Very well done. ” - JustBo
 
30.
The Brood (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist's therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, amidst a series of brutal murders. (92 mins.)
“ This nightmarish film is done justice by the nightmarish performance from Samantha Eggar. In wich must be a very challenging role to play, Eggar fearlessly pulls it off to make the audience believe the bizarre and truly horrific turn of events of the shocking finale. ” - JustBo