Horror cinema has never shied away from violence, gore, and sex, frequently depicting the genre’s female leads in a misogynistic fashion. Nudity is synonymous with fright flicks, but the women of horror have played a pivotal role in making these movies a success. The scream queen can simply be a victim or a shrieking damsel in distress waiting to be saved by her male co-star, but the role of the scream queen has evolved into something far more complex. In the spirit of the spookiest season of the year, we’ve highlighted 15 of the greatest scream queens of all time — those who fearlessly fought monsters and others whose blood-curdling vocals left a lasting impression.
Leigh took the most famous shower in history when she starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, for which she won the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe. The director shocked audiences when Leigh’s character died in the first act of the film, sending the message to viewers that no one was safe from the Bates Motel’s looming menace. Fun fact: the actress co-starred with daughter and fellow scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis in The Fog and Halloween H20.