5 ’80s Horror Queens Who Paved the Way for ‘AHS: 1984’

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The 1980s were definitely a time when horror movies reigned supreme.

Now, we’re seeing an ’80s comeback in pop culture with series like “Stranger Things” and the newest season of “American Horror Story: 1984.” 

With this nostalgic theme in mind, let’s take a look back at the ’80s horror movie queens who paved the way in influencing today’s horror genre. 

Our favorite horror queens are courageous, resourceful and exhibit top-notch survival skills when it comes to battling monsters, serial killers, dream stalkers, killer dogs and even extraterrestrials. 

1. Nancy Thompson: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

In the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” Nancy Thompson is the heroine who risked her life to confront Freddy Krueger, the razor-gloved spirit of a serial killer who killed Nancy’s friends in their dreams.

Not only does Nancy muster up her courage to confront Krueger, but she later comes back In “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3,”  as a dream researcher whose goal is to help keep children on Elm Street out of the hands of the killer.

2. Alice Hardy: “Friday the 13th” (1980)

Portrayed by Adrienne King, Alice Hardy is a camp counselor at Camp Crystal Lake and serves as the first final girl in the “Friday the 13th” film franchise. 

The horror begins at the camp when a killer starts picking off Alice’s friends one by one. The killer later revealed to be Mrs. Voorhees, has been punishing teens for the drowning death of her son Jason. The massacre comes to an end with a bloody battle between the two women and Alice, the only survivor, finally takes down Mrs. Voorhees.

While our heroine made her mark with this performance in the first film and introduces us to the infamous masked monster for the first time, she is killed by a vengeful Jason Voorhees early on in “Friday the 13th: Part 2” (1981).

3. Ellen Ripley: “Aliens” (1986)

While the “Alien” franchise leans more toward the marriage of science-fiction horror and action, this list wouldn’t be complete without the ultra-badass heroine and ultimate feminist icon, Ellen Ripley, as portrayed by Sigourney Weaver. Ripley battles with extraterrestrial lifeform in the films.

Weaver won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in “Aliens,” the second film of the franchise. Before that point, the science-fiction and horror genres received little recognition and her portrayal of Ellen Ripley is now seen as a landmark role.

4. Donna Trenton: “Cujo” (1983) 

Danny Pintauro and Dee Wallace in Cujo (1983)

Dee Wallace doesn’t play the typical college-aged teen as Donna Trenton in the horror classic, “Cujo.” But she does prove she’s a force to be reckoned with as the motherly heroine who eventually takes on the rabid, killer dog and kills Cujo. She is fierce and protective and survives even with a vicious dog bite to the stomach and leg. Wallace plays similar roles in movies like “The Howling” (1981) and “Critters” (1986). 

5. Laurie Strode: “Halloween” series

Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween (1978)

Jamie Lee Curtis not only appeared as the primary protagonist in the original 1978 “Halloween,” but she also appears in seven of the eleven “Halloween” films, including “Halloween II” (1981) which picks up where the first film left off.

As we piece together Laurie’s complicated family history, we find out her psychotic brother, Michael Myers, has broken out of a mental institution and is on a killing spree — taking out Laurie’s friends one at a time. Michael then tracks Laurie down in an attempt to kill her, but Laurie is able to escape him each time. She is often described as the most influential example of the final girl horror movie archetype.


Brittany Maher

Brittany Maher is a Georgia born writer, poet and journalist. When she’s not wrangling words and slingin’ ink, you can find her by the river with her dog Lego, at a local concert venue or sipping coffee in the poetry section of a bookstore.

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