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Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 10/31/2006

The Horror, the Horror: Before They Were Stars

By Liz Kelly

I've pretty much done Halloween-themed posts to death here, but since today is actually Oct. 31 and all, I was hoping we could carry the theme for one more day.

Jamie Lee Curtis hoists her weapon in 1978's 'Halloween.' (AP)

I had been planning a long dissection of exactly what went wrong between Reese and Ryan, but then I saw this Radar list of the 10 Best Horror Villains of All Time, which -- in a roundabout kind of way -- got me thinking about stars who appeared in cheesy horror pics before their careers took off. See, I was thinking about whether or not I agreed with Radar's pick of Freddy Krueger as the top villain which of course got me thinking about a young Johnny Depp, who starred in "Nightmare on Elm Street's" first installment lo these 22 years ago. And from Johnny, it was just a quick neural pathway to these other stars who have blood on their hands, so to speak:

Jennifer Aniston, "Leprechaun"
Tom Hanks, "He Knows You're Alone"
Charlize Theron, "Children of the Corn III"
Meg Ryan, "Amityville 3-D"
J.Lo and Ice Cube, "Anaconda"
John Travolta, "The Devil's Rain" (Co-stars included Tom Skerritt, Ernest Borgnine and William Shatner)
Kelly Preston, "Christine"
Sissy Spacek, John Travolta and Amy Irving "Carrie"
Jamie Lee Curtis, "Halloween" (showing tonight at selected theaters)
Viggo Mortenson, "The Prophecy"
George Clooney, "Return of the Killer Tomatoes!"
Demi Moore, "Parasite"
Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger, "The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre"
John Larroquette, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (narrator)
Hugh Grant, "Lair of the White Worm"
Jack Nicholson, "The Terror and "The Raven" (He was already a huge celeb by the time he starred in "The Shining")
Laurence Fishburne and Patricia Arquette, "Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors"
Heather Locklear, "Firestarter" (starring Drew Barrymore, of course)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Troll"
Kevin Bacon, "Friday the 13th"
Virginia Madsen, "Candyman"
Josh Hartnett, "Halloween H20"
Linda Hamilton, "Children of the Corn"
Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson), "Maximum Overdrive"
Bill Pullman, "The Serpent and the Rainbow"

Who are we missing here?

Many thanks to Celebritology field agents Tanya Ballard, Jim Brady, Jen Chaney, Michael Corones, Nancy Kerr, Jenny Markley, Emil Steiner, Dawn Tepper, Frank Thomason and Lisa Todorovich and to Entertainment Weekly for help compiling this list.

By Liz Kelly  | October 31, 2006; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  Friday Lists, Pop Culture  
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Kelly Hu was in Jason Takes Manhattan

Posted by: AB | October 31, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Johnny Depp in Nightmare on Elm Street (the boyfriend who gets pulled into his water bed). Pretty sure this was pre-Jump Street.

Posted by: logan | October 31, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Kirsten Dunst in Interview with a Vampire

Posted by: JR | October 31, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Somewhat obscure, but SCTV's Eugene Levy and Andrea Martin were in a 1973 movie called CANNIBAL GIRLS, an Ivan Reitman-directed "horror-comedy" which, by all accounts, was neither.

Posted by: Max | October 31, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget Jack Nicholson was Seymour in the original, creepy, "Little Shop of Horrors."

Posted by: B | October 31, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

James Arness (Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke) was "The Blob"

Posted by: B | October 31, 2006 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Oops, I meant "The Thing."

Posted by: B | October 31, 2006 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Before Maximum Overdrive, Yeardley Smith was also in The Twilight Zone movie (the sister who gets zapped into the horrific tv cartoon-land and eaten by a cartoon monster).

Posted by: Helcat | October 31, 2006 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget George Clooney in "From Dusk Til Dawn"

Posted by: M | October 31, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse


Jack wasn't Seymour in the original "Little Shop," wasn't he the masochistic dental patient? Or was he the Dentist? Steve Martin was awesome in the remake. (One of his better roles, no?)

Posted by: Snyder | October 31, 2006 12:49 PM | Report abuse

How about Tipi Hedron in the "Birds". A classic Hitchock film. And what about the Kathy Bates and James Caan film? I can't recall the title.

Posted by: snoootty | October 31, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse

How about Southpark's Trey Parker and Matt Stone with their first feature length film, the gore filled Cannibal the Musical

Posted by: Doug | October 31, 2006 1:03 PM | Report abuse

To clear it up, Jack Nicholson was the masochistic dental patient in Corman's Little Shop of Horrors.

As for other suggestions:

Travolta was also in Carrie. But I'm not sure how big of a star he was at that point, and it did come after the movies mentioned above.

One of Michael Landon's first big roles was as the titular "I Was a Teenage Werewolf".

Evil Dead (and the sequels) pretty much made Bruce Campbell the cult star that he is.

I don't know if it counts as horror as it's listed here, but Heavenly Creatures launched both Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey. Not a comfortable movie at any rate.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | October 31, 2006 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Man, how can we forget Leo DiCaprio in "Critters 3"???

Posted by: DJ | October 31, 2006 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Steve McQueen, however, was the teen hero in "The Blob."

Aniston is unrecognizable in Leprechaun -- probably a good thing for her.

Hanks had a funny appearance on Letterman once where he described some horror movie he had appeared in -- perhaps He Knows You're Alone -- as the kind where the camera pans around a kitchen and there's A KNIFE RACK!!! And then later the teenage girl leaves the kitchen, and the camera comes back and there's A KNIFE MISSING!!!

Posted by: Charodon | October 31, 2006 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Brad Pitt was in an awesome movie called "Cutting Class" about someone killing people in a high school...

Posted by: D | October 31, 2006 2:31 PM | Report abuse

What about Carol Kane as the babysitter in "when a stranger calls"

Posted by: BB | October 31, 2006 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Then there's Bill Maher with softcore staple Shannon Tweed and Adrienne Barbeaux (of Swamp Thing fame) in Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death- this film exists and its not half bad, its all bad. The 1954 giant ant flick Them stars Arness and features a young and uncredited Leonard Nimoy, and an uncredited Clint Eastwood (in pilot's helmet and facemask) kills the title creature in the 50's Tarantula. Just about the saddest thing I've ever seen was Peter O'Toole reduced to playing the oddball scientist in Phantoms with that other great (ahem) actor Ben Affleck.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | October 31, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Clint Eastwood's also was in 1955's 'Revenge of the Creature,' which I didn't see. I did see 'Tarantula,' though!

Bill Paxton was one of the punks who first confronted Ahnold in 'The Terminator.'

And this is pretty obscure: pre-'Dallas' Larry Hagman was already an established actor by 1972, when he directed and had a cameo in 'Son of the Blob.' The DVD release was billed as "The Movie J.R. Shot."

Posted by: Phil | October 31, 2006 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Sam Elliott (the greatest voice ever) was clean shaven in "Frogs"---1972 I think.

Posted by: Lisi | October 31, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Charles Bronson as Igor in the 1953 version of House of Wax. In 3D with Vincent Price and Phylis Kirk (who died last week)

Posted by: Robert | October 31, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

What about Linda Hamilton in 'The Terminator' ? Does that movie count as horror? It was scary enough.

Posted by: J | November 1, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

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