By Ariel Messman-Rucker

Canadian native Neve Cambell rocketed to stardom by playing angsty teen Julia Salinger on Party of Five starting in 1994, but she first landed on horror fans radar two years later with her role in 1996’s The Craft—the so bad it’s good—film about a group of high school outcasts turned revenge-seeking witches.

This same year Campbell would cement her place in horror movie history playing Sidney Prescott in the now iconic satirical slasher film Scream, a role she would reprise twice more.

Although Campbell has only been in four horror movies to date, her contribution to the genre can’t be ignored. As Sidney Prescott, Campbell kicked the masked slayer’s ass in film after film proving that modern day Scream Queens fight back. While your first inclination is to run from a knife wielding maniac, women in horror are given more of a chance to defend themselves in movies today, no longer just the beautiful, screaming, helpless victims, who had to wait to be rescued by a man.

The Scream trilogy shows the evolution of the Sidney Prescott character from a virginal, innocent girl next door type, to a strong, independent woman. She goes from being the naive teen who can’t believe her boyfriend might be a killer to an independent minded college student and finally to an ass-kicking modern horror heroine who stops hiding and starts fighting back and it is Campbell’s acting that sells this growth to the audience.

While Fay Wray and Evelyn Ankers played mostly defenseless victims, dependent on their leading men to rescue them, modern female horror stars are saving the day. Yes, there are always other characters in the movie to help defeat the killer, but today’s heroines think on their feet and defend themselves—a much welcomed change.

While at times she has made bad choices in movies (Three to Tango with Mathew Perry—need I say more?) Campbell is always worth the watch, whether she’s playing a sex kitten, a ballet dancer or an ass kicking Scream Queen. And we can’t wait to see what she does with the Sidney Prescott character in the upcoming Scream 4.

Genre Cred: The Craft (1996), Scream (1996), Scream 2 (1997), Scream 3 (2000).