Horror and hot women go together like comedy and shots to the groin. And while there's something admittedly twisted about the recurring image of the male psycho killer chasing the (usually) helpless female victim, as far as the genre goes, it seems so ... necessary.

The new horror flick 'Sorority Row' riffs on the premise of 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' and just cuts out the (middle) men, instead letting its vengeful slasher go to town on some sinful sisters. (Of course, there's a long rich tradition of sorority girls getting bludgeoned for our enjoyment; see also 'Sorority House Massacre' and its sequels, 'The House on Sorority Row' and my personal favorite, 'Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama').

But to appreciate the squeals and blood spillage of this new class of victims, we must first recognize the pioneers who came -- and at times, quickly went -- before them. Check out our picks for the 10 sexiest scream queens.

Adrienne Barbeau
It was only fitting that her film debut in the horror classic 'The Fog' (1980), directed by then-husband John Carpenter, also featured the world's foremost sexy mother-daughter scream queen tandem, Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis. No level of liquid particles dispersed in a gaseous medium could disguise this brunette's lure. It's no wonder 'Swamp Thing' wanted some of that action two years later.

Marilyn Burns
This Houston native felt right at home in the backwoods of The Lone Star State filming 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' – though we're guessing it was her first experience with a chainsaw-wielding psychopath on her trail. Like the film's documentary-style texture, Burns' vulnerability (and hotness, natch) feels as real as can be. 'Chainsaw' director Tobe Hooper delighted in her shriekage so much, he sicced alligators after her in 'Eaten Alive.'

Neve Campbell
Said Wes Craven of his 'Scream' starlet: "[She has] dancer's moves, an actor's depth of feeling, and boots that were made for walking." He forgot lungs that were made for screaming, as she displayed thrice throughout the 'Scream' movies, and a physique that's part girl next door, part "girl-on-girl pool makeout session is never out of the question."

Jamie Lee Curtis
Like mother, like daughter. Curtis took off where her 'Psycho'-starring mother Janet Leigh left off with 'Halloween,' proving the ultimate combination of sexy and scared but also strong. She tempted death again in 'The Fog,' 'Prom Night,' 'Terror Train' and three 'Halloween' sequels. Curtis is widely considered the greatest scream queen of all -- and not even all those horrific rumors of being hermaphroditic can take that away from her.

Shannon Elizabeth
We had to make an exception for Elizabeth. Her movies may be craptastic – see '13 Ghosts,' 'Cursed,' 'Jack Frost' – but her sheer seductiveness makes them almost watchable. Almost. An unlike 'American Pie,' in which her unbridled allure masked that awful Eastern European accent, none of these roles required feigning of the foreign tongue. Just a lot of good old-fashioned screaming.

Naomie Harris
Harris' virus outbreak survivor in '28 Days Later' isn't your typical scream queen -- she's tough, rugged and tousled. But she's still plenty sexy despite living in a world where the only ones to impress are the undead (why bother with cosmetics?). We'd roam run fast around the zombie-infested post-apocalyptic landscape with her any day.

Jennifer Love Hewitt
In the everlasting debate over 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' stars, we're going to have to go with Hewitt over Sarah Michelle Gellar. There's something about the wide-eyed, wide-smiling star that emulates sweetness; it's the kind of sweetness you'd hate to see splattered all over the floor after a run-in with a killer.

Janet Leigh
Others may try, often -- seeing as how we get at least two new horror movies a month -- but none can match cinema's most iconic scream, that bellowed by Leigh's Bates Motel tourist in the climactic scene of Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho.' In a single sequence, the classically sexy Leigh not only pioneered the scream scene, but the shower scene as well.

Naomi Watts
'The Ring' star isn't as much of a flat-out knockout as many of her scream queen contemporaries, but she has a magnetism and appeal to her that are hard to ignore. Her screaming prowess was aided greatly by good material -- let's face it, a little girl crawling out of your TV is way creepier than a machete-wielding dude in a hockey mask.

Fay Wray
She's the George Washington, Wright brothers or Jackie Robinson of scream queens. It was 1933 when the blonde bombshell Anne Darrow screamed her way through her high-flying adventure with 'King Kong.' We're still pretty sure that scream was of the half-scared, half-thrilled variety, though. 'Kong' is as much a love story as it is an adventure or horror flick.
categories Features