From Horror to Hollywood: Is Hollywood success through Horror Films?


When actors and actresses reach high levels of fame, stardom and award ceremonies, making a film in the horror genre appears not to be an option. I’m sure that no one can realistically picture Judi Dench running away from an army of zombies. However, many famous faces didn’t disregard the genre so much when they were starting out.

Many recognisable actors from today made their film debuts in horror including Jennifer Aniston, Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio. Jennifer Aniston began her career in comedy horror film Leprechaun whilst Depp was one of the original teenagers to be stalked in his dreams by Freddy Krueger. Not only did these famous faces star in horror films but they starred in some of the most laughable horror films as with Aniston in Leprechaun, Katherine Heigl in Bride Of Chucky, Leonardo DiCaprio in Critters 3, Mila Kunis in Piranha and most embarrassingly of all, George Clooney in Return Of The Killer Tomatoes. That’s right, the E.R. star and Academy Award winner began his career in a horror film about tomatoes.

While some stars made a contribution to the horror genre by starring in original horror classics such as Depp in A Nightmare On Elm Street and Kevin Bacon in Friday the 13th, other famous faces starred in unpopular sequels. Viggo Mortensen starred in the second sequel of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise whilst Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger starred in the third and Paul Rudd starred in the fifth sequel of the Halloween franchise.

Although, some stars do return to horror films when their careers have become established. For example, Renee Zellweger starred in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation in 1994 and returned to the genre in 2009 with the film Case 39. However, although she returned to the genre, she did not return to slasher films. I think that this is the main difference. Certain stars seem willing to return to the horror or supernatural genre but they are not willing to return to the slasher or exploitation subgenre.

Does starring in such horror films hinder their careers? I think not. Many of these films get re-released or sales increase once the actor becomes known. Many people had not seen Return Of The Killer Tomatoes but when George Clooney became known, it was decided by fans that it was worth a watch. Therefore, it has to be wondered whether there is a link between starring in horror films in the beginning of an actors career and making it in Hollywood. As I have discussed, many award winning actors and actresses begun their careers in the genre and it is a shame that so many big stars fail to return to it.


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