Being a child star in a horror movie isn’t an easy task — but thousands of actors have taken it on. From
Danny Lloyd, who portrayed the horrified child in The Shining, to , who appeared in multiple Devon Sawa Final Destination movies, always somehow escaping death, many stars got their start in horror films.
Of course, many of them had no idea what kind of impact the horror flicks would have on their careers.
“It was a little tiny pish of a horror movie shot in 20 days. I’m being honest. I mean, it’s nice that it has a fanbase,”
, who starred in the original 1978 Jamie Lee Curtis Halloween, told NME about the now-famous movie. “I’m not trying to be facetious or cute or clever. Although I do try to do that often… It just bothers me because there’s some feeling that this was some preordained, planned mastermind and that’s just s–t.”
She explained that director
John Carpenter would “be the first person to tell you” that they had no clue what type of massive success the movie — and its many sequels — would have.
“We were making an exploitation slasher movie about killing babysitters. And that’s what it was. Shot in 20 days, shot for nothing. Fast, furious, vicious and what it became really had nothing to do with the intent of the work,” she continued. “The intent of the work was to make a movie and then, as a young filmmaker, make another movie. It became then the thing you could get another job from, not that it was going to become something.”
Scroll through the gallery below to see where some of the biggest horror movie stars are today.
Danny?! The child actor starred as the “REDRUM”-screaming Danny Torrance in the 1980 film adaptation of
Stephen King‘s The Shining. Lloyd was just 5 years old when he starred alongside Jack Nicholson in the movie. Nothing creepy here! Lloyd went on to become a pig farmer, science teacher and father of six. “I lead a pretty normal life now,” Lloyd told the New York Daily News in his first interview since childhood in 2013. “People don’t recognize me when I go out in public.”
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Palmer played insidious neighbor Mrs. Pamela Voorhees (Mother Voorhees) in the original version of slasher flick Friday the 13th (1980). Palmer was asked to reprise her role as Mother Voorhees in the 2003 film, Freddy vs. Jason, but declined the role. She also appeared in Penny Dreadful and starred as the Bell Witch in the 2007 horror flick of the same name. In 2018, Palmer died at the age of 88.
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The actor starred as Ben in Night of the Living Dead (1990) and as William Bludworth in the Final Destination series. However, Todd’s best-known role was as the chilling, hook-handed Candyman in the 1992 of the same name. The actor/producer has maintained a long and successful career in Hollywood. In 2011, Todd returned as Bludworth in Final Destination 5, and he starred in the new Night of the Living Dead remake.
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The star played the title role in 1976 horror flick, Carrie, for which she was nominated for an Oscar. In the film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, Spacek portrayed a deeply humiliated prom queen with a telekinetic ability and a heart filled with vengeance. Spacek has maintained her star status in Tinseltown, starring in Bloodline, Castle Rock and Homecoming.
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The debonair British actor is best known for his portrayal of Count Dracula in numerous smash Hammer Horror films. The actor has tackled numerous notable roles in the last decade including the character Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. In 2009, Sir Christopher Lee was knighted for his contributions to the arts. In May 2014 — in time for his 92nd birthday — the storied actor released a heavy metal album inspired by the adventures of Don Quixote. Lee died in June 2015 at 93.
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The actor played Isaac Chroner, the head of a creepy cult comprised of teens in Stephen King’s film adaptation of Children of the Corn (1984). He went on to play Cousin Itt in two separate Addams Family films. Franklin, who now goes by his real name John Salapatek, is a high school English teacher. “After the events of 9/11, I saw the shallowness of showbiz and felt a great desire to leave a greater legacy than just being Cousin Itt,” he reflected to his school district’s newsletter. “Teaching seemed to be a perfect fit for my theatrical talents,” he mused. He later starred in an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fresh Off the Boat and Hell’s Kitty.
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Campbell starred in the 1981 original version of The Evil Dead as the movie’s hero Ash Williams. The Evil Dead is still very much alive. Campbell and original scriptwriter and director Sam Raimi announced their plans to team up for the franchise’s pending TV series. Ash vs. Evil Dead aired on Starz from 2015 to 2018.
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The beloved child star (known for his roles in Casper and Little Giants) reached a new level of fame after starring as Alex Browning in 2000 horror thriller Final Destination. Sawa most recently played Owen Elliot on the CW series Nikita, which wrapped after four seasons in late 2013. Sawa and his wife, Dawni Sahanovitch, share two children.
The actress portrayed Alice Hardy, the heroine and final person standing at Camp Crystal Lake in the original Friday the 13th (released in 1980). King returned to play Hardy in Part 2 of the horror franchise a year later, but was killed off by Jason Voorhees. Though King went on to star in numerous horror movies, King’s best-known role today remains Friday the 13th. The actress went on to play the Queen of Dreams and Private Nurse in 2014’s Tales of Poe. In 2020, she starred in The Girl in Apartment 3.
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The actor played the original Michael Myers (“The Shape”) in 1978’s Halloween, which was directed by his childhood best friend John Carpenter. The only scene in which Castle was replaced was the unmasking sequence with Tony Moran. Castle went on to pursue a career as a writer and director, having a hand in helping develop the script for beloved 1991 fantasy flick Hook. He also cowrote 2007 romantic drama August Rush. He reprised his role of Michael Meyers in one scene of 2018’s Halloween.
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Englund is best known for his representation of the clawed serial killer Freddy Krueger in Wes Craven’s smash 1984 horror movie, A Nightmare on Elm Street. “I always thought that, in a perfect world, with an unlimited budget, Freddy should look different for every single person that experiences him. But he’s certainly larger than life for all of them, because he exists in that world,” Englund told Den of Geek in an August 2014 interview. The horror movie legend is still going! Englund played the antagonist in 2014 psychological horror thriller, The Last Showing, while making guest appearances on television shows like Chuck, Hawaii Five-0 and Workaholics. “I got very spoiled early on in my career in the early ’70s,” the actor mused to Den of Geek. He added in the same interview that the 2010 remake disappointed him. In August 2014, Englund donned Freddy Krueger’s memorable claw one last time at a horror convention.
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The 4’3” actress played clairvoyant Tangina Barrons who arrived to “cleanse” the scary and angry spirits haunting a suburban family in Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist (1982). The actress reprised her role as Tangina in the following two installments of the Poltergeist series released in 1986 and 1988. She also starred in movies like Sixteen Candles, Cages and Teen Witch. The actress died in 2010 at age 76 from respiratory failure and kidney failure.
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Jeepers and creepers indeed! Breck played the demonic bad guy in the 2001 horror movie, Jeepers Creepers. The actor last starred in the 2013 film, Parkland, as Winston Lawson. His most successful film role to date remains “The Creeper” in Jeepers Creepers and its 2003 sequel.
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The child star played Gage Creed in the 1989 horror film, Pet Sematary, who comes back in the form of a creature. After his breakout performance in the film, young Hughes went on to appear in Kindergarten Cop (1990), Apollo 13 (1995) and Mercury Rising (1998) opposite Bruce Willis. He also had a 13-episode arc in beloved TV sitcom Full House as Aaron Bailey. Hughes has several movies pending for 2015 including A City of Shoulders and Noses and William Froste. His last acting gig, however, was as Jensen in 2011’s Remains. He recently shared a shirtless Instagram photo of himself at the gym, captioning it: “Getting back into that #fitlife.”
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The doe-eyed actress starred in Roman Polanski’s 1968 psychological horror movie, Rosemary’s Baby, as Rosemary Woodhouse. The actress turned humanitarian made her horror movie comeback in the 2006 remake of The Omen as the sinister Mrs. Baylock. With her work as a UN global ambassador taking the forefront, Farrow’s last film credit was her role as Phyllis in 2011’s Dark Horse. Farrow has been married twice and has 13 children.
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The actor portrayed Dr. Lawrence Gordon trapped in the lair of serial killer known as “Jigsaw.” In one memorable scene from the 2004 psychological thriller, Elwes’ character cut off his own foot in order to survive. The London actor, best known for his role in The Princess Bride, has maintained a steady stream of acting gigs on TV and in movies. His upcoming film credits include Cawdor, The Greens Are Gone and Lost & Found. Elwes married Lisa Marie Kurbikoff in 2000, and they have one child.
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The Icelandic-American actor played Jedidiah “Jed” Sawyer — affectionately known as the creepy manic “Leatherface” — in the original version of
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). Hansen shifted his focus from acting to writing after starring in Texas Chain Saw. In 1988, he returned to the spotlight, appearing in scary movie spoof, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. He then continued acting while authoring several books, including his 1993 book, Chain Saw Confidential. He died in November 2015 at age 68.
Courtesy Everett Collection; Courtesy Everett Collection
The actress starred in the 1974 original
Texas Chain Saw Massacre as Sally Hardesty. Burns was found dead in her home in August 2014 at the age of 65.
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Nothing like playing a possessed child to kick off one’s career! Blair starred as Regan in 1973 horror movie,
The Exorcist. So convincing and compelling was her role that Blair was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1974. She also won the Golden Globe that same year in Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture category, and reprised her role as Regan in the 1977 sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic. The actress hosted Fox Family’s Scariest Places on Earth from 2000 to 2006, and became a notable activist, pushing agendas for animal rights and child welfare. Blair also founded her Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, and coauthored a book titled Going Vegan!
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Stephens was 4 years old when he was picked to play the role of Damien in the 1976 original of
The Omen alongside stars like Gregory Peck and Lee Remick. To this day, Stephens’ biggest role in his acting career remains The Omen. The actor also had a small role in the 2006 remake of the horror film as Tabloid Reporter #3.
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Lisa and Louise Burns
Twins would never be the same! The Burns sisters starred as the Grady daughters who terrorized little Danny Torrance in The Shining (1980). The British sisters disappeared from the public eye after the release of the classic 1980 horror movie. In January 2014, the British Film Institute tweeted a photo of how the girls look today. “@RenHotels haunting another corridor. Don’t take the lift!!” the caption read.
Courtesy of Lisa and Louise Burns
So scary! The child star played Luke Eveshim in the 1990 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s
The Witches, opposite Anjelica Huston. He also starred in Hook and Parenthood, ending his film career after those three major movie roles. The actor works as a professional golf caddy who lives in Florida.
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