Women in horror - Favorite final girl #1 Jill Schoelen!
Move over Jamie Lee Curtis, here's my all time favorite scream queen.
Called by IMDB as the "Husky voiced scream queen." Jill was the lady behind some very popular horror classics in the 1980's and early 90's. Sure many of us know her singing the Cincinnati song from Babes In Toyland. But for me Jill is so much more. This stunning knock-out had exotic beauty, yet seemed like the girl next door. With her like able characters we just couldn't help but root for her.
Jill began her career in the early 1980's appearing in several popular TV shows and even in S.E Hinton's That Was Then...This Is Now , before she got a role in Wes Craven's made for TV thriller Chiller as the leads younger sister Stacey (wow, great name!) Jill went on to star in a few great made for TV movies including Babes In Toyland as Mary Contrary. Jill acted along side a young Drew Barrymore and then boyfriend Keanu Reeves. I have tons of memories of watching this movie every holiday season growing up with my sister. In fact I never thought a giant bowling ball was more terrifying.
In 1987 Jill starred in one of my all time favorite slasher The Stepfather. A violent thriller starring Lost's Terry O' Quinn as a deranged psychopath who marries into single families trying to build the perfect family. When something sets him over the edge, he butchers everyone before changing his identity and moving on to the next unsuspecting family. Jill played Stephanie, the daughter who is the first to learn all isn't what it seems when it comes to her near perfect stepfather. In fact this movie holds the most memories for me since it was a favorite of my mother's. I remember watching this movie over and over again with her and always cheering whenever Stephanie shoves the sled at the stepfather's head when he tries to climb into the attic. In fact just this past fall at a horror convention I had the pleasure of meeting Jill for the second time and even teared up a bit telling her this story. Stephanie to me is one of my all time favorite final girls simply because she's flawed. Here is a young teenager who hasn't been able to come to terms with her father's death. Here her mother remarries less than a year later and Stephanie uses that gut feeling of hers to start checking if all isn't what it seems. You have a tough character who really puts the killer for a run for his money. Unlike so many female characters of the 1980's Stephanie wasn't a victim, she fought and lived.
Jill then appeared in Billionaire Boys Club along side John Stockwell and Judd Nelson and the Curse II: The Bite before starring in Cutting Class, an over the top teen slasher that pokes fun at the horror craze that was slowly dying at the end of the decade. It was there Jill met boyfriend Brad Pitt. The two were briefly engaged before Jill moved on to work on other projects.
Jill starred with Robert Englund in a much darker re-telling of The Phantom Of The Opera. It was here Jill got the lead in Popcorn, one of the last truly awesome slashers of it's era after replacing the actress originally hired for the job. Jill played Maggie, a young film student who's helping her class prep a theater for an all night horror movie marathon. It's here an unseen killer is stalking the audience, picking off the students on by one and making masks to look like their latest victim. Popcorn is a huge favorite of mine, and I honestly feel the film wouldn't have been so iconic and have the following it does today had the original actress played Maggie. Jill shows some great stuff in this movie, and is adorable as always. In fact I look forward to Jill taking part in the extras for the new blu-ray/DVD release set to be released sometime next year!
In 1993 Jill made When A Stranger Calls Back, an awesome and highly underrated sequel to the 70's classic. In fact, I feel this movie gives even Scream a run for it's money when it comes to scariest opening scene ever.
Jill appeared in several other works including Rich Girl before focusing her time on her family and her singing career. Now going the convention circuits, Jill is by far one of the friendliest, sweet actors out here.