Some sad news hit the horror community last week. I was pretty shocked when I heard the news, and have wanted to wait until I could really take the time to sort my thoughts and speak my piece regarding the matter.
Marilyn Burns is oft overlooked in favor of Jamie Lee Curtis when the term Scream Queen is brought up in conversation amongst horror fans and non-fans alike. She was the original surviving lady, the original scream queen and she helped stoked the fire that would eventually become the raging love of horror that I have today.
Her passing is untimely (she was 65 years old), and it's made even sadder by the fact that we are now celebrating the 40th anniversary of the film that gave her the greatest role that she would ever play, that of Sally Hardesty in Tobe Hooper's seminal The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. She helped create one of the greatest horror archetype's, that of the strong woman who defies the odds and bests the maniac on their trail. Marilyn endured the summer heat, the dangers of the chainsaw and endless bruises, scrapes and injuries that went along with the filming of TCM. Even the fake blood used was a painful endeavor to remove once the cameras stopped rolling.
While the film ended up hurting her career in terms of mainstream success, she starred and co-starred in several other films throughout the years, including Eaten Alive, Kiss Daddy Goodbye, Texas Chainsaw 3D and The Butcher Boys. She also took on the role of Linda Kasabian, real life member of the Manson family, in the 1976 television mini-series Helter Skelter.
While she focused on stage acting in the later years of her life, horror fans the world over would still flock to appearances she made at various horror conventions in order to snap a picture with the iconic scream queen herself.
While it's very sad that we had to lose Marilyn at such a young age, it is important that we take the time to celebrate her life and the monumental impact that she had on the genre that we all love so much. If it weren't for people like her, the horror landscape would be a very different beast than what we have today.