Horror fans have to come to expect the fact that we’re not watching teenagers die in various brutal ways. Casting twenty-somethings became a quick and easy way to guarantee that studios and filmmakers had no issues when it came to sex and nudity in their films. Some of the twenty-somethings easily pull off the high school look, while others not so much.
On the list below, we here at Nightmare on Film Street want to honor those “at least you tried” teenagers of horror film history. Here are the Top 10 Oldest Looking Teenagers of Horror:
10. Kate Cassidy (Nightmare on Elm Street, 2010)
While star Rooney Mara was one year older, it is Kate Cassidy who kicks off our list for the oldest looking teenager in a horror film. Cassidy, who was twenty-four at the time of the film’s release, and doesn’t look the seventeen/eighteen age of her character Kris Fowles.
9. Sissy Spacek (Carrie, 1976)
No one could argue that Sissy Spacek was born to play Carrie White, she is perfect in the role that earned her an Oscar nomination. The only problem is she was twelve years older than the the fifteen-year-old Carrie White. Funny Fact, at the time of the film’s release Spacek was two years younger than Betty Buckley who played Miss Collins in the film.
8. Skeet Ulrich (Scream, 1996)
Similar to our number one film, Wes Cravens Scream is littered with young adults playing teenagers; but it’s Billy Loomis himself who takes the number two spot on our list. Ulrich, who like many of his cast members (Lillard and Kennedy) was twenty-six at the time of the film’s release.
7. Amanda Detmer (Final Destination, 2000)
Amanda Detmer’s death in Final Destination is one the best in the franchise. Not because it’s gory or unique, it’s memorable for how simplistic and unexpected it is. Detmer is also memorable for being the oldest “teenager” in the film, at twenty-nine years at the time of the film’s release. She was five years older than her next closet “teenage” cast member, and only three years younger than Kristen Cloke who played teacher Valerie Lewton in the film.
6. Nancy Kyes (Halloween, 1978)
Perhaps it’s a requirement to play Annie Brackett (as you’ll see later) that the actress must be older than her “teenage” cast members. Like Harris, who played Annie in the Remake, Kyes was twenty-nine at the time of the film’s release. Knowing this now explains a lot about her roles in John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980) & Halloween 3 (1982). In both films she is playing older roles more fitting to her age.
5. John Shepherd (Friday the 13th: A The New Beginning, 1985)
The Friday the 13th series is littered with twenty-somethings pretending to be teenagers, but it’s Friday the 13th: A New Beginning that is the biggest offender of this trend. While I could’ve picked a number of the cast members, it’s John Shepherd who was twenty-five at the time of the film’s release. Shepherd takes over the role of the now eighteen Tommy Jarvis (who was thirteen in part 4), and he never convincingly pulls of the eighteen-year appearance of his character.
4. Danielle Harris (Rob Zombie’s Halloween, 2007)
Horror fans have watched Danielle Harris grow up, which makes it even harder to suspend belief when she shows up in Rob Zombies Halloween eighteen years after her previous appearance in the franchise. Here, Harris (who was thirty at the time) plays Annie Brackett. The problem is that Annie Brackett is a high school student. No matter how youthful Harris looks, having seen her at age eleven and twelve in the franchise previously makes it impossible to suspend disbelief.
3. Jason Alexander (The Burning, 1981)
If I’m being honest, no “teenager” in The Burning actually look like they are teenagers; but it’s Jason Alexander who lands the top spot on our list. Despite being three years younger than film star Brain Backer, who, at age twenty-five, would go on for another several years playing teenage characters in films, It’s Alexander, who was twenty-two at the time of the film’s release, actually looks older than some of the counselors at Camp Stonewater.
2. Renée Zellweger (Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, 1994)
It’s no secret that the TCM: TNG had a difficult post-production life. Filmed in 1994 and then released in 1995 as The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Kim Henkel’s film was then shelved and forgotten. That was until two of its start suddenly hit it big in Hollywood: the first being Matthew McConaughey, and second being Renée Zellweger. McConaughey is fine here, clearly playing a character that is his correct age. The problem comes from Zellweger’s appearance. The actress was twenty-five at the time of production, and in no way looks the part of a high school prom attendee. The post production delay only made the age discrepancy worse. By the time many of us watched TCM: TNG, Zellweger was twenty-eight and had already starred as the love interest of Tom Cruise.
1. Lisa Schrage (Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2, 1987)
Mary Lou Maloney, Hamilton High’s Prom Queen of 1957, dies after her boyfriend Billy (who is also clearly not of High School age) drops a smoke bomb that catches Mary Lou on fire. The problem here is not the performance of Lisa Schrage, it’s the fact that she is clearly not a senior in High School. Schrage, who was thirty-one at the time of the film’s release, is never convincing as High School student Mary Lou. It is possible that the director was going for a “Hey Kids Looked Older in the 50’s” look to offset the 1980’s styles. If so, all it does is point out the fact that Schrage is significantly older than her costars.
Did we forget any unconvincing teenagers? Do you think having older actors or actresses playing a younger role hurts the film? Share your thoughts by heading over to Twitter, Reddit, or in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!