Horror cinema has been around since the late 19th century. That gives us 130+ years of thousands of individuals who have laid some cement on the foundation of the genre that we have today. From the performers who were drenched in blood and screamed their way through countless films, to the writers and directors who created the causes for those screams, to the makeup artists and costume designers who brought the horrors to life.
It’s been an internet hobby of mine since the internet was a thing to research those involved with the genre. The most interesting part of the research is the arrival of the present and seeing where these individuals from past films are at now. With this monthly column, I will be sharing with you bits of information that I find out on these pioneers of horror past, answering the question, Where Sc[Are] They Now?
Growing up, there was a performer that I absolutely loved seeing in the movies whose voice is just as iconic as the lady, herself. That performer is Kelly Jo Minter. The wonderfully raspy voiced Minter holds a special place in my heart. There’s just something about her onscreen presence that elevates any film that she is in, and she’s in some pretty top notch films within the horror genre. Just like every one that I focus on within Where Sc[Are] They Now, she continues to honor those films. So let’s honor Kelly Jo Minter!
Her first foray into a horror scenario wasn’t actually within a horror movie. There’s a scene in the 1987 comedy, Summer School, the students which includes Minter’s Denise create a gory scene to defer an incoming teacher. Summer School is one of my favorite 80s comedies. It is so random and poignant of the love of slasher films of that time, and Minter’s Denise begins the scene. She’s also is the “survivor” of the prank bloodbath.
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The next horror appearance of Minter’s is literally a blink and you’ll miss it bit. In The Lost Boys (1988), you have to watch uber carefully during the scene where Lucy (Dianne Wiest) is about to leave the video store where she works when her sons show up. Minter has no lines, and merely comes across as a background player although she’s credited as Maria in the credits and on IMDb. This is because her scene in which she has a conversation with Lucy was left on the cutting room floor. But we see you, Maria! The Santa Clara vampires didn’t get you.
Her next horror outing is within a franchise that I realize a good number of Where Sc[Are] They Nowers have starred in. That’s all my fault because it’s my favorite horror franchise of them all, and it’s initially where Minter was introduced to me. 1989’s A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child had Minter as Yvonne, the candy striper new best friend to the previous entry’s Alice (Lisa Wilcox). As that previous entry showed, being Alice’s friend usually ends with a fatal visit from Freddy (Robert Englund). Not for Yvonne! I’ve always thought of Yvonne sharing the final girl status with Lisa in The Dream Child. She went up against Freddy, a possessed diving board, and played a huge part in bringing about Freddy’s demise by releasing the spirit of his mother. Yvonne is a part of the final girls of the Nightmare franchise.
In 1991, Minter was a part of two horror films that now reside as cult classics. The first is metariffic Popcorn in which she portrays Cheryl, a part of a group of students who are putting on an all night horror film fest, and are besieged by the spirit of a cursed film. If memory serves me correctly, Cheryl makes it to the demise of the film’s villain and theater in which the film fest was held. The other film is Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs, which saw Minter take on the role of big sister, Ruby, to the film’s main protagonist, Fool (Brandon Quintin Adams).
I hereby declare Kelly Jo Minter as the ultimate horror movie survivor. She’s faced many a dangerous evil, but never fell victim to any of the evils. She never fell victim to the trope that black people die in horror films. With The People Under the Stairs, the story was a black person’s story. The struggles of an inner city black family endure due to a white person’s racism and greed are brought forth within the film, and are overcome.
In 2018, Kelly Jo Minter was among the talent who gave interviews for Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. In the documentary, she sits with Miguel Nuñez, Jr (Friday the 13th V: A New Beginning) as they commentate on the impact that black people have had on the genre of horror. The People Under the Stairs is a part of that impact, and is a part of the focus among the many brilliant films that are included in the documentary.
She also played a part in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise documentary, Never Sleep Again. Her documentary appearances for the Nightmare franchise are still on going. She’s slated to appear in the documentary, ICON: The Robert Englund Story as well as a documentary based on the fandom of Freddy titled Fredheads: The Documentary.
Kelly Jo Minter’s continues to speak on her horror movie past. She continuously does interviews and shows up at horror cons. Her place in horror movie history is a brilliant ride. You can count on one hand the horror films that she’s in, but the impact that she’s made with those roles is evident. I have always been drawn to anything she’s in from those horror films to Mask (1985) to House Party (1990) to her two episode stint on A Different World (1988), Kelly Jo Minter is definitely a big part of cinematic history. And will always be the ultimate horror movie survivor.