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?
Two individuals have been chosen for this wonderful, spooky time of the year. 41 years ago, the two ladies portrayed characters in a little town called Haddonfield who experienced their last Halloween in John Carpenter’s Halloween. They are Nancy Kyes (Annie Brackett) and PJ Soles (Lynda). Let’s go in the order in which they met their fate at the hands of Michael Myers.
Nancy Kyes (aka Nancy Loomis)
Nancy Kyes, billed as Nancy Loomis for Halloween, started her big-screen career in Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). Jamie Lee Curtis was a part of Carpenter’s gang as she is in the cast of 5 films Carpenter or Carpenter adjacent (voiceovers included), but Kyes nearly tied that by being in 4 of Carpenter’s projects.
Kyes would go on to star in Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), Carpenter’s The Fog (1980), as well as making a return as Annie (in corpse form) in the TV version of Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween II (1981), written by Carpenter and Debra Hill. She would also portray a completely different character in Tommy Lee Wallace’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) before leaving the business entirely in 1992 after several TV appearances.
In an interview with The Poly Post, Kyes expressed that along with acting, she enjoyed a lot of behind the scenes responsibilities such as wardrobe and scene design of which she did for Halloween and Assault on Precinct 13. The interview also reveals that after Halloween III, she had her first child, and put her focus on her family life.
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She later went on to get her master’s at the age of 50, and began teaching as an adjunct professor for the Theatre Department at Cal Poly Pomona in Pomona, CA where she still teaches to this day. As a former theater major, I couldn’t even imagine how awesome it would have been to have Nancy Kyes as a professor. Those lucky theater kids!
She also began sculpting, approaching the craft with a unique process wherein she collects objects and binds them together without any adhesive. Her work has been used in art shows at Cal Poly Pomona. Nancy Kyes hasn’t disregarded the genre that she starred in during the early 80’s! She constantly is a guest at horror cons, and has contributed to the special features of a few of her films.
PJ Soles has quite the career behind her. After a few years of modeling and commercials in New York, Soles moved to Los Angeles where she was one of many to audition in front of both George Lucas, who was casting for Star Wars, and Brian De Palma, who was casting for Carrie, in one single sitting. While both directors weren’t the names that they are now, imagine being able to look back and say that you got the chance to audition for both of them at the same time for what would be two influential films. Soles would, of course, be chosen by De Palma for the role of Norma in Carrie.
After Carrie, Soles continued to land roles. She then dabbled in horror with such films as the anthology Blood Bath (1976) and the tv film The Possessed (1977). Then came Halloween in which she portrayed Linda, a character that has been pointed to as an early example of horror’s “if you have the sex, you get the murdered” trope.
After Halloween and into the 80’s, Soles was in many films, including the cult comedy Rock ‘n Roll High School (1979), the 80’s classic Stripes (1981), and the Jessica Lange vehicle, Sweet Dreams (1985). It wasn’t until the late 80’s that she returned to the genre in the medical horror B.O.R.N. (1989). Since the 90’s, Soles has made appearances in Uncle Sam (1996), Mirror, Mirror 4: Reflections (2000), The Devil’s Rejects (2005), and she had a role as a teacher in the absolutely incredible Jawbreaker (1999).
But enough about her filmography because I could list many other films. I guess that statement kind of contradicts the whole point of this article because PJ Soles has never actually stepped away from acting. She constantly has her foot in a film or more a year. This year, alone, she’s had 5 films come out including the Halloween scare, Candy Corn. Just like Nancy Kyes, she’s always on the horror con circuit and lends her voice to her past films.
With Halloween being retconned, there was hope from Soles that she’d at least have a part of it. Here’s what she told The Rochester City Newspaper back while Halloween 2018 was in preproduction:
It’s gonna be the 40th anniversary next year. But the minute I heard about the new “Halloween,” everybody on Facebook and my friends were texting me, “Are you gonna be in it? Are you gonna be in it? I hope you’re going to be in it!” So I shoot off an email to John Carpenter, and I’m like “Congrats, you know, I heard about the new movie. Obviously everyone’s very excited. I can’t believe Jamie Lee is going to be back … So I’m expecting a scene!” That’s what I wrote to him. [Laughs] Where, you know, Laurie has a dream or a nightmare or whatever, and she’s dreaming about Annie and Lynda. Where we’re grown up and we’ve got kids and grandkids and friends, and so it would be kind of “What if they had lived?” kind of a dream fantasy.
And I said, “That would be really cool. Just let me know if you think that’s a good idea. I’d love to be part of it. Totally.” And he wrote back, and he said, “I’m only doing the music. I don’t have any creative input. But if it was up to me, then Lynda would be the star of the movie in some alternative universe.” So I don’t think I’m going to be in it, but I planted seeds. Hopefully those pumpkin seeds will grow into a giant pumpkin and they’ll have me do a cameo. That I would say yes to, even for $100. I’m putting that out there.
“ I [shot] off an email to John Carpenter […] I don’t think I’m going to be in it, but I planted seeds. Hopefully those pumpkin seeds will grow into a giant pumpkin and they’ll have me do a cameo.”
While that would have been neat to see Kyes back as Annie and Soles back as Linda, it didn’t happen. But Soles planting a bug in Carpenter’s ear did get her a cameo. She’s not seen, but her voice is heard as the teacher during the scene where Allyson (Andi Matichak) is sitting in a classroom, and notices her grandmother, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), standing across the road from the school.
With Annie and Linda obviously being not of the living, we won’t be seeing the characters in Halloween Kills (2020) or Halloween Ends (2021). But honestly, with as many characters that they are retconning and bring back for those rounds, who wouldn’t be surprised for some sort of other cameos? Especially for Kyes for Soles already garnered her cameo.
Who’s been graced by Nancy Kyes or PJ Soles’ presence at a con or a film screening? What are your favorite films from each lady? Let us know over on our Twitter, reddit, Instagram, or on The Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook! Totally.