16 Celebrities Who Starred In Cheesy Scary Movies Before They Were Famous

It’s that time of year, friends: We’re planning our costumes, counting down to Halloween, and remembering the celebrities who’ve appeared in the horror movies we’ve long forgotten about. (Which are only a few of the reasons why October’s so majestic.)

It’s true. More than a few of our favorite current A-listers made their mark on the B-list horror circuit, fending off (or dying at the hands of) villains like Freddy Krueger, obsessive roommates, and/or Jason Voorhees — to name a few. Which, of course, gives us all hope. Because if the likes of Jennifer Lawrence can step into two relatively unheard of roles and still eventually come out an Oscar winner, our own starter gigs might also take us to places the likes of which we’ve never dreamed. (Because stars are just like us.)

So here’s to our favorite actors who once found themselves in the fictional path of death and destruction. May we be eternally grateful to them for helping establish this list as the official syllabus for any/all Halloween movie marathons, and for helping us find the perfect piece to read while cranking Drake’s "Started From the Bottom."

And finally, may we never forget that Beyoncé was in Obsessed.

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Courteney Cox, Masters of the Universe (1987)
Okay, so technically, Masters of the Universe isn’t exactly a scary film — unless you consider Frank Langella as Skeletor to be completely terrifying (which I absolutely do). However, in the 1987 fantasy flick, Cox plays teen Julie Winston who, together with her boyfriend, must help He-Man and friends find the Cosmic Key. So, a horror movie for anybody who absolutely hates having to complete tasks.
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Photo: Courtesy of Relativity Media.
Jennifer Lawrence, House at the End of the Street (2012)
Post-Winter’s Bone success, Jennifer Lawrence still found herself right smack in the midst of a PG-13 B-movie, playing a teen named Elissa who moves with her mother to a new neighborhood that boasts a questionable past. Evidently, she finds out something terrible went down at — pause — the house at the end of the street. And I’ll tell you this much for free: It’s a lot worse than anything we’ve seen in The Hunger Games.
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Rosamund Pike & Jennifer Lawrence, The Devil You Know (2013)
In the thriller you likely didn’t see but will probably now want to, Jennifer Lawrence played a young version of Rosamund Pike (Zoe) — a talentless actress (the character) whose A-list actor mother becomes her prime competition. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Zoe’s jealousy of her mom leads to a long list of questionable choices (including an affair with her mom’s new husband), and a confrontation near the end in which only one actress survives.
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Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures.
Leighton Meester, The Roommate (2011)
You know the story: Girl meets college roommate, college roommate becomes obsessed with girl, then the obsessed roommate kills a kitten out of jealousy. (Not kidding, but sure wish I was.) Enter: Leighton Meester’s turn in 2011’s The Roommate, the tale of a woman who’s so taken with Minka Kelly that one of the two must eventually die. Come for the dramatic scene set-ups, but stay for co-star Billy Zane’s scarves.
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Jennifer Aniston, Leprechaun (1993)
Before she was Rachel Green from Friends, Jennifer Aniston was Tory Reding, a young woman attempting to survive a leprechaun's killing-spree quest to reclaim his pot of gold. Sadly, she doesn’t go on to appear in any of the film’s several sequels, but know that it’s an even better watch if you pretend it’s Rachel’s secret backstory.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hollywood Pictures.
Mischa Barton, The Sixth Sense (1999)
Many of us will never forget the image of a young Mischa Barton appearing as a ghost in Haley Joel Osment’s room in The Sixth Sense, vomiting all over herself before uttering the unforgettable, “I’m feeling much better now.” (Or at least I won’t, try as I might.) Therefore, lest we forget Barton’s role as the young girl poisoned by her mother, and who shows up to help Osment’s character (Cole) realize the reason he’s seeing dead people is to help them move on. Namaste.
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Photo: Courtesy of April Films.
Brad Pitt, Cutting Class (1989)
Picture this: the 1980s, a killer on the loose, and Brad Pitt just starting out in the entertainment industry, which helps explain his role in a movie about a high school under siege. Most importantly? He’s wearing a tank top on the DVD case, which means that despite him probably wanting us to forget this role, we refuse to.
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Photo: Courtesy of Rainforest Films.
Beyoncé, Obsessed (2009)
Once upon a time, years after Goldmember (and later, Dreamgirls), Beyoncé revived her film career with Obsessed, the story of a wife (Queen Bey), husband (Idris Elba), and the coworker — wait for it — obsessed with him (Ali Larter). It’s dramatic, suspenseful, and includes a scene in which Beyoncé yells into a landline about having to call Elba back. This was prior to engaging Larter in a violent showdown that ends with one woman victorious, and the other still having to tell people she starred in Obsessed. Mandatory viewing, obviously.
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Renée Zellweger & Matthew McConaughey, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)
File this under: now you know it exists. Back in 1994, before remake culture defined our cinematic landscape, young Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey showed up for the (then) latest installment of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. Not as shocking as the original, but more camp than the 2003 reboot, the film adds cannibalism to the mix after a stranded group of teens find themselves being hunted by Leatherface and his human-hungry family. How this wasn’t mentioned in either actor’s Oscar speech, I’ll never know.
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Mila Kunis, Piranha (1995)
In her first-ever film role, Mila Kunis plays the daughter of a man who stumbles upon a deserted army research facility and accidentally releases a piranha into the river. (So, she plays the daughter of a man responsible for tragedy.) Jackie Burkhart would not approve.
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Photo: Courtesy of New Line Cinema.
Jennifer Connelly, Phenomena (1985)
Not to be confused with Phenomenon (the movie about John Travolta with powers), 1985’s Phenomena features Jennifer Connelly as Jennifer Corvino, a young girl with the ability to communicate with insects. Terrifying, yes. But less so than the killer at her Swiss boarding school, who she helps catch as a result of her gift.
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Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Johnny Depp, Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
It’s easy to forget that before he amassed his present-day scarf and fedora collection, Johnny Depp was once a teen boy who starred in the original Nightmare on Elm Street. The movie finds Depp and his friends being terrorized by the infamous Freddy Krueger, who kills them by entering their dreams. Ironically, only six years later, Depp would go on to star in Edward Scissorhands.
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Jack Black, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
The follow-up to 1997's I Know What You Did Last Summer features members of the original cast (mainly Jennifer Love Hewitt), plus new additions like Jack Black, who plays a dreadlock-wearing, Hawaiian shirt-donning, clueless stoner. Tragically, he dies quickly. But he's immortalized with his famous last words, “Uh, can I help you?”
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Photo: Courtesy of Cowboy Films.
Keira Knightley, The Hole (2001)
Chances are, unless you’re a serious Keira Knightley fan or a connoisseur of British cinema, you aren’t familiar with The Hole, a 2001 thriller about a group of teens who find a sealed, underground bomb shelter. Of course, after one of their friends turns on them, they realize there’s more to The Hole™ than meets the eye. (Spoiler alert: It’s full of secrets.)
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Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Halloween H20 (1998)
Twenty years after the original Halloween, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Jimmy, a neighbor boy whose willingness to help a woman whose house has been broken into leads to his untimely demise. His cause of death? A hockey skate to the face — which is especially fitting, since our first glimpse of him in the movie is in a hockey mask à la Jason himself. RIP.
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Photo: Courtesy of MGM.
Chloë Grace Moretz, The Amityville Horror (2005)
In her first movie role ever (according to Moretz herself), the then 6-year-old actress played Chelsea Lutz — the onscreen daughter of dad Ryan Reynolds (a.k.a. George). And, well, we know what happens in this one: After a family moves into a “spiritually inhabited” home, George begins to turn on his wife and kids, similar to the way the former house-owner did. The good news? It ends better. The bad? None of us will ever trust a house with windows that look like eyes.