Whatever Happened To These Teen Horror Movie Stars?

Many actors find early success in the horror genre. Jennifer Aniston battled an evil, pun-loving Irish creature in "Leprechaun" years before she landed "Friends," for example. Charlize Theron's first role came in "Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest." Even "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation" boasted not one, but two future Oscar winners in its cast, Matthew McConaughey and Renée Zellweger. 

That said, not everyone manages to go on to achieve that same level of success. For every Michelle Williams ("Halloween H20: 20 Years Later") and Leonardo DiCaprio ("Critters 3"), there are countless horror stars whose careers don't reach the same level of renown. It can be especially interesting to look back at teen horror films, which often feature ensemble casts, to see who made it and who didn't. The actors on this list all have respectable careers, and most are still working in Hollywood; they simply never reached the name recognition of their co-stars. Read on for a look at what happened to these teen horror stars.

Heather Langenkamp and Nancy Thompson are both icons

Nancy Thompson from "A Nightmare on Elm Street" proved so iconic a final girl that actor Heather Langenkamp returned for several more films, including playing herself in "Wes Craven's A New Nightmare." Langenkamp found herself surprised by how scary the original "Elm Street" turned out. She told Collider she wasn't even given a script that included Freddy Krueger until after committing to the film. "I didn't really know what to expect, and my imagination was so limited at that time for horror," she said. "I had no idea what I was in for."

Langenkamp regularly turns up at horror conventions and runs the makeup effects company AFX Studio with her husband, David Leroy Anderson. She also still acts on occasion, mostly in small roles and independent productions. In 2022, the horror legend enjoyed her highest-profile role since Nancy, playing Dr. Georgina Stanton in Mike Flanagan's Netflix show "The Midnight Club." She told Vulture she doesn't mind being associated with horror, even if it wouldn't have been her first choice. "You don't pick the genre that you get to be known for," she said. "It's something that I would never have imagined ... Life is so scary on its own — I don't need any additional scares."

Stay Alive star Jon Foster returned to horror in 2022

"Stay Alive", from 2006, centers on an evil video game. The trailer introduced the instantly iconic line, "If you die in the game, you die for real!" It's a silly concept that didn't work, made even sillier by the fact that the movie's villain was called "The Blood Countess." Still, that tagline lives on in internet jokes. The impressive cast included a "Heroes"-era Milo Ventimiglia, a post-"Malcolm in the Middle" Frankie Muniz, a mid-"One Tree Hill" Sophia Bush, and a pre-"Westworld" Jimmi Simpson.

However, Jon Foster played the lead. In an interview with IGN, he sounded stoked by the opportunity. "[Director and co-writer William Brent Bell and producer and co-writer Matthew Peterman and Brent Bell] were new on the scene and they were really excited about making a piece of art transferred into a horror film," Foster said. "... It's really hard to explain, but they really wanted to put this almost artsy, independent film together." Critics disagreed, to put it lightly.

Compared to some of his co-stars, Foster's career since has been slow. In 2015, he married Chelsea Tyler, sister of Liv and daughter of Steven. He returned to horror in 2022 for "Alone At Night," taking the role the night before he needed to fly out to shoot his scenes. He told ScreenRant, "Fortunately, I've had decades of experience in this industry as an actor and I think the more you do anything in life, the easier it gets."

Urban Legend's Alicia Witt balances horror and Hallmark

Several metafictional teen horror films sprang up post-"Scream," among them the 1998 slasher "Urban Legend. "The cast boasted several big names (and people who would become big names), like Jared Leto, Tara Reid, and Joshua Jackson. The star, however, was Alicia Witt, then best known as a child actress with credits that included David Lynch's "Dune." Witt paid homage to the film on Facebook in 2018, its 20th anniversary. "ummmm we're a little trepidatious about this," she wrote. "... i still don't quite believe this was 20 years ago." 

Nowadays, Witt is a Hallmark regular, acting in films like "Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane" and "Christmas Tree Lane." She's still in horror projects too, putting in appearances on shows like "Supernatural" and "The Exorcist." Witt told Glamour that she loves being on Hallmark to offset the darker parts of her career. "There's something about the lighter material that I think lends itself to everyone just having so much fun," she said. "If you're making a movie about something really dark, it does something different to your psyche."

Witt is also a musician, and she released an EP called "Witness" in 2023. The "Mr. Holland's Opus" star wrote songs about her experience of losing her parents while she dealt with cancer, and she told CNN, "It's important to realize that if you could get through that, you could get through just about anything."

Kristy Swanson was happy to let Buffy go
20th Century Fox/Max & Bobby Bank/Getty Images
Before "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" made Sarah Michelle Gellar a household name, Kristy Swanson played the character in a film of the same name. She told The Calgary Herald she remained proud of it, reasoning, "The movie was very successful. It wasn't a blockbuster in the theaters. But it became a cult classic." Surprisingly, Swanson didn't mind when "Buffy" shifted to the small screen with someone else taking her part. "That was great for young girls to be able to have that role model," she said. "I was in full support of it and thought it was fantastic."

Nowadays, Swanson acts in a lot of right-wing and faith-based media. In 2019, she starred alongside Dean Cain in a stage production of "ObamaGate," which was later turned into a movie. Swanson tweeted that she received a "death threat" about the production, in this case, a tweet from someone suggesting that the theater be set on fire. "It is a death threat on @RealDeanCain and me, an entire theater production, and an entire theater full of people," she tweeted, asking her followers to report the post. Other films Swanson has starred in since "Buffy" include "Trafficked: A Parent's Worst Nightmare" and "Psych 2: Lassie Come Home."

Halloween: Resurrection's Sean Patrick Thomas can be seen in Gen V

According to JoBlo, the filmmakers behind "Halloween: Resurrection" believed that, quote, an "urban audience" had helped boost the box office of "Halloween: H20." In particular, they felt that audience showed up thanks to the presence of star L.L. Cool J. In replicating that casting for the sequel, producers landed on rapper Busta Rhymes as the star alongside "Save the Last Dance" lead Sean Patrick Thomas. In a joint interview for MTV, both actors seemed to know just how the movie had turned out. "We joined this distinguished history with our project, the legacy," Thomas said gamely, while Rhymes joked, "The legacy that we have now made a permanent stain in."

Thomas' profile faded somewhat after the early aughts, but he still works consistently. He popped in on "American Horror Story," "Army Wives," "Lie to Me," and "Criminal Minds," among many other shows and movies. In 2022, Thomas starred in "Till" as Gene Mobley, the husband of Emmett Till's mother, Mamie. In 2023, Thomas recurred on "Gen V," Amazon Prime Video's spinoff of superhero hit "The Boys." He told Collider that his character screws things up for the idealistic younger generation of superhero oes, which reflects our reality too. "The adults are the ones who twist it and corrupt it and make it into something else," he said. "And that's what's unfortunate, and we see that happening in the real world all the time, every day."

Jason Takes Manhattan was Kelly Hu's first role

No one considers "Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan" a great movie. Once you get past the fact that Jason doesn't reach Manhattan until the last act, though, there's a lot of fun to be found in the boat scenes, particularly the memorable death of Kelly Hu's Eva. Jason stalks her through the hallways, and they come to a final confrontation in the middle of a pastel blue and pink dancefloor. "I didn't want to be one of those typical screamers, because sometimes when people get scared, they can't scream," Hu told Halloween Daily News. "All they can do is move. So I actually chose not to scream." Screams were added in post-production but the approach shows Hu's dedication to what may have otherwise been a disposable part in a disposable sequel.

"Jason Takes Manhattan" marked Hu's first film role. She went on to star in "The Scorpion King," and played Lady Deathstrike in the second "X-Men" film, "X2." Hu also does a great deal of voice work, including "Phineas and Ferb" and the recent "Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match," and "The Legends of Vox Machina." She told Wired that she enjoys voice acting. "First of all, you can do it in your pajamas and you don't have to get dressed up for it," she said. "When you only have to focus on one thing and the tone of your voice, it's a whole other kind of acting."

Fairuza Balk reprised Nancy in The Craft: Legacy

In "The Craft," Fairuza Balk played Nancy, an outcast girl who just so happens to practice witchcraft. In an oral history of the cult classic film, Balk told Entertainment Weekly (via Yahoo) that she got deep into character. "I found the subject absolutely fascinating," she said. "I started going to shops and talking with people. I really did study occultism, which is very fascinating stuff." Balk said she gave up a role in a Julian Schnabel production to be in it, which we imagine has to feel like a "Sliding Doors" moment into an entirely different career.

Balk still acts intermittently, including reprising her role in the 2020 legacy sequel "The Craft: Legacy." She seemed as surprised as anyone by the original film's enduring audience, as she herself wasn't a fan back then. "At the time when we made this, I really had no idea it would land so hugely and it would be so influential to people. To my mind, it had no gravitas," she told the Los Angeles Times. "But that's what's cool about art ... it affects everybody differently." 

In addition to her sporadic film roles, Balk is an artist and a musician. Her Instagram bio invites fans to join the "creative community" she is building on Patreon, where she writes, "... it is so liberating to know that I can finally have some control over how I spend my time creatively!"

Steven Strait's career from The Covenant to The Expanse

In 2006, several young stars came together for "The Covenant." The film played like a male-focused answer to "The Craft," focusing on warlocks rather than witches. Sebastian Stan, Chace Crawford, and Taylor Kitsch are more recognizable names these days, but it put the spotlight on Caleb, portrayed by Steven Strait. In an interview with Movieweb, Strait said he enjoyed shooting stunts that required him to hang from wires. "It's pretty incredible," he said. We've been working with wire rigs and harnesses for about two months. So it's been crazy and great."

After "The Covenant," Strait appeared in Roland Emmerich's "10,000 BC" and the Iraq War drama "Stop Loss." Beginning in 2016, he returned to leading man status in the epic series  "The Expanse," which ended in 20229 (after running first on Syfy and then on Amazon Prime Video). Strait was sorry to let Captain Jim Holden go, telling ScreenRant that they'd always planned on lasting for six seasons. "We were able to get to the end and end it on our own terms," he said. "I'm immensely proud of it. I'm grateful for it, but it is definitely a bittersweet moment."

Julian Morris had two memorable teen horror roles

Julian Morris had quite a teen-horror moment in the latter half of the 2000s. He starred in both "Cry_Wolf" and "Sorority Row," two slashers where teens get picked off one by one. In "Cry_Wolf," Morris plays a private school kid who gets sucked into a dangerous game; in "Sorority Row," his character is the devious boyfriend of one of the main characters. "'Cry_Wolf' was pretty tame in comparison [to 'Sorority Row'], but at the time I didn't think it was," Morris told Retro Slashers. "There is a lot of corn syrup in this one," he joked, noting that "Sorority Row" was rated R.

Morris went on to appear on 22 episodes of "Pretty Little Liars" and 20 episodes of "Hand of God." In 2021, he made headlines when he came out on Instagram, sharing sweet snaps with boyfriend Landon Ross. "18 years together, and they were the best ones because they were with you," he wrote.

That same year, Morris played Prince Colin in the Hallmark Channel's "A Royal Queens Christmas." He followed that up in 2022 with "The Presence of Love," this time for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Morris's castmate Eloise Mumford shouted out his talent as a scene partner during a livestream to promote the film (via YouTube). "The way that you see the world, and the way that you approach your work, is incredibly inspiring to me," she said. "It made it easy to fall in love."

The Faculty star Shawn Hatosy stepped behind the camera

Robert Rodriguez's 1998 alien-horror film "The Faculty" boasted an impressive cast of teen talent, many of whom have only gotten more famous with age. The cast included big names like Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood, Usher, Clea DuVall, Famke Janssen, and Salma Hayek, but there was another actor, by the name of Shawn Hatosy, who played a pivotal role. He starred as Stan Rosado, the football-playing boyfriend of Jordana Brewster's character Delilah. In 2001, Hatosy told IGN that he signed on to the film because he felt that the role of a football player would stretch his acting muscles. Plus, there were other benefits. "I got to work with Rodriguez, who is like one of my heroes now," he said. "Those were those reasons, plus nobody knew who I was then."

While many of the other stars of "The Faculty" have stuck to acting in films, Hatosy has primarily spent his time on television. He played Detective Sammy Bryant in 43 episodes of TNT's drama "Southland." From 2016 to 2022, he played Pope in 75 episodes of "Animal Kingdom;" during his tenure on the show, he also directed four episodes. He told Patch that he wants to explore more behind the camera, explaining, "It's different and it's challenging and it's a very collaborative process. As a director that comes from acting, I think I understand characters and I understand performance really well."

Jodi Lyn O'Keefe was scared of Halloween as a kid

"Halloween H20: 20 Years Later" featured young up-and-comers Josh Hartnett, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michelle Williams, and Jodi Lyn O'Keefe. O'Keefe, best known at the time for "She's All That," played Sarah Wainthrope, the girlfriend of Hartnett's character. The original "Halloween" frightened her as a child, she told The Nerd Element, noting, "I was little, and I hid behind the couch most of the time." As an adult, however, she came to appreciate the franchise's brand of horror. "It's my very favorite type of horror movie," O'Keefe said, the kind that relies on more subtle scares to shock. She added, "I was really honored to be a part of that kind of horror film."

In the sixth season of "The Vampire Diaries," O'Keefe joined the cast as a witch named Jo. Around the same time, she also appeared on "Hit the Floor," a BET show about cheerleaders. "It's awesome that they're so different," she told Collider. "They could not be more night and day. I'm getting the best of both worlds right now ... I wake up, every morning, smiling." 

O'Keefe doesn't have any credits listed on IMDb past starring in "Hip Hop Family Christmas" in 2021, but she still updates her Instagram every so often. She's also part of the Board of Directors of a perfume company called Heretic Parfum, telling Starry Mag, "It's one of the only 100% all-natural fragrance brands."

Disturbing Behavior's Nick Stahl recently returned to Hollywood

The poster for the 1998 campus horror film "Disturbing Behavior" highlights three stars. James Marsden's face is up front. He's still quite famous, having picked up a 2023 Emmy nomination for his work in Amazon Freevee's delightful "Jury Duty." Behind Marsden stands Katie Holmes, who cemented her pop culture legacy on "Dawson's Creek," in addition to her ill-fated marriage to Tom Cruise. In the background, though, is Nick Stahl, an actor not as well-remembered as his castmates.

Stahl was a rising star after "Disturbing Behavior." He co-starred in "The Thin Red Line," "In the Bedroom," "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," and "Sin City." Unfortunately, Stahl ran into a lot of legal trouble related to addiction in the early 2010s, leading him to take time off from acting. "I was pretty much hung over for every single day of work that I ever did — as a kid, in my early 20s, through all the films," he told The Hollywood Reporter.

Thankfully, things seem to be looking up. Since 2019, Stahl has been in several high-profile TV shows, including "Fear the Walking Dead," "Let the Right One In," and "Tiny Beautiful Things," and several independent features. Stahl told The Hollywood Reporter that he was pleasantly surprised by the reception he got. "Casting directors welcomed me back," he said. "There was maybe a little bit of hesitation at first — but as soon as I got a couple jobs under my belt, I kept working."

Elden Henson, from Idle Hands to a Scorsese film

The horror comedy "Idle Hands" starred 1990s teen heartthrob Devin Sawa as a stoner whose hands become possessed. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" star Seth Green and an actor named Elden Henson — perhaps best known as Fulton in "The Mighty Ducks" films — played his friends. In "Idle Hands," Henson was Pnub. He gets decapitated, but thanks to the same evil force animating his friend's disembodied hands, Pnub is undead. At a screening of the film in Los Angeles (via YouTube), Henson said he and Green got along great. "Seth was like, 'Hey dude, do you wanna go to a strip club?' And I was like, 'Yeah, I think I do.' And that's how we became friends."

Between 2015 and 2018, Henson played Foggy Nelson on Netflix's "Daredevil" TV show. He also brought Fulton back for two episodes of "The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers" on Disney+, telling Screenrant that he was happy to do a favor for director Steve Brill. "Steve's a great guy, and I feel very indebted to him," he explained. "He created this franchise, and this franchise changed my life."

In 2023, Henson appeared in "Killers of the Flower Moon" as Duke Burkhart, brother of the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio. He didn't have much in the way of dialogue, but fans on Twitter noticed him anyway. "he'd have been great in a bigger part," one fan wrote. "i miss that guy."

Camilla Belle was excited about When A Stranger Calls

In 2006, Camilla Belle toplined the remake of "When a Stranger Calls." At first, according to an interview with Radio Free, she wasn't interested. "No, I don't want to do a horror movie. Not my thing," she recalled telling her agent. When she met with director Simon West, he explained that the film would be more psychological thriller than horror, and she agreed to take part. "When a Stranger Calls" was the highest-profile release Belle had been involved in as a lead until that point, and she looked forward to what it might do for her career. "It's the first time I've been in a film like this, and for me, it's just exciting more than anything," she said. "I'm not nervous."

While the film grossed more than $67 million against a reported budget of $15 million, it wasn't well received and currently sits at only 9% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Two years later, in 2008, Belle appeared in the Jonas Brothers' music video for "Lovebug." Soon after, she hit the tabloids, causing a firestorm when Joe Jonas reportedly dumped Taylor Swift to date her instead. 

In 2021, Belle directed a short that was included in the anthology film "Phobias." She also landed a recurring role in Season 3 of "Law & Order: Organized Crime," playing Pearl Serrano across six episodes. Belle next appeared in the South Korean Netflix action film "Carter," and gave her fans a behind-the-scenes 

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