A Tribute to Barbara Steele

I’ll be hard-pressed to ever put any horror actress above Ingrid Pitt, but of all the icons, Barbara Steele is one of the most memorable. He had an incredibly distinct bone structure and…these eyebrows that could just kill a guy. What’s more, she had presence. Presence that dominated the screen, no matter who she was with. Except Vincent Price…they were a good match onscreen. But I’m very biased towards Mister Price, as I’m sure most of you realize by now.

 

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When I first saw ‘Black Sunday’, I was struck dumb by just how gorgeous this woman was at the same time as being…very creepy. If I had to pick one woman to represent the Victorian ideal of beauty onscreen, I think Barbara would take the cake. Much like Anita Ekburg, Barbara was often dubbed over with other women’s voices in her roles. I will go ahead and say I am not a fan of that particular device when I think an actress has a perfectly lovely voice, but what is even more amazing is that Barbara was still wonderful, despite the fact that she still didn’t often get the chance to do her own talking.

Unfortunately, Barbara really didn’t get a fair cut in a lot of movies. She also grew to resent being known as a scream queen, which is perfectly understandable. She was almost onscreen in a Corman film, but her scenes were cut. I haven’t seen them, so I can’t say for certain whether or not the decision was a good one…but it probably wasn’t.

I’d like to end this short entry with a quote from Barbara herself, which might shed some light as to why she was so incredible in the few horror films she was in, and I think holds true for all great movies…scary or not: “Film is so porous, and to my mind, so oddly occult, that I think that film itself absorbs odd energies like a living skin.” You’re one in a million, Barbara Steele. One in a million.

 

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