BY EMILY GAGNE
Role in the horror community: Teacher, mother, sister and grandmother — basically any strong female you can think of — of ghouls and gore
Claim to fame: In the horror game? Likely the original A Nightmare On Elm St., a little 1984 hit you may have heard of it. It was produced by her brother Robert Shaye and although she was only in it briefly, playing a teacher, she’s still noted by fans to this day.
In terms of a major major speaking role, however, I’d point you to creature feature Critters, for which she played dispatcher Sally. She’d go on to appear in the sequel, Critters 2, two years later.
Weapon of choice: Her biting, yet over-the-top wit and flawless, fearless delivery of it. Although James Wan and Leigh Whannell sell Tucker and Specs as the comic relief of the Insidious movies, it’s her whip smart Elise that really gets you, as her light-heartedness seeps through just the right (read: the darkest) moments. I particularly loved her introduction in Insidious: Chapter 2, but I won’t dare spoil those details for you. Instead, I insist that you watch the 2001 Maniacs series. She plays a crazy, bonnet-wearing Civil War era cannibal alongside old pal Robert Englund, and she goes ALL OUT.
Why she’s bloody brilliant: Although she’s certainly found success outside the horror realm, with some of her most mainstream roles being strictly comedic (see: Dumb & Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, Kingpin), she’s come to realize that horror is truly her home, embracing the genre wholeheartedly over the past decade. And, because she’s so damn good, both on screen and to fans (I have a pal who has legit had some convos with her over Facebook), she’s been wholeheartedly embraced right back. She’s received the most award nominations of her life in the past decade or so, and they’re all horror-related.
You could claim that Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are the “technically” stars of Insidious, but it’s Shaye that really makes it something special. Wan and Whannell couldn’t even bear to do the sequel without her, (SPOILER ALERT AHEAD) bringing her back from the dead for another rousing round of demonic spirit hunting. It’s a simple fact: whether she’s in an underappreciated indie horror (Dead End), middle-of-the-road monster movie (Critters, the recently released Big Ass Spider) or blockbuster ghost story, Shaye always steals the show.