as channeled by Nicole Fiss
I am forever a child of the 80’s. I grew up in a world filled with Jason, Michael and Freddy. We had Leatherface, Pinhead, Dr. Giggles, Harry Warden, Avery Laughter (I’ll buy a drink for whoever can tell which movie that one was from), and I could go on and on with a list of infamous characters in horror. And while they all deserve their place in horror history, they have one thing in common. They’re all men.
Please keep in mind I am not a 1969, bra burning, “women can do anything men can do”, over the top feminist. But let’s face the facts, in the horror world the men outweigh the women by about 80%. Go to any convention in the country and you will see for yourself, the level of testosterone is through the roof while the estrogen sits on the sidelines. I have not forgotten about Laurie Strode, Nancy Thompson, or any of the number of women who survived Jason’s machete swing, but there is one that will forever stay in my mind as the most memorable female in horror.
To hear her childlike voice is enough to send chills up the spine of even the most experienced horror veteran. But it is one of the most recognizable voices in the industry. To use a word like legendary seems underwhelming. Her most famous role was as Tangina Barrons in the POLTERGEIST trilogy. She brought a level of heroism and also a sense of humor to one of the most famous ghost stories of all time. Tangina gave us insight into the world of psychic mediums, and some of the most classic cinematic quotes of all time.
The first time I saw Zelda Rubinstein I was 10 years old, sitting in the Chestnut Hill movie theater with a small group of friends waiting to be scared out of our skin. And we were. Our eyes were glued to the screen while we witnessed trees coming to life, furniture moving by itself, a little girl getting sucked into a closet and a parapsychologist ripping off his own face. Then came the heroine who was going to save the day and little Carol Anne. When she first came on the screen I giggled. Her first line, “Would ya’ll mind hanging back, you’re jamming my frequencies”, had everyone in the theater laughing. She could deliver the comedic lines as well as the bone chilling lines with equal intensity. I went back three more times for that experience.
Zelda’s career spanned for three decades and she proved that women of all ages, shapes and sizes could make it in the movie business. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to meet her, she passed away in 2010 at the age of 76. She was an icon and a legend, and an inspiration to women in the horror industry.
I’m sure that everyone is waiting for the expected “this house is clean” comment, but I’ve never been one to think inside of the box. I have to go with my all time favorite, “Clear your minds, it knows what scares you. It has from the very beginning. Don’t give it any help, it knows too much already. Now, open the door.”
And you did open the door Zelda, to the eyes, mind and heart of a 10 year old girl in small town Pennsylvania. Thank you for the entertainment, the memories and most of all the inspiration. Fare thee well.