Women of Horror -Dee Wallace
Born as Deanna Bowers in Kansas City, Kansas on December 14th, 1948, Wallace began a high school drama teaching career before attending the University of Kansas. She first broke into cinema in the mid 1970’s, appearing in the Sci-fi thriller, The Stepford wives. Her first major supporting role however, was in Wes Craven’s 1977’s cannibalistic classic, The Hills have Eye’s. Her performance as a terrified heroine, running for her life from savage flesh eaters did not go unnoticed. After a small role alongside Dudley Moore in the comedy “10”, Wallace was ready to establish herself deeper into the horror genre.
Wallace earned her first starring role in Joe Dante’s 1981 Werewolf classic, The Howling. The Howling was a moderate box office success. However, it was liked among critics, and managed to win the 1980 Saturn Award for best Horror Film. While still in production, The Howling beat out films like The Shining, and The Fog. The Howling was the first of 3 werewolf movies released in 1981, perhaps paving the way for the film An American Werewolf in London to achieve more commercial success.
The most successful film of Wallace’s career is actually not a horror film, but rather one of the greatest films ever made. E.T. brought Dee Wallace mainstream success, and made her a house hold name. Her performance in E.T., also earned her a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Sci/fi Film. Wallace, now a bonafide star, would return to the horror realm in the 1983 thriller Cujo, based off the Stephen King novel of the same name. Cujo earned mixed reviews with the critics, but was considered a box office success for the times. The real story for Cujo though, is Wallace’s acting chops. For my money, this is her signature performance, and one that will live with me for ever.
Wallace’s ability to carry Cujo is nothing short of amazing too me, considering her co-stars for 90 % of the action are an annoying little boy and a rabid St. Bernard. She really keeps the flow moving, and Cujo never really has a dull moment. The critics may have thought Cujo was a mediocre achievement, but the horror master himself, Steven King has gone on record to say that Cujo is one of his favorite adaptations.
After appearing in the 1986 Cult Classic Critters, Wallace’s mainstream career seemed to take a dive. That being said, she has still remained active all these years. Recently she has become a popular casting choice for Director Rob Zombie, and has appeared in several other lower budget horror affairs. In 2015 Wallace received a daytime Emmy nomination for her work on General Hospital. She then stepped right back into the Horror ring in 2017 with roles in Red Christmas, and Death House. You just can’t keep a good horror girl down I guess.
Over her career, Wallace has been nominated for 6 movie awards, and she’s won all 6 times. Since I’m a Chicago native, this reminds me of a certain # 23 who played for the Chicago Bulls, who was also 6 for 6. Outside of movies, Wallace is also a public speaker, and a self help author. She speaks about getting through adversity with determination, and love. Dee Wallace, 69 years old, and still going strong. Happy Women of Horror Month Dee, we love you.