Most actresses don’t dream of the day that they will be covered in fake blood, running for their lives, and screaming at the top of their lungs in almost every movie they make. But for Danielle Harris, that is the reality, and she is more than happy with her situation. As the star of “Hatchet II,” Harris has solidified her status as a reigning Scream Queen.

In “Hatchet II,” which opens Friday, Harris plays Marybeth, a woman whose family has been brutally murdered by Victor Crowley, a crazed, deformed lunatic — and the kind of character that classic horror films were all about.

“(Marybeth) goes back into the bayou to seek revenge,” Harris explained, “and she gathers up a big bunch of gun-toting backwoods country folk to help her.”

The sequel to 2006’s “Hatchet,” “Hatchet II” brings viewers right back to where they left off. “What’s really cool about this movie,” Harris explains, “is that it literally picks up in the same frame where the last one left off. Most sequels take place a year or two in the future, but this one starts exactly where Hatchet ended.”

That is, except for one small detail. Harris wasn’t actually in “Hatchet” — she is taking over the role of Marybeth from Tamara Feldman. When Feldman was not able to make the commitment for the sequel, director Adam Green thought of Harris. Green and Harris are good friends and had been trying to work together on a project for a while, but nothing had really panned out.

“But then he called me and left a message,” Harris said. “The message was kind of frantic and he was like, “˜Call me back, I’m so excited, call me back!'”

She immediately accepted the job, and now finds herself the star in one of the most buzzed-about horror movies of the year.

But Harris hasn’t always been the scream queen that she is now. She started a child actor, appearing on the TV series “Spenser: For Hire.” When she was 10 she got her first horror film role in “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers,” and the following year she returned in “Halloween 5.” She took a break from horror films after that with a recurring role on “Roseanne” and a host of guest appearances on sitcoms — she even starred opposite Katherine Heigl in “Wish Upon a Star,” a made-for-TV movie that anyone who had the Disney Channel in the 90’s must have seen.

Even though her career as a scream queen wasn’t exactly planned, Harris embraces it.

“I’ve been doing horror movies for so many years now,” she said. “It’s kind of a weird honor, but if I’m the go-to girl for horror, that’s awesome. I mean, who would have thought that this would be my career? But it’s great.” Harris is even starting a website about scream queens,, and what life is really like for the actors who work primarily on horror films. (She is hoping the website will be up and running by Halloween of this year.)

One of the aspects of horror films that Harris really enjoys is the community that the genre creates:

“I see people at conventions who have followed me since I was 10 or 11,” she said, “People who, even if they weren’t really into TV or sitcoms or whatever would still watch me on Roseanne because they knew me from the “Halloween” movies. There are people who have been watching me for 20 years, and that’s so great.”

And it isn’t just the fans. Harris says she always sees the same people on set, and everyone from the director to the make-up artists are her friends. And the fact that most of them are men doesn’t bother her one bit: “It’s great being the only girl on set,” she laughs, “Here I am, five-foot-nothing, and I’m hanging out with Candyman and Jason – like, those are my boys.”

But shooting horror films isn’t all fun, and can actually be incredibly trying, physically. Harris claims that she’s done it so many times that it doesn’t really affect her anymore.

“I think it might have taken a toll on my body as I get older, though,” she confessed, “I don’t think my body can tell the difference between real terror and acting terror, and I wonder, does my body think that I am actually running for my life all the time?”

“Sometimes I think, “˜Ugh, why can’t I go to Bali?’ I would pay someone to let me do a movie like ‘Eat Pray Love,'” she joked, “Instead, I keep doing these movies in desolate locations where it’s midnight, I’m barefoot, covered in blood, freezing, and waiting for them to wet me down.”

Scream queens may be horror royalty, but what it takes to be one turns out to be far from glamorous.

About The Author

Mallory Moore is a Blast correspondent

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