For this edition of B-Movie Queens, we are featuring the legendary Barbara Crampton. Born in Long Island, New York in 1958 she would experience a pretty eclectic childhood. While she was born in Long Island, she would move to Vermont and grow up there. Except during the summer, during the summer she would travel the country with her father who worked in a traveling carnival.
She caught the acting bug in seventh grade and would eventually go to Castleton State College where she would graduate with a BA in Theater Arts. While her first acting credit on IMDB is for a 1983 episode of Days of Our Lives, she actually did a little stage work in New York appearing in King Lear. What did she do next? I guess you’ll have to keep reading after this picture….
Many people would probably recognize Barbara from her reoccurring roles in soap operas starting with Days of Our Lives and continuing with a 35 Episode stint on Guiding Light and then a long term 141 episode role in The Bold and the Beautiful, you guys (aka the people reading this website) know her from her memorable sci-fi/horror film b movie roles.
While she had made a few made for TV movies and two other films, Body Double and Fraternity Vacation, the film that put her firmly on the map for B-Movie fans was the 1985 film Re-Animator. The film, was based off of an HP Lovecraft Story, “Herbert West, Re-Animator”, was about a college student and his girlfriend who had been experimenting with re-animating tissue. They would eventually meet another somewhat odd student, and well, lets just say it’s worth a watch.
Next up for Crampton in the horror/sci fi genre is one of my all time favorite bad movies, the 1986 b-movie classic, Chopping Mall. Why did I love this horrible film? Well, let’s see, I probably saw it around 1987 or 88, so I was ten maybe eleven, so a movie with a mall, killer security robots and topless actresses kind of appealed to a preteen nerd like me. Barbara played Suzie Lynn, and sadly I don’t remember how far she made it through the movie or if she made it all the way, or maybe I do and I’m not going to spoil it. For those of you wondering the movie’s premise, it’s pretty simple and really something I can see happening in real life today, well part of it. To save money by not paying security guards, a shopping mall replaces them with armed robots (that’s the part I can see happening today). Of course they are supposed to perform their tasks without lethal force. There is one guy that monitors them in a control room at night but that’s pretty much it. The same night the robots are introduced, a group of “highschool” friends decide to party in some of the stores that they work out after ours. Sadly a power surge damages the robots, who kill the controller guy then go on the hunt. Fake blood and ridiculous deaths ensue. It’s really not a horrible movie and a bit fun to watch, plus come on, Barbara Crampton is in it
Next up for Barbara came a role in another film based on a Lovecraft story, From Beyond. It also allowed her to reunite with her Re-Animator co-star Jeffery Combs. Based on the Lovecraft short story of the same name the movie features a group of scientists, one of course being Crampton, experimenting with a reality bending machine they call the resonator. Anyone near the machine is capable of seeing beyond our reality. Of course the experiment goes terribly wrong once they succeed. As soon as it does they are attacked by monsters from another reality and of course death and mayhem ensue. She would be nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Actress for her role as Doctor Katherine McMichaels in the film. I haven’t seen this one in at least 3 decades, but I remember it being enjoyable and worth a watch. I may need to re-watch and review some of these. Oh did I mention that Barbara wears a rather nice S&M outfit in a scene, well I guess its more of just a black corset, but still.
Next up wasn’t a full role in a classic film, but a cameo. In another of my all time favorites, the 1989 film Puppet Master, she would go back to her roots and have a cameo as a woman at a carnival. Just wanted to throw that one in because of the carnival part.
She would also have some a small role in Trancers II (one of my favorite film series) before getting a bigger role in the 1993 film Robot Wars. Not a great movie, but it did eventually have two massive stop motion robots fighting it out. Not to be confused with Robot Jox. The plot of Robot Wars is about a renegade Megarobot pilot and an archeologist who team to defeat a rebel group called Centros, there something to do with a toxic gas scare of 1993 or something and Centros trying to find and fix up another hidden megarobot and hey its got Barbara Crampton as Leda, so that makes it worth it.
So that’s not nearly all of her credits, she continues to act and has a few movies in post production right now. She was even nominated for a Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Actress for her role Anne Sacchetti in the 2015 movie We Are Still Here. She’s also done a lot of TV work that I just scratched the surface of. I pretty much wanted to stick to the more memorable roles, hopefully you check some out then explore the rest of work as well. Well as always thanks for reading!