Scream Queen is a title that is thrown around too easily these days, but this month’s inductee into the Horror Icon Hall Of Fame fits the criteria. This month’s honors go to a lady with a powerful presence on screen (and a powerful set of lungs to boot). This month’s icon is Katharine Isabelle.
Born on November 2, 1981 in Vancouver, Canada, Katharine Isobel Murray made her debut. Born to parents Graeme and Gail Murray, Katharine was destined to live life in the spotlight. Her father created the special effects for the The X-Files and her brother is renowned actor, writer and director Joshua Murray.
Her career started in 1989 when she was just eight years old. Working under the name of Katie Murray, Katharine starred in Cousins alongside big names like Ted Danson, Isabella Rossellini, Sean Young, Lloyd Bridges and William Petersen.
That same year she starred in Cold Front, The Last Winter and Immediate Family. Katharine also made an appearance on the widely popular TV series, MacGyver.
In 1991, she changed her accredited name from Katie Murray to Katherine Isobel for the TV Movie Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus.
For the next few years, Katherine Isobel starred in numerous TV movies and shows, including Children Of The Dust, Lonesome Dove: The Series and The Prisoner Of Zenda, Inc. But in 1996, along came the spookiness that is R.L. Stine and Katherine Isobel was given a chance to shine in the TV series of Goosebumps. The episode was It Came From Beneath The Sink.
Starring as Kat Merton, one of the leading characters, Katherine Isobel scored many new fans, especially those that loved the Goosebumps books and TV Show.
That same year, she underwent another name change in the film credits, this time changing a single ‘e’ in Katherine to an ‘a’ so it spelt Katharine. This change was first notable in Salt Water Moose as well as the TV movie, Titanic.
In 1998, she had the pleasure of working with her father when she appeared on The X-Files for a single episode. That same year Katharine made her mark in horror with two thriller/horror styled movies; Voyage Of Terror and Disturbing Behavior. (Fun Fact: By this time, the name we all know her as, Katharine Isabelle, was used in the movie credits. The first time it appeared as such was in the episode of The X-Files)
Teaming up with V actor, Michael Ironside and Martin Sheen, Voyage Of Terror is about an infectious disease researcher is on a cruise with her daughter when an Ebola-type virus attacks the ship's passengers and crew. It has a typical TV movie feel about it. The characters aren’t fully developed, especially that played by Sheen, who was a back-stabbing presidential adviser. Katharine’s performance as the teenage daughter was good. Not outstanding, not memorable, but she did her job convincingly.
Disturbing Behavior came about in the late ‘90’s riding on the coattails of the successful Scream, Scream 2 and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Mind control is the bases of this film with unruly high school students being turned into upstanding citizens. Katharine starred alongside James Marsden, Katie Holmes and Nick Stahl and held her own. Playing the kid sister of James Marsden’s character, Katharine was convincing in her small role. While she didn’t have a big role, Katharine was important in the critical escape of the characters from Cradle Bay. If you haven’t seen Disturbing Behavior, hire it out and watch it. Recommended film.
Returning to TV the following year, Katharine appeared in The Net, Da Vinci’s Inquest and First Wave. Little did anyone know that this sweet, baby-faced Canadian was about ready to show the horror world what she was made of.
In the year 2000, Katharine teamed up with fellow teen stars Emily Perkins and Kris Lemche (Final Destination 3) for the horror/comedy Ginger Snaps.
Ginger Snaps is about two outcast teenager sisters, Brigitte (Emily Perkins) and Ginger Fitzgerald (Katharine Isabelle), who are very connected and have a weird pact of death between them. Their hobby is photography, more specifically morbid pictures of violent death scenes. On the full moon night the sixteen year-old Ginger has her first period, she is bitten by a wild animal, indeed a werewolf, but she omits the attack to her mother Pamela (Mimi Rogers). A couple of days later, Ginger changes her behavior; her body is covered by excessive hair; and she has the need of attacking dogs and other animals. While her mother believes that the menstruation is causing her changes of attitude, Brigitte seeks the cure with the local drug dealer Sam (Kris Lemche).
Now, I may get some arguments for what I’m about to say, but I believe that Ginger Snaps is one of the best werewolf movies around. I know it’s a big favourite among my girlfriends because it’s an original concept that’s executed perfectly. If you haven’t seen it, do yourselves a favour and go get it. You won’t be disappointed.
2001 saw an unusual pairing. Katharine found herself starring alongside rapper Snoop Dog in Bones. The basic storyline for Bones is over 20 years after his death by a gunshot, Jimmy Bones comes back as a ghost to wreak revenge on those who killed him and to clean up his neighbourhood. Not a great film, though it does start out in a promising manner. It continues to feel promising until about half way through. The one issue I had with this was the writing. Snoop’s character wasn’t a villain and yet the script unjustly makes him out to be one. It’s certainly for fans of B-Graded movies. Katharine as Tia was disappointing. After her performance in Ginger Snaps, there were high hopes that she’d move up on the cast list, not disappear into the background. Regardless of her role, she still delivered 110%.
In 2002, Katharine founded herself in a movie alongside funny man Robin Williams, Hilary Swank and Al Pacino. Insomnia is one of those rare movies in which Robin Williams isn’t cracking jokes or dressing in drag. Insomnia’s storyline is two Los Angeles homicide detectives are dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn't set to investigate the methodical murder of a local teen. Directed by Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises), Insomnia is highly recommended.
Also that year, Katharine found herself as a supporting character in the TV movie remake of Carrie (Fun Fact: Carrie is currently being remade – again)
Playing Tina Blake and starring alongside Angelia Bettis and Patricia Clarkson, Katharine stepped up her game. Despite the film falling flat when compared with the original, Katharine’s performance could not be faulted. I don’t think the storyline for Carrie needs to be retold but just in case you’ve been living under a rock Carrie is the story of Carrie White, a lonely and painfully shy teenage girl with unbelievable telekinetic powers, and is slowly being pushed to the edge of insanity by frequent bullying from both cruel classmates at her school, and her own religious, but abusive, mother. Soon, she discovers she has telekinetic powers; and when the most gruesome of gags is played on her on prom night, all bets are off.
2003 saw Katharine take on not one, but two, of horrors greatest psychos. Freddy Vs. Jason was a highly anticipated duel between the two big bads of New Line Cinema and Katharine’s character Gibb was caught in the middle. (Fun Fact: This would be the first film in which Katharine co-starred Brendan Fletcher)
Katharine was outstanding. Her character was a drinking, chain-smoking, but surprisingly not foul mouthed. And her kill was what set Freddy Krueger off on his rampage against Jason Voorhees. If you remember, Freddy was taunting Gibb, flashing her images of her dead boyfriend, before trapping her in his boiler room. Just as he’s about to rip into her with his claws, she died, spurting blood into his face. Jason had found her and rammed a pole through her unconscious body and that of the guy on top of her.
In 2004, Ginger returned. Ginger Snaps: Unleashed saw Katharine team up again with Emily Perkins for a sequel to their wildly popular Ginger Snaps. For a sequel, it’s not bad. The storyline is as follows: The late Ginger's sister Brigitte, now a werewolf herself, must try to find a cure for her blood lust before the next full moon while hiding out in a rehab clinic from a relentless werewolf.
The only issue I really had with the film was the gratuitous masturbation sequence. Whilst it was a dream and a link between being a werewolf with werewolf instincts relating to sex, it did take me out of the movie. I don’t think it was set to offend, nor do I feel like it degraded the film in any sense. It just took me out of the film and while it was happening, I was sitting there with a look of WTF on my face.
That same year there was another instalment of Ginger Snaps released. Ginger Snaps: The Beginning sees the film set in 19th Century Canada, where Brigitte and her sister Ginger take refuge in a Traders' Fort which later becomes under siege by some savage werewolves.
I’ll be honest when I say that I felt this film was the weakest of the series despite my love of Katharine and Emily returning as Ginger and Brigitte. It was shot back-to-back with Ginger Snaps: Unleashed, and clearly they were running out of ideas with this werewolf inspired tale. Get it to complete the series, but it’s not worth the watch.
2006 was a busy year when it came to TV movies and shows for Katharine. From appearances in Stargate SG-1 and Reunion to the TV movies Eight Days To Live and Engaged To Kill, Katharine showed that she wasn’t just a pretty face with a powerful set of lungs.
In 2007 Katharine made an appearance on the hit TV show Supernatural. Playing Ava Wilson, Katharine made two appearances in separate episodes, and secured her place in Supernatural history.
In 2008 Emily Perkins and Katharine teamed up again, this time for Another Cinderella Story also starring Jane Lynch, Selena Gomez and Drew Seeley. That same year saw Katharine team up with another Ginger Snaps star, Brendan Fletcher, in the TV movie Ogre.
There must be something in the horror water because in 2009 a little thriller movie called Rampage starring Brendan Fletcher crossed Katharine’s desk and sure enough she appeared in it but as an extra only.
In 2010, Katharine returned to straight up horror with Hard Ride To Hell. Highly underrated movie Hard Ride To Hell is about a group of family and friends on a camping trip through the Texas badlands are taken on a one-way ride to Hell after they inadvertently witness a ritual sacrifice at a deserted campsite. Pursued by the devil worshiping biker gang responsible, they hole up in an abandoned church near the border, only to discover that they are pawns in a decades-old battle between good and evil. (Fun Fact: Ads taken out in popular horror magazines promoted Hard Ride To Hell as an ode to the very popular exploitation films)
This was one film that stirred the pot within my group of horror loving goons. Half loved it, deeming it to be cheesy and an exploitation film while the other half hated it because, whilst it had everything, it didn’t quite mesh together. At times it was tedious and some of the actors weren’t as convincing as they should have been, but for the purpose of watching Katharine show off her many talents, this film nailed it.
2010 also saw 30 Days Of Night: Dark Days. Katharine played the role of Stacey in a film about Stella Olemaun, who survived the incidents in Barrow, Alaska, relocates to Los Angeles, where she intentionally attracts the attention of the local vampire population in order to avenge the death of her husband, Eben.
Truth be told, it’s not a great sequel, though it does have promising moments. It is a film that rages a lot of debate about why Stella would return, however, where it counts it does fall flat.
Currently, Katharine is promoting her new film directed and written by the Twisted Twins, Jen and Sylvia Soska, American Mary. The story follows medical student, Mary Mason, as she becomes increasingly broke and disenchanted with the surgical world she once admired. The allure of easy money sends Mary into the world of underground surgeries which ends up leaving more marks on her than her so called 'freakish' clientele.
She also has a few other projects in the works including a new horror entitled 13 Eerie which, surprise, surprise, also stars Brendan Fletcher. (If these two keep this up, Brendan might find himself in this Horror Icon Hall Of Fame too) There is also another thriller entitled Primary and a comedy/horror film called Crazy Fat Ethel.
Katharine Isabelle. Underrated actress? At time yes. Talented? Undoubtedly. Over the course of her career, Katharine Isabelle has shown how talented she is in numerous films and television appearances. One thing is certain. Her constant return to the horror the genre has us begging for more and is why she is crowned this month’s Horror Icon Of The Month.