One of my first jobs in Los Angeles was working at a video/record store called Music Plus… remember them? While ringing up a dark-haired beauty of a customer, I noticed that she had a rubber chicken key chain. This fascinated me. And it was even more exciting when I realized just exactly who the customer was. Standing across from me was the beautiful Ashley Laurence. If you are a horror fan you sure as hell better know who that is. In the HELLRAISER franchise, she made an incredible impact on me as Kirsty Cotton, a much put upon young woman battling truly nasty elements. I was so impressed by this lovely and sweet young woman back then that I myself went out and bought that exact key chain and I still have the damn thing.
Truly there is much more than novelty key chains that Ashley inspired. Before that first meeting, I became aware of this utterly gorgeous actress with Clive Barker’s HELLRAISER in 1987. In a dark and twisted fetish laden nightmare, she was a bright light as the one character we could all root for. Vulnerable, yet tough enough to outsmart Pinhead and his Cenobite pals, she lit up the screen and added another name to my scream queen crush list. In my humble opinion she was just as important to the mythology behind this gruesome good time as the featured beasts. I was such a fan that if they were going to make a sequel, she’d have to be in it for me to be happy. And thus, my prayers were answered.
Just a year later, Ms. Laurence returned to this hellish world in HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II. With Tony Randel directing, this bloody sequel gave a whole lot more meat to the character of Kirsty. Thankfully, Laurence was most definitely up for the challenge. She is fantastic here as she faces a world far more outrageous and sinister than what she discovered the first time around. This first sequel – among many – still holds up as the best. It expands wonderfully upon the first and the horror here is shockingly grotesque yet utterly fanciful. With so much of the focus on her, it is a world I love to revisit. It’s really a shame that her character wasn’t better utilized in the following sequel HELL ON EARTH (1992).
Thankfully this lovely actress returned to the depths of horror with the H.P. Lovecraft inspired Full Moon Entertainment feature LURKING FEAR (1994). This creature feature may not be everybody’s cup of blood, but once again I was hooked thanks to Ashley and a little low budget atmospheric spookiness. After this string of horror films, she continued making a few indie action flicks including BLOOD RUN in 1994, SAVATE in 1995 and THE REAL THING in 1996 among others. Yet she once again returned to the dark side to star with another favorite of mine, one who I dedicated this very column to a few months back.
In the 1997 thriller CUPID, Ashley starred opposite Zach Galligan in this dark obsession fueled thriller. He was a psychopath and she was his love interest. And you know what? I kind of dug this little flick. It helped that both Galligan and Laurence work together so well. That, and Mary Crosby can ham it up with the best of them. Thankfully Ashley kept busy with television appearances and even a starring role in another horror franchise with WARLOCK III: THE END OF INNOCENCE in 1999. She even returned to do another HELLRAISER flick in 2002 courtesy of HELLSEEKER. Other genre goodies include the autobiographical coming-of-age dramatic thriller from Robert Hall (LAID TO REST, CHROMESKULL: LAID TO REST 2) LIGHTNING BUG in 2004.
Ashley Laurence’s last film credit on IMDB is the Jack Ketchum adaptation RED in 2008, yet I've caught her on my TV more than I had realized. She is featured in a very clever Geico commercial as well another funny one for Coors Light. And forgive me for saying so but she is more stunning than ever! Funny, gorgeous and a fan of rubber chickens… So much to love! Luckily for horror fans, she has been known to visit conventions and chat with her loyal fans. A couple of years back I had a chance to talk with her again and while she didn’t remember me and my little story, she was still very charming and hopefully we’ll see her return to do another horror flick at some point. Frankly, if they do return to HELLRAISER, I say bring her back and I’ll be a happy man.
Want to take a look at what Ashley has been up to? I’d recommend it. If you want to see some of her commercials and other fun stuff check out her official YouTube Channel . For news, pictures and other goodness you can go to her Official Website. And finally, if you are a hardcore fan like I am, you can check out her official Facebook page here. With that, I highly recommend you immerse yourself in this creepy little video from the band Slipknot called “Snuff" in which she appears. Love the song and love the video as well! And now if you’ll excuse me, back to HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II I go.