Widely considered by many to be the finest and toughest gal to endure the horrors of Camp Crystal Lake, Amy Steel was born in Pennsylvania in 1960. While still very young, she studied theatre and then joined the Barley-Sheaf Players with whom she starred in two productions.
After attending a small college in Palm Beach, Florida, Steel was discovered by Elite Model Agency's president, John Casablancas. She flew to New York and began a career in modeling and television commercials.
It was while living in the Big Apple that Steel auditioned for the part of Ginny Field in Friday the 13th Part 2.
And it is for that role that Amy Steel is without a doubt The Terror Trap's favorite heroine from the neverending F13 franchise. Her cute and natural middle American looks...combined with her sharp skills, made her the ideal survivor in the second installment of the series.
Steel's performance as Ginny was real. Take note of the scene when she and her boyfriend enter the darkened house that Jason is hiding out in - and she says, "There's someone in this room, Paul...there's someone in this fucking room!"
She has a detached (but heartfilled) vibe that gives her a 'hidden camera' feeling; you're watching a pretty young woman react to horrific events with a candid roughness. That's not only cool...nowadays it's highly original.
Rough edged maybe, but smart. And unlike someone you'd find in the bloated postmodern horror films that were to come, she doesn't have to be fashionably witty or make pop-culture references to get through her ordeal. Among her memorable moments are the scene where she's hiding from Jason under the bed and a rat comes near her. (You'd wet your pants too if that were you.)
What was the shoot like? Steel recalled, "Working for two months at night on a film like this eventually gave me the heebie-jeebies. Constantly having dirt and water thrown on you and watching these actors you're working with killed and blood pouring out of them...you know it's not real but at a certain point, it all becomes a very tense experience."
And was it demanding? The actress has said, "Being scared is a relatively easy emotion to reach for. I didn't really have to prepare for Ginny because the role was not that complex. I was basically a prop. It's not that hard to imagine somebody coming after you with a knife."
As with most splatter films from that time, the overall reviews for Friday the 13th Part 2 were not kind. However, Steel's performance was singled out and she was complimented more than once by people in the industry. An offer to reprise her role in the third film was turned down...her agent told Steel she was moving on to "bigger and better things."
Immediately after her success in the picture, she appeared in television series including The Powers of Mathew Star and For Love and Honor...as well as the Made-for-TV movie Women of San Quentin.
Fans were pleasantly surprised to find that she gave a strong performance in 1986's April Fool's Day. She played Kit Graham - and stood out among an unusually top-notch cast. The movie itself plays tricks on the viewer, turning the slasher mold on its head. The result was a suprisingly good movie, particularly so late in the game.
While Steel acted outside of the genre, she occasionally returned to it, as in the 1991 television remake of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? It starred Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave as the Hudson sisters...and Steel played Connie.
In more recent years, the actress has had roles in the series JAG and the TV movie A Time To Remember (2003), a bittersweet Thanksgiving film about a family coping with Alzheimer's disease.
Of course, we wish Amy Steel starred in more thrillers along the way. But still, it's a pleasure to see her in just about anything. She is proof positive that good acting and a well-made horror flick make a powerfully unique combination that terror fans require...like a much needed fix.