Horror films are really good at luring bright-eyed young actors with dreams of stardom into their franchises, because hopeful young people are notoriously easy to murder, and art imitates life in powerful ways. But slasher movies seem to have a disproportionate tendency to propel the careers of the next generation of A-list actors. Rubbing elbows with Freddy or Jason can be better for your acting career than going to a pool party at Robert Evans' house and helping him inject cocaine into his penis.
First on the scene was Michael Myers, the Shatner-masked villain of John Carpenter's Halloween. That movie was the big-screen debut of Jamie Lee Curtis. Dana Carvey showed up in Halloween II four years before he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live. Paul Rudd had a starring role in Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers the same year he was in Clueless. And Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are all in Halloween H20, although JGL gets improbably murdered with an ice skate about six minutes in. Adam Arkin tried to make the leap from television to the big screen in the same movie, but he gets stabbed to death halfway through and went immediately back to television, where he is stabbed no more.
"Save yourself, Adam Arkin!"
Leatherface (whose first film appearance actually came before Michael Myers', but nobody in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre ever amounted to anything) jump-started the careers of Viggo Mortensen in Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Jessica Biel in the Texas Chainsaw remake, and Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey in The Return Of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (also known as Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation). In true McConaughey fashion, he does not remember which Texas Chainsaw film he appeared in, although he presumably has no trouble recalling Reign Of Fire.
New Line Cinema
"Wait ... which one is this?"