Joan Severance usually takes the femme fatale roles in lower budget horror and murder-mystery movies, most notably Lake Consequence (1993), Criminal Passion (1994) and Payback (1995). She was featured alongside Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder in the 1989 comedy See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and as Hulk Hogan's love interest, Samantha N. Moore, in the wrestling film No Holds Barred (1989). She had leading roles in Roger Corman's Black Scorpion (1995) (she later starred in and co-produced a sequel, Black Scorpion II: Aftershock (1997)), and The Last Seduction II (1999).
Joan Severance was also on the covers of the January 1990 and November 1992 issues of Playboy magazine, both featuring her in a nude pictorial.
She has also appeared in several music videos, including the Scorpions' video for the song, "Rhythm of Love".