Along with her mother, Janet Leigh, Jamie Lee Curtis is horror genre royalty. With her legendary performance in Halloween (Carpenter, 1978), Curtis built her iconic status as the "scream queen." After the colossal success of Halloween, Curtis landed jobs in The Fog, Prom Night, and Terror Train. Laurie Strode is the ultimate final girl, in that she is one of the first young women to fight back against her slasher attacker.
In her classic take on the slasher genre, Men, Women, and Chainsaws, film scholar Carol Clover coined the term "final girl" and uses Strode as the main example. Strode's turn in Halloween 2 (Rosenthal, 1980) is disappointed when paired with the original. Where once Laurie was resilient and stood up to killer Michael Myers, in the sequel she spends the entire narrative running from and never confronting her killer brother. The action is left up to Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance).
It takes 20 years for Strode's character to get the renovation that she deserves in Halloween: H20 (Miner, 1998). H20 centers on the idea that Halloween 4, 5, and 6 never happened and that Myers has been lying dormant since his hospital attack on Laurie. Here we have a darker Laurie, one who has turned to alcohol led by constant paranoia that her killer brother will be back for her. Curtis' performance has never been stronger, and as she protects her son and his girlfriend from Michael's knife, she sheds the vulnerability from the second film to become Final Girl we all know and love.
I won't spoil the ending of this film, but I will say that Halloween: Resurrection truly ruins everything that H20 worked for. H20 is a contender for best Halloween film, in my book. Now, all of you horror fans out there are probably outraged at this notion, but the level of kickass-ness that Jamie Lee Curtis encapsulates on screen here speaks for itself. There is nothing like Laurie leaving the confines of the secure school, ax in hand, to confront Michael one last time. This is the stuff that horror legends are made of, and Miner executes the material perfectly.
Jamie Lee Curtis is the undisputed Queen of Horror, and as long as horror films are being made, the chances of her losing that title are quite slim indeed.
Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you enjoyed this month's countdown as much as I enjoyed making it!