Saturday, August 27, 2016

Jamie Lee Curtis: Horror Queen

Jamie Lee Curtis made her name in horror movies of the late 70s and early 80s. When you look at the time period and movies she did, that was one busy actress! 

Born in 1958 to a famous actress (Janet Leigh) and famous actor (Tony Curtis), Jamie Lee Curtis did some parts on TV and the like before she landed the 1978 eventual cult favorite - "Halloween." 

I like to look at her choice to do this low-budget movie with questionable future viewings as a sign of a success in the making. She took opportunities and made them her own. Too many actors look at a role they are being offered and see it as somehow pivotal. "Should I do this role? It might make people pidgeon hole me," or "This part is insignificant." A truly successful trailblazer manages to look at opportunities as stepping stones. Jamie did just that - thankfully. And, she had no idea at the time that taking that role would catapult her favored status.

What worked for Jamie was she was attractive to the men without being distractingly sexy and nonthreatening to the females. Her roles involved young women with a strong constitution and understanding of right and wrong. When things went to hell - her characters stood up to the challenge. This rather reflected her own attitude about acting.

Let's look at our horror queen's lineup of best known roles - 


This classic John Carpenter film involved a nerdy babysitter and her wild friends on Halloween night. An insane killer had broken out of the asylum to go back to his hometown on a killing spree. It was apparent in this first really popular slasher film, that the girls who didn't take babysitting seriously were going to be in a world of hurt. 

Jamie's character, Laurie Strode, took her role as babysitter and protector seriously. In one evening, her world went from having an innocent crush on a boy in school to saving the lives of some children and herself. Jamie performed this role with all the awkwardness of a geeky teen put in an extraordinary situation. 

The Fog

In another John Carpenter film, a seaside town is about to celebrate their 100th anniversary when some ghosts roll in with the fog. Jamie's character is a hitchhiker who hooks up with a local. She goes from being an ambling young adult to a guardian of a kid in a split second.

Jamie played this role with curiosity and no upstaging. She was a great conduit for some spooky happenings and unsettling reactions. Ultimately, once again, she was strong when she needed to be and putting her role as child protector to the forefront. She wasn't a lead role in this film, but she was well cast.

Prom Night

A girl fell from a window of an abandoned building when her friends cornered her during a game. She died. A decade later, the dead girl's teenaged sister, played by Jamie, is getting ready for prom night. The only problem is, the kids involved in that game long ago are popping up dead. 

This role had Jamie as a popular girl in school with some awesome disco dance scenes. She was confident and ready to rock the prom when death comes a-calling to the kids in her class. This role was played with confidence, a new side of Jamie that emerged a bit in "The Fog," but she was definitely comfortable in her own skin. And, ultimately, this responsible character must face the killer and show her resourcefulness. 

Terror Train

An awful prank results in a kid going insane. But a few years later, the college kids are ready to graduate and Jamie's character, who feels guilty for her part in the prank, is one of the partiers on the party train where a killer wants revenge.

Once again, Jamie's character's conscience helped her. She was assertive with clear boundaries and had to outsmart the killer in the end. This scenario played out in all her movies, but each time, we still wondered if she'd win.

Road Games

(Description from IMDB) A truck driver plays a cat-and-mouse game with a mysterious serial killer who uses a young female hitchhiker as bait to lure victims on a desolate Australian highway.

This movie was not widely seen, as it was an Australian-themed movie. Jamie played the hitcher. If you want to get a movie to add to your horror collection from that era, this is the one you need to complete it. Warning: Old copies of this can go for the hundreds of dollars! If you don't mind a copy - ioffer has a seller for $7.30.

Halloween II

Halloween made it's mark so a few years later, Carpenter gave us what we craved - a continuation of that night. This one picks up at the hospital where Laurie Strode is wheeled in and becomes a weak target for the killing machine, Michael Myers, who sees the hospital as no obstacle for killing. 

Laurie Strode is broken and battered, traumatized and utterly alone as she has to face down her killer brother in the hospital corridors. She does a fair job of managing to get away, but ultimately it comes down to her and Michael's psychiatrist one again pitted against a killer who is determined. This role didn't give the character of Laurie a lot of gumption yet. She still seemed to be baffled about just what she was up against. Of course, we all know from further episodes that this showdown would make he realize he won't stop at anything and she better go underground and change her identity (leading us into eventually Halloween H2O episode). 

Halloween H2O


It's decades later and Laurie Strode has a new name and a career across country as a headmistress of a private school. It's a great place to hide away, but with Halloween approaching and her having a 17-year-old son, well, her brother is on her mind. 

Once again, her character shoved the young boy and girl out of the way to safety while she faced the monster alone. This time, however, she was determined he would not come back to kill again! It was a great showdown that left us all thinking, that was the last of that! One thing to remember with horror killers, they never really die - 

Halloween Resurrection

This abysmal movie's premise was a reality TV show doing an episode in the infamous Michael's home. Before he goes to kill them off, however, he faces off his sister. She is no longer the headmistress. She is a mental patient. And, the only excuse I can give for Jamie doing this part again was to be certain Laurie Stroud (the mortal one in this scenario) died. Bravo and well done! 


There was a time when Jamie had to be working very hard with sometimes more than one horror movie released the same year (3 movies in 1980 and 2 movies in 1981)

Halloween: 1978
The Fog: 1980
Prom Night: 1980
Terror Train: 1980
Road Games: 1981
Halloween II: 1981
Halloween H2O: 1998
Halloween Resurrection: 2002
Here's our favorite horror queen's evolution over her horror career - 

And, here's an interesting statistic - in 5 of these 8 movies, she had a brother who was the killer.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...