Women in Horror: Jamie Lee Curtis

When young actresses are first starting out in Hollywood they tend to find themselves in the horror genre. Lately in the modern age of terror, if an actress stars in a horror film it leads to the audience seeing what her breasts look like and then what they look like when they’ve been gutted open with a big sharp knife. Back in the day when horror was a respectable genre, one actress broke ground and is especially known for making certain horror films classics. Fortunately for her, she was lucky enough to have Psycho goddess Janet Leigh as her mother. Jamie Lee Curtis obviously learned a thing or two from her mother.

Jamie Lee Curtis began her career in one of the biggest horror franchise in cinema, Halloween (1978). Halloween was the first of its kind to ever be released into theaters. Previous slasher films like Psycho had been released into theaters, but Halloween took horror to a whole new level and introduced a new generation of terror.

Jamie Lee Curtis played Laurie Strode, the sister of bad guy Michael Meyers. Curtis set the standard for the classic horror performance because until Halloween there wasn’t ever a character written like Laurie Strode. Curtis fit the role as the picture perfect shy nice girl turned terrified victim, unprepared for what horrifying events she will have to face. With modern horror, actresses don’t understand how to portray genuine emotion, but that’s what made Curtis’ performance outstanding. You could tell she was terrified and that’s what made the audience even more fearful for her seemingly sealed fate.

John Carpenter, Debra Hill and Jamie Lee Curtis made Halloween a classic, but it was Curtis’ closing scene in the film that changed the way audiences reacted to horror. Laurie hides away in the closet hoping to stay safe after making sure the children are protected only to realize that she’s trapped with no way out. When Michael Meyers breaks through the closet door, Laurie panics and grabs a hanger and stabs Meyers in the eye. And to finish him off, stabs him with his own knife. Laurie in a state of relief, thinks she safe, but we realize she isn’t when Meyers rises up slowly once again.

Nobody else could have been cast in that role and nobody could have done it like her. Michael Meyers is the bad guy everyone went to see, but Curtis’ performance made Halloween a terrifying slasher film.

In 1980, Curtis reprised her role as Hollywood’s leading scream queen in Prom Night, Terror Train and The Fog. She proved once again that she’s a force to be reckoned, turning otherwise unknown films into classics we can’t seem to shake off.

Horror is a very tough genre to be a part of and an even harder genre to pull off, but we’ll never forget the movies that managed to scare the hell out of us. Remakes of Halloween, The Fog, and Prom Night have been released into theaters over the years, only proving that nobody can pull off a horror film like Jamie Lee Curtis. Jamie Lee Curtis was a part of a generation of unforgettable horror films which makes her the ultimate scream queen.