Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis)
Some people are surprised to learn that horror is a favorite genre of young female moviegoers. The reason for that may be Curtis’ performance as Laurie Strode in the original Halloween and several sequels. If Michael Myers – masked, implacable, silent – was the prototype for all future slasher villains, then Laurie was the model for all future horror heroines. John Carpenter may have cast Curtis because she was Janet Leigh’s daughter (her lineage is one of several references to Psycho in Halloween), but Curtis’ particular blend of vulnerability, wiry strength, and clench-jawed determination made her a new kind of leading lady.
The classic terrorized babysitter, Laurie made Curtis the scream queen for a generation, but it wasn’t just her powerful lungs, it was the way she managed to stand up to Michael and resourcefully defend herself. Her feat is even more impressive after you learn that Michael is her own brother – imagine the kind of strength necessary to defeat the killer while bearing that psychological burden. It’s easy to read horror movies, particularly slasher films, as showing teenage girls their fears (of their changing bodies, of their budding sexuality, of their own desires) made flesh, but it also shows, through all the horror heroines that Curtis’ Laurie inspired, that girls can face those perils and overcome them.
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