GIRLS ON HORROR (Oct. 31): Jamie Lee Curtis

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BY EMILY GAGNE

Role in the horror community: The supreme scream queen

Claim to fame: Halloween, the 1978 John Carpenter slasher for which she played legendary, likely most notable final girl, Laurie Strode. (Oh, and there’s also the fact that she’s the daughter of fellow female horror icon Janet Leigh.)

Weapon of choice: On screen and in character? Whatever she’s got around that’s sharp. Sometimes that means she’s got Michael’s butcher knife in her hand. Other times that means she’s using an axe she stole from a fire alarm kit. She’s even handy with a wire hanger!

Overall, though, it’s Curtis’s sharp wits about herself and her surroundings that are what make her such a queen of horror, as she utilizes her emotions and her environment to create extra humanity and tension. Case in point, the well-known closet scene from the original Halloween, where her arms flailing about among the hangers speak to the absolute helpless terror you know she’s feeling at that moment.

Why she’s bloody brilliant: She’s really the reason the final girl has become so prominent in popular culture, as her portrayals of Laurie, Elizabeth from The Fog, Alexa from Terror Train (see: the awesome clip below), and Kim from Prom NIght tore down the dated damsel in distress routine and replaced it with something more much more empowering. Yes, Laurie gets help from some male figures early on (see: Dr. Loomis), but she fights tooth and nail to face off against Michael before that, and Curtis projects that desire to survive so perfectly. It helps that she’s gotta a kill scream, too, making her a endlessly hot commodity in the community.

Speaking of the community, what’s particularly special about Curtis is her devotion to horror as a genre, even when she’s not involved in it. Technically, she’s done more comedic and dramatic work in the past bit, but she continues to recognize the importance of Halloween, in particular, to her career. In addition to starring in the stellar first sequel (Halloween II) and the anniversary instalment (Halloween H20), she sold couple of signed Michael Myers masks from her personal collection to fans for charity this past year. She also filmed a documentary, the aptly titled The Night She Came Home (the original tagline was “The night he came home”), for the 35th anniversary DVD release, showcasing her 2012 visit to a horror convention.

What’s more is, Curtis is currently pegged to make another slash (er, smash) in the horror realm next year, headlining a prospective ABC Family series dubbed Final Girls. In it, she will do as she has inadvertently done over her many years in the genre, showing women harrowed by horrors how to find the strength within themselves to get away from it.

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