Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WOMAN OF THE WEEK: Jamie Lee Curtis

Hey dudes and dudettes, this is B-Sol, your friend in fear, here to pitch in on The Vault of Horror's precious little sister blog. When BJ-C sent up the ol' Sol Signal with an assignment to write Woman of the Week, what was there to do but answer the call? Especially when your new WotW is none other than Jamie Lee Curtis, perhaps the ultimate scream queen of them all.

Being the daughter of Psycho's Janet Leigh, Ms. Curtis had some formidable shoes to fill. But she managed to do it, and then some, becoming an even better remembered horror heroine than her mom in the process.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Jamie Lee starred in five, count 'em five, major Hollywood horror flicks. The first, and most successful of these was, of course, the film that made her an overnight sensation--John Carpenter's groundbreaking original Halloween. In it she plays the virginal Laurie Strode, the epitome of the "final girl" in the face of Michael Myer's undying evil.

Combining sex appeal, innocence and feminine strength in a way never before seen in the horror genre, the second generation starlet was more than a character--she was an archetype. In the sex-drenched world of the 1970s, Laurie's character chooses not to indulge in the carnal desires of her friends, sublimating her libidinal energies into a force of shocking violence in the face of violence. Confronted with the threat of the Shape, she diverts her pent-up sexuality into a destructive force that is the only thing which saves her life. Now that's girl power, people.

Following the success of Halloween, Curtis became the go-to girl of horror. Her next three films, all released in 1980, would also all be planted firmly in the genre of the macabre. First there was The Fog, in which Carpenter went to the well with his powerful engenue once again, and once again came up aces. Returning to more straight-up slasher fare, she followed it with the original (and by far superior) Prom Night, once again playing the put-upon target of a killer's lust for murder. And finally there was Terror Train, which, although slightly less successful and acclaimed than the rest, retains a strong fan following to this day.

The following year, Jamie Lee Curtis would make one more return to horror, reprising her role as Laurie Strode in Halloween II--the sequel in which young Laurie discovers that she is actually Michael Myers' sister.

After that astonishing three-year run as horror's reigning queen, Jamie Lee stepped away from the genre that had put her on the map. Her evident skills and striking looks made it inevitable that mainstream Hollywood would come calling, and sure enough, Curtis went on to become an even bigger star, in movies like Trading Places (1983), A Fish Called Wanda (1988) and True Lies (1994).

It would be 20 years after the original Halloween that Jamie Lee Curtis was finally lured back to the world of blood and guts to once again contend with Myers in the underrated Halloween: 20 Years Later (1998), followed by one final cameo as Laurie in the decidedly inferior Halloween: Resurrection (2002).

Since then, Ms. Curtis has remained firmly fixed in the realm of light-hearted comedy. Just about the closest thing to anything horrific in her career in recent years would probably be having to work alongside burgeoning psycho junkie trollop Lindsay Lohan in Disney's remake of Freaky Friday. Note Jamie Lee's "Crypt Keeper" reference in that flick, a loyal nod to her horror roots if ever there was one.

Proving the merit of quality over quantity, Jamie Lee Curtis' body of work is just about as impressive as it gets in the horror genre, male or female. It's no accident that the Cyber-Horror Award for Best Actress was named in her honor. We salute you, Ms. Curtis--final girl par excellence!

3 comment(s):

CSY said...

NICE!!! JLC is AWESOME! Daughter saw rhw Prom Night remake and didn't like it. I sat her down and watched JLC's Prom Night and she LOVED it!!! Jamie Lee Curtis ROCKS!

Planet of Terror said...

The Prom Night remake WAS horrible. Terror Train was made even more hilarious with the pseudo ska band and David Freakin' Copperfield.

B-Sol said...

CSY, that story is awesome. Your daughter is obviously a little woman of taste!

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