Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978) is another favorite movie of mine. But let’s be honest, who can really resist a re-imaging of “The Babysitter” urban legend? Halloween tells the story of Michael Meyers, a psychopathic killer who murdered his older sister when he was only a child. He gets locked away in a mental institute for the criminally insane until 15 years later he escapes and works his way back to Haddonfield to continue his murderous rampage. His target? High school teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Laurie Strode in Halloween is another of the most remarkable final girls in horror cinema. Perfectly portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis (whose mother was no stranger to the genre), Laurie has the traits that one looks for when evaluating the well put together final girl.
Throughout the film, Laurie’s friends constantly talk about boys and how Laurie should be dating. They even go as far to try and set her up with a boy they know she fancies. However, Laurie seems to be relatively uninterested, only wanting to focus on herself – her studies, her job, and her friends. It’s clear that she doesn’t need a man to make her life mean something. She is happy with what she has. Her other friends, however, both have a guy in their life and focus all their energy being irresponsible rather than focus on bettering themselves.
Like most Final Girls, Laurie isn’t what you’d call “sexy”. She shares the same girl next door traits as Kirsty and Nancy, and would rather spend her evening inside, reading a book than out trolling for boys. However, this doesn’t mean that Laurie avoids irresponsible fun – there is a scene in which she smokes pot with her friends, a trait that seems to only be connected with characters that wind up on the wrong end of the butcher knife. However, Laurie isn’t punished for this. This shows that even women can take a break from personal responsibilities and relax. They’re just as capable of enjoying their life without being judged too harshly because of it.
Laurie isn’t a super hero, nor is she experienced at protecting herself in dangerous situations. She is a normal teenager living in suburbia. However, when tragedy strikes in the form of Michael Meyers, Laurie tries to push all her fear aside to protect herself as well as the two children that she is babysitting at the time. She does everything she can to defend herself in the face of danger. Alone and in charge of two young children, Laurie has to put all of her fears aside and take control of the situation the best she can. However, she does have some limitations (though, who wouldn’t against Michael?) and has to resort to some creative means. She is forced to use a knitting needle as a weapon at one point. Knitting is usually generalized as a woman’s hobby and she is able to use it against the powerful man to take him down. She also hides herself and the children in different parts of the house, also using a wire coa thanger to protect herself.
Strength doesn’t necessarily mean absence of fear, rather it means what you do to channel the fear you’re experiencing. Laurie isn’t immune from fear but she doesn’t let her fear paralyze her. She is able to turn her fear into motivation. She uses this to protect the children as well as herself, while also fighting back against Michael Meyers. However, courage does have its limits and Laurie does have moments of exaughstion where she does leave herself open to attack foolishly, but I don’t think this necessarily means she’s weak, rather it just shows that everyone has moments of weakness even the strongest of us.
It is a little disappointing that at the very end Laurie is ultimately saved by Dr. Loomis, a man, but I think the more important thing we should focus on is Laurie’s survival throughout the entire film before Loomis even comes into the picture. She is forced into a terrible ordeal and uses her wits, creativity and strength to overcome and protect the lives of the children as well as herself. Even with her moments of weakness, Laurie proves to be just as strong as any male lead.