Happy Halloween, everyone! This series of posts has been a lot of fun for me to write and I hope it’s been fun to read. Let’s round this off with the appropriate franchise.
For my money, the best Halloweens are the original and H20. I will admit this assessment is not based on a viewing experience that is either thorough, or impartial–I’ve only watched about ten minutes of 6, have only seen 2 once or twice, and haven’t seen 3 (although I’ve heard that if you can get over that one not being connected to the rest of the franchise, it’s a good movie in its own right, and I’d like to see it) or the remakes. Nevertheless, I maintain the right to be shamelessly biased on my own blog, and I maintain that the first and seventh are the best Halloween movies because they are the ones where Laurie a) is in the whole movie and b) gets to be awesome. She’s in the whole movie in the second one, but decidedly less awesome, and we will not speak of the eighth).
Michael Myers is a great, classic villain, yes. But horror movies in which the villain is basically the protagonist are a dime a dozen. And at the end of the day, I guess I’m just not really a villain girl. I love a good villain, but I love seeing them battle a good hero, someone I can get invested in and root for. And in the Halloween franchise, Laurie is it for me. An argument could be made for Loomis being the hero, but he just doesn’t strike me as hero material–he’s the wise but cryptic older guy that people don’t listen to as much as they should, Obi-Wan to Laurie’s Luke Skywalker and Michael’s Darth Vader. Jamie is cute as a button and the idea that Michael’s evil might be hereditary is an interesting horror movie premise, but she’s not really hero material either, and watching Michael Myers chase a little girl around for two movies just seems unsporting in a way that watching him chase teenagers around somehow doesn’t.
So in the end, Michael is only really compelling to me when he’s facing off with Laurie, and that’s why I rank H20 as a favorite alongside the original. Sure, the original was a game-changer for the genre and H20 is basically one more trope-fest following in the original’s footsteps, but how many other trope-fests have Laurie Strode coming face-to-face with her greatest fear, gripping an axe as she strides towards a long-awaited family reunion?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before Laurie was a pretty badass functional alcoholic headmistress, she was a teenage babysitter. And she was pretty badass then, too. Halloween may have popularized the whole virginal final girl thing, but of course it’s not that simple. For a good portion of the film, Laurie survives only because of Michael’s desire to play cat and mouse with her, which isn’t very comforting. But given a chance to realize what’s happening and react to it (something Annie, Bob, and Lynda don’t get–by the time they realize they’re in danger, they’re already dead), Laurie fights back. And what impresses me so much about her in the first movie is that even as a teenager thrust into this terrifying situation, she holds it together. She protects the children who are in her care, she doesn’t flinch or cry when she says “I killed him”, and even as she’s cowering and screaming in a closet while Michael hacks at the door, she’s also fashioning a crude weapon out of a household object. She spends most of the second movie so heavily in shock and sedated that she’s either immobile or crawling and she still–with no markmanship training that we are aware of–manages to shoot Michael’s eyes out. Laurie doesn’t survive because she’s a virgin–she survives because she’s a survivor.
Which brings us to H20. I really love 20-years-later Laurie. She’s obviously messed up and self-medicating with alcohol. She’s still living in fear, and it’s putting a growing strain on her relationship with her son. But when the thing she’s spent decades being afraid of comes to pass, she doesn’t fall apart. She knows exactly what to do, and she knows that this time, if she wants it to be over, she’s going to have to make sure it’s over.
And then it was over and there was never another sequel or a remake. Yaaaaaaaaay!