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FINAL GIRL PROFILE: Laurie Strode, Halloween (1978)

by Gina Freitag

One of the most popular conceptualizations of the Final Girl is easily Laurie Strode. With John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) widely recognized as the quintessential ‘70s slasher film (complete with psycho-killer p.o.v., sex-crazed teenagers, and a healthy dose of violence and gore), the circumstances are ripe for this classic female archetype to emerge. Of course, Laurie encapsulates many of the key characteristics: she’s an independent, resourceful female teenager with a unisex name, who’s a cool, trustworthy, protective babysitter and a non-threatening virginal heroine, undeterred by the usual vices that draw out her playful gal pals.

As the mysterious, masked Michael Myers haunts her neighbourhood, Laurie becomes imbued with a sense of awareness that most others around her lack: a knowledge of the evil presence that lurks beyond (and sometimes popping out from) the neighbour’s hedge. She is the investigative force driving the narrative towards what proves to be an inevitable massacre that she narrowly escapes from again and again. Myers slowly slices and dices his way through her friends on the spookiest night of nights, leaving Laurie the sole survivor of the group. She comes face to face with the killer, a phallic pumpkin-carving blade in her hand (because apparently a female teenager’s strength sometimes has its limits), and though her repeated attempts to disarm and evade the insidious Myers are regularly thwarted, she is persistent nonetheless until his eventual, though somewhat ambiguous, subduing.

Laurie Strode is very much one of the first Final Girls, if not THE Final Girl, that is summoned to mind, and who better to exude the determination of the Final Girl archetype across decades than ongoing scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis?

Black Museum Debate Club’s FINAL GIRL FACE-OFF is on December 12, 2017

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