While Black Friday may have been the true birthplace of the modern slasher, it is undoubtedly defined, for better or worse, by the contributions of Messrs Krueger, Myers and Voorhees. In the 1980s alone seventeen of these movies graced the cineplexes, dominating the teenage market-share in a way that the MCU could only dream of. Long before comic-book movie fans started their grievance politics of “critics don’t get it”, these three franchises were getting critically lambasted regularly. However that was entirely part of their appeal: these movies were glorious popcorn thrash, reviled critically, and transgressive in their embrace of sex, drugs, violence and a lot more bloody violence. These franchises, and the glut of other slashers made during this time, were the epitome of everything parents hated, which made trying to sneak-watch one of these movies a glorious rite of passage.
Yes, there is no defending that there is plenty in these movies that are problematic (the misogyny, the lack of diversity, the surprising Reagan-esque conservatism at the heart of most of these installments) but their pleasures are also legion. Even the worst of these movies (and there are plenty of candidates for that title) feature some glorious kills that are showcases for some fantastic stunts and stunning practical effects; elements that seem almost antiquated in our increasingly digital-CGI age. The ridiculousness of the plots, especially in latter installments, means that they are very rarely scary and instead take on a funhouse or roller-coaster quality. And the absolute cheesiness of the acting and the very visible flaws in the filmmaking mean that they provide an endless well for unintentional (or sometimes fully intentional) camp.
Of course, none of that precludes the possibility that my love for these movies comes from a deranged mind and that I am, in fact, truly depraved. But what can you do? Let’s rank ’em!
(And let’s acknowledge that these are my rankings and nobody is asking you to agree with them).
31. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (2010) dir. Samuel Bayer
A common thread that connects all of the remakes of these franchises is a desire to take things that were firmly in the subtext and make them text. In the case of A Nightmare on Elm Street this means explicitly making Freddy Krueger a child molester (based probably on the logical conclusion one can draw from The Dream Child) which has the critical effect of removing any sense of fun from the movie. Add to that a group of horribly unlikeable characters and a paint-by-numbers slasher plot and you have all the makings for a movie that ends up at the bottom of this list. This is a shame because Jackie Earle Haley does a commendable job of stepping into Robert Englund’s shoes as Freddy Krueger but the movie’s critical and commercial failure means we never got to see Haley truly take up the mantle for a new generation.
30. HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION (2002) dir. Rick Rosenthal
This is the one where Busta Rhymes does Kung-Fu while fighting Michael Myers which is both the movie’s high point but also the clearest indicator that this movie is an unmitigated failure. The decision to kill of Laurie Strode (at the request of Jamie Lee Curtis) in the first act is so startlingly mean-spirited that it casts a pall on the rest of the movie. Meanwhile the movie’s basic premise, that a bunch of teenagers spend a night in the Myers house as part of an internet reality game show, just screams of cynicism – the kind of a bunch of old producers trying and failing to capture the spirit of a newly post-Survivor world. To make things worse we aren’t even treated to an onscreen Tyra Banks death; if you are going to go through all the trouble of casting Banks, why wouldn’t you give her the honor of an iconic death scene?
29. FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1991) dir. Rachel Talalay
This final mainline installment in the Nightmare series is the one that goes off the rails, turning Freddy Krueger from a truly frightening creation into an one-line quipping machine auditioning for SNL who now constructs elaborate machines that merely cause his victim’s death without killing the victims themselves. Meanwhile the decision to jettison most of the mythology that had been set up in the previous installments (as messy as they were) proves to be a disastrous mistake as this “final” chapter struggles to introduce an entirely new lore while bringing it to a swift conclusion. Not even the inherent joy of seeing Yaphet Kotto is enough to lift Freddy’s Dead out of the doldrums, making it hard to build any emotional sentiment bidding this franchise goodbye.
28. HALLOWEEN (2007) dir. Rob Zombie
Rob Zombie’s grand idea for this Halloween reboot was to do a half-prequel and a half-remake of the original which on the surface does not seem like a bad idea. However Zombie’s idea of a prequel is to take the implicit hint of Michael Myer’s messed-up childhood and make it plainly explicit with his Myers firmly mired in an over-the-top abusive environment, with parents who openly hate each other, and dialogue (and swears) that sound like it was written by 15 year old. His remake portion meanwhile ends up being nothing more than an uninspired rehashing of the original with the added bonus of Zombie’s intentionally ugly aesthetic.
27. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD (1989) dir. Stephen Hopkins
Unlike the Halloween and Friday franchises, the Nightmare movies are characterized by extremely high highs and very low lows. Several things conspire to make this entry fall into the “low lows” category. First, Freddy Krueger takes a further step into the direction from mostly silent and mysterious killer to wannabe stand-up who can’t help but speak entirely in quips. Then, the constant churn of victims means that the series has by this time eliminated almost all the characters of interest, leaving us only with Alice Johnson the third and least compelling main nemesis for Freddy to battle (and saddling her with a rapey pregnancy sideplot where she inadvertently ends up carrying Freddy’s baby). And finally the need to find a new spin to the formula means that this movie leans into Freddy’s backstory which is unusually cruel and mean-spirited making The Dream Child not nearly as fun as it ought to be.
26. FRIDAY THE 13th (2009) dir. Marcus Nispel
In hindsight, maybe rebooting Friday the 13th by trying to remake the first four entries and stuff it into a 97 minute runtime wasn’t the best idea. While this reboot may have the highest kill count of any entry, it happens with such speed and frequency that hardly any of them stand out which is a shame because the reimagining of Jason as a psychologically scarred killer who is very much killable was a welcome turn after a couple of decades of “invincible” Jason. This entry also breaks the record in the total number of noxious victims for Jason to choose from, and while seeing Jason eliminate a bunch of unlikeable characters is part of this series’ appeal, not giving us any real character to root for makes for a fairly detached viewing experience. It is the best of these reboots, but as you can see from its lowly position here, that is hardly a compliment.
25. HALLOWEEN II (2009) dir. Rob Zombie
Rob Zombie’s second outing with the monstrous Myers is instantly better simply because it isn’t beholden to any of the previous Halloween-movies for its lore. So taken on its own terms it allows us to appreciate the unique things Zombie brings to the table that were obscured by the story rails he was forced to stay within in his first outing. First lets appreciate that his Michael Myers, as played by Tyler Mane, is probably the most terrifying iteration of the killer where his mere presence hints at the brutal strength barely contained. Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode also is perhaps the only person other than Curtis in the original to embody the naive vulnerability befitting for Laurie’s age. And while Zombie’s insertion of some hallucinatory equine-based imagery is nonsensical, it is at least interesting and allows the Myers and Laurie relationship to actually explore new ground. But this movie still only succeeds in as much as you value Rob Zombie as a filmmaker, which for me is not much at all.
24. FRIDAY THE 13th PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN
This entry suffers entirely because of false advertising Jason’s aforementioned taking of Manhattan does not actually happen until the final third of the movie and because that taking of Manhattan happens to be the weakest part of the movie. This is an absolute shame because the first two-thirds of the movie, where Jason takes over a cruise-liner full of high-school graduates, is actually really fun (and the idea of Jason, whose aversion to water is well documented, being stuck on a boat is such a great idea). Also Part VIII features some of the best kills of the series (the guitar kill, the disco kill, and of course, the “boxing” sequence) so it is certainly not without its merits; it is a shame that it gets bogged down with trying to live up to the promise of its premise.
23. HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1989)
All it takes for two bumbling cops to come sauntering up to a house, accompanied by an appropriately bumbling soundtrack, to realize that this entry misses the mark. The further cardinal sins of Halloween 5 include saddling Michael Myers niece Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) with a condition that renders her helpless in a hospital for an extended period of time (a mistake this franchise keeps making), killing off one of the best characters from the previous installment prematurely (more on her later), and introducing a supernatural subplot with the first appearance of the man in black. At least the movie retains most of the franchises pleasures, even if they are all-too-familiar by this point.
22. FRIDAY THE 13th PART V: A NEW BEGINNING (1985)
As we have seen, the 5th entry in all of these franchises tend to be rough. Friday the 13th Part V is no different, even if it fails for the admirable reason of swinging for the fences and missing. With Jason Voorhees missing entirely, the franchise should be commended for attempting to pivot to a new character in Tommy Jarvis who may or may not be responsible for a new set of Jason-like murders. However this entry gets docked points first of all for the ugly caricatures way it paints people with mental illnesses, as Tommy spends his time with some sensationalized mentally ill patients in a halfway house (who mostly meet horrific ends). And it deserves its status as much-maligned if only for the utter stupidity of its third-act reveal, a revelation anybody could telegraph coming miles away and a revelation that the rest of the franchise goes to great efforts to bury as quickly as possible.
21. FREDDY VS JASON (2003) dir. Ronny Yu
The long anticipated (and surprisingly only) crossover of these legendary slasher franchises immediately gets off on the wrong foot by not having Kane Hodder don his iconic ski mask in his battle against Robert Englund’s Freddy. Meanwhile the movie’s ending does the cowardly thing of not declaring a victor, leaving fans of both franchises feeling a little miffed. But take away those two big flaws, and this crossover turns out to be surprisingly fun. Unlike some other recent crossover movies (*cough* Batman V Superman *cough*) Freddy vs Jason actually finds a compelling reason for these two horror icons to meet up with each other and for them to actually turn against each other. It also gives them enough collateral victims to wreak havoc upon while the final confrontation, cop-out outcome aside, is every bit as iconic as you would hope.
20. HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1995) dir. Joe Chappelle
Look, let’s get this out of the way first: the movie is a ridiculous mess. Taking serial-killer Michael Myers and then sticking him to a plot involving a mythological Man in Black, a conspiratorial and mysterious cult, and a climax involving an occult sacrifice is a strategic error of monumental proportions. But if we cannot have the grounded terror of the original movie, I’d much rather have this absolutely ridiculous and campy plot that doesn’t resemble anything of Myers origins than a pale and derivative imitation. Besides this movie also features the onscreen debut of a certain Paul Rudd and the last film appearance of Halloween mainstay Donald Pleasance, both of whom somehow manage to make this crazy movie somewhat watchable.
19. JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY (1993) dir. Adam Marcus
Jason Goes To Hell suffers because it is hardly a Friday film at all. While it is commendable that after nine movies the franchise moved in a stunning new direction, the decision to completely change the mythos so that Jason becomes an evil soul who can transfer between living bodies is a baffling one that sidelines our masked villain in favor of a series of bland regular humans possessed by the demon. This is a shame because the actual premise is interesting and the bounty hunter Creighton Duke (Steven Williams) is easily one of the best characters in any of these franchises. But if you are going to make a Jason movie, you ought to expect to be judged by how much our ski-mask clad villain shows up onscreen.
18. JASON X (2001) dir. James Isaac
Yes, a Jason movie set 450 years in the future on a space-ship sounds as far from the original movie as possible, but to its credit Jason X fully embraces its premise. It is without a doubt a categorically stupid film and its aesthetic, which is a half-assed future reimagination of early 2000s fashion that would look completely at home in a SyFy Channel Original Movie, somehow dates it even more than the 1980s entries. That it is also a blatant rip-off of the Alien franchise should not be forgotten either, but in spite of all its obvious flaws I can’t help but find the movie fun. It has arguably the best kill over all three franchises (making you never look at liquid nitrogen the same way), and its climax involving Cyborg Jason is the very definition of dumb popcorn entertainment.
17. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE (1985) dir. Jack Sholder
The first sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street is an abject failure as a Freddy Krueger movie. Eschewing the basic concept that Freddy kills in his dreams, the movie instead decides to take on a basic possession plot in which Freddy tries to take control of Jesse, Elm’s Street’s newest resident, in order to murder in the real world. But while the movie fails in providing us a satisfactory Freddy movie, it is on its own a fascinating and serviceable slasher made all the more interesting by its barely disguised homoerotic subtext.
16. HALLOWEEN II (1981) dir. Rick Rosenthal
Halloween II would rank higher if not for its inexplicable decision to sideline Laurie Strode. Taking place immediately after the events in the original, Halloween II finds Laurie Strode sedated and stuck in a hospital bed for most of the runtime of this movie while the fugitive Mike Myers slowly and systematically starts picking off the hospital staff one-by-one. This movie is also the one that commits the fatal mistake of linking Michael and Laurie by blood, unnecessarily adding a motive to the unstoppable killers actions, and saddling future sequels with the burden of needing to continue this familial connection. If you can forgive those blunders however, you will find a surprisingly solid slasher and a worthy sequel.
15. FRIDAY THE 13th PART III (1982) dir. Steve Miner
The decision to film the movie in 3-D is what keeps this movie from moving up the list as it is easily the worst-looking movie on this list; the famously dark forests around Camp Crystal Lake now brightly lit in order to accommodate the effects shots while the film grain resembles something close to video. But this is also the movie in which Jason finally dons his famous hockey mask and the 3-D does give director Steve Miner free rein to produce some fairly iconic kills. The visual extra-dimension cannot disguise the fact that this installment has a fairly rote plot, made all the more clear by the way this series gets battier and battier from here on out.
14. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988) dir. Renny Harlin
Most Nightmare movies fall into two distinct camps: they are either comical trainwrecks or absolute masterpieces. The fourth movie is the rare installment that is simply and profoundly mediocre. Coming off the heels of Dream Warriors (more on that later), it is the first sequel to simply try and replicate the formula of the previous movie as the surviving “dream warriors” find themselves once again stalked by our sweater-donning anti-hero and in a race against time to stop the increasingly quippy Freddy and recruit enough new faces to pass the baton to (and serve as further cannon fodder). The special effects and the kills are typically inspired but besides that The Dream Master brings nothing new to the table.
13. FRIDAY THE 13th (1980) dir. Sean S. Cunningham
Even though this movie effectively kicked off the franchise and the glut of slasher movies in the 80s it is hard not to see this movie today as anything but a cheap cash-in to Halloween’s breakthrough success and a blatant rip-off of Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood. And while Pamela Voorhees is a welcome break from the male-dominated serial killer role, it is also something of a disappointment that our Jason is so conspicuously missing. Aside from the aforementioned Mrs. V and the iconic offing of one Kevin Bacon (and you can never be mad at being given a side of Bacon) there just isn’t much here to distinguish this solid but unspectacular movie from the pack.
12. HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982) dir. Tommy Lee Wallace
And here we have the great “sliding doors” moment across all three franchises. After the end of Halloween II with a seeming definitive end to Michael Myers, producers John Carpenter and Debra Hill sought to pivot the Halloween series into a sort of anthology series with each new movie being a new horror story somehow centered around the celebration of the holiday. Unfortunately the first stab at that anthology series turned out to be the last, partly because audiences outrightly rejected the mere idea of a non-Myers centric Halloween movie and partly because Season of the Witch cannot escape its decidedly B-movie premise (that still results is some campy fun). But I can’t help but wonder what future anthology entries we could have gotten if only Halloween III had ended up being maybe 20% better.
11. HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS dir. Dwight H. Little
If Halloween III was a bold if flawed venture into a new direction, Halloween 4 is the mea culpa. Ditching the anthology for a return of our masked killer was an unsurprising masterstroke but this movie’s true strengthwas in successfully transitioning the series away from Laurie Strode and providing us new compelling protagonists to root for. Neither Jamie (Danielle Harris), Laurie’s young daughter and Michael’s niece, nor Rachel (Ellie Cornell), her adoptive teenage sister, can individually hold a candle to Jamie Lee Curtis’ but together the two provide a compelling foil not only to each other but to the single-minded Myers who will stop at nothing to hunt down and eliminate his bloodline. This movie also features Donald Pleasance in perhaps his last appearance as Dr. Loomis before he completely jumps the shark and a law enforcement presence that isn’t entirely incompetent, making the unstoppable Myers that much more terrifying.
10. FRIDAY THE 13th PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD (1988) dir. John Carl Buechler
With Jason now resurrected as some sort of immortal being, the producers wisely figured that Jason would need some formidable rivals to match their unstoppable monster. The decision to pit Jason against Carrie (or an unauthorized Carrie-look-a-like) may not make much sense, but it sure is inspired. The introduction of “Lar” Lincoln (Tina Shepherd) as a telekinetic teenager forced to repress her powers as part of her psychiatric treatment provides the series with some level of pathos, while giving us some humans for us to actively root against, and menace, as like Carrie our protagonist’s powers bring with them an active sense of danger. But most of all, pitting Jason against the telekinetic Lar set us up for a finale of truly epic forces where an unstoppable force meets and immovable object leading to a ton of collateral damage, some fantastic special effects, and a fight to death that lives up to its premise.
9. HALLOWEEN (2018) dir. David Gordon Green
The latest movie in this list ought to be docked points for trying to be the first “requel” – a part sequel, part remake – but it is hard to argue with the results. The movie is wise to clear the decks by choosing to jettison all of the previous movies except for the original because it gives the movie a sense of foreboding and mournful dread pitting the single-minded Myers against a PTSD-hardened Laurie Strode and her multi-generational traumatized descendants with nothing connecting the two of them other than the fateful night forty years earlier when he failed to kill her. Perhaps the only other knock against this entry (other than the still unnecessary nature of its existence) is that it feels the need to get in line with modern horror sensitivities by providing us a truly staggering body count.
8. HALLOWEEN H2O: 20 YEARS LATER (1998) dir. Steve Miner
With H20 we have the first instance of any of these slasher franchises “rebooting” with the movie choosing to dispel all the previous sequels except Halloween II (a move this franchise would repeat 20 years later), and it is so successful in its execution that I cannot understand why the subsequent remakes didn’t borrow from it’s playbook. H20 works simply because it understands that the appeal of this series lies in its simplicity: one killer, one target, and the collateral damage that comes to anyone who gets in the killer’s way. Jamie Lee Curtis is used perfectly in her return as an older and wiser Laurie, while the decision to set most of the horror in a remote private school with most of its students away is inspired as the lower body count means that each death matters all the more. While the decision to make Laurie and Michael related will always be a mistake to me, this movie is perhaps the best iteration of that idea. And of course, this installment has LL Cool J, who is both a sign that H20 is datedly rooted in the 90s (along with a young and frizzled-haired Josh Hartnett) and the best part of the movie.
7. FRIDAY THE 13th PART II (1981) dir. Steve Miner
And with these back-to-back slots one could argue that there is no one better at understanding the essence of a slasher franchise and bringing it to a sequel better than Steve Miner. Part 2 is undoubtedly the series distilled to its most primal form with a bunch of iconic kills that serves as a template for stunts and practical effects (with a wheelchair death that is simultaneously ridiculous, hilarious, terrifying, and tragic), a group of gullible but not entirely unlikable camp counselors to kill, a good (if not great) final girl worth rooting for, a climax that actually verges on being frightening thanks to its cribbing from other folk horror movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and of course, the debut appearance of Jason Vorhees himself who instantly establishes himself as a menace worthy of haunting any of our dreams. While Jason’s hockey mask, which would appear later, is probably the cooler-looking horror icon, there is just no denying that Jason wearing a sack is much more unnerving and disturbing and thus, simply scarier.
6. NEW NIGHTMARE (1994) dir. Wes Craven
New Nightmare should be celebrated for the sheer audacity of its premise. Eschewing the nonsense that was Freddy Dead, original director Wes Craven returns with a meta-story where the original cast (and part of the crew) of A Nightmare on Elm Street find themselves stalked by a mysterious entity that surprisingly resembles Freddy Krueger. The entity is trying to break into the real world by killing off the actress Heather Langerkamp, who played the original final girl Nancy Thompson, as she contemplates making one final Freddy movie. Looking back now, it is so clear that this was Craven’s dress rehearsal for his new eventual mega-horror franchise Scream, but it still serves as a welcome end to our sweatered villain.
5. FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984) dir. Joseph Zito
The biggest knock against this movie is that it prematurely and comically called it’s shot by labelling it The Final Chapter when history would show that Jason Vorhees’ onscreen shenanigans weren’t even halfway done. But part of what helps lift this movie to the (almost) best of the series is its intention to serve as a conclusion which brings with it a certain clarifying focus and raising of the stakes. The promise that Jason was going to be killed lured back his creator special effects master Tom Savini who promptly upped the gore game with some of the best looking kills in the franchise. And elevating proceedings even further is the presence of the then-unknown Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover, both of whom showcase here why it seemed almost inevitable that they were destined for stardom. The Final Chapter does so much right that it is almost a shoo-in for the best Friday movie. Almost.
4. FRIDAY THE 13th PART VI: JASON LIVES (1986) dir. Tom McLoughlin
I understand that there is a contingent of fans who will see this movie as the negative moment when the Friday the 13th series jumps the shark by turning Jason from a stalker killer into a zombie monster, but personally I love the unkillable Jason. The pre-credits sequence alone, when a runaway Tommy Jarvis tries to cremate Jason’s buried body but ends up inadvertently resurrecting him is one of the best scenes in the entire series. From that moment on the movie proceeds in such an assured manner moving a now unstoppable Jason into position for a new Camp Crystal Lake massacre that it is the definition of popcorn fun, and the platonic ideal of what a Jason movie should be. Yes, perhaps the overall quality of the Jason movies fall after Jason Lives, but they arguably get more fun from here on out.
3. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) dir. Wes Craven
Wes Craven was a director who had an uncanny knack for capturing the cultural zeitgeist when it came to fear, with his 1970s movies like The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes preying on the paranoia and morality panic that defined that decade while his 90s hit Scream tapped into our decadent jadedness to provide a meta-hit that still managed to terrify. With A Nightmare on Elm Street he expertly borrowed the slasher and turned his insightful eye at the anxieties of suburbia, literally mounting an assault on American dreams. Craven’s Freddy is nasty, short on words, and brutal in his efficiency making this easily the most terrifying version of the villain. But this initial offering also thrives because it provides Freddy with formidable foils in Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), whose performance in this movie alone places her on the Mt. Rushmore of Final Girls. Perhaps the only minor criticism is that, like most Craven movies, the pacing is slightly off but this is also the point in the list where we begin truly splitting hairs amongst all-time greats.
2. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987) dir. Chuck Russell
While the original movie provided a great foundation for the series, it is Dream Warriors that elevates the series’ strengths to its ultimate ideal. Here Freddy finds the perfect balancing spot between being truly terrifying and hilariously campy (“Welcome to prime time, bitch” being a line that instantly evokes fear and campy delight in this viewer). Dream Warriors is also where the series’ penchant for elaborate kills is fine-tuned to being horrifying in its brutality and elegant in its execution (marionette death anyone?). Most importantly, Dream Warriors’ is perhaps the only installment to successfully pass the series from its legacy-holders to the next generation. The key players of the original movie (Langenkamp’s Nancy Thompson and John Saxon as her police lieutenant father Don) instantly bring gravitas and stakes to the proceedings, while the newcomers led by Patricia Arquette bring fresh new energy as they take the concept of “fighting Freddy in our dreams” to its logical zenith. And of course, if you are still not convinced this movie is better than the original may I present you with what might be the greatest horror theme song ever made:
1. HALLOWEEN (1978) dir. John Carpenter
Yes, this is a boring choice. But come on, there was only ever one movie that was going to top this list. While John Carpenter’s Halloween it is neither the first nor the best slasher (that honor belongs to Bob Clark’s Black Christmas) it is the movie that crystallized the genre and set in motion the inevitable glut of copycats to come. Watching the mediocre copycats is illuminating exactly what makes Halloween so special. First, it is a lean and mean movie, hardly wasting any of its meager runtime and best epitomized in its portrayal of Michael Myers. Stripped of any of the familial motivations of (almost) all its sequels, Carpenter and legendary producer Debra Hill conceived of Myers as nothing more that a random killer, making him all the more terrifying. The score, which Carpenter composed and performed himself, is a masterclass of simplicity – he finds the least amount of notes to produce the most terror. But perhaps the most distinctive piece that elevates this movie above the rest of the slashers is Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, who simultaneously invents and perfects the role of the “final girl” by infusing her with strength, tenacity, and the right amount of fear to inevitably make us end up rooting hard for her survival. Oh, and of course there’s Donald Pleasance.