Between 1978 and 1981, Jamie Lee Curtis essentially invented the term scream queen with Halloween, Halloween II, The Fog, Prom Night, and Road Games. But that wasn’t the end of the road for her horror games. And I’m not just talking H2O and Resurrection.
BLUE STEEL (1989)
After a near decade hiatus, Jamie Lee did one more movie in the 80s in which she faced off against a crazy guy.
In Blue Steel, she’s a rookie cop who finds herself taking on an armed man in a grocery store all by herself (because her partner is in the bathroom!). She unloads her gun on him…and Ron Silver, one of the customers down on the floor, steals the robber’s rogue gun when it lands near him! Which means Jamie is in a heap of trouble, because apparently no one in the store, including the clerk who had the gun right in his face, was sure if the robber had a gun. WTF?
Yeah. There are some ridiculous plot holes. It seems Ron snuck off so the cops never knew he was at the scene. And Jamie Lee never clearly saw him in the store either because she starts dating him when he arranges an “accidental” encounter. Then, when people start getting shot around the city and Jamie Lee’s (movie) name is engraved on the bullets, she’s asked by the cops about all the people in her life who may have done this…and never even considers this new man who just entered it.
A couple of other dumb scenarios include a ridiculous dream Jamie Lee has of being in a helicopter and Ron letting her fall out, and a scene in which she and the one man on the force who believes her and is helping her (which is refreshing) come into her apartment after a confrontation with Ron and don’t check the apartment to make sure he didn’t get in somehow!
But you have to let all that go. Because the performances by Jamie Lee and Ron Silver (especially) make Blue Steel such a chilling, suspense film. There are also some other horror veterans in the small cast, including Louise Fletcher, Elizabeth Pena of Jacob’s Ladder, and Clancy Brown, the crazy sheriff from Pet Sematary II.
MOTHER’S BOYS (1994)
Having studied plenty of psychos in her scream queen career, Jamie Lee tried her hand at it in Mother’s Boys, and she’s a pro.
Having left her hubby Peter Gallagher (clearly, she’s crazy) and her three sons for a few years, suddenly she’s back and wants to be a family again. But Peter has moved on. Oh, you so know his new fiancée is dead. You just might not expect who wants her that way!
Jamie Lee is perfect with her short hair, short skirt, big shoulder pads, incessant cigarette smoking, and creepy smile. And she does all the typical Fatal Attraction shit. She tries to seduce her man. She tries to win her sons’ love with Gameboys. She assaults herself and accuses someone else. She gets naked in front of her 12-year old son. She tries to turn her boys against their dad’s new woman.
There are some highly effective jump scares, but unfortunately, the only way to include any of them in the movie was to make them all dream sequences! Even so, as a suspense thriller about obsessive desire, Mother’s Boys is such a product of its time—which means it’s really good. They don’t make them like this anymore.
Hot on the heels of H2O, Jamie Lee was back in the horror game. In Virus, she’s on a boat captained by a really dickish Donald Sutherland. After a storm, they need serious help, so they board a huge Russian ship—that is void of any crew. Or so they think….
Something has a hold of the computer system on board, and it’s also creating freaky warriors that are half human, half robot. Virus feels part Terminator, part Alien, and at times, unintentionally funny, particularly because the characters are total caricatures of types in these “crew” movies.
However, things get super suspenseful and gruesome, leading to a major confrontation with the big main monster on board! Chase scenes are amazing and what’s so refreshing this time around is that Jamie Lee isn’t the strong hero! She fricking falls apart! Luckily, she has adorable Billy Baldwin around to take care of her. I would totally be putting on the damsel in distress act, too.
Virus also has some really effective jump scares (only one is a dream sequence) and the gay coach from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 (but not in a dream sequence…).