Danielle Harris: My Generation’s Scream Queen

Horror fans are many things but perhaps at the top of that list is loyal. When someone feels like they’re part of the family and make no mistake about it, the horror community is a family; we support them every step of the way. We follow their careers, champion their next projects and want them to succeed. It’s a bond you don’t see in other genres where the relationship between artists and fans never feels as personal. With horror, it’s personal. For my generation—horror fans between the ages of 30-40, give or take a little—we grew up with Danielle Harris on our televisions. She, without a doubt, is our generation’s Scream Queen, a horror icon and a hugely important member of the horror family.

In addition to loyalty, another significant trait when it comes to horror fans is our love and appreciation of an ongoing story. Horror embraces franchises like no other genre because when we fall in love with a world and the characters in that world, we want to stay. We want to see that story grow and develop, the mythology expand and become richer. We’ll even go as far as to forgive weak chapters in an ongoing story or even chapters that don’t feel quite right—as long as there’s more of the story to come. While opinions vary on the third film in the Halloween franchise, the fourth film in the franchise is universally loved. And by playing such a large role in the series’ turnaround, Danielle Harris became an important figure in horror’s history at an incredibly young age.

Halloween fans weren’t sure what to expect when the fourth installment of the franchise was announced, following the series removing Michael Myers for Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. Jaime Lee Curtis wasn’t returning for Halloween 4, and John Carpenter and Debra Hill were merely uncredited writers and mostly on the sidelines for this film. Could the fans who didn’t like the third film in the series be brought back around with a return to Haddonfield, despite the lack of familiar faces, both on-screen and off? To succeed, Halloween 4 would need to return to form, and its secret weapon was a young actress named Danielle Harris.

Danielle Harris in Halloween 4
A shocking ending to Halloween 4

The horror community fell in love with Harris not only for her performance in the film but also a feeling of her having helped bring Halloween back. Season of the Witch has its fans, myself included, but we wanted Michael Myers back. We wanted Doctor Loomis back. We wanted Haddonfield and the sense of danger only felt when Michael was stalking the innocent on October 31st. Who was more innocent than a young Jaime Lloyd? With Halloween 4, we got the series back we wanted and more. We got a deepened sense of mythology in the series, with Jamie, the daughter of Laurie Strode, being introduced to the series. And that surprise ending that left us all wondering what was to come, with Jamie appearing to follow in her Uncle Michael’s footsteps. The series we loved had returned and Danielle Harris not only helped give us Halloween back, but she was also now one of the faces of the franchise, effectively replacing Jamie Lee Curtis.

Horror fans my age continued to grow up with Danielle Harris onscreen as she returned for a prominent role in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. While many were miffed that Harris’ character did not go down the road of evil the previous film seemed to have set her on, it was clear in Halloween 5, that she was the star and the new face of this beloved series. The film ended with another cliffhanger, one that made it clear that the conflict between Danielle Harris’ character Jaime Lloyd and her Uncle Michael was far from over. Despite the clear intentions, it was not meant to be.

Jeffrey Landman and Danielle Harris in 'Halloween 5'
Jeffrey Landman and Danielle Harris in ‘Halloween 5’

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers cemented Danielle Harris’ legacy as a horror icon, and she wasn’t even in the film, despite wanting the part and being attached to the film briefly. In an interview I conducted with the film’s writer, Daniel Farrands, he explained that the original final act of the film would’ve seen Harris as a wounded Jamie Lloyd, engaging in one last battle with her Uncle Michael. Allowing the other characters to escape and giving the character of Jamie a heroic ending after carrying the franchise on her back for the two prior films. Studio politics led to re-writes and those re-writes lead to the final act changing drastically. That, along with the studio not seeing how important fans saw Harris to the franchise would lead to her ultimately not participating in the film and her role being recast—a move that Halloween fans did not take kindly to. Danielle Harris was an icon within the series, and fans made their displeasure known that she wasn’t treated with the respect that she deserved.

Over the years, Harris’ career remained strong, appearing in numerous films and a frequent guest at horror conventions and events, keeping her a beloved staple of the horror community. When Rob Zombie announced that he would be reimagining John Carpenter’s original Halloween film, fans were delighted to find out that Harris was a part of the cast, this time in the role of Annie, one of Laurie’s friends. While it might have felt odd to see Harris in a Halloween film and not as the lead, it was still a nice tip of the hat to the fans who wanted to see Harris return to the series that she helped revive. Harris would return for Zombie’s sequel, where her character was killed off.

Danielle Harris as Annie in Rob Zombie's Halloween 2
Returning to Halloween, only in a new role.

Which brings us to present day. Blumhouse resurrected the Halloween franchise, bringing back Jaime Lee Curtis and acting as if no films except the original existed. While fan reactions to the film were mixed, a sequel has been announced, and social media has been buzzing about Danielle Harris possibly returning to the series. With the slate wiped clean of everything that happened before, the series could simply ignore that the character of Jaime Lloyd existed or, they could right the wrongs made before and bring the character back. Imagine a world where Jaime Lloyd gets to fight alongside her mother Laurie Strode against The Shape or to keep things a little more in line with previous canon, Laurie Strode’s death could prompt the arrival of Jaime. Either way, Blumhouse has a prime opportunity to bring back Halloween’s other icon and give the character, the actress and the fans the ending we deserve.

For horror fans of my generation who grew up with Danielle Harris as our Scream Queen, there is nothing that would appeal to our love of the genre more than to see Jaime Lloyd go toe to toe with Michael Myers one more time. Blumhouse, you gave the previous generation their icon back with Laurie. You can win my generation’s loyalty and tell an amazing, ongoing story by giving us our icon back next.

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Written by Andrew Grevas

25YL Media Founder

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