Kristen Parker faced Freddy Krueger in the third and fourth installments of the Nightmare series. In Kristen’s debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors she was played by Patricia Arquette, and she was portrayed by Tuesday Knight in the following film The Dream Master.
These two films are two of my favorites in the series and Kristen really benefits from being in two of the most fun installments in the franchise. In her two-movie arc she goes from being the one who is learning about Freddy and who must reluctantly face him, to the character who teaches others about this mysterious killer and tries to take ownership of her dreams. Kristen is a little different from the other women I’ve talked about in this series because she’s not really the clear-cut lead of either of the films she’s in, but she still works as a heroine of the series. You’ll have to read on under the cut to see why!
In her first appearance, Kristen is one of the titular Dream Warriors. The Dream Warriors are the last of the Elm Street Children (the teenagers whose parents murdered Fred Krueger and are his impetus for returning to be a dream killer) who meet up in a mental ward and are being studied for their “mellow mass hysteria”, meaning the nightmare they all share and are desperate to escape. Kristen is the newest addition to this study and, with the help of dream specialist Nancy Thompson (!!!), she re-discovers an ability she used to practice as a child but hadn’t used in years: she could pull people into her dreams. This talent makes it possible for the teens to work together in their dreams and for each of them to hone their own abilities in the dream world.
They become the Dream Warriors and for the first time in the series the fight is being taken to Freddy on his own turf. No longer can he keep his victims separate and scared in the dream world: now they have the ability to band together and fight. Clearly, this story has more of a focus on teamwork so Kristen is not the sole heroine as so many of the other characters I’ve talked about were. She is a team player and all of the Dream Warriors have their part to play in the story. In addition to her ability to pull the group together in the dream world she exhibits great feats of athleticism as her dream power and, though she’s definitely second to Nancy in this respect, she shows that she understands Freddy very well despite having very little interaction with him.
In A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Kristen and the other survivors from The Dream Warriors have returned to their “normal” lives, but Kristen knows that Freddy’s going to find a way back. Unfortunately, her fellow Dream Warriors flat-out deny this possibility and tell Kristen to stop pulling them into her dreams for fear that doing so will only make it more likely to revive the killer. When Freddy does make his return they seem to have lost some of the strength they found in themselves in the previous movie, and being separated from each other in the dream world makes them no match for their enemy this time around.
One of the things I really liked about Kristen in this movie was the continued development from the previous film. She’s still the one who understands Freddy, but this time around she’s the one who’s teaching others about him. Her new friends are unsure whether to believe her, but she still tells them what she knows. The difference this time though, is that she doesn’t have her full team and doesn’t want to get anyone else involved. She knows that she is the last remaining person who is susceptible to Krueger, so if she dies, at least the nightmare dies with her.
Finally, Kristen is the last remaining Dream Warrior and Freddy goes after her. He tries to bait her into bringing more people into her dream for help and she does her best to resist but in a desperate moment she accidentally pulls her friend Alice into her dream.
When Kristen finally meets her end she knows there’s only one thing she can do to try to help Alice, to do something to make up for getting Alice mixed up in this fight she never should have had to deal with, so with her dying breath she wills her gift into Alice so that she won’t have to face Freddy alone. Now Alice has Kristen’s power to bring people together in the dream world, and you will learn more about that next time with The Women of Elm Street: Alice Johnson