Sexualized Saturdays: Choosing Monsters Over Women

nancyfreddy

Recently I began watching all the movies from the Nightmare on Elm Street series with one of our former authors, Fiyero, who has written a whole series of fantastic posts on these movies. While watching the final movie of the series, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, I noticed that director Wes Craven seemed to be pointing out one issue with the series: fan obsession with the villain Freddy Krueger over female protagonists who have fought Freddy, especially Nancy, who is arguably the heroine of the whole series. This favoritism of a monstrous child killer over a strong, well-rounded female protagonist says a lot about both our antipathy toward women and our glorification of violence toward women.

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The Women of Elm Street: Nancy Thompson

A Nightmare on Elm Street- Nancy ThompsonIt’s time. It is finally time.

Months ago, I began a series of posts in which I endeavored to celebrate the female leads of the Nightmare on Elm Street series. It’s my favorite horror franchise and has many excellent qualities, not the least of which is its celebration of female heroines, so the choice seemed an obvious one. I got through most of these leading ladies in a timely manner, but when it came time to write about the original and greatest protagonist of this series, I found myself incapable of accomplishing the task.

How could I put into words all that is so incredible about Nancy Thompson? How could I do justice to the character who is most responsible for my love of this series and, on a larger scale, the whole horror genre? I was locked in indecision and simply avoided the topic, but now that it’s October and I’m fully immersed in horror and the supernatural, it is finally time to finish this series.

Here we go. Spoilers after the jump.

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In Brightest Day: A Nightmare on Elm Street

When I originally begun to think about looking into horror movies from a psychological perspective, it was because of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street.

A-Nightmare-on-Elm-Street-a-nightmare-on-elm-street-944628_1024_768The story is considered one of the best slasher flicks of all time. The movie revolves around Freddy Krueger, a child murderer who was eventually killed by the town’s parents after the court system released Krueger on a technicality. In an effort to get revenge, Krueger comes back from the dead to kill his killer’s children from within the children’s dreams.

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Son of a Hundred Maniacs—A Fanfilm

I was browsing through some Nightmare on Elm Street videos to include in my final “Women of Elm Street” post about Nancy and came across some promos for this fanfilm that looks pretty great and worth sharing. The post on Nancy will be coming later; I just want to make sure I take time and do justice to my heroine.

The movie appears to be focusing on Fred Krueger prior to his death and eventual reincarnation as the dream killer of the official movie series. Judging by the contemporary look of the trailer, I think this may not be a timeline-accurate sequel, which I think would have to be set no later than the late 70’s in order to pre-date the original 1984 film. As such, I’m not sure whether this will be the backstory for the Freddy we know from the original film series or a brand new vision of the character. In either case, the production looks exceedingly professional for a fanfilm and I look forward to learning more about it.

The creators have designed a new glove for Freddy which leads me to believe that they are revamping the story rather than making a direct prequel to the original films.

Son of a Hundred Maniacs- Krueger's New GloveI really like the look of this glove. In the preview for the film, the actor is wearing a faithful replica of the original glove, so I’m not sure where or how this re-design will fit in to the movie, but it looks pretty incredible to me. One of the most noticeable differences I can see between this and the original design is the way the finger supports connect to the back plate. Rather than being bolted flat into their support as in the original, they have what appears to be some type of floating hinge which gives them more movement and I think will be really visually effective when in action, giving the glove more life than previous versions.

My only reservation about this film is the fact that Freddy was specifically known as a murderer of children in his lifetime and the only reason he killed teenagers in the movies was because they had grown older in the time between his death and eventual resurrection in the dream world. Now, it’s one thing to hint at or talk about the awful things he did while he was alive; it’s quite another to actually portray them. The official movies were, if not always exactly tasteful, at least restrained by what the Motion Picture Association of America would allow to be seen in theaters and the specifics of what he did to young children were always left in the dark.

Making independent online movies such as this gives filmmakers a blessed freedom from those bureaucratic standards, but with that freedom comes the possibility of going too far for some people’s comfort levels. I’m not saying that these creators don’t have the right to push the envelope, just that I personally may not be able to handle the outcome.

Despite my unease at the possible content of this film, I am very interested to see more. According to the writer/director the project is in post-production, so hopefully it will be available soon. In the meantime, we can keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates!

The Women of Elm Street: Alice Johnson

We’re really getting into it now. Today I am happy to celebrate one of the most powerful characters in the Elm Street movies: Alice Johnson.

Nightmare on Elm Street 4- Alice Johnson 2Alice makes her debut in the fourth installment in the series The Dream Master and returns in the follow-up The Dream Child. As I mentioned last time, Alice inherits Kristen Parker’s special ability to pull people into her dreams upon Kristen’s death. From this point on, the movie centers on Alice and her struggles with Freddy. This was an unexpected turn, at least for me, as I would have thought the movie would focus on Kristen and she would end up being the “Dream Master”; never did I think the title would refer to this new character. Continue reading

The Women of Elm Street: Kristen Parker

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.

Patricia Arquette

Patricia Arquette

Tuesday Knight

Tuesday Knight

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! Continue reading

The Women of Elm Street: The One-Offs

In the long history of the Nightmare series (at least seven films spanning 10 years, or nine films spanning 26 years if you count those apocryphal additions) there were of course some women who only led the fight against the villainous Fred Krueger for one film. These women are Lisa Webber of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and Maggie Burroughs of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.

Nightmare on Elm Street- Lisa and MaggieUnfortunately, these are two of my least favorite movies in the series. Starting with Freddy’s Revenge, it had the problem that is so common when a surprise hit is given an unplanned sequel in that it didn’t understand what was great about the original and failed to re-capture its magic. Its main problems were replacing the female lead with a male and going with a concept that almost entirely did away with the nightmare aspect by having Freddy reincarnate himself in the real world.

Now, if this movie was so bad and didn’t even feature a female lead, why am I talking about it? Well, I do want to give it credit for trying to push the series into new territory rather than being a retread of the original (just because the risk didn’t exactly pay off doesn’t mean it wasn’t admirable) but also because it played with the typical gender roles of horror movies.

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The Women of Elm Street: The Apocryphal

We will begin our series on the female protagonists of the Elm Street series with two movies which exist outside of the main arc of the seven-film series, and the women who lead them: Lori Campbell of Freddy vs. Jason and Nancy Holbrook of the 2010 remake A Nightmare on Elm Street.

I wasn’t sure if I would include Freddy vs. Jason or the 2010 version of A Nightmare on Elm Street in this series. I considered including FvJ since it is made in the same universe as the rest of the series, even if it doesn’t fit in perfectly with continuity, but I really had reservations about including the remake for a couple of reasons. It creates a new canon, for one, and is the first time Freddy Krueger is not played by Robert Englund, but more importantly, it ruins the series’ tradition of strong female leads and I just plain didn’t enjoy it or remember enough about it to include it. Like it or not, though, it bears the Elm Street name and including it gave me a good way to also include FvJ.

Let’s start off with Lori. Continue reading

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Wes Craven’s 1984 classic A Nightmare on Elm Street is my all-time favorite horror movie and honestly ranks as one of my favorite movies of any genre. There’s so much that’s great about this movie (and its sequels of varying quality) and so much to unpack (from the characters to the story telling to the strong women and of course the horror icon Freddy Krueger) that I’ll definitely be coming back to it to discuss more in the future, but I couldn’t let the month of Halloween slip by without talking about ANOES at least once.

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