Nancy Thompson: Last Girl on Elm Street

Nancy Thompson: Last Girl on Elm Street

Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Release Date: Oct 4th, 2010
Certificate: 18
Running Time: 91 minutes

Director: Wes Craven
Cast: Robert Englund, John Saxon, Heather Langenkamp, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, and Johnny Depp

The one which started it all, Wes Craven’s original Elm Street is now on Blu-ray and out to find a new generation’s dreams to infiltrate. It’s a film I’ve grown up with and watched countless times over the years but what’s fascinating about Nightmare is that it not only introduces audiences for the first time to the dream demon Freddy Krueger, but also to his arch nemesis Nancy Thompson.

Played by actress Heather Langenkamp, Nancy is the epitome of the “final girl”. In her book Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film, Carol J. Clover identifies the final girl as being typically sexually unavailable or virginal. They avoid the vices of the victims, often share a history with the killer and act as the “investigating consciousness” of the film, moving the narrative, displaying intelligence, curiosity, and vigilance.

Nancy Thompson is all of those things. When we first meet her, she is walking to school with her friends. Unlike her best friend Tina and her boyfriend Rod, Nancy is reluctant to engage in anything she is not ready for, she is cautious, thoughtful and looks out for those close to her. As the murders on Elm Street gather momentum, she learns the horrible truth her parents have kept hidden from her. Nancy digs deeper into Freddy’s past and she is the driving force of the movie, his opposite, the one who is willing to risk everything, even her own life to fight for her mother and her friends.

“I was just trying to protect you. I didn’t see how much you needed to know. You face things. That’s your nature. That’s your gift… but sometimes you have to turn away, too.”
- Marge Thompson, Nancy’s mother

Armed with a copy of “Booby Traps & Improvised Anti-Personnel Devices” Nancy gets busy with securing her house for her confrontation with the dream demon. Knowing she can’t do it all herself, she enlists the help of her father Lt. Donald Thompson. Making him promise to check in on her in 20 minutes by which time she’ll have Krueger ready for him to arrest, it’s a plan that’s destined to fail once you get the adults involved.

Clover also points out that even though the final girl, in this case Nancy, takes on a masculine role in her fight against Freddy, it is important for the character to be female because of the abject terror they experience. Arguing that if the character is male and experiences such terror, the audiences’ reaction may not be the same (Freddy’s Revenge is a good example of this kind of reaction). Terror though is not arbitrary in these cases, what Freddy inflicts on her; the tongue through the phone, the attacks in her room, at school, the bath tub, the death of her friends and her mother, they can all be purged at the end if she wins.


  • Never Sleep Again – The Making of A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • The House That Freddy Built – The Legacy of New Line Horror
  • Night Terrors – The Origins of Wes Craven’s Nightmares
  • Alternate Endings – Scary Ending, Happy Ending, Freddy Ending
  • Commentary with Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, & Jacques Haitkin
  • Commentaries with Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Ronee Blakley, Sara Risher Jacques Haitkin, John Burrows, Charles Bernstein, Rich Shain
  • Subtitle Trivia Track

Her victory is short lived though, but for one small moment Nancy is purged of all the pain Freddy has caused her and she has stripped him of all his power before the twist ending takes it all away.

In the sequel, Freddy’s Revenge, we learn that Nancy went insane after the events in the first movie. Her father sold the house and a new family, the Walsh’s, have moved in. Nancy returns in Dream Warriors, the 1987 sequel where her role shifts from Final Girl to Tragic Heroine in a classical sense. This is something we may look as a 2nd part to this feature on Nancy Thompson. Let us know your thoughts!

3 Responses to “Nancy Thompson: Last Girl on Elm Street”

  1. Tweets that mention Nancy Thompson: The Last Girl on Elm Street | Static Mass Emporium -- Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Patrick Samuel and Patrick Samuel, Static Mass Emporium. Static Mass Emporium said: Nancy Thompson, Elm Street's "Final Girl" a feature on our favourite heroine [...]

  2. NancyThompsonOfElmSt Says:

    I LOVE THIS! =) Wonderful post!!!!

  3. Patrick Samuel Says:

    I was hoping you would see it! We’re the Nancy Thompson Movement! There’s not enough out there which highlights the importance of this amazing character and how she changes in each movie but always remains couragous. Anytime I write about Nancy, it’s a joy, something I’m sure you identify with as well. Love your new look by the way!

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