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A Nightmare On Elm Street

A Nightmare On Elm Street

By Patrick Samuel • August 20th, 2014
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
New Line Cinema

Original release: November 9th, 1984
Running time: 91 minutes

Writer and director: Wes Craven

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

A Nightmare On Elm Street

It’s a film I’ve grown up with and watched many times over the years but what’s so fascinating about A Nightmare On Elm Street is that it not only introduces us to Freddy Krueger – the Springwood Slasher – but also to his polar opposite, Nancy Thompson.

Played by 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 this 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 these things. When we first meet her, she’s walking to school with her friends. Unlike her best friend Tina (Amanda Wyss) and her boyfriend Rod (Nick Corri), Nancy is reluctant to engage in anything she’s not ready for; she’s cautious, thoughtful and looks out for those close to her.

As the murders on Elm Street continue, she learns the horrible truth her parents have kept hidden from her. Nancy digs deeper into Freddy’s past and she’s the driving force of the movie. She’s 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

A Nightmare On Elm Street

Armed with a copy of Booby Traps & Improvised Anti-Personnel Devices Nancy gets to work 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 (John Saxon). She makes 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 takes on a masculine role in her fight against Freddy, it’s 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 A Nightmare On Elm Streetthrough 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.

Nancy’s victory is short lived though, but for one small moment she’s purged of all the pain Freddy’s caused her and she’s 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 move into 1428 Elm Street. She returns in The Dream Warriors, the 1987 sequel where her role shifts from Final Girl to Tragic Heroine in a classical sense, before coming full circle with the post-modern take in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994), yet its here where one of cinema’s greatest heroines was created, along with one of its greatest villains.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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