Ladies of Horror May-hem: Alice Johnson


I was so excited about the thought of adding Alice Johnson to my list of horror heroines. See, most of the time, when people think horror heroine, especially in reference to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, they immediately (and rightly) think of Nancy Thompson. She was, after all, the first Elm Street kid to defeat Freddy Krueger.

(Sorry for that spoiler and for the few spoilers that I have to drop into this post…but I kind of have to reveal some stuff to reveal my reasoning…)

What a lot of people fail to remember is that, yes, Nancy defeated Freddy twice, but there’s only one bad-ass grrl who both defeated Krueger twice and lived to tell the tale.

Enter Alice Johnson.

We first meet Alice in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. She’s one of those “transformation girls,” quiet and shy and mousy and weak…but guess what? Let’s just say that she “masters” those issues like a baus. Honestly, it’s one of the best depictions of the transformation trope I can think of in slasher-level horror. Of course, I say that with the full confession that I have a huge soft spot in my horror heart for Freddy Krueger (the Robert Englund version…which, let’s face it, is the only version that matters at all in the history of ever).

Still, watching Alice Johnson metamorphose through this movie is a joy to behold, and nearly as much fun as watching Englund not just chew scenery but devour it, whole piece at a time as Krueger. When you’ve got someone like Englund playing your main villain, you need an actor who not only can convince viewers of her inherent weakness but also can be believable as a suitable counterpoint to Krueger when the time comes. Lisa Wilcox was quite a brilliant choice for these reasons. She pulls off timid, fearful Alice quite well. And bad-ass Alice? Oh, yeah. She could match the camp and slash of Freddy K.

When I saw that they’d brought Alice back for A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, I was actually sad. I kind of figured, based on previous track records, that this meant that she wasn’t going to make it to the end. Again, I’m sorry for this spoiler, but this is ultimately one of the main reasons I chose Alice…she kicks Freddy’s ass one more time and lives to tell the tale.

For the final movie in the original series, the creators decided to go in a decidedly different direction from the previous movies, and then Wes Craven came back to reclaim Freddy with his New Nightmare (which ironically brought Heather Langenkamp back into the Krueger fold), so we never saw Alice again in the movies. I’m actually okay with that. I admit that I wanted to know what had happened to her after the fifth movie, but I also reminded myself that the third time could have been the charm…for Freddy.

No, I’d like to believe that Alice never encountered Freddy again and that she and her son found a nice little suburban neighborhood to live in. Somewhere green and quiet, where her biggest nightmare would be trying to pay bills or get her son to ball practice on time. I know, it doesn’t sound all that exciting…but she’d probably love every minute.