Ladies of Horror May-hem: Nancy Thompson


Ah, Freddy Krueger. The man, the myth, the legend…who had his fire-scarred ass handed to him four times by two of the lovely ladies to grace this month of May-hem (five times if you count New Nightmare). While our intrepid Alice Johnson was able to defeat Freddy through the powers she gained each time he killed one of her friends and family, the original final girl of Elm Street did it all with nothing more than her wits and sheer determination to survive.

[Loba Tangent: Spoilers ahoy, denizens.]

Nancy Thompson, as played by Heather Langenkamp, starts out in director Wes Craven’s slasher classic A Nightmare on Elm Street as the average all-American teen, with a best friend, a boyfriend who looks like Johnny Depp, and an idyllic suburban life with a broken home and an alcoholic mother. And the dreams in which she is haunted by a horribly scarred man with knives for fingers.

Soon she learns that she’s not the only one dreaming this hideous nightmare. Everyone in her little clique is dreaming the same guy, the same dream, every night. I’ve heard of group psychosis before, but group nightmares? Something’s rotten on Elm Street, Horatio.

All that was once, perhaps not perfect, but at least manageable…understandable leaps out the uppermost window as Nancy finds herself faced with a horrible truth about why this crazy striped-sweater freak is offing all the Elm Street kids and she starts losing everything. But once that happens, that’s when young Nancy proves herself to be a worthy final girl, as she takes into her own hands a one-woman rescue mission in which she’s either going to prove herself right about what’s been happening to her and her friends, or prove she’s gone completely around the bend.

What makes Nancy so remarkable is that she came across as believable. I believed that she was a confused high school student being faced with some incredibly unbelievable events. Her mother thought she was going crazy and her father was at a total loss as to how even as the sheriff of the town, he was failing to protect her from something he couldn’t even believe in.

Regardless, Nancy has faith in herself…and in the booby traps she learned to make thanks to a book she finds at the library. Come on, of course I’m going to love her! She’s a book nerd commando! And you know what? She gets her man. Literally. This is what makes Nancy the most bad-ass teen in town. She rips the villain right out of her dreams so that he has to face her in reality rather than where he is most powerful. And she then proceeds to make demands of him and tell him that she’s taking back all the power that he’s stolen from her and her friends. AND THEN SHE TURNS HER BACK ON HIM AND WALKS AWAY.

It doesn’t get much more bad-ass than that, denizens.