Meeting My Horror Heroes!
*In Sep 2015, I submitted the following story (as a letter-to-the-editor) to Horror Hound via “email@example.com.” I was honoured when (in Feb 2016) Horror Hound published my story in its prestigious magazine. I am happy to share it again on Medium!
September 11th-13th, I had the pleasure of attending the Indianapolis Horror Hound Convention (an amazing time). When I got to the convention, the very first thing I did was skip Robert Englund’s (understandably long) line and wait instead in Lisa Wilcox’s line. It was a pleasure meeting her (and her on-screen brother Andras Jones); both of whom were very kind and gracious. I was honoured and thrilled!
Meeting them (and many others from the Nightmare On Elm Street Franchise) at the convention, caused me to think about what their characters represent and (more importantly) why I was so honoured and thrilled to meet them.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is the first horror film I ever watched-I fell in love with it. I fell in love with it due to one particular scene, described below (it’s not the nurse scene, though it remains a close second).
Having been sedated, Kristen Parker is alone and about the fall asleep (…into the claws of a waiting Freddy Kreuger). Nancy Thompson returns to Westin Hills and gathers the remaining Elm Street teenagers. She asks the teenagers to follow Kristin into her dream, adding the caveat that by doing so, they could very well die. After a moment, Kincaid speaks for the teenagers, proclaiming they will kick Freddy’s ass “all over Dreamland.”
It being my first horror movie, I was expecting a lot of running away, a lot of blood, and a lot of “adult situations” (it’s always a thrill when you get to watch a movie of which your parents would not approve). The one thing I didn’t expect was heroics; potential victims running towards (not away from) the monster. While not all of the teenagers who were with Kincaid during his above-referenced proclamation survived, they all stood tall (even Will) and fought to protect each other and themselves.
After Nightmare 3, I immediately looked for the remaining films. Instead of starting at the beginning, I found Nightmares 4 and 5 (Dream Master and Dream Child) and fell in love all over again, this time with Alice Johnson. Just like the Nightmare 3 characters, Alice demonstrated heroism, fighting to protect/rescue her friends, family, (and eventually child). When male lead Dan (#4) finds himself in Freddy’s clutches, she runs into danger to rescue him. That is preceded by a “power-up montage” scene chock-full of symbolism, such as Alice removing the pictures from her mirror (allowing her to see herself) while the song “Don’t Be Afraid of Your Dreams” plays in the background.
While not always successful, it is Alice’s efforts to save her friends and find her inner strength that resonate.
I’ve watched all of the Nightmares countless times: 4 and 5 remain my favourites. When I am facing a challenge, or feeling stressed, it is often the “power-up montage” to which my mind travels for encouragement.
I have heard it repeated (countless times) that a horror movie audience relates with (or aligns with) the monster; perhaps that is true (from a marketing perspective, it makes sense that a studio would heavily emphasize the one movie element most easily identifiable and most likely to return to for the sequel). Certainly, none of the original Nightmares would have the effect or quality were it not for Robert Englund’s amazing performances (his line “Welcome to Wonderland, Alice” remains my favourite line in any of the nine movies).
However, my allegiance remains not with Freddy Krueger but with the resourceful, loyal, defiant, and heroic teenagers with whom he had to contend. It was from them I learned about the importance of friendship and loyalty, of putting yourself on the line for those about whom you care, and that the best way to deal with fear is not to run screaming into the night (i.e. Laurie Strode 1978 Halloween) but (win or lose) to face it, head-on (i.e pretty much every final character in the Nightmare franchise, but especially Alice Johnson). For a kid in a wheelchair (or any kid), those aren’t bad lessons to learn.
My love of the horror genre has expanded to include many other movies, and especially the other “franchise players” (I am very fond of Friday the 13th), but the Nightmare Franchise will always have a special place in my heart, due to the actors that brought from page to screen those resourceful, loyal, defiant, and heroic teenagers.
This is a very long-winded way of saying that from September 11th to 14th, Horror Hound gave me the chance to meet my heroes. For that chance, I am very grateful.
Thanks again Horror Hound!