RANKING FREDDY KRUEGER’S ADVERSARIES PART 5: 10-1

This is it! The top ten characters that took a stab at taking down Freddy Krueger, featuring a variety of final girls and boys that did everything they could to stay alive. Who will be number one? Nancy? Alice? Kristen? That girl nobody remembers from FREDDY VS JASON? Find out below, and complain in the comments!
 
In case you need to catch up, click here for 50-41, 40-31, 30-21 and 20-11.

 

10. Dylan

 
dylan (470 x 249)

 
Played by: Miko Hughes
Appears in: WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE
Distinguishing Characteristics: Tiny, vaguely preoccupied and carrying a stuffed dinosaur.
 
Miko Hughes already had horror kid cred by complaining about the lack of fairness in PET SEMATARY, but his appearance as “Heather Langenkamp”‘s son Dylan, who seems to be becoming gradually more involved with the Elm Street mythology, solidified it. And it’s Hughes’ performance that ranks it higher than it normally would have, as Dylan doesn’t really do much against Freddy other than freak out his mom. Those freakouts, however, are great stuff, with Dylan disappointed after he survives a jump from the top of a jungle gym by innocently mumbling, “God wouldn’t take me.” He’s given a number of eerie scenes that, while they don’t exactly make him a compellingly unique character, make for one that’s fascinating to watch.
 

9. Lori

 
lori (470 x 261)
 
Played by: Monica Keena
Appears in: FREDDY VS. JASON
Distinguishing Characteristics: Doesn’t want to date
 
Lori is the “final girl” of FREDDY VS. JASON. She is defined by being the “final girl” in FREDDY VS. JASON. She’s connected to Freddy because apparently he killed her mother, for reasons unclear to anyone — he’s going after adults now? She also apparently has Kristen’s dream powers, but more on that when we get to Kristen, who is significantly more interesting of a “final girl” than Lori could ever be, even if she came back from additional sequels. Still, she actually came up with the plan, as ridiculous as it is, to have the two terror titans battle it out, hence her placement so high in the list.
 

8. Dan

 
dan (470 x 333)
 
Played by: Danny Hassel
Appears in: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD
Distinguishing Characteristics: The Jock
 
When I was in high school, I thought Dan was the dullest character in the whole series. I was much more enamored with Rick, a fun-loving, rock-and-roll lifestyle kind of guy who looks like he kicks ass. But as I said earlier, Rick’s kind of a dud in reality, and in retrospect, Dan’s the best supporting “love interest” in the whole series. Dressed and characterized as a jock, Dan’s actually kind of a dork, as his joking just leads to eye-rolls. He quickly integrates himself into the world of Alice’s friends, and, while skeptical at first, gets a clear understanding as to the dangers at hand and tries his best to fight them. It’s Dan that figures out that he and Alice are in a loop in their attempt to save Debbie, and Dan is so protective of others that he demands to be put under again when he gains consciousness from surgery! He’s willing to be with Alice over the objections of his folks, and Alice deserves the guy. Rick’s the guy you have a fling with. Dan’s the guy who sticks around. Or at least he would be, if driving didn’t lull him into a state of sleep every damn time he gets behind the wheel. Also, his mom was played the woman who was the titular character in Paul Bartel’s NAUGHTY NURSE, which is awesome.
 

7. Maggie/Katherine Krueger

 
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Played by: Lisa Zane
Appears in: FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE
Distinguishing Characteristics: Like everyone in FVJ, has parental issues.
 
Maggie should not only be the most significant character in FREDDY’S DEAD, she should be crucial to the series as a whole. She’s in charge of the kids at the youth center, she drives them into Springwood, she TURNS OUT TO BE FREDDY KRUEGER’S LONG-LOST DAUGHTER, and then she ends up killing him at the end! Somehow, however, she comes across as the second-least interesting “lead” of the series, because everyone else does all the work for her. After the original suggestion to bring John Doe to Springwood, all of her ideas some oddly random, and the things that actually make sense come entirely from other characters — Doe’s discovery that Freddy had a daughter, Doc’s plan to bring him out of the dream world, and Tracy’s careful control of her own dreams. Hell, even the pipe bomb she uses to blow up her dad is supplied by Tracy, and the idea of using 3-D glasses to view the dream world properly (or whatever — FREDDY’S DEAD seems to be making up this crap as it goes along) comes from Doc. Maggie’s just along for the ride, even though she’s supposed to be the spawn of a vicious serial killer. Sure, she’s the one ultimately responsible for pulling Freddy back into reality, but she also interacts with the stupid dream demons, who are about as frightening as a group of lost characters from LABYRINTH. Her character may be crucial to the film in her identity, but her actions sure aren’t, and the film isn’t crucial to anyone.
 

6. Kristen

 
kristen (470 x 308)
 
Played by: Patricia Arquette/Tuesday Knight
Appears in: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER
Distinguishing Characteristics: Builds model houses, her mom just wants the bourbon
 
Kristen used to be special. In Part 3, her distinguishing “dream warrior” ability is that she can pull other people into her dreams, a talent that comes in quite handy when facing off against someone who controls slumbered thoughts. Kristen is responsible for the “Dream Warriors” getting together and exposing their talents, and, even though Freddy’s death is arguably caused by the B-grade character trinity of concerned doctor, drunken cop and mysterious nun, she manages to survive. She then passes her power on to Alice in Part 4 before her relatively humdrum death sequence, and Alice uses it over the next film and a half. After that, however, it seems like everyone has the power. Tracy and John Doe immediately jump in to help Spencer. Lori knows she can just fall asleep and automatically end up in Jason’s dream, in what could well be the dumbest plan conceived by anyone in the whole series. How? Kristen is supposed to be unique, and the sequels drag her status as a compelling character down with their own lack of caring about how the dream logic that’s set up in Part 3 is supposed to work. I’m not even going to take a side in the Arquette/Knight debate, because the character is compelling in Part 3, dismissed in Part 4 and destroyed in Parts 6 and 8.
 

5. “Heather Langenkamp”

 
heather (470 x 268)
 
Played by: Heather Langenkamp
Appears in: WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE
Distinguishing Characteristics: Nancy Kerrigan
 
NEW NIGHTMARE has a lot going for it, conceptually. It’s an interesting take on the franchise that brings new life into old ideas and prompots a number of questions about horror franchises in general well before SCREAM and its’ brood. The biggest problem, however, is the lead character of “Heather Langenkamp,” a Wes Craven-written composite that’s based loosely on Langenkamp herself so much that we are supposed to buy the idea that this is, in fact, her. Langenkamp’s portrayal as “herself,” however, comes off as very much like her character Nancy — it’s as though the Nancy character survived Part 3 and just became Langenkamp. The vocal tropes and personality are the same — Heather reacts to her husband’s joking around with the same expression that Nancy reacted to Glen in Part 1. This would have worked is the progression was gradual, as the film’s plot requires Heather to become Nancy in order to fight Freddy, but the only time Heather seems comfortable in her own skin is a brief, if solid, scene in which she’s interviewed on a talk show. As a result, the character feels awkward, like a mixture of Heather and Nancy when, in fact, we should be seeing the slow evolution of one into the other. “Heather” should be one of the most compelling characters in the series, but because she just seems like an alternate universe version of Nancy most of the time, the role never reaches its’ full potential. That said, the role couldn’t have been filled by anyone but Nancy — she’s the “final girl” face of the franchise, and it’s her character that is necessary to beat Krueger in his new, meta form.
 

4. Jason Voorhees

 
jason (470 x 264)
 
Played by: Ken Kirzinger
Appears in: FREDDY VS. JASON
Distinguishing Characteristics: Not Kane Hodder
 
How badass is Jason Voorhees in FREDDY VS. JASON? It doesn’t matter who wins the “battle” between the two terror titans — Jason wins the damn movie. FVJ is an Elm Street film only in the sense that it takes place in some bizarre alternate universe version of Springwood, and there’s a character that looks and acts similar to Freddy Krueger in it. But it’s Jason’s film. The body count is all him, as he slaughters tons of teenagers left and right, often just as Freddy is about to kill them in their sleep! What kind of thanks is that for bringing him back from the dead, or whatever the hell is supposed to be happening at the beginning? Freddy gets some credit for getting into Jason’s dreams and trapping him by surrounding him with his ultimate nightmare, um, running water. (If there’s one thing Jason’s afraid of, it’s water!) Most of the film, however, is Freddy in Dr. Evil mode, explaining his convoluted plot to the audience and making stupid wisecracks, letting Jason do all of the dirty work. It’s as though the filmmakers just figured that since Freddy gets all the bad guy dialogue, Jason should get all the action. Basically, Jason is great in FVJ because he gets some back story and everything else about the film is so pointless that his slaughtering sequences are endlessly entertaining in contrast.
 

3. Jesse

 
jesse (470 x 243)
 
Played by: Mark Patton
Appears in: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE
Distinguishing Characteristics: Tight jeans, constantly sweaty and shirtless. While his non-dream state screams are fairly masculine, his dream shrieks are enough to give the fiercest scream queen a run for her money.
 
Jesse ranks high on the list, not because he’s particularly effective (the whole film could have been bypassed if he’d just calm down and admit his gayness) but because he’s an interesting character with an actual story arc. He’s also the only real male central character of the series, a fact that underlines part 2’s gay subtext just as much as the casting of Patton, whose previously best-known role was as a transsexual young man in COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN who ended up becoming Karen Black. He’s a psychologist’s wet dream, a person whose psyche you just want to dive into and figure out what the hell is going on in his mind. It’s a character so compelling that Patton is still writing his story, and while it’s probably not “canon,” can you think of any other character from the series that would still warrant such devotion? Certainly not Joey, who, as a reminder, is awful! Part 2 was thought of as the weakest entry in the series for a long time, so much that it was ignored by fans for years, but it’s just a very different take on the idea of the horrors of the unconscious, and one that has slowly garnered a solid reputation as an entity of its’ own.

 

2. Nancy

 
nancy (470 x 255)
 

Played by: Heather Langenkamp
Appears in: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS
Distinguishing Characteristics:
 
Nancy is the girl everyone thinks of when they think about Freddy adversaries. She was the first person to battle Freddy successfully (sort of) and she was the one deemed important enough to return to battle him in her actress persona in NEW NIGHTMARE. Nancy is a fine character, the central thread of the original (and best) film in the series and a huge factor in Part 3, and she evolves between the films by going to medical school and becoming an export in dream therapy. Still, she’s a little bit too prone to errors to emerge as the best character in the series. While she does stumble on the way to kill Freddy in Part 1, as echoed in Part 6 and FVJ, the plan is bungled and her final offing of the dream slaughterer doesn’t really come off as permanent, even before the first sequel was green-lit. Her recommendation of Hypnocil in Part 3 is sketchy as well, as she’s supposed to be on it, and yet she is almost immediately pulled into Kristen’s dreams after they meet, so it doesn’t seem to do much good. And let’s not forget the ending of Part 3, in which see foolishly sees her Dad “on the way to heaven” and runs to embrace him. Seriously, Nancy, you should know better than this. It’s these little mistakes that lead to her ultimate tragedy, the fact that she didn’t live long enough to see death of Joey.
 

1. Alice

 
alice (470 x 303)
 
Played by: Lisa Wilcox
Appears in: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD
Distinguishing Characteristics: Genuinely evolves as a character throughout two films, beyond just adding a white streak to her hair
 
As much as Nancy is known as the face of the “final girl” in the Elm Street series, Alice is the easiest choice for the top rank of Krueger adversaries, and not just because she’s the only character to have gone 2-0 against him. No character in the series evolves as much as Alice does between the beginning of Part 4 and the end of Part 5. Alice starts Part 4 as Kristen’s mild-mannered, quiet friend, immersed in her own daydreams. She moons over hot jock Dan and fantasizes about telling her useless father to give her a break and start acting like an actual parent. Throughout the deaths of her friends in Part 4, she becomes more and more determined, and while the absorption of her friend’s abilities is given as the reason that she can eventually defeat Freddy, she wouldn’t have been able to do it if the determination in protecting herself and her friends didn’t increase with each passing demise. It’s a bit heavy-handed in Part 4, with her mirror slowly becoming visible as she takes down the photos of her friends, allowing her to see herself at last, but by Part 5, Alice is an entirely reinvigorated person. She’s confident in herself, she’s gotten her father to join an alcoholic’s support group, and she has finally embraced her own sexuality. Freddy may end up being defeated in Part 5 by the tag team of Alice’s unborn son, Yvonne and Mystery Nun, but they never would have gotten that far without Alice’s stern determination, even more impressively focused after Dan’s death.
 
Got a problem? Go ahead and complain below!
 

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