Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The One I Would Save

As previously mentioned, this is not a horror blog. I feel I must repeat this so as to keep myself from veering toward what I think I not-so-secretly want it to be. I've already compiled a list of wonderfully valid reasons not to make it one  (the genre is being well cared for, my scattered brain patterns would never keep it solely horrorcentric, I have so many other things to share and, dammit, you will embrace them all!)

It's not like I could use this for general life happenings and assorted geekery and create a companion blog for all my horror needsOOH! I mean, no... bad idea. Despite intentions for this place to cater to all of my blogging whims I do hope you will understand that the scary movie gab will likely take precedent over most things. Not enough to garner any awards or let me into the cool horror blog clubs but, whatever. I'm a rebel. I don't need to be pigeonhold. *sniff* I'm my own person! (love me?)

Do you see the challenges I present to myself?

Onward! One of the many elements that inspired me to at last heave my crazy upon you (yes, someone to blame!) was Arbogast On Film's One You Might Have Saved. First posted two years ago, it prompted people to share which doomed character moved, connected with or made enough impact on them to toss a life preserver (or knife/gun/keener sense of awareness) to. It created a bit of a Blog-O-Thon Meme type thingy that still elicits passionate responses. I loved this hypothetical and immediately began to cogitate over my choices. Of course, also immediate was the realization that passing the Get Outta Death Free card to just one wasn't likely to happen. Surely Vistaprint could help with my dilemma! 

Unfortunately, my initial cap at three choices installed a manic mental revolving door, hurting my heart with each one I had to send back out to their often grisly fate. From that three begat five which begat ten until I had to step away from the topic in order to save my own life!... Or for less dramatic reasons, I forget. I let it sit for a day and when I returned to it I realized that amongst the incessant restructuring one choice remained non-negotiable. It was actually all quite simple; The less time spent roaming my head space the better. Think less, dive in and go with instinct.

So, as much as it pains me to leave Liz a 'head-on-a-stick', Tatum a victim of her own ample curves and keep Helen confined to the worst, most oblivious town ever populated by teleporting fisherman, there was, is, really only one choice: 

I still recall the day I heard the news. The teenage brother of one of my parent's friends was over, captivating me with his vast knowledge of all things horror. The second he switched topics to Freddy Krueger I asked if he'd seen the recently released Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors. He launched into a wide-eyed elucidation of every detail - we really didn't give a crap about spoilers as kids, did we? - and I couldn't wait to actually see these images on screen. I wasn't allowed to see horror films in theaters yet, even though I'd probably seen every studio horror film on video up to this point, so I was enthralled. Seriously, this one girl can pull you into her dreams and does flips and there's this zappy wizard kid and this hot leather chick who fights Freddy with knives and holycrappingcrap did you just say NANCY WAS BACK?! 

Such poise, such elegance, such great conditioner. How our Nancy has grown! 

Clearly, I have just heard the most amazing thing to ever happen to the world. As he began the climactic battle, I was perched on my knees, fists clenched, leaning over a chair that had tipped about a dozen times in my exuberance by this point. Then, he said:

"She's hugging her dad and her face is like, 'what?' and she looks at her dad but he turns into Freddy and you see he totally stabbed her, man!"

There were a bunch of words that followed but after I forced him to repeat that heinous lie, "Yeah dude, Nancy dies!" I excused myself to go to the bathroom and cried. I didn't sob, I wasn't a blubbering mess on the floor but I sat on the edge of the tub and cried quietly for a few minutes. Washed my face, went back out and let him finish up but by that point, it was all meaningless. I no longer had any interest in seeing it.

Nancy Thompson Colby Dexter Carrington, if you please.

A few months later at a group sleepover, the movie picked was Dream Warriors. I didn't protest but the internal agony was growing by the minute. The movie began and I was enjoying it immediately. Patricia Arquette was kinda cool even before the gymnastics came into play and *GASP* Nancy. Just. Walked. In! Further proliferating my joy was the fact that all of the kids reacted positively to her appearance. The film went on and every minute was gold. The characters were cool, the kills were cool, something was always happening and the downtime for plot development was usually with Nancy so I was juuust fine. Then came the end. 

Nancy, Kristen, Kincaid and Joey were in joyful embrace because they thought it was over. For a second, so did I. Then Nancy's dumb dad had to apparate in. I bolted for the door and could hear my friend's asking where I was going but any answer would have been drowned out by their chorus of "No ways", "Oh my Gods" and one "Screw you!"

A few months later I forced myself to confront Nightmare On Elm Street: Part Crap in its entirety; Partly because I figured if I knew how she died, I could remedy this when I was making films. Long before I thought I wanted to make films, by the by. I found it ridiculous. I don't care that she was given one last swipe at him. Not for one second did I believe Nancy would fall for Freddy's ruse. No, in a just film, Nancy - who at 16 showed more courage, ingenuity and resilience than most twice her age - would have faked him out, stabbing "Daddy" with a knowing smirk as his facade dissipated. By then, Craig Wasson's junkyard exorcism would've worked it's magic and Nancy would be waving buh-bye with a triumphant smile on her face as Freddy e'sploded.  

Watching it a few years later, something else struck me, making the scene even more grim. When Nancy realizes she'd been stabbed, her expression is one of shock. She sees her father's visage give way to Freddy and it is then that she screams. However, it is not one of pain, it is a bloodcurdling cry of rage. In that moment she recognizes her defeat at the hands of her sworn enemy and it is a moment that continues to give me chills.

I don't even like looking at this! So you can imagine how tough it was to edit and load.

Some have argued that she completed her arc, she did all she could, squawk squawk white noise, but to that I reply "I hate you!" Oh. I'm sorry. No, I mean "Kill yourself!" Gah! Clearly, I need a moment...

God, I look 24 in this mirror!

All right. What I really meant was, "So what? You're wrong, poo head." Yes, that's better. I've never bought into the idea that it is okay for a character to die simply because select members of the audience haven't a clue where to take them or think it isn't logical for them to continuously evade their nemesis; A line of thinking disturbingly present among far too many horror fans when it comes to our heroines, but again, I've skidded off track. 

Why is it unbelievable Nancy could further elude Freddy's grasp when she already had for years? He seemed pretty surprised when Kristen pulled her into her dream. Why hadn't he been able to sense her presence all along? 'Cause Nancy knows stuff. Lotsa drugs, dream techniques and moving around her trademark grey streak to throw him off the trail were all very effective but deep down I think Freddy was kinda scared of finding her.

Cold comfort indeed.

Nancy wasn't the first Final Girl to win my love and devotion, nor is she my personal favorite (admittedly, it's a damn close race and on more than one occasion she shares the mantel). However, she is the greatest. She didn't merely react to the chaos in the moment, she was proactive. Her strength and determination were tempered with a genuine fear anyone would experience, no matter a teenager. Not only did she rise above it, she confronted that fear by bringing the fight directly to the bastard son of a hundred maniacs on his own turf, forcing him onto hers and ultimately defeating him with her intelligence and will. Through it all she never lost her compassion and put herself, arguably safe and Freddy-free, in harms way to help those in need.

"I'm into survival". Words Nancy once used to help poor, sweet, simple Glenn understand her determination. Words that someone woefully did not heed along the way in making Dream Warriors and it wasn't Wes Craven. While I could be thankful her untimely demise led, in part, to his giving Heather Langenkamp an excellent showcase in New Nightmare I'd rather Nancy triumphant. Instead I will continue to picture Nancy an eternal warrior, finally at peace but awaiting the moment to return to us from the "beautiful dream" Kristen sent her to.

... Ye know, before that damned Tuesday Knight screwed it all up.


A Printer Darkly said...

Wow. Pretty epic post, man. Excellent choice as well. Nancy was one of the best and to anyone that thinks otherwise I'd encourage them to read this and get a glimpse through your eyes. You'll have converts in no time.

I'd have to go with Laurie Strode though. Seeing her death in Ressurection was unreal not to mention disrespectful.

Daniel Danny Dan said...

Well, I am happy the length of this one didn't deter you either. ;) Even happier that you enjoyed it.

Laurie Strode is a damn fine choice and would rank high on my list of most worthy saves... If I actually acknowledged the existence of Halloween: Resurrection. As far as I'm concerned, she killed Michael in H20 and is living out her life happy and sober, with a grandchild on the way! End of story.

Kenn Galati said...

wow Danny, that was an amazingly well put piece. I mean I read it twice now and I love everything said and agree with you. As you know one of our bonds was our love for Nancy as well as Heather Langenkamp. Well put and I truly laughed out loud with the closing statement. Nancy forever!

MelTheFruitFly said...

I know well your love for Nancy, but I'm not sure I truly appreciated the depth of it until now. And I don't think I ever heard the story of your first time seeing her death... or if I have not in that much detail. It made my heart hurt for that kid who was crushed.

Though I think I'd want to save Casey rather than Tatum. Just because I love Drew so much though, and would love to see her do more Scream type stuff. :)

RevolutionVelvet said...

I don't how old you were exactly but to feel that connection to a character so obviously young, and an excellent one at that, speaks highly of you. I feel like you gave great insight into yourself with this article and you must be nice to know! :) I don't think I could answer this question but jee, if I ever needed one on the fly your passion would make me feel okay about saying Nancy.

Also, coolest blog banner yet! Dare I ask and show my age but is the redhead Tiffany?? lol

Bett said...

Yeap. Still ritin gud! ;)

Honestly, this was almost bittersweet to read. I can identify with that little kid.

That aside, what a fun topic and if I still blogged would have to make it a multi arc kinda thing. Loved your suggestion of Nancy knowing it Freddy all along and am inclined to agree. I don't believe she'd fall for it.

Daniel Danny Dan said...

I'm glad I could convey to those I don't know - and surprise those I do - how much it affected me. It was truly heartbreaking and I still get squirrelly and usually turn off the film when it reaches that point.

Nancy still lives on in the beautiful dream.

@Velvet - Tiffany indeed! :)