Category Archives: Lists

Title Recall: Like it like that

Lazy post, I know, but I have vary limited access to my film collection – and my laptop gets too hot to plough through the DVDs I did bring with me.

Not much profound to say except that I like these ones.

hod-title

A.K.A. House of Death, I like the little sound-wave thingy that spikes as some doomed girl shrieks her last.

fe2

Simple and straightforward, much like Final Exam itself.

ht1

Quite why it was renamed so grandiosely for the UK I do not know…

hn2The almost-frat comedy undertones of Hell Night (and Hellego Night) are evident in the way the wavy font shimmers on to the screen as we pan across a raucous campus party.

prom2aAbout the best moment in this soggy sequel – I love titles where the suffix and prefix are switched, and diggin’ those fonts, Hamilton High!

sndn1aWay to ruin Christmas! Even if it wasn’t crashed by an axe wielding psycho, odds are there’d be some huge family row instead [Review].

spm1aI just like the fontage here [Review].

someguy2So much happiness and colour! How could it possibly go wrong? The slight ‘forced enjoyment’ here is indicative of themes in the movie, which is pretty damn good [Review].

tt2The drama! The orchestral crescendo! The beautiful train! OK, a little overwrought for a slasher film, but one so high up the rankings deserves nothing less [Review].

tcm03aPart of why I enjoy this yet-to-be-reviewed remake more than most is that they tried to be scary, rather than just hoping what they threw at the wall would stick. It’s mostly successful. This works.

Who knows what they’ll do next summer

With the age-compounding news that I Know What You Did Last Summer, a film from 1997 – also known as last week – is being remade (or ‘re-imagined’ as these bullshitty projects are now nominally dubbed), and the merciful slowing trend of grab-bagging any “sounds cool” film title from way back when and stuffing it through the Remake Generator 3000 – what, I ask myself, is left for them to plunder? Hmm…

DEADLY BLESSING 1981

Why, God, why? The odds of this one eventually happening must be quite high – Wes Craven has seen Elm Street, Last House on the Left, and The Hills Have Eyes all remade in the last few years.

What would they do to it? Given the religious backdrop DB is set against, one can only imagine all manner of minority groups picketing it and being offended all over the show; though Craven had the sense to manufacture his sub-Amish society, I doubt whichever 25-year-old was put in charge of the production would be capable of thinking so logically. Expect the trio of heroines to wear the skimpiest of skimpy shorts and at least two of them make out with one another to tease the religious boys, ’cause, you know, nobody but straight men watch horror films.

Should they? The original isn’t that well known and the story is solid enough. Only would this be acceptable in mature, craft-heavy hands.

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CHERRY FALLS 2000

Why, God, why? If you’ve ever encountered the original script for this one, you’ll know it was way more awesome than the finished product, albeit getting most of said awesome from it’s fucking cool central plot device: The killer only goes after virgins!

What would they do to it? As all media ever now pretty much endorses underage sex, I foresee a PG-13 production along similar lines to that wretched Prom Night re-do, wide-eyed, under-studied teen stars (at least three of whom will also be singers) shrieking a lot and talking sensibly about sex and the responsibilities thereof.

Or, it could go NC-17 and be a gigantic slutfest. Either way, it’d be female-teen centric, girls would be punished far more than boys and the end lesson would be something out of a 7th Heaven episode.

Should they? A remake based on the original script – yes. Otherwise, leave it.

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HELL NIGHT 1981

Why, God, why? Name. This one almost happened. Say, five years back there were ‘talks’ about sending a bunch of frat and sorority students to a manor house ‘haunted’ by a crazed killer.

What would they do to it? Because of the success of When a Stranger Calls and the forever-grim Prom Night redux (that’ll keep cropping up, soz), Hollywood execs, who I can only assume drool over Excel spreadsheets of weekend box office results, had their evil eyes on updating this genre classic into guess what? PG-13! Not that the Linda Blair orig was dripping with grue and boobs, but c’mon? Slasher films should contain at least some slash. Thankfully, it appears to have fallen off the radar, but I imagined a more-or-less straight up Xerox only with unpleasant bitchy girls and scheming frat boys everywhere you look.

Should they? No. Hell Night‘s plot is so derivative it could be woven into any new film, see the Terror Train/Train saga. It’s name really isn’t that well known outside of dorky websites such as this and, unless we get another retro-fest, I think this one might escape unscathed.

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GRADUATION DAY 1981

Why, God, why? Yet another calendar-date psycho slasher film, ripe for the remake, a film titled Graduation Night to star Zac Efron was rumoured in the wake of his High School Musical escape plan. As yet, nothing more.

What would they do to it? *sigh* I’m as tired of dredging up fucking Prom Night as you are of reading it, but it was stupidly successful for a movie so barren of anything. Others wanted a slice of the pie. The idea of a track team done in is every high school geek’s dream, but you know the cast would be a bunch of steroid-infused 28-year-olds trying to pass for 17. Death by various athletic equipment should also return with a pole-vaulting vengeance.

Should they? Yes! I’m not precious about Graduation Day; production wise it is piss poor, and there are some cool moments that would update nicely (except that stupid sword-through-football thing), but it’d need to be harder than PG-13. After four years of high school, there are people you want to see die. Bloodily.

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THE BURNING 1981

Why, God, why? Infamous Video Nasty of shears-toting caretaker has also bee rumoured for a remake for some time. Like Graduation Day, the original film isn’t that wonderfully made: The script is all over the place like a drunk F1 racer, it had the worst excuse for a lead character in Alfred, and it was uncompromisingly violent.

What would they do to it? Hopefully, not much more than tighten a few screws and clean it up. The story has all the hallmarks of a genre classic, it was heavy on the grue and the nudity, boasted a cool score, and has stood the test of time to some degree in terms of reputation. I don’t see how it would work as anything less than an R-rated bloodfest, Cropsy doesn’t snip fingers off just to see it cut from the final print. I have the nagging feeling it’d be adorned with some class-straddling teen romance, say uptight middle class girl and wrong-side-of-the-tracks boy. Ugh.

Should they? Only if the budget was high enough to get it off the starting blocks with any hope of being good. Too many summer camp slasher films attempt to get by on $75 and a few bottles of ketchup.

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ALONE IN THE DARK 1982

Why, God, why? You’re Next proved the fusion of home invasion horror and slasher conventions can be awesome; this film covered much of that ground thirty years earlier. They re-did Mother’s Day with a similar edge, so why not this too?

What would they do to it? Alone in the Dark is one of the few early 80s slasher films that injected a bit of humour into grim proceedings. You’re Next traded quite heavily on comical denouements for its characters, and with four escaped psycho patients tormenting a family, what is there to lose?

The original film is flawed with too little focus on females, be they victims or ass-handing heroines, that would need to change. If it doesn’t go lighter, take it darker – make those escapees really shady and unnerving.

Should they? Again, I have no particularly strong binds to the original and wouldn’t feel my heart break the way it did over the announcement of the Halloween remake. Yeah, why not?

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Other vulnerable species:

  • Girls Nite Out. Early 80s campus shenanigans interrupted by a psycho dressed as a cheerleader-hating teddy bear! Too little action and a real WHAT? reveal scuppered a great idea. Do it.
  • Curtains. Curious fan-favourite with a bunch of starlets knocked off at the open audition for a film at a house in the middle of nowhere. Production nightmares kept it on the shelf for three years. Cast a bunch of YouTube stars everyone already hates and let the blades fly.
  • Dark Night of the Scarecrow. Made-for-TV films don’t come much more frightening than this tale. Seasoned actors played good roles for a change and the creep factor severely outweighed any gore. Leave it be before we have to see one of Will Smith’s kids leading the charge.
  • The Final Terror. Daryl Hannah and Rachel Ward are probably still cringing at this early years resume filler: Survivalist types are stalked by a primeval loon in the woods. Wrong Turn has it covered, but a non-comic overdo with a few more bodies might be decent. Just remove the Three Blind Mice singalong.
  • He Knows You’re Alone. Yes! Change it to a high-society celebrity wedding at a castle or something and have the bride-stalking maniac crash it. I’m thinking bride in her big dress fighting him off would be amazing.
  • The Prowler. Another nihilistic early-80s maniac-after-teens title few remember much about beyond the top-notch Savini FX work. The rest of the film is so coma-inducingly boring perhaps just a 30-minute cut of the good bits would do. Actually, make it 15 minutes.
  • Slaughter High. For sure a reputed mid-80s example, why does Slaughter High suck so bad? Could it be the British actors overdoing their accents? The shoddy production values? That weird-ass ending? Caroline Munro’s rather pitiful shower-flow? Who knows – the idea of nerd inviting bullies to bogus reunion is fun, let’s see it again with more care and attention.

The 13 best Halloween characters

Last, but by no means least, we turn to the Halloween franchise to countdown the best characters therein.

Strangely, I found it difficult to elect many characters I genuinely liked… I don’t know why, I like all the Halloween movies (bar Season of the Witch, that can go fuck itself), but they seem a tad short on super-fab-I-want-to-be-your-friend types, as we’ll see…

Mya // Rob Zombie’s Halloween II

There’s not that much to like about either of the RZ Halloweens, largely because he populated them with objectionable, self-absorbed twats for characters. That said, Brea Grant (also in Midnight Movie) as Mya was my kinda girl. Specs, spunk, and attitude – though not a bad attitude, unlike Scout Taylor-Compton’s horrible excuse for a heroine. I was sad she died.

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Charlie the cop // The Revenge of…

Cops in slasher films are rarely afforded names before they’re done away with almost summarily: They usually exist to get in the way a bit and take an axe to the head. Charlie (Troy Evans), makes a small exception to that rule by going all out to protect little Jamie Lloyd from her marauding uncle, calling her the bravest little girl he’d ever met and standing up to an increasingly unhinged Loomis. Alas, it does fuck all to save him, but he has the honor of dying to protect a child. Good show, Charlie.

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Sassy Reporter // Halloween II

This chick only appears for a matter of seconds during the better scenes of Halloween II (before the dull hospital drama), don’t you just love the giant cravat thingy? The bouncing hair? The amazingly proto-Gale Weathers approach of: “You need their parents permission to make a statement, if you can’t find their parents, get a statement anyway.” Awesome.

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Mrs Blankenship // The Curse of…

Most of Mrs Blankenship’s screen time in Halloween 6 is inconsequential. She owns a rooming house across the street from THE MYERS HOUSE! and babbers on about being Michael’s babysitter that night, but things peak when it turns out she’s a part of the Thorn Conspiracy, turns around wielding a huge knife and greets Marianne Hagan’s heroine by saying: “Hello dear,” like any huggable grandma.

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Rudy // Resurrection

The most likeable of the reality TV explorers in the much-hated (but loved by me!) Halloween: Resurrection. With gal-pals, Rudy (Sean Patrick Thomas) wanders around THE MYERS HOUSE! looking for clues about what turned Michael into a loon. His main character trait is his love of food. Not eating it, creating it. He’s probably also the only person to ever stop one of these psycho’s by throwing the right mix of herbs in his face…

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Annie 2.0 // RZ’s Halloween II

 Danielle Harris is something of an enigma in the Halloween realm, playing two different characters. We’ll get to the other one later, but here, she also became another character rarity: the not-final girl who survives (in the ‘first’ movie). She’s has more to do here as the resentful best friend of Laurie, disapproving of her BFF’s wayward lifestyle, nursing scars of her own. It’s a good performance from Harris, in contrast to her bouncy-sexy high school girl schtick.

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Dr Hoffman // The Return of…

Bitchy Loomis-adversary Dr Hoffman is another minimal backgrounder, though Michael Pataki got his name in the name in the opening credits for the mammoth two scenes he’s in. Still, his presence is amusing, not least for his tired-of-your-shit attitude towards Loomis: “For Christ’s sake, spare me the speech – I’ve listened to it for a decade.” See him also as the beleaguered principal in Graduation Day.

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Jamie Lloyd // The Return of… &
The Revenge of…

It’s Danielle again! Laurie Strode’s orphaned daughter Jamie (until H20 went and stomped all over that thread) becomes the unlikely heroine of the late-80s Halloween franchise, as Uncle Michael wakes from his coma to come and end the bloodline for good, primarily targeting little Jamie, who shares an unclear psychic connection with him. An outstanding acting job from the 10-year-old Harris leaves many of the more accomplished players in the dust.

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Lynda // Halloween

Who couldn’t totally love Lynda? Nobody, that’s who! As one of Laurie’s girlfriends, PJ Soles, who’d already tasted teen horror as a nasty girl in Carrie, is the more carefree, hippie-esque member of their little group. But she’s totally nice. She might have sex in the bed of a total stranger and drink their beer, and totally not care about school or the future (kinda fortunate considering she had none), but she’s perky and sweet. Had she not totally died, I’d have foreseen a career in waitressing for Lynda. Fuh-neee…

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Rachel Carruthers // The Return of… &
The Revenge of…

Jamie’s sister by adoption is initially self-obsessed high schooler Rachel (Ellie Cornell), who is too into her boyfriend Brady to realise he’s more into his own dick. Nevertheless, Rachel is able to alter her priorities and take lil’ sis trick or treating, thus entering into the nightmare of escaping Michael. She puts Jamie first in everything and pays the ultimate price in the next film. Sad times.

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Tommy Doyle 2.0 // The Curse of…

Here’s a curveball. Halloween 6 was one of the first slasher films I ever saw and thus I probably am too kind to it. Part of the appeal of the Halloween franchise up to this point was bringing old characters back into the drama, in this case Tommy, one of Laurie’s babysitting charges from the original, now a Myers-obsessed weirdo living across the street from THE MYERS HOUSE! Paul Rudd allegedly hates the film, but he gives a twitchy, interesting performance anyway.

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Laurie Strode // I, II, H20 & Resurrection

THE final girl of all final girls, Jamie Lee Curtis’ took Laurie from bookish nerd to, well alive bookish nerd – and later alcoholic head teacher. Ignoring what became of her in the sequels, Laurie is just everything in the first film. Youwanther to be your big sister, your babysitter, your friend. She’s just that nice girl you’d take home to Mom and Dad with about a gazillion thoughts going through her muddled mind, some of them not quite so innocent…

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Dr Sam Loomis // All but Season of the Witch and everything after The Curse of…

While I want Laurie to be my friend, Doc Loomis is Halloween, just as much as Michael Myers, if not more. Donald Pleasence’s engaging performance as he goes from self-assured to paranoid to eccentric over the arc of the five films he features in is like a cuddly old sweater you can’t throw away. Though if he was ever right about anything essential is never established as Michael kept surviving, but the character has influenced so many imitations in his wake, and after he died, the spirit of the series kinda went with him.

Prequel Showdown

“We gotta get right back to where we started from…” so sang Maxine Nightingale, thus with all the sequels out of the way, we’re pushing the clock back, waaaay back to the before-land of prequel city…

A comparable rarity in slasher movies, but occasionally ideas have run so low, killers killed with such finality, that it’s all that’s left to do…

Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)

I’ve only ever seen this once, on cable, back in the 90s, so memories are hazy at best, but from the power of recall (and clips from YouTube), I can remember Norman Bates harking back to his formative years during a radio phone-in about matricide. Mrs Bates is played with unhinged gusto by Olivia Hussey, and Norm’s early forays into murder are examined. Hussey vs Vera Farmiga? Can’t possibly call it.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

Platinum Dunes followed up their phenomenally successful 2003 TCM remake with this origin tale which, other than showing Leatherface’s birth n’ stuff, is pretty much a retread (pre-tread?) of the other film, with a quartet of teens stranded in Texas and captured by the Hewitt clan. Notably gorier demises all round, with a horrendous death for Matt Bomer, and a good turn as final girl from Jordana Brewster.

Cold Prey III (2010)

In 1986, twenty years before the events of Cold Preys I and II, seven Norwegian younguns go camping in the wilderness and cross paths with the deadly Fjellmannen. Little snow this time, but some excellent action scenes, though cynically speaking, there’s no real purpose to it other than to fill out a trilogy boxset someday.

Final Destination 5 (2011)

Another everyday guy has another premonition of another catastrophic accident – this time the impressive collapse of a suspension bridge – and saves a handful of shoulda-dieds. Brutal, bizarre accidents soon begin claiming them, Tony Todd says cryptic things, and it all turns out to have occurred in 1999, with the last couple boarding Flight 180, naively thinking they beat Death!

Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings (2011)

Technically, the first of three prequels in the Wrong Turn canon, as two of the main trio of cannibals were done away with at the end of the original movie. Some months before those events, college kids wind up taking shelter in an abandoned asylum where guess who lives? Lots of sex, CGI-bloodletting, and cheap rubber masks ensue…

The Finalists

With so little to play with this time, it’s relatively easy to knock Wrong Turn and Psycho out of the ring, leaving three pretty evenly matched films in the running… Next, I booted Texas Chainsaw due to its practical remaking of a remake, and so it’s between the Fjellmannen and Death itself; Norway vs the USA.

In terms of intent to innovate (or at least surprise) and stamping all over the damp squibs of the previous, rubbish installment, the logical victor can only be…

The Winner

 

The 13 best Elm Street characters

Having done this for Friday the 13th some while ago, it’s now Freddy’s turn (then Michael, don’t get panicky). So mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the awesome-est of them all…?

Of course, Freddy is the best character in the franchise, but that’s predictable, so he – like Jason and Mrs Voorhees in the previous countdown – won’t feature here.

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Kincaid // Dream Warriors & The Dream Master

“Big tough bad ass” Kincaid says motherfucker a lot and tells a fellow ward inmates in Elm Street 3 that’s he’ll outlast them all – and he’s nearly right. Breaking the ‘black guys always die first’ trope in that film, he is one of three survivors, only to die first in the next film! Given with one hand, taken away with the other. Whatever, he’s proof that Elm Street was a franchise toying with the usual conventions: In any other 80s slasher film, he’d have likely been done in.

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Hall Monitor // The Original

Who is this girl? Is she even real? Why would she buy that sweater? I like her bunches. Hall Monitor girl only appears for a few precious seconds but she’s awesome for each of them, and she leads in Nancy’s excellent line: “Screw your pass!”

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Lisa // Freddy’s Revenge

Proto-Tiffany suburban high school queen Lisa (Kim Myers) has a bit of a Streep look to her, don’tcha think? While balancing popularity n’ stuff, Lisa befriends and attempts to heterosexualise new boy Jesse, who is being tormented by ‘the monster who wants to come out of him’ – Freddy. Only a kiss from Lisa can save the day!

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 Creepy Child // Dream Warriors

Irrespective of whether or not he was a kiddie-fiddler, Krueger murdered children before he was killed, and in turn, they crop up in the dreams of the Last of the Elm Street Children, such as this sweet little blonde girl, who says cryptic and spooky things to Patricia Arquette as she runs through a scary dream. Creepy Child is probably the best of the Creepy Children.

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Philip // Dream Warriors

Sensible Phil is possibly the most intelligent of the psyche ward kids in Elm Street 3, he makes a valid point to the doctors, which they ignore. But his predilection for sleep walking and puppet-craft is capitlised upon by Freddy, who turns him into a human marionette, using his veins for strings, and then drops him off the top of a tower.

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Dokken // Dream Warriors (sort of)

Elm Street stans should doubtlessly be familiar with the high camp video for the title song Dream Warriors, by spandex metal band Dokken, who, in the said video, save Patricia Arquette and defeat Freddy with the high-pitched squealings and frankly amazing facial expressions of lead vocalist Don Dokken. If you’ve not seen it, go to YouTube this very minute!

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Elaine Parker // The Dream Master

Kristen’s socialite mom first turns up in Dream Warriors, but comes back for more in the fourth movie, where she’s even more outrageously overbearing and hilarious. A real symbol of the cruelty of Freddy: the guilty adults are (usually) allowed to live and suffer the deaths of their children for their crime. Played by Brooke Bundy, mother of Tiffany Helm, the supreme Violet from Friday the 13th Part V, this still is my favourite Elaine moment: “Kristen! Get away from that house! Andale!”

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Marge Thompson // The Original

From one guilty mama to another, Nancy’s alcoholic mom is one of the most camptastic characters in horror history. The first adult to finally cave in and ‘fess up to what they all did to Freddy Krueger, this only happens after Nancy’s friends start dropping like flies and Nancy begins telling mom uncanny details about her recurring dreams… Plus she smokes in a hospital. Rebel.

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Coach Schneider // Freddy’s Revenge

Nasty, pervy, gum-chewin’ high school gym teacher Schneider (Marshall Bell) likes to punish the twinks in his classes, and takes a particular liking/dislike to Jesse, Freddy’s chosen conduit for carnage in Elm Street 2. The psychosexual undercurrent operating in the film has Jesse ‘coincidentally’ end up in some odd S&M bar ordering a drink, only to be caught by leather harness-wearing Schneider, who takes him back to school for a midnight detention, where he is bound, whipped, and slashed to death just as the shower heads spurt foamy water in the most unsubtle reference to ejaculation you could hope to find…

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Kristen // Dream Warriors

Although she returns for the next film, Patricia Arquette is the definitive Kristen, the successor to Nancy’s mantle who has the power to suck other sleeping people into one combined dream, thus allowing them to team up against Freddy. Tuesday Knight did a good job of carrying on the torch (Arquette was pregnant and couldn’t return). Best moment: Flipping out at Dr Simms, “You stupid bitch! You’re killing us!”

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Sheila // The Dream Master

Sweet nerdy Sheila is, like Debbie, on the periphery of the nightmare-plagued group in Elm Street 4, not really that concerned with the deaths of the friends-of-a-friend until weepy heroine Alice inherits Kristen’s dream-suck power (ooh-err) and practically serves her up to Freddy, who, ahem, “sucks” her to death during a science exam. Her Janet Jackson-lite vibe and oversized glasses make her the type of final girl I’d prefer for a change…

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Taryn // Dream Warriors

Recovering junkie Taryn is “beautiful and bad” in her dreams. Alas, that’s not enough to save her from Freddy, though she does put up a good fight before succumbing to his modified finger knives: Druggie filled needles . Fortunately for actress Jennifer Rubin, she got to don the heroine role in the following year’s Bad Dreams, in which she plays a girl who is stalked in her slumber by a psycho who wants to kill her. Uhh…

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Nancy Thompson // The Original & Dream Warriors

Well, it should surprise nobody really that Freddy’s ultimate nemesis is the numero uno non-undead character from the series. From her humble beginnnings as nightmare-plagued teenager with exponentially big, dry hair, to leading the Dream Warriors, and then even coming back as Heather Langenkamp for the fourth-wall busting New Nightmare. Nancy, you’re the best!

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So nobody from The Dream Child, Freddy’s DeadNew Nightmare (excluding Heather, sort of), Freddy vs Jason or the remake make the cut. Quelle surprise.

And it’s certainly all girl power isn’t it? C’mon guys, Glenn almost made it, but Dr Gordon/Rick/Dan etc? Zzzzzz. The chicks certainly rule this dream.

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