Our third contributor in this year’s Halloween Horrors series is Cody Mascho. For his HH debut, Cody has claimed the character of “Alice Johnson” from the 4th and 5th films in the A Nightmare on Elm St. series. From reading this entry, it’s pretty obvious that Cody is not only a huge fan of the Elm St. series, but also a devoted fan of the character that he will be detailing for us.
Cody presents multiple examples for why the character of “Alice” is so meaningful and important to him, as well as a plea for more “Alice”-themed merchandise and collectibles. Honestly, until he brought up this last point, I hadn’t really though about just how under-represented the other characters in this franchise are when it comes to memorabilia and collectibles.
In the iconic A Nightmare on Elm Street series, Freddy Krueger has squared off against numerous foes during his horrific and sometimes hilarious dream killing sprees. From the tough, resilient and fearless Nancy, to the heart and soul of “The Dream Warriors”, Kristen, he has tangled with some of the toughest protagonists in Slasher film history. Yet to me, one Nightmare hero stands on her own as not only the best hero in Nightmare history, but also as my absolute favorite protagonist in horror history: Alice Johnson. Alice was the surprise hero of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master after the rather sudden deaths of the final three Dream Warriors. She later went on to be the focus of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (my favorite guilty pleasure slasher flick ever).
Alice is portrayed by the amazingly talented Lisa Wilcox, who absolutely rocks the role in both films. Wilcox’s portrayal is incredible. She is able to completely cover the variety of emotions, situations and interactions that Alice experiences over both films. After “Alice”, Wilcox went on to successful roles on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the popular web series Fear Clinic (which also stars such horror legends as Robert Englund and Kane Hodder), and has appeared in numerous horror documentaries such as the AMAZING Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy. Just an FYI for those reading, any horror fan should watch Never Sleep Again. It is a love letter to the series and is amazingly crafted.
Alice is the eponymous “Dream Master” from the fourth film. Her dream powers are one of my absolute favorite things about her. Early on during the Dream Master, she’s given the power of being able to pull others into her dreams by the former Dream Warrior, Kristen. This power is at first uncontrollable for Alice, which allows for Freddy to exploit it for more victims, but over the course of the two films she is able to gain a mastery over it and use it to save her friends from Freddy. Looking closer, it seems that Kristen’s power augments her own pre-existing power, which is her ability to keep parts of her friends souls with her after they die. This gives her the ability to tap into the powers of her friends after they fall during one of Krueger’s rampages. She gains a mastery of karate from her brother Rick, a hard-nose edge and a zest for weight lifting (and a kickass outfit) from Debbie, and a mastery of science from Sheila (leading to an awesome scene where she uses Sheila’s invention to rip a giant hole in Freddy’s chest.) This eventually allows for her to challenge Krueger directly in the dream world and hold her own.
One of the biggest reasons I love Alice is how she’s built up over both movies. She undergoes an amazing and relatable character journey, which really allows the viewer to root for and sympathize with her. Alice begins her journey as a shy girl, unsure of both herself and the world around her. This is illustrated by her bedroom mirror, which is obscured by pictures because Alice views herself so lowly that she doesn’t even like to look at herself. Yet by the end of The Dream Master, she’s transformed into a butt-kicking badass! She faces down a seemingly invincible evil over and over, and comes out the other side victorious each time. Call me crazy, but Alice’s arc in the fourth film is probably similar to your own: We’ve all experienced an event (in her case, the death of almost all her friends) that has both traumatized us and shaped us into the people that we are now. And we’ve all seen the sometimes strange way that our friends and loved ones impact our lives. That’s why I love the powerful scene when Alice finally takes down all of the pictures that blocked her mirror. It shows that the shy, timid and nervous Alice is gone, and the strong, assertive and confident Alice is here to stay.
Furthermore, Alice defeats Krueger once more in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: Dream Child when she not only survives, but saves both the lives of her unborn son, Jacob, and her friend, Yvonne. Alice undergoes a shockingly short period of time when she deals with her own graduation from high school, the death of her partner Dan, the fact that she is pregnant, and the fact that Freddy Krueger happens to be offing all of her friends (again). Just like before, these issues are prominent ones that ground the story… as much as a story about a burned dead serial killer who haunts dreams can be. The movie covers a woman’s right to choose, the death of a partner, and even touches on mental illness and custody battles. And did I mention Freddy is trying to possess her unborn baby? That’s a whole ‘nother level of fucked up, and it poses the real question of whether or not she should terminate the pregnancy to stop him. (Spoiler Alert: It’s the 1980’s, so no.) So sure, Alice deals with a burned up child molester attacking her in dreams, but this is juxtaposed with real world issues too…. something not all horror movies can say.
I would also love to highlight what a badass Alice becomes in these films. I personally fucking love a scene in Dream Master, just before Alice enters her own hellish wonderland to kick the crap out of Freddy. It shows her using all of the gifts and skills she’s accumulated in one amazing montage, including her doing karate and putting on her combat gear. Her following battle in wonderland with Freddy is amazing. She kicks the crap out of Freddy (this is where she blows a hole through his chest) and never stops fighting, even when he gains the upper hand. She eventually defeats him with the use of a mirror, allowing her friends souls to rip him apart. (It’s as nuts as it sounds.) In Dream Child, she also takes the fight to Krueger to save the soul of her unborn child Jacob, and again faces down Freddy in a hellish Dreamscape – this time, while pregnant! And once again, she emerges victorious.
Alice’s triumph’s throughout her movies truly make her THE Elm Street protagonist. She is the only character to defeat Kruger in two movies, save others in both, and survive the entirety of the film series. It truly gives her a claim to the mantle. She takes what Nancy and Kristen created in their battles with Krueger, and she perfects it. Alice rights the tragedy of Nancy, stops some of her friends and family from being murdered, and bucks Kristen being portrayed as helpless and constantly in need of saving. Okay, Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and 5 happen to be my favorite movies of all time, and I happen to house an unhealthily large Freddy Krueger collection, so I might be a TAD biased… But this is my article and I love Alice, so screw you. Alice Johnson is not only my favorite horror protagonist, but the greatest slasher film protagonist ever, and she deserves a spot in the Horror Hall of Fame (which totally needs to be a thing.) I look at it like this: If I were tasked to build a horror protagonist from the ground up, I would create Alice.
P.S. NECA, if you are out there and listening, please give us action figures for protagonists. I’d personally love an Alice for my collection. Besides, she deserves it.
Before I go, I would like to take a moment to thank “Horror and Sons” for allowing me to share my favorite horror character. Happy Halloween, everyone!!