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Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Sisters of Elm Street

Art by thisisanton
In the midst of the many horror franchises, very few have, at the very least a somewhat noticeable and consistent Black female presence. Despite the work that needs to be fostered to have major franchises with women of color in leading and featured roles, the A Nightmare On Elm Street legacy in this ambiguous way has built a shaky foundation to consider the possibilities, albeit with supporting spots. Each of these characters were vastly different from one another, but there's no denying that anyone paying attention would surely remember each for their methodical approach to their characters.

With the exception I would argue of maybe one.

Toy Newkirk - Sheila Kopecky, A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)


Holding the title of the best Black Girl Nerd of all-time in horror, Sheila had some of the most memorable scenes with Krueger out of this bunch. Usually, there's an idea in high school television and film narratives that the so-called cool kids and nerds naturally clash. Oddly enough, The Dream Master was able to debunk this ideology effectively. Even though Sheila was a part of the pack that was plucked out quite early and with ease, she remains memorable and added some much needed diversity to Black women characters in media as a whole. 


Kelly Jo Minter - Yvonne, A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)


What hardly, if ever gets mentioned, is the fact that Yvonne is the hero of Part 5. Granted, this entry in my opinion is the weakest in the franchise, but it does bring up prevalent social issues that we're still discussing today. Additionally, she survives amongst Alice's new group of friends, puts her fear aside, and saves them both in the end. In keeping with the era, Yvonne covered The Black Best Friend and Savior trope. These two spots don't always have to be viewed through a lens of negativity. Although repetitive, Yvonne showed courage and was not quick to accept that whole Fred Krueger story. But eventually in cinematic tradition, she pretty much had to. And I like to think she's Jacob Daniel's godmother.


Fran Bennett - Dr. Heffner, Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)


Bennett's long resume of acting excellence truly shines in her brief yet memorable role as the doctor looking after a frantic Heather Langenkamp and her troubled son in Wes Craven's evolutionary piece based off of his original story. The delivery of her lines are quotable as an inside joke with your horror bestie. She stands as one of the best sub-supporting characters in the franchise, truly making her presence count.


Kelly Rowland - Kia Waterson, Freddy vs. Jason (2003)


Extremely disliking this movie does not help me make a case for Rowland's Kia. Underdeveloped and poorly executed, she wasn't only reproducing The Black Best Friend trope, but she was ultimately a bitch and not even a likeable one; the likeable bitch is very much possible.What is even more tragic is that her character is completely useless. She's fodder for the body count of the film. Fans had waited quite a few years to see this battle, myself included. I wanted to see more of a natural integration of continuity from the mythology of Springwood and Crystal Lake. Since the writers all but said, 'screw that,' I would've at least liked to have seen an array of characters with some semblance of strength and presence. With that being said, it is perplexing to me that Nightmare 4 receives so much criticism but Freddy vs. Jason gets a free pass? I reluctantly, indignantly digress.

Do you have a favorite from this list?

How do you feel about the possible or lack of prominent Black female roles in horror franchises?



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2 comments:

  1. I liked Yvonne the best! That sequel and the one where they're in the mental hospital are my favs of the series.

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  2. As a fellow black nerd Sheila was my favorite. Yvonne comes in a close second for making it to the end alive.

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