A Nightmare On Elm Street Star Doesn’t Like The Term ‘Final Girl’

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Nancy Thompson from A Nightmare on Elm Street is often remembered as one of the great ‘final girls’ of slasher cinema, but it’s a label that actress Heather Langenkamp doesn’t much care for.

The star who survived her encounter with Freddy Krueger in the 1984 franchise-starter recently suggested that the gender-specific term was sexist and condescending.

“I don’t think we should call her a ‘final girl’ anymore,” Langenkamp shared with the L.A. Times. “Because one, I want a boy to be able to play a part like this, and they’re never going to call him a ‘final boy’ — they just call him a hero. Just call a hero a hero, regardless of gender.”

The term ‘final girl’ was first popularized through the critical analysis of gender-based tropes in horror cinema, with the phrase being used in reference to the last character standing after all the rest had fallen. In the slasher genre, this protagonist is usually resourceful, often a little square, frequently implied to be a virgin, and almost always female. It’s a trope that Nancy fits pretty comfortably into, though director Wes Craven would go on to deconstruct some of these clichés in the Scream movies.

Another term you’ve probably heard used as an alternative to ‘final girl’ is ‘scream queen,’ and it’s a label that Langenkamp takes slightly less issue with.

“To me, it’s at least a little less offensive than ‘final girl’ in some ways; at least she’s at the top of the heap — she’s a queen,” the actress pointed out. “I just hope that for women in my shoes who get the opportunity to play a part like Nancy [in A Nightmare on Elm Street], it doesn’t take them so long to think that they did something right.”

Langenkamp would go on to reprise her role in 1987’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, before playing herself in the Elm Street spinoff Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Since then, however, the actress has mostly stayed away from her old foe Freddy, though she remains open to returning to the series.

With Robert Englund himself saying just last month that he might have another A Nightmare on Elm Street left in him, the chances of seeing a big screen reunion may be slim, but it’s surely not impossible. After all, with the new Halloween recently surpassing Scream as the highest-grossing slasher film of all time, it’s clear that there’s an audience out there who are still keen to see their favorite ‘scream queens’ face off against their old assailants once last time.

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