We Are Watching Freddie’s Dreams

Rape revenge is stereotyped as a female protagonist getting revenge on the male antagonist.  Films like Straw Dogs, The Virgin Spring (a big influence of Wes Craven‘s The Last House On The Left), The Last House On The Left and the extraordinary film Teeth all give the power to the female protagonist or her family to avenge. Carol Clover argues that these films are designed to align spectators not with the male tormentor, but with the female victim (Totaro). Yet, twelve years after Craven made The Last House on The Left, a film that set the tone of rape revenge, he flipped the roles of revenge.

Freddie Kruger, the antagonist, is the one who continually seeks and is given revenge for his death after he was the petafile. The children of the victims are actually the ones who must directly absorb the revenge of Freddie. Thus, Freddie is not as much in their nightmares as they are the victims in his dreams. Excluding the single scene in Nightmare on Elm Street where Nancy supposedly makes Freddie give all of her friends back and in Nightmare On Elm Street 2 where Lisa watched Freddie burn into Jesse, everything goes exactly how Freddie wants it to.

The everyone always dies, and Freddie is able to always play with them exactly how he wants to. In both films the lead actor is scandalously dressed or simply in their underwear when Freddie stalks them. Which deeply plays on the petafilia aspect of Freddie. The Male gaze is rampant in the first through the bath scene, the sex scene and the white nightgown Nancy always wears. All of which Freddie is close by or present. The female gaze is then in full force in the second film. There are more scenes of Jesse in just his underwear than any other. Jesse is also feminine in appearance and demeanor. The actor himself, Paul Patton, is openly gay.

Zinoman writes about how when Craven’s first began horror films be felt the forbidden in society needed to be explored, the sins of the fathers exposed (Zinoman, 74). Craven’s deeply plays on the role of masculine sexual desire in both films. Just like he brought out the taboo of rape in The Last house On The Left he brought out petafilia and sexually charged images that are made to make the viewer feel sick to their stomach more than attracted. Every dream that the children have of Freddie makes the audience have to ask themselves, “How much is Freddie enjoying this?”

 

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