Alice Johnson (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
|A Nightmare on Elm Street character|
|First appearance||A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master|
|Created by||William Kotzwinkle|
|Portrayed by||Lisa Wilcox|
|Full name||Alice Johnson|
|Occupation||High school student (former) |
|Significant other||Daniel Jordan|
|Children||Jacob Daniel Johnson (son)|
Alice Johnson is a fictional character and a protagonist in the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, portrayed by Lisa Wilcox. She was created by William Kotzwinkle and Brian Helgeland. She appears as a main character in two of the nine A Nightmare on Elm Street films, first appearing in Renny Harlin's A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988). In 1989, Alice returned in Stephen Hopkins' A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child before going on to appear in the comic book adaptions, novels, and Freddy vs. Jason (2003) through archive footage. In The Dream Master, Alice has the ability to gain the "dream powers" of Freddy Krueger's victims. In The Dream Child, Freddy begins to use Alice's unborn son Jacob as a way to return.
In A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Alice Johnson was the best friend of Kristen Parker. Their friendship was further solidified due to Alice's brother Rick dating Kristen. Alice and Rick came from a broken family. Their mother had long passed away before the events of the film, and the grief and devastation likely turned their father Dennis into an alcoholic. Whereas Rick showed gregariousness to mask his emotional pain, Alice became timid and withdrawn—to the point that she covered her dresser mirror with pictures just so she would not have to see her reflection. She worked as a waitress and daydreamed constantly to escape from the real world. When Kristen accidentally pulls Alice into her dream, Kristen passes on her dream powers before being killed by Freddy Krueger.
Alice became the "Dream Master" due to the combination of Kristen's powers and her own latent dreaming abilities (e.g., shortly before Freddy's final attack on Kristen, Alice appears in Kristen's dream as a child playing on a beach[N 1]). Alice then became Freddy's next target because, by killing Kristen, he could no longer access new victims. Alice was Freddy's loophole, as he could kill anyone that she uncontrollably pulled into her dreams. Her link to Freddy allowed her to take on the abilities— both from the waking world and the dream world—of his victims. As Alice's friends and brother are picked off by Freddy, she grows much stronger and capable of fighting back through the abilities that she accumulates. Sensing that Freddy relied on his victim's souls, Alice manages to defeat him by giving all of his victims the power to escape Freddy's body and enter the positive dream gate.
In A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Alice suppressed her encounter with Freddy by starting a relationship with Dan Jordan (the other survivor from The Dream Master) and making new friends. However, after becoming pregnant by Dan, Alice begins having nightmares about Freddy that reflect the horror surrounding his conception and birth. Alice's friends and Dan are soon murdered, and it is revealed that Freddy is planning to be reborn in the body of her unborn son Jacob Daniel Johnson. He is corrupting Jacob by feeding him the souls of the victims. Due to her pregnancy, Alice shares her "Dream Master" abilities with Jacob. There is a caveat, however, as Jacob is able to blur the boundary between the waking world and the dream world without Alice needing to be asleep. Thereby, just like his mother in the previous film, Jacob becomes a prime target for manipulation due to not having the right control over his abilities. When Alice is on the verge of losing her battle against Freddy, Sister Mary Helena (Amanda Krueger) urges Jacob to beat Freddy with the souls that were fed to him. Upon Freddy's demise, Alice gives birth to Jacob several months later.
In the original script for Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, Alice was set to return. She would have been killed by Freddy early in the film, making Jacob the main protagonist. However, this version of the script was scrapped and the actual film makes no mention of Alice or Jacob, and leaves their fates ambiguous. Lisa Wilcox has since confirmed that the producers never made any attempt to call her back for the sixth Elm Street film.
Alice appears in flashbacks during Freddy's introduction in Freddy vs. Jason (2003).
Alice is the one of the main protagonists of Innovation Publishing's 1991 Nightmares on Elm Street issue 3 to 6. In this comic book series, Alice returns to Springwood following the death of her father and is forced to face Freddy after he again tries to use Jacob to kill for him. In the end, Neil Gordon gives up his body so that he can join Nancy Thompson in the "Beautiful Dream." Dan's spirit occupies Neil's body, and he is reunited with Alice and Jacob.
In the anthology The Nightmares on Elm Street: Freddy Krueger's Seven Sweetest Dreams (1991), Alice appears in Philip Nutman's story "Dead Highway, Lost Roads." After having been involved in a major accident, Alice becomes ensnared in the dream world by Freddy and trapped in a macabre "Alice in Wonderland" setting. With the aid of serial killer Karl Stolenberg and anthropomorphic armadillo Joe Bob, Jacob eventually finds Alice. A deranged Karl attacks Alice, but is returned to his senses by Jacob through physical force. Alice and Karl cooperate to defeat Freddy, though Karl perishes in the battle. With Freddy defeated, Alice and Jacob return to the waking world.
She also appears in Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: Nightmare Warriors where a vision of Freddy causes her to meet with other Freddy and Jason survivors. As with The Dream Child, Alice and Jacob are partly linked regarding the "Dream Master" abilities. For instance, a sleeping Jacob has the ability to call an awake Alice. In turn, Alice can physically enter Jacob's dream and wake up in the place that he fell asleep. Alice's dream powers come with a cost, as she has been suffering from a terminal illness. She later sacrifices herself to pass her full powers onto Jacob.
Her son Jacob is the main protagonist in Natasha Rhodes' novel A Nightmare on Elm Street: Perchance to Dream. Near the end, he sees a vision of his mother suffering voicelessly in the dream world, supposedly killed by Freddy; it is not clarified in the novel whether Jacob's vision of Alice is truly her or just an apparition conjured up by Freddy to torment him.
In fan films
Although not considered a part of the official film canon, Alice (played by Taylor Burskey) has a cameo in Don't Fall Asleep: The Film (2016; Produced by 3 Count & Go): Taking place between A Nightmare on Elm Street and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Nancy Thompson (played by Diandra Lazor) is struggling to maintain her sanity after she is checked into a psychiatric ward. In the film, Alice's mother is an exhausted nurse that works at the ward.
Monika Bartyzel stated that Alice is different when compared to other final girls and that her empowerment over the course of the films became an essential plot point, she said:
- At first, she’s the shy, introverted hanger-on to her much more wild friends (much like Laurie Strode). She considers herself a non-entity, preferring to mask her mirror, and thereby herself, with her friends’ images. When they die, however, and she mystically consumes portions of their strength, the pictures come down in chunks as she wipes away the old Alice to become the active fighter. Instead of teamwork, the team is infused into one previously passive being, a mecha-human designed to defeat the dream monster. Alice is one of the few true and ongoing Final Girls; she survives two films, saves her child from demonic possession, and disappears from the Nightmare on Elm Street world without ever succumbing to the inevitability of death in a future installment.
The website Lady Geek Girl and Friends praised the intelligence and strength of the character saying, "Letting go of the past, suiting up for battle with the accoutrements of her fallen friends, and finally looking at herself in the mirror and being damn pleased with what she sees, ugh, it’s one of the best sequences in the series. In the ensuing battle we see just how powerful Alice really is as she is the first heroine in the series to face Freddy in the dream, alone, and triumph. The fight takes her to the limits of what she can do, and everything she’s gained from her friends helps, but in the end it’s her own intelligence that defeats the monster." Similarly, Tommy Watanabe praised the strength of the character, saying:
- "In the fifth installment of the franchise, Alice fights to protect her unborn child from the possession of Freddy's spirit using more of her abilities, even invading the nightmare of her new bestie (wow, Alice, you move on quick) Yvonne by spearing Freddy with a pipe as he tries to kill Yvonne. Capable and creative, Alice proves to be a strong woman readily available to protect her friends (or attempt to, in the case of comic book artist Mark and aspiring model Greta) and family at any cost. More importantly, she had sex... and survived!"
On Cinapse, Ashlee Blackwell writes that "far from your mass-produced horror maiden serving only one purpose, Alice is multi-dimensional" and that she is "representative of a woman as ‘human, normal’ and whole in what has been said to be the most sexist of film genres next to pornography. Alice was not simply the shy girl who never gets the guy; the buxom, sexually promiscuous fatale, or even just the capable ‘final girl’ who defeats the killer. She is a naturally progressing variation of many of those traits and more, wrapped in one character in one film."
In The Dream Master scripts written by William Kotzwinkle, Brian Helgeland, Jim Wheat, and Ken Wheat, Alice still begins as a shy and introverted individual. A marked difference is that Kristen and Alice have a closer friendship. In the script, before learning about the deaths of Kincaid and Joey, Kristen confides in Alice that she has the ability to pull others into her dreams. When the group explores 1428 Elm Street, a still mystified Alice foreshadows her bravery by volunteering to be pulled into Kristen's dream if the need should arise. Alice asserts herself earlier in the film, describing the supernatural circumstances surrounding Kristen's death to the group. She tells her brother Rick about her newfound abilities, and he plays an active role in trying to keep her awake until he himself is killed. While Alice still has a final showdown with Freddy, she undergoes a physical transformation during the dresser mirror scene in which her body becomes leaner, muscular and adorned with supernatural accouterments. In the script, it is elaborated that "She's quite beautiful now, and there's a surety and strength in her eyes" (after Rick's death), and at the end scene: "Alice is far from what she looked like in the film's beginning. She radiates an earthy sensuousness and an inner strength." According to Andras Jones who played Alice's brother Rick, the two were twins in at least one draft of the script, explaining the two attending the same class in high school.
With regard to The Dream Child scripts, Alice still battles Freddy to save her unborn son. Depending upon the script, Alice goes from an active to a passive protagonist as the events unfold. The best example is in the first script draft. Upon Freddy's resurrection, a cornered Alice is ready to die before pulling in more victims for him to kill. Freddy makes his plans known quickly, as he is the one that informs Alice that she is pregnant. Alice has made new friends, and her past encounters with Freddy are no secret to them. Her straightforward efforts to prepare them for Freddy's onslaught fall short, however. With each murder, Alice still absorbs the souls through her womb but the script specifies that her gestation period is hastened. Alice accumulates her knowledge through help from Jacob (named Jason in the script) who introduces her to a book about dreams. By studying the book, Alice learns how to enter Freddy's mind through the "dream pool" and communicate with Sister Mary Helena (Amanda Krueger). As Freddy advances on Alice, her sonogram shows twins as Freddy's evil fetus is depleting Jacob in a parasitic symbiosis. Due to a warped pregnancy making her physically incapacitated, Alice is unable to fight back against Freddy's machinations. By the script's conclusion, the parasitic Freddy baby leaves Alice's body because of Sister Mary Helena's interference and Jacob is delivered instead.
As opposed to the film, the first draft of The Dream Child shows a greater rapport between Jacob and Alice as they research on how to defeat Freddy. Their relationship is further illustrated by Alice and Jacob experiencing the same physical deterioration as the plot unfolds. Yet, Alice does not know the true identity of Jacob until after she gives birth to him. So, in essence, the original plot detail differs from the film in that it impacts Alice's maternal motivation to save Jacob.
One of the numerous alternate screenplays for Freddy vs Jason written by later Hellboy movie co-writer Peter Briggs during the development period of 1993 to 2003 would have seen Alice teaming up with Friday the 13th protagonists Steven Freeman and Jessica Kimble from Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, leading to their respective children Jacob and Stephanie being kidnapped by Jason Voorhees, whose mind Alice enters to discover that he was an Elm Street child and that his mother Pamela was one of the vigilante parents who burned the human Fred Krueger to death. The concept of survivors of the two franchises coalescing, alongside with the ending with a time-displaced character signing the botched search warrant for Freddy back in the 60's, would later be used as an inspiration for the aforementioned Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors comic book series according to former New Line Cinema executive Jeff Katz, who cites the Peter Briggs draft as his favorite.
In an interview Lisa Wilcox described Alice as an outcast that a lot of people can relate to, she said:
- “I immediately fell in love with the story of Alice, she’s a daydreamer who was kind of pathetic at the beginning of Part Four, and I think we all can relate to that feeling in some ways. Actually, I was totally a wallflower in high school so there was a lot of myself in the character of Alice. There’s a lot of Lisa on that screen.”
Wilcox also mentioned the character development of Alice by stating that:
- "As an actress, though, what made Alice remarkable is that audiences watch Alice become stronger and stronger as the movie plays along, and you can’t help but be a part of her journey because she’s so relatable."
In Dream Master, Alice is portrayed as a regular daydreamer who wishes she would have the courage to ask her crush out, handsome jock Dan Jordan, and stand up to her alcoholic single father when he lashes out at her. Similar to fellow heroine Nancy Thompson's father Donald, Alice's father is an "alcoholic who is a parental failure" in Dream Master, and Alice thus resorts to "daydreaming as an escapist vehicle from a dysfunctional family". She describes her worst fear as being to have to work as a lowly waitress for the rest of her life, embodying "adolescent fears of entrapment in low-income service employment, a grim reality for most middle-class teenagers", and one that Freddy forces her to confront in her cinematic dream. A student refers to Alice as a "basket case" to Dan, who angrily rebukes him. She is portrayed as very shy and withdrawn at first, and her more outgoing brother Rick tries to cheer her up and teach her to stand up for herself. In the film, Alice's personal development is shown metaphorically through the mirror in her room, which at first she has loaded with photographs that she gradually removes for each one of her murdered friends.
In his book Horror Films of the 1980s, John Kenneth Muir noted the following:
- "Alice's blossoming is coupled with the mirror (an important symbol in the film). When she is weak and diffident, the mirror is loaded with photographs that obscure her reflection. The message is that she doesn't want to see herself; she'd rather hide from what she considers ugly. But as Alice's strength grows, she takes down the photos and countenances her own image. What she finds there is gorgeous and strong."
Muir believes that Alice's transformation "is the perfect counterpoint to Freddy's storyline." Whereas Freddy's reflection encompasses evil, Alice's "reflection is what makes her powerful." According to Muir, the character of Alice Johnson, goes against the "final girl" stereotype in that she is a "greasy-haired ugly duckling [who finds] her inner strength and beauty through self-actualization" adding that "from Nancy to Alice, the women on Elm Street are tough, resourceful, powerful role models for teenagers, ones who--mirror--reality in their efforts to navigate high school, and indeed life."
In the book Generation Multiplex: The Image of Youth in American Cinema after 1980, Timothy Shary describes the metaphorical quality of the storyline in part 5 and of Alice's "pro-life" choice, arguing that Alice's cargo as a young, now single mother might potentially have been a worse nightmare to many other teenage girls/young women than anything Freddy might have come up with:
- "Alice, who's been impregnated by her slain boyfriend, realizes that Freddy plans to pose as a fetus growing inside her, but rather than abort the baby, thereby killing the possibility of spawning another monster, she adamantly declares her choice to keep it. In a less fanciful film this could be read as an ironic pro-life stance, but here Alice uses her capacity to give birth as her maternal defense against Freddy's patriarchal power. In a convoluted showdown, Alice violently pulls the diseased Freddy fetus out of her body, an image of monstrous birth and abortion, and this mutant then enters Freddy's mother, where he is finally re-contained in her womb. Alice retains her original "good" baby, and thus the result of her having sex is both death and life; the film's irony is that this teenager is faced with the challenge of raising a child alone, perhaps a more realistic nightmare for teen girls than any offered by Freddy."
On the subject, John Kenneth Muir adds that "the idea of abortion, the hottest of all hot button issues, is handled in a very casual, non-preachy fashion", summarizing that "[Alice is] afraid of what her child will be; she wants to protect it; and she has to fend off Dan's parents, who want to adopt the child... [she must deal] with all of these competing emotions and stresses, not to mention Freddy...."
As Muir summarizes:
- "[Alice is] afraid of what her child will be; she wants to protect it; and she has to fend off Dan's parents, who want to adopt the child...[she must deal] with all of these competing emotions and stresses, not to mention Freddy...."
John Carl Buechler, director of Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) and who was also involved in the Dream Master creative team the very same year, has compared the character arc of Friday the 13th heroine Tina Shepard from said film with Alice's arc, pointing out that "both films are about heroines who take on special powers which they use to fight the monster. In The New Blood, Tina's able to fully harness her telekinetic powers by the end to defeat Jason which is what happened, more or less, in The Dream Master."
- A girl played by Kristen Clayton appears in Kristen Parker's dreams in both Dream Warriors and Dream Master and refers to herself as Alice in the latter, although it's never explained how or if she relates to the character of Alice Johnson.
- Only the films and the Nightmares on Elm Street comics are considered to be canon.
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