Beautiful and bad in the Hell of Fame
as inducted by Nicole Fiss
I first met Taryn White in the winter of 1987 when I was 14 years old. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of her as a character. My first impression was a typical troubled teenager who would be killed 15 minutes after she’s introduced into the movie. But she was so much more than that. Yes, Taryn does die. And what a death. And what a life before that death.
I am a fan of strong women in horror which is probably why I love Freddy’s adversaries. It seems that all of the women in the Nightmare On Elm Street movies have no problem lacing up their gloves and going toe to toe with the maimed child murderer.
We find out early on that Taryn is one of the last remaining Elm Street children. Along with the small group that are now residing in Westin Hospital, she has to team up to fight Freddy if they have any chance to survive. Nancy from the original Nightmare On Elm Street returns to help them in their confrontation and we are introduced to Kristin, who has the extraordinary ability to pull others into her dreams. With this power, Kristin can bring them together in Dream Land.
This is when we see Taryn really come to life. During a hypnotic session led by Dr. Gordon, the group falls into slumber and we are introduced to all of the characters’ dream personas. Taryn’s, by far, was the coolest. When she transforms in Kristen’s dream, she goes from a meek, frightened ex-junkie to a total badass. Complete in head to toe leather, chains and switchblades, she rules, and I immediately fell in love with her. My 14 year old self cried out, “I want to be her!”
Taryn doesn’t try to trap, outwit or use reverse psychology on Freddy; she whips out her switchblades and attacks with the classic line, “Let’s dance!” There is only one word for that: ballsy.
Unfortunately not every character can survive, and we know, as Elm Street fans, that Freddy will use your weaknesses against you. Freddy comes at her complete with syringes replacing his trademark blades and gives her one last high. Taryn dies, but she goes out a Warrior, battling tooth and nail to her very end. Although she did not survive, she went out fighting. And that is something any young girl or woman can admire. Like Taryn, I feel, “In my dreams, I’m beautiful. And bad”.