Happy Women in Horror Month! I’m sure most of the ladies who enjoy horror would argue that every month is Women in Horror Month, and I would agree. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking some time out to make special mention of women who make the genre that much more wicked. With that in mind, this month’s installment will be a small tribute to the Matriarchy of the Macabre with a nod to my favorite Final Girl of all time, Lar Park Lincoln. I’ve made no qualms about professing my love for a certain unloved entry in the Friday the 13th franchise, so I’m not going to bother going into specifics about the movie. I will, however, focus on the fact that even without her turn as the brain to match Jason’s brawn, Lincoln is a true horror fan, a champion for the genre, and has one distinction that few, if any, horror actresses can claim. Sure, we all know that she went toe to toe with the brute in the hockey mask, but did you know she also spent an evening in Springwood?
I’m sure it’s not news that the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise had a short-run television series called Freddy’s Nightmares that served as the poor man’s Tales From the Crypt. Mr. Fred Krueger (Robert Englund) stands in for the Crypt Keeper as the show’s host for a horror anthology where the only connecting thread is that they take place in proximity to Elm Street. Or at least I’m pretty sure that’s the case, as when it came out I was pretty young, and although already a fan of the NOES films, I wasn’t that interested in the show because I worried that there wouldn’t be enough Freddy. Given that they have never released a proper Blu-ray collection for the series, I’ve never had the opportunity to get caught up with the show, so my knowledge doesn’t extend much beyond what I’ve heard from various articles and the Never Sleep Again documentary. Although I do know we can credit it for the image of Freddy playing a guitar—one of the best and most-used GIFs in the horror community:
Imagine my surprise, then, when during my recent interview with Lar Park Lincoln (humblebrag), she talked about taking on both Jason and Freddy. As soon as I found this out, I knew that I was going to have to track down the episode (only the second of the whole series) called “It’s a Miserable Life.”
The episode avoids any Christmas themes that you’d think would connect it to its namesake, but instead follows Bryan (John Cameron Mitchell) who’s working the overnight shift at his father’s burger joint, since apparently small-town Ohio must have 24/7 access to fast food. In the early morning hours, he’s visited by some kind of greaser cosplay enthusiast who fires a few shots at him while driving by on his motorcycle. We get the best slow-motion bullet sequence that $50 can buy before the screen cuts to black and we’re left to guess at Bryan’s fate, as he finds himself in a trippy sequence of surreal (one might say nightmarish) scenes as he tries to figure out what the hell is going on.
Lincoln plays Bryan’s girlfriend, Karyn, and I’ll admit that I was on the brink of being super pissed off when I thought she was just going to be a supporting role for Bryan. I don’t care if I do share a name with the guy, he’s eating up precious Lar Park Lincoln screentime. Fortunately, we find out midway through the episode that Bryan’s scenes were essentially a few final dreams before dying of a bullet to the head, at which point we pick up with Karyn in earnest, who it turns out was also hit in the shoulder when the Leader of the Pack went on his shooting spree.
In Lincoln’s segment, we’re treated to more surreal scenes with her in the hospital as she’s put under for surgery (if I didn’t know any better, I’d say they were looking for excuses to put people to sleep in this show). I’ll admit it was a bit jarring to see Lincoln in a role where she had to play more of a hapless victim. Where was the mind-controlled television tossing, the pyrokinesis, or the necromancy of loved ones? (Shut up, it’s a good movie!) I eventually realized though, that in my own nightmares, helplessness is often a key factor. We can’t all sprout a mohawk and wield switchblades, nor can we all become masters of wizardry. Personally, when I’m being stalked by some kind of menacing evil in a dream, I either freeze or I’m moving in slow motion. So, once I accepted the fact that Lincoln’s Karyn was experiencing nightmares the way a lot of us (or at least I) do, I was able to enjoy the proceedings a lot more.
And it should be said that Lincoln is a real sport, as Karyn is put through the wringer for a solid twenty minutes of the episode. This poor girl is subjected to all manner of torment, from being shot to waking up in the middle of surgery to having her lips sewn shut. What also caught my attention is that, unlike Tales From the Crypt, Freddy is not an idle host. He’s not afraid to roll those red and green sleeves up and put in a little effort if it means he gets to torture the protagonists a bit, which also means we get more Robert Englund, and that’s never a bad thing.
All in all, “It’s a Miserable Life” is indicative of the overall quality of the show, which is to say it’s pretty trashy. And I mean that both to say that it’s low budget, but also that it’s sleazy as hell. One of the highlights of Bryan’s segment is when his mother tries to make out with him, and Karyn’s doctor definitely gets into some inappropriate workplace behavior with one of the nurses. But this is also one of those low-rent pieces of pop culture that’s just dying for a full Blu-ray release with all the trimmings. Tell me I’m the only one who doesn’t want a commentary track with Lar Park Lincoln talking about how they went about framing the scene where she’s attacked by an evil AC unit.