Wednesday, November 5, 2014

In Memoriam: Rod Lane

You could just see the cuts...happening...all at once.

In the past with these, I've written silly little eulogy's to characters who didn't make it past a specific film, but Rod Lane is different.  In the annals of slashers and teenagers in horror films, his alpha male "type" has never been done better than in the original Nightmare film.  There's a Rod Lane in the majority of slasher films and you usually have decided you don't like the guy the minute he walks in.  Its the kind of jock alpha male.  They're the ones that is always a loud mouth, pestering characters you like or consider "normal".  These guys ruin the good time and find all the characters that take the plot too seriously to be a bunch of buffoons.

For the first few scenes when we meet Rod Lane, he's exactly that.  All he's caring about is getting into Tina's pants.  He torments Glen, who we've established we enjoy because he's a funny guy from the scene where he plays a sound effects tape to convince his mom he's staying somewhere else.  Rod's the one who tricks them into a jump scare and seems to crap upon the whole reason the gang has come together to stay the night at Tina's house.
Cleverly though, its all a charade and he's hiding something.  Rod has been having the same nightmares featuring the tormentive Freddy Krueger as everyone else.  He opens up to Tina about his scares, only to see them fully realized when she is murdered in front of his eyes.  Knowing no one will believe what happened he flees.  The script then features a couple scenes with him and Nancy that really start elaborating his character and make him one of the most sympathetic in the entire film. 

By the time Freddy hangs Rod in his cell, you've done a complete 180 on the guy.  He's gone from the annoying guy you hate in every one of these movies to someone you're truly sad to see go.  Rod Lane is given much more depth and meat in the script to make this happen opposed to Tina and Glen even.  Tina is just who we start with, but we aren't given much on her other than she's our "in" to this world.  And aside from retroactively going "Woah, look, its Johnny Depp in his first movie!" Glen's only functioning as Nancy's boyfriend and benefits from just lasting longer in the movie than anyone else.  I think its also fitting and more interesting that Rod Lane is the character who we get to see have a funeral (A first for a slasher film?) take place in the movie and not Tina who it so easily could have been.

The more I've gone back to Elm Street, the stronger I've seen this character really become.  There's something really working and developing with him in this movie that isn't there with most of the other characters.  Wes Craven took the alpha male stereotype from slasher films, played into and then transformed him into one of the most well rounded characters in not just this series, but in the history of teen horror.  Its the first time a character of this trope has ever really seen this much care and attention.  And oh yeah, he gave us this line, "Up yours with a twirling lawn mower!"

Here's to Rod Lane!

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