Monday, March 19, 2012

Max Daniels: "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors"

Actor:           Laurence "Larry" Fishburne
Year:            1987
Beard Type:  Orderly Beard, Exposition Beard

Beards are a rarity in the Nightmare on Elm Street universe, but leave it to Larry "My-Name-Isn't-Laurence-Yet" Fishburne to show these clean-shaven clowns at Westin Hills Hospital how it's done.

As a simple orderly at Westin Hills, Max's presence may seem like a throwaway role for a man who starred in Apocalypse Now eight years prior. However, Max and his Orderly Beard offer a variety of services:

  1. Theories on the increase of patient suicides (fucked up chromosomes due to acid consumption by hippie parents)
  2. Philosophies on life (sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll keeps us alive)
  3. Awesome patient nicknames (i.e. Roland "Cool Breeze" Kincaid)

Max's beard also doubles as an Exposition Beard as he introduces Nancy Thompson and, in turn, the audience to each Dream Warrior individually. As we tour the hospital at the beginning of the film, Max offers useful background information on each main character. Through the filter of the Exposition Beard he's basically telling the audience: "This is what each kid is going to use when they fight Freddy later." 

By nature, Max's Orderly Beard allows him to follow hospital protocols to ensure the safety of his kids, but he is unfortunately prone to letting the kids break the rules. Case in point: Jennifer Caulfield. When Jennifer is caught watching TV after hours, Max exclaims she watches "too much damn TV" and should read a book instead. Jennifer pleads to Max that she needs to stay up due to the horrific death of fellow Dream Warrior Phillip. Max bends. You can see the conflict in his beard. He lets her watch TV, which results in the greatest one-liner in the entire franchise:

The power of Max's Orderly Beard in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is clear. The survival rate of black characters in horror films is astonishingly low due to the Hollywood standards of casting urban white kids in leading roles and black kids in supporting roles in which -- let's face it -- you're more likely to die. Roland Kincaid and Max Daniels are the only two black characters in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, but only one has a beard. You want to guess which one ultimately survives*? That's right. Max Daniels. That's the power of the beard, folks.

*Roland Kincaid is killed in the following film. Max lives on in obscurity.

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