We’re back! Freddy Krueger, of course, had 4 more outings in film after those featured in my first post, and we’re here to now talk about the not-so-great sequels, beginning with…
This is the one about abortion. Yeah…
So here we have Alice (Lisa Wilcox, taking on full protagonist duties after Nightmare 4), her boyfriend/baby daddy, Dan (returning from Part 4) and her friends (an assortment of new characters, since all her friends from Part 4 are dead). Lisa finds out shortly after the death of Dan (these films really don’t like recurring characters, do they?) that she’s pregnant! Freddy begins to torment Alice during the day, but she’s also comforted by a mysterious dream boy, Jacob. We soon find out that Freddy’s invading through the fetus’s dreams. This weirdo:
Suggests an abortion, in an uncomfortable scene. Luckily, the film does not take a stance, choosing only to portray it as an option. However, this is really, really heavy stuff for Part FREAKING FIVE of any franchise, let alone an 80’s horror franchise to deal with.
However, as with Part 4, the dreams are what matter, not the plot, and there’s once again some pretty spectacular stuff here. Stephen Hopkins, the director, did some extensive storyboarding for the film, and it shows. Stand-out sequences include the comic book scene:
And an MC Escher-style Freddy lair unlike his typical “boiler room from hell” set-up.
However, none of the characters are fleshed-out enough for the audience to truly care when they start dying off. The plotting is weak, and the film is extremely tonally inconsistent, with really, really dark scenes (the 100 maniac rapist scene) and really, really lighthearted stuff, like this:
Despite being one of the weaker installments in its own franchise, Nightmare 5 is still much, much better than entries in the other 2 major slasher franchises in one of the few years when the series overlapped, easily outpacing both the unlikable Halloween 5 and the irregularly-paced Jason Takes Manhattan. A middling entry in the franchise with a few highlights that nonetheless earns some good will for its impressive low-budget special effects, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child earns a C.
This is an interesting film. A bizarre black comedy. A film hated about as much as Nightmare 2, and one considered just about as canonical. A bizarre film with an ill-defined chronology that nearly places it on an alternate timeline out of necessity. A film that goes into full-blown silliness at times, but which creates some hilarious moments, as well as some really, really stupid ones.
There’s the Power Glove joke, of course.
But it’s all so strange that there’s ultimately little of value here. Johnny Depp makes a surprise cameo, credited as Oprah Noodlemantra for no apparent reason. Why they couldn’t get him back for a role in New Nightmare I’ll never know. First-time director Rachel Talalay is clearly out of her element, despite her experience with the franchise. She would go on to make Tank Girl, an equally bizarre film.
Here was the last canonical Freddy entry, and it’s pretty poor as a send-off, doing away with whatever scrap of dignity Krueger may have held onto. However, everyone here is so clearly having the time of their lives that I really can’t hate on it too much. A somewhat listless dark comedy with no clear goal and many disparate ideas, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare earns a D+.
New Nightmare, in some ways, is the prototype of Wes Craven’s Scream, exploring meta-horror in an admittedly different, yet fascinating way, and laying the groundwork for the genre. Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund star as, well, Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund. Bob Shaye and Wes Craven also appear as themselves, as do other personalities from the Nightmare films, including John Saxon, Tuesday Knight, yet mysteriously not Johnny Depp, who’s conspicuously absent. Apparently Mr. Craven was too nervous to even ask the then-megastar
This time, Freddy invades the real world, haunting the people behind his movies. Freddy’s reimagined as a more haunting presence, a man in a fedora and a trench coat this time.
His humor is gone, replaced by a darker demeanor. He can honestly be described as straight-up terrifying for the first time in the series since Freddy’s Revenge.
While New Nightmare may lose steam in the last act, it’s worth seeing, even if only for the tribute it serves as to fans of the franchise, as well as self-deprecating performances from long-time producers and associates of the franchise. An impressive exercise in meta-narratives, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare elevates itself above the trappings of the slasher genre to earn a solid A.
I don’t want to talk about this one. I really don’t. Borrowing only the most superficial elements from the original film, but forgetting interesting characters or an unpredictable narrative, 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street lacks even Robert Englund’s performance to elevate it above pure uninspired garbage, relying instead on a miscast and uncharacteristically robotic Jackie Earle Haley. Haley is one of Hollywood’s most underappreciated character actors, who can bring a real presence to a role, but even he’s left floundering in this script. Freddy’s stripped of even his darkly subtle humor from the original: no silliness, all grit. Ironically, this is easily the most slickly made film in the franchise, lacking any grit of its own. One of my biggest complaints about all these franchise horror reboots is their slickness: both the Nightmare and Friday reboots lack the gritty, dirty, low-budget, guerilla characteristics that lent the originals their charm. (The Halloween reboots don’t suffer from this, but they have issues of their own in spades.)
The film is generally uninspired, it throws out its only interesting idea (i.e. Freddy being innocent) in the end of the second act, leaving us with nothing more than a few more uninspired dream sequences featuring nothing more spectacular than spinny spinny rooms and low-focus cameras. This might be more tolerable if not for the 26 years of creative Nightmare sequences that came before it. We’ve seen this:
And we’re supposed to be impressed by spinning boiler rooms. Wow. It had been 21 years since the above special effect, and the best we could do in terms of computer effects was to add a bit of CG to Freddy’s make-up, and to slightly deepen Jackie Earle Haley’s voice. Generally uninteresting, and reeking of studio mandates, A Nightmare on Elm Street lacks even memorable sequences to call its own, or anything of note, and earns an F.
Well, that was an interesting journey. I hoped we could all learn something from that journey: that horror franchises suck.
Anyways, I’ll be back next week with something else, maybe the Friday the 13th Tommy Jarvis Trilogy, it depends on how I feel about it. But until then, bye!