Movie Review: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET Part 5: The Dream Child

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2-4 - Movie Review: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET Part 5New Line Cinema
1989
R

“Hi, Alice. Want to make babies?”

Unable to overpower the Dream Master who vanquished him in A Nightmare On Elm Street 4, Freddy haunts the innocent dreams of her unborn child and preys upon her friends with sheer horror. Will the child be saved from becoming Freddy’s newest weapon or will the maniac again resurrect his legacy of evil?

The fifth entry in the Nightmare On Elm Street series finds the heroine from The Dream Master–Alice–graduating from high school and going about her normal life as a part-time waitress of a cafe’, when she starts experiencing waking dreams that feature a nun getting raped by 100 maniacs and giving birth to Baby Freddy, and then witnessing Baby Freddy spontaneously growing into Freddy again, because we can’t just zap the guy with lightning to bring him back to life like we seem to do with Jason Voorhees. So now Freddy’s back, and after Alice’s boyfriend is taken out by him the night of their graduation, she’s hard pressed to convince her friends that Freddy’s real and is ready to slice-n-dice his way into everyone’s hearts. And various other body parts. It takes a bit, but when another dies and one other is almost gotten, they start to understand that Alice may not be as crazy as they think. Also, Alice is pregnant with her dead boyfriend’s baby, and Freddy is trying to mold the lil’ neonate into his image through his dreams. So now Alice not only has to take the battle to the dream world to fight for her friends’ lives, but also her unborn child’s life. And it’s going to take some assistance from the spirit of Freddy’s mother herself to fight him.

Looking over the history behind this entry in the series, it looks like it wasn’t very well liked by Robert Englund, but Lisa Wilcox (who played Alice in this and the previous entries) liked the darker, more Gothic tones, but not so much the darker subject matter and scenes. Which are the points that actually makes this one of my more favorite entries in the Nightmare On Elm Street series. It does have a very strong Hammer-esque Gothic quality and atmosphere both cinematic and story-wise. The movie overall is very dark, which is something that seems to be missed when attempting to do something with it nowadays. This one manages to hit some very dark topics, while the kills seem to be more of an incidental thing. I do admit, the characters did seem to come off more as caricatures, but as the movie filled out, the depth of them began to show. Not so much the parents; pretty much from the get-go, the actors who played the parents were hammy, over-the-top and annoying.

Overall, I rather enjoy The Dream Child. It’s dark, not as cheesy as it could have been (though Freddy is his usual playful self), and compared with certain other entries in the series, is one of the stronger ones in the list. Recommended.

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Movie Review: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET Part 4: The Dream Master

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2-3 - Movie Review: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET Part 4New Line Cinema
1988
R

“How sweet. Fresh meat.”

After beautiful young Kristen sees the remaining Elm Street kids succumb one by one to Freddy’s razor-edged wrath, she embarks on a desperate mission to release the tortured souls of Freddy’s victims once and for all. Can this lone Dream Master defeat the satanic dream-stalker? Or will she have to wake up to the fact that no one is ever really ready…for Freddy?

The fourth movie in the original run of A Nightmare On Elm Street movies, this one taking the concept of the Dream Warriors of the previous movie and distilling it all into the concept of the Dream Master to take on a once-again resurrected Freddy Krueger. There’s just no keeping that guy down, is there?

Here we are, some time after The Dream Warriors, and the three kids who survived the previous entry are now released from the psychiatric ward and are living their lives as shiny, happy teenager. Until one of ’em accidentally resurrects Freddy in one of his dreams, and he begins taking ’em out with extreme prejudice, and that wacky sense of humor that we all know and love from our favorite char-faced dream stalker/slasher. Before killing off the last of the Elm Street kids, though, Freddy manages to get access to a whole new group of kids to continue on with his diabolical hobby. Only thing is, one of the slabs of fresh meat (see what I did there?) is little Alice, who has a talent Freddy wasn’t counting on: the ability to gain the powers of the slain Dream Warriors and bending the Dream Realm to her will just as easily as Freddy does, and thus being the Dream Master of the subtitle. Alice has little time to learn to control her new found powers, and take out Freddy, because if that iconic glove of his doesn’t kill her and her friends, his toxic puns will.

Okay, so we’re at the fourth movie of the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise, and after the strong entry of The Dream Warriors, The Dream Master was equally as strong story-wise. It had ties to the previous movie, but didn’t merely rehash the story. As a matter of fact, this movie killed off the remaining characters twenty minutes into the movie, making room for the new protagonist. That’s pretty ballsy, there. The character of Alice seems to be an interesting protagonist, seeming to be the anti-Freddy. The movie as a whole was fairly entertaining and visually interesting, like the previous one.

There is a minor quibble I have; with the previous movie, The Dream Warriors, we had as the big song inclusion the song Dream Warriors by Dokken, a nifty slice of melodic hair metal goodness. The pop-a-licious pop song tie in used here? “Are You Ready For Freddy” by The Fat Boys, which features Freddy actor Robert Englund dropping some mad rhymes at a 65% efficiency level.

It was the 1980s. And Will Smith hadn’t started acting yet.

Movie Review: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET part 3- The Dream Warriors

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2-2 - Movie Review: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET Part 3New Line Cinema
1987
R

“It’s now or never. I’m not gonna kid you, this is as dangerous as it gets. If you die in this dream, it’s for real. Nobody has to go in that doesn’t want to.”

After the misfire that was the first sequel in the Nightmare On Elm Street series, things were thankfully brought back to the roots that made the first Nightmare On Elm Street movie work – namely, Freddy was back terrorizing kids in their nightmares, instead of trying to possess the body of someone to make it to the real world. Also, Heather Langenkamp was back as Nancy, this time at a psychologist specializing in dream research. And having the setting in a psychiatric hospital for teens was a good move on the plot. This ups the ante from the first movie, as questions of what is really happening and what is just the delusions of a mentally unstable individual keeps the psychological tense-ness pretty thick.

As far as sequels to this series go, Part 3: Dream Warriors is one of the better ones, as it explores the mythos a bit deeper, as well as having a very capable cast as the group of protagonists taking on Freddy. The effects are decent and the end battle is pretty memorable.

If you’re so inclined, go ahead and skip Part 2, and go directly to Part 3, as it feels like a true sequel to A Nightmare On Elm Street.

Movie Review: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET part 2- Freddy’s Revenge

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2-1 - Movie Review: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET Part 2New Line Cinema
1985
R

“If you want to play with animals, Mr. Walsh, join the circus.”

Five years have passed since Freddy Krueger was sent howling back to hell. But now, a new kid on Elm Street is being haunted every night by gruesome visions of the deadly dream stalker. And if his twisted soul takes possession of the boy’s body, Freddy will return from the dead to wreak bloody murder and mayhem upon the entire town.

The second movie in the original Nightmare On Elm Street franchise, subtitled Freddy’s Revenge, was not unexpected, as the first movie had an insanely popular horror fan base and made money for the fledgling New Line Cinema. But, Wes Craven wanted nothing to do with any sequels, let alone this one. Craven never envisioned A Nightmare On Elm Street being more than a one-and-done horror flick. But, with or without the man who brought Freddy to life, New Line was forging ahead with the hot new property. And the resulting A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was…um…think of this as the Jason Goes To Hell of the Nightmare On Elm Street series.

Really, there’s a lot that was wrong with this movie. And not just the very thinly veiled homo-eroticism of the script. Seriously, take out the Freddy horror element, and you’ve pretty much got an After School Special about a high school boy with questions about his sexuality and the frustrated Physical Education teacher with a bondage fetish who brings him out of his shell. And while you’re sitting there wondering what sick and twisted After School Specials did I grow up watching, I’ll just tell you that it was the mishandling of Freddy that trips up Freddy’s Revenge all on its own.

Let’s face it: Freddy is the killer that stalks and kills in your nightmares. When you dream, and he’s got his sights on you, you’re in his world, a world where he wields your psyche as a surrealistic weapon gleefully. There’s no need for him to want to do his thing in the waking (read: REAL) world; what’s the point? And yet, here we have him not only wanting to do just that, but also trying to coerce someone into doing his dirty work for him in the mean time.

Overall, Freddy’s Revenge doesn’t really seem like an actual sequel to the first Nightmare On Elm Street movie. It’s my understanding that Wes Craven didn’t really want this to be an ongoing series of movies, and didn’t like the idea of the change to the premise, which was why he declined being a part of this sequel. There were some decent ideas that maybe would have worked as a stand-alone movie that wasn’t about Freddy or the first film. As it stands, though, unless for some reason I decide to watch all the movies in the series in a Lost Weekend Marathon setting, I don’t forsee watching A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge any time soon.

Movie Review: A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

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a nightmare on elm street 1984New Line Cinema
1984
R

“Whatever you do don’t fall asleep.”

A hellish, razor-fingered monster enters the dreams of the teenage residents of a bucolic town and systematically slaughters them in their sleep – until one courageous young woman does battle with the predatory fiend.

What more can be said about the original 1984 classic that spawned not only one of the most iconic modern horror icons since Michael and Jason, but one of the most fun franchises to ever come from the 1980s?  Not much, really.  But darn it, though, I must throw my voice in with the endless souls that have already come before me.  Besides, there’s no way I’m going to let the stupid remake be the only review going on this blog.  That would be the true unspeakable horror.  About high time I remedied that.

The original Nightmare On Elm Street, in case the remake is the only version you know of, was one of the independent low budget horror movies that, like Halloween and Evil Dead before that, worked on the strength of the story, the characters (and the actors), and some rather innovative use of practical effects.  What results is a truly innovative exercise in horror, both visceral and psychological in style.  This was a different kind of slasher, as it featured a villain that wasn’t just a physical person you could fight in the real world; here, Freddy stalked you in your dreams, while the victim is asleep and dreaming.  A very vulnerable situation, which is at the heart of what makes the concept work.  Also, the actors brought to the characters a life that made this dark tale that much more enjoyable: Heather Langenkamp as protagonist Nancy Thompson played things as more than just your typical “final girl”, a good example of the strong lead female, something that was still rather new and innovative in that time period (this was before Joss Wheadon came and turned things topsy-turvy with the now-iconic Buffy); and Robert Englund brought a merry menace to the literal boogieman Freddy Krueger, making him much more than all of the Jason Michael Meyers clones that had been clogging up the slasher genre at the time.  I should also point out that this was the feature film debut of one Johnny Depp, in case anyone is keeping count.  Yep, Captain Jack Sparrow got his start as kill fodder in a Wes Craven movie.

Yes, I can understand how someone would think that this original version of Nightmare On Elm Street would seem dated.  If you’re only going off of the release date.  But, if that’s your only reason for not having seen this one that started it all, then you need to grab a bat and smack yourself in the head a few times in penance, and then go out and rent this.  This movie still holds up, the characters have personality, and…wait, why am I still defending this thing?  GO SEE THIS NOW!  And if you still prefer the remake over this, then…there truly is no hope for you.

Movie Review: FREDDY Vs. JASON

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freddy vs jason

New Line
2003
R

“What’s wrong, Lori?  Miss your wake-up call?”

It’s been nearly ten years since Freddy Krueger terrorized people in their dreams, and the towns folk want to keep him erased from their memory.  Freddy still has one more plan on getting back on Elm Street.  He resurrects Jason Voorhees and sends him off to kill.  The more bodies which fall to the ground, the stronger in which Freddy becomes.  That is, until Freddy realizes that Jason isn’t going to step aside easy, and must be taken down himself.

Yes, I watched this movie when it came out in theaters.  Opening day, as a matter of fact.  Yes, I anticipated this thing since the rumors began at the end of Jason Goes To Hell.  Yes, I followed the production of this long-anticipated fanboy dream closely.  And when I finally sat down and took in this finally-realized throwdown between two of horrordom’s beloved icons, by the time the end credits rolled I was one happy and contented fiend.

Yes, I enjoyed Freddy Vs. Jason immensely.  And I don’t understand why there’s been so much bellyaching about this movie to begin with.  I mean, what’s there to be complaining about?  What’s the problem?  Why does it seem that, every time I read or hear someone talk about this movie, it’s never good, always disparaging?  What were they expecting, exactly?  I don’t know.

All I know is that Freddy Vs. Jason wasn’t just a means to a quick buck on two sadly stagnated classic franchises.  There’s a decent plot here, having the Stalker of All Your Nightmares recruit the help of the Unstoppable Menace of Crystal Lake to bring fear back to the people of Elm Street, because they’re not afraid of Freddy anymore, and thus he’s weak.  But, Jason’s power doesn’t depend on anyone being afraid of him – he’s more a force of nature than a legendary boogie-man.  So, when he starts encroaching too much on Freddy’s territory, he decides to take Jason out, resulting in a knock-down, drag-out fight that takes place not only in the real world, but also in Jason’s dream realm, which is a rather dark and scary place in and of itself.

Really, this movie is just fun to watch.  I went in merely expecting an entertaining mash-up of two of my favorite modern Horror Icons, and that’s exactly what I got.  Robert Englund is in top form as Freddy, as he brings his tasty blend of menacing merriment to the role that he made iconic.  And Jason…okay, this time around he wasn’t played by fan favorite Kane Hodder (and reports that the director was trying to find an actor that would give Jason “sad poetic eyes”, which has been a long-time running joke in my pantheon of quotes, didn’t help much in that respect), but really, when it comes down to it, it doesn’t take much to make Jason what he is.  And here, Jason is definitely Jason, to a “t”.  As far as the kill-fodder cast goes, they filled the roles nicely and were a bit more engaging than the usual spate of slasher horror actors.  Everyone’s having fun here, and the final stand-off between Freddy and Jason did NOT disappoint.  The ending was actually rather satisfying, if not a bit pandering.

Overall, I would view Freddy Vs. Jason as a satisfying capper to two classic franchise runs.  Go forth, rent this one, and enjoy the ride.  And no, that isn’t Jason Mews, so stop asking.