7, 8, 9, 10, The Nightmare's Back...Again.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

I tried to warn you. I did. Honest. But Freddy pulled out your veins and danced you like a puppet all the way to the remote. And so begins the A Nightmare on Elm Street version of the Star Wars Prequels. They're ridiculous, occasionally painful, and undermine the brilliance of the rest of the series. Not to mention, it's an origins story about a badass villain who we didn't really care about where he came from. It's not quite as bad as the epicness of Darth Vader turned into a pansy little "sand is soft" Anakin. But it still gives Wes Craven good reason to stay up at night. 

A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Stop. Go back. Read the title again. A Nightmare on Elm Street. Dream Warriors. The title really says it all. No, I'm sorry. The title image really says it all. 
That's right. If you thought the first two were cheesy, you're about to become lactose intolerant. It's like a Freddy Kruger/Charlie the Unicorn crossover. They might as well have Care Bears dance across the screen in rainbow colored kneesocks and fit the letters together. 

The premise is already overdone. A group of Elm Street mental patients are in the hospital for sleeping disorders. Nevermind that they all claim to see the exact same man in their dreams. Since the children are basically parentless for the extent of the movie (except for Kristen's mom. Andele!), we have the evil director lady, who doesn't miss a beat to put the kids in harm's way. And another surprising cameo--Lawrence Fishburne (Morpheus) plays Max, a caretaker with a heart and a protective eye on the children. 

Speaking of surprises. Nancy returns! That's right, Heather Langenkamp reprises her role as Nancy Thompson from the first movie, the initial Freddy surviver. Three years later and she still hasn't taken acting classes. But Nancy has her life under control. She's a dream psychiatrist, she takes pills to push her so far under she can't dream, and has a strand of white hair to age her or something. She invites herself to one of the therapy circles, lead by good ol' Dr. Neil Gordon. He plays "the good guy", attentive to the needs of the children, and ultimately to the needs of Nancy. Nancy gets the kids to talk, revealing their Kuger traumas. 

That night, one of the girls from the group, Kristen dreams about Nancy. No. Not one of those dreams, unfortunately. Instead, she somehow manages to pull Nancy into her Freddy dream, and Nancy and Freddy confront each other once more. In which Nancy offers the wise, comforting advice of someone who's spent her entire life fighting Freddy: "RUN!" Nancy and Kristen reconvene with the best of the group where Nancy spills the beans to them, telling them all about her past history with Freddy. After working to convince the Doctor that she's not completely batshit (which, for Nancy, is always hard, especially since she spends a good portion of the movie trying to feed the kids experimental drugs), the group try to come together and use their powers to stop Freddy. 

Image from nightmareonelmstreetfilms.com 
Oh, wait. I didn't mention they have powers, did I? That's right. They have motherfucking dream powers. Which, in non-retarded terms, means they have "special abilities" they can use in their dreams. Okay. Let me make some comparisons. In Inception, they have a woman who can shape the world, a shapeshifter, and a man who can beat up basically anybody. Those are special abilities. In Dream Warriors, we have Kristen, who can do handstands, Joey, who can pick up hot women, Kincaid, who has super strength, Taryn, who can become (in her words) "beautiful...and bad",  and Will, who is--and I wish I was kidding on this one--the Wizard Master.  These are "special" abilities. Together, how could they not defeat Freddy Kruger? 

For all the flack I give this movie, there is one thing that...I have to admit...it does well. And that is, of course, the Freddy deaths. I was a little skeptical at first. Freddy was badass when he was simply...Freddy. When he had those creepy fucking hands and slashed people to ribbons. This Freddy isn't so much about the slashing. Instead, he animates inanimate objects, morphs into giant worms, that sort of thing. However, there were some pretty badass deaths. Especially the puppet scene, in which he rips out a kids veins and works him like a puppet, making him walk straight out the window. Yeah. That was morbid, disgusting, and just straight brilliant. Then there was the burner girl, who finally got her spot on TV, just not quite the spot she'd hoped for. And then, there's this, which speaks for itself:

A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
The nightmare continues. All the awful kids we met in the third movie? Yeah. They're back. Only this time, we at least get the treat of watching them all die in the first 30 minutes or so. Rock on. Well, almost all of them. We're still stuck with Alice, for god knows what reason. Yes, okay. She can drag other people into her dreams. Fine, her power is important for the premise of the movie. But the character herself is still boring as hell. She's slightly ethereal, beautiful, but all in all, flat and pointless.

No, Harry, it's not a gay thing.
The movie picks up from where the last one dropped off. Sort of. Freddy's bones, which had been finally put to rest, are dragged back up out of the ground and he's revived. At least, that's the easy answer. The other answer is the token black kid had a dream in which his dog peed fire on Freddy's bones and opened up a portal to hell through which Freddy resurfaced. Yeah. We're not even going to try to dissect that one. The thing is, there's little in this movie that does make sense. The second movie in a trilogy is usually awkward, the first being the initial one to set us up, the third being that conclusive and satisfying bang we finish on, and the second being...that unfortunate middle child. Here, however, we have an awkward second movie quadrilogy. Yeah. I had to look that word up. If wikipedia says it's true, than it must be, right?  Anyway. The point is, this movie has very little to do with the third movie or the fifth movie. It's just Alice, going crazy, going through some more shit, and watching her friends die. We don't find much more about Freddy's past than we already know, but if you're like me, frankly you don't really want to know much more about a man who was terrifying because he wasn't quite human, because he didn't have a past.

Nevertheless. In the spirit of the movie before it, this addition offs the really kickass characters way too early on. We have--finally!--a nerdy character. Sheila, the short girl with glasses who's not afraid to be a dork and let everyone else know that's she's better than them because she reads books. Which would be obnoxious, except for the fact that she actually is better than them. It's nice, after an entire four movies of the popular girl/jock/Jesus nut as the hero to have an actual outcast, an...dare I say it...interesting character. She's an electronics specialist, she wears cool glasses, and she has down to earth advice about killing Freddy. She so has this in the bag. Well. Except for the fact that she doesn't, at all, and the second Freddy comes to get her, he destroys her. Hmm. Then there's Alice's boyfriend. He's entirely uninteresting, except for the fact that he knows kung fu. I...wonder...if...that's...going...to...come...back. But I have an official grudge against her boyfriend for the fact that they had one couple minute scene that repeated itself literally about four or five times. Seriously. I got the point after the third time. Hell, they could've stopped after the second time. But that many times? It's enough to make you crazy. Last in our cast of characters is a Alice's other BFF, a woman body builder who hates bugs. Let's just say that...well. You are what you hate? Some kind of message there.
The Fly sequel?
My biggest problem with this movie? Was that despite the fact that it was ridiculous and absurd and made very little sense at all, the ending was actually...pretty badass. All in all, the best of the Freddy demises, in my opinion. I mean, the souls of the kids literally burst out of his body. He's got hands coming from his stomach, his legs, the back of his head. It's horrifying, brilliant, and an actual fit end for such an awesome villain. Most of the Freddy movies that ended with his "death" left me with a "Oh, come on. He's better that that." But this time...It actually felt like a just end to the nightmare creeper. And it could've ended there. It really could have.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
Yep. It's exactly what you're thinking. Dumb Alice returns and gets herself "a little pregnant." And apparently babies in the womb can dream. And this baby is dreaming about a pedophile who wants to use him to destroy his mother and...rebith...and etc. We're introduced to little baby Jacob, Alice's future son who appears to her in her dreams. He's a creepy little child. And somehow that convinces her not to abort him. Because if I was holding a demon child in my womb, I'd keep it too. Well, to be on the fair side, this child can be saved. She just has to...you know. Destroy Freddy for the third time. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Riiiight. 

"It's a boy!"
As in the last one, this Nightmare has it's own cast of quirky characters. There's the professional swimmer, the model who's constantly harassed by her mother (back to these kind of parents again), and a comic book fanatic. I left the comic book kid for last because, while they each how their own genre-themed battles to fight with Freddy, his is definitely the most amusing. Return of the Wizard Master? Something like that. It's stupid, it's ridiculous, but after marathoning five Nightmare movies and finally giving myself over to them, I'll throw in the white towel and say it: it's fun. In the list of cool character deaths, lastly, we have a boyfriend who becomes one with his motorcycle. You would think that after his car literally animated itself and tried to kill him, he would stay off the road. Find another means of transportation. Something. But he took the jumping right back on the horse metaphor a little too literally and hops on his motorcycle. You've got to give the boy credit, even as the motorcycle starts to rip through his skin and dig it's wires into his muscles, he takes it like a champ and hangs on. 

On the flip side, we're getting more Freddy history. This is a little more interesting that the others, even if it doesn't quite jive. We're transported back to Freddy's mother's conception--aka, getting raped by a mob of insane asylum patients. Skip jump to Freddy's birth to find he's a literal creature. Not even human. This little evil alien baby. Birth, rebirth, all themes this movies plays around with. Whether it's dream or reality, we kind of stop caring. It doesn't make much sense as it is, might as well just run with it. Freddy, it turns out, does have a similar pattern as all the Elm Street kids--he hates his mother. Can't even stand to be in the same room with her. Really, what IS it with these writers and their parents? 

I think everyone can agree with me when I say that adding a baby to a series almost always ends in pain. I can't really think up a single baby addition that was a good idea. In this case, it's one of those things where the series itself is so ridiculous, you might as well throw a baby in there. No one's really going to notice. So long as Freddy's not raising it, I'm happy. 

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
So...remember when I said the only thing worse than Freddy possessing a kid was Freddy having a kid? Yeah...about that. Freddy's Dead kicks off with an entirely different feel from the other movies. And by that I mean it's a lot more nineties than eighties, even though it's only three years after of the last movie. Well. Time flies. This movie is a bit of a "grand finale" piece, taking bits and pieces from all the movies that came before it and mashing them all together in a gelatinous pile of mediocrity. 

The cure to any nightmare villain. Duh.
We have the return of the mental hospital, the dream doctors...our cast of characters splits up into two sections. First, there's John Doe, a kid with amnesia who has severe falling dreams, and his therapist Maggie, who has a reoccurring dream of a moment in her childhood her brain is trying to forget. John Doe is just ridiculous, which becomes clear after ten minutes of watching him fall down a hill and say "Wow!" in 100 different ways. They go on a trek to leave the hospital and go to Springwood (the town in which Elm Street resides) in order to pick up clues about John Doe's past. They find out that everyone is crazy. Literally. There are no children in the town and the entire town is a madhouse for old people stuck in some sort of Stepford dream like state. I wish I was exaggerating. To make things better, they have stowaways--three mental patients from the hospital escaped in the back seat of their van. There's Tracy, the tough girl with anger (and screeching) issues, Carlos, the deaf kid, and Spencer, the stoner who I recognized as Breckin Meyer from Rat Race. 

To be honest, there's nothing that remarkable about most of the deaths in this movie. Which is a pity considering watching one of the poorly written characters die a gruesome death really makes it worth the 90 minutes sometimes. However, we do get an anti-drug campaign in which Spencer gets high and everyone freaks out on him. Even Johnny Depp, who makes a brief cameo just to tell Spencer "This is your brain...this is your brain on drugs" (What'd I say about bringing it all back?). 

Despite all the bullshit this movie drags us though, it does give us an interesting little twist. Alright, so I bitched about Freddy having a kid. But this movie actually pulls it off. Don't ask me how. The thing is, we dig deeper into Freddy's past. Not the crap with the weird disfigured baby popping out of his mom and scrambling across the floor. We actually delve into what Freddy was like...before the burns and the nightmares. A glimpse of child!Freddy, doing sadistic things to hamsters. A glimpse of his caretaker being an evil crazy bastard (wow, TOTALLY didn't see that coming. It's not as though authority has been evil this entire series). And finally, a glimpse of Freddy, with a wife and a child. Now. That is interesting. Not only do we see Robert Englund without the scars, which is exciting as fuck for some reason, but we see Freddy...as a normal, sadistic, child killing father. Thank you. To see him unravel, trying to hide the secret of his "special projects"...that's what I find interesting. It doesn't undermine him as a villain, in fact, it makes him a better, creepier villain. To see that he is human, yet still capable of these gruesome acts. I could've done without the whole "they took my child and that drove me to kill" bit, but beggars can't be choosers. I think he's sadistic enough without trying to squeeze extra motivation in. 

All in all, it's been a long, exhausting ride. My suggestion would be to watch the series with friends: first so you can hold them during A Nightmare On Elm Street 1 and 2, and then so you can laugh with them throughout the rest of the series. And, just because I really can't get enough of this kid, I leave you with this humble summation of A Nightmare On Elm Street 3-6:


  1. Someone should've suggested long ago that you watch 1994s New Nightmare. On one hand you don't like Langenkamp (looks like an ex of mine) - on the other Freddy's scary again, and not this pun-spouting dipshit. Oddly, I hated NoES #2, loved #1 & 7, and liked part 3. Different strokes for different folks, right?

  2. Definitely different strokes for different folks! I think it all depends on how much you know about the series before going into it. I knew very little...so after seeing the first one, I expected the rest to be campy, but legitimately scary. And I just got campy. I think if I watched them with a roomful of friends and not all at once, I'd probably enjoy them more than I did the first go around.


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