Wes Craven's Dream Demon Part 2: The Franchise

In Part 1, I was focused on the film that started it all: A Nightmare on Elm Street, a slasher horror film with a relatively small budget and a unique concept with Wes Craven at the helm. No one could have known how big the movie would become or what how it would influence the genre. What started off as a promising horror franchise quickly became a comedy horror juggernaut. Filmgoers flocked to the first film and came back repeatedly for the sequels. Each film grossed more than the last, with a couple exceptions. Even the 2010 reboot made a nice return at the box office.

There’s a lot to go over here, so I’ll try to keep the summaries brief and my thoughts to a manageable length, but buckle up people, it’s gonna be a long one.

Just a quick note, I’ll be using the timeline I laid out in Part 1 to keep events more or less in line. I’ll address any major discrepancies as I come upon them and try to smooth out some of the bumps in the road.  

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

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Craven wasn’t interested in doing a sequel and the ambiguous ending of the first film, which clearly shows that Freddy wasn’t defeated, aggravated him. The success of Nightmare surprised producer Bob Shaye and he wanted a quick follow-up. Craven refused to write Freddy’s Revenge and the project was eventually handed off to David Chaskin. Freddy’s Revenge was written, cast, and filmed in less than a year; it premiered on November 1, 1985, just 8 days shy of one year anniversary of the first film. Fans and critics generally liked the film. Although Freddy’s Revenge had nearly double the budget of the first film, it was easy to tell that it had been hastily written and filmed; the effects are a little more impressive, though.

The premise is decent: a new family has moved to Elm Street. The family’s teen son, Jesse, is now living in Nancy’s old room. He’s plagued by nightmares and starts having violent impulses. Freddy is slowly possessing Jesse to continue his reign of terror.  Jesse attempts to keep things under control as he pursues a relationship with Lisa, but his fear of Freddy only makes things worse. Whenever Jesse is sleeping or extremely scared, Freddy takes over. Lisa and a possessed Jesse have a final confrontation in another boiler room situation. Lisa confesses her love, giving Jesse the strength to fight back and keeping Freddy from killing her. She even kisses Jesse/Freddy to prove her love. Then for some reason, maybe Freddy or Jesse using Freddy’s powers, the generators/turbines overheat and the whole place catches fire. Freddy bursts into flames and Jesse rises from the ashes.

Sometime later, Jesse and Lisa’s friends are on the school bus. Jesse freaks out because it is an eerily similar situation to one of his nightmares. As Lisa calms him down, Kerry, (Lisa’s friend) says, “It’s all over,” before Freddy’s clawed hand bursts through her chest. The bus drives off into the desert with Freddy’s evil laughter following it. This ending tries to recapture the ambiguity of the first film by leaving the fate of the kids uncertain but missed the mark. Weak.

What happened to the nightmares?! Many of the scares happen during the day and the writer missed the point that Freddy shouldn’t be able to influence things beyond dreams. Also, Jesse has some obvious issues with his sexuality, the least of which being his awkwardness with his girlfriend when compared to his ease and chemistry with his friend Grady. Freddy seems to be more like a manifestation of Jesse’s self-hatred about his attraction toward men than the iconic boogeyman of the first film. These scenes could also be interpreted as Jesse’s fear that he might be gay; coming out in the 80s was terrifying. Coming out of the closet could mean the loss of everything important- family, friends, a career. Jesse is tormented by dreams of a murderer that wants to take over his body, mirroring the real fear of being sexually attracted to men.  Unbeknownst to most at the time, actor Mark Patton (Jesse) was struggling with his own sexual identity and later came out as gay. David Chaskin later commented that the gay scenes were intentional and they did manage to add an interesting layer to the movie.

I have no qualms about saying that this is my least favorite film in the franchise for the simple fact that it doesn’t have the same impact as the first film or even the other sequels; it wasn’t scary. Instead of the ambiguous bus scene ending, they could have shown Lisa and Jesse embrace, as in the film, but have it fade into the credits with Freddy’s laughter as a voice over. The final jump scare is cheesy and over acted.  Freddy’s Revenge made almost as little sense as Dream Child did a few years later.

Budget: estimated $3 million
Opening weekend: $2,865,475
Gross: $29,999, 213

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

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Wes Craven came back to help write the screenplay and it shows. After this Craven bows out of the franchise until New Nightmare hit theaters in 1994; though he was consulted on all sequels except for the 2010 reboot. There’s a return to some of the darker themes and there’s more actual nightmare footage in this film than Freddy’s Revenge.

The premise here is the “last of the Elm Street kids” are locked on a psych ward to keep them safe from themselves. Several years after the first film we meet Kristen Parker, played by Patricia Arquette in her film debut. After a nightmare causes her to accidentally slit her wrists, Kristen’s mother admits her to Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital where she meets Nancy Thompson, now an intern therapist. With the help of Max (played by a young Laurence Fishburne), Nancy meets the other patients: Roland Kincaid, a tough and sometimes violent street kid; Jennifer Caulfield, the aspiring actress; Taryn White, the recovering heroin addict; Will Stanton, wheelchair bound after a suicide attempt; Joey Crusel, who has been rendered mute by trauma; and Phillip the habitual sleepwalker who likes to make puppets. Phillip has the distinction of being the only one not given a last name, a sure sign that he’ll probably die first.

It’s revealed that Kristen can bring people into her dreams after she has a nightmare about Freddy and draws Nancy into the dream to help. Nancy and Freddy recognize each other and it becomes a race against time to save the kids. Phillip and Jennifer’s deaths prompt Nancy to suggest a group hypnosis session to her colleague, Dr. Gordon. Once in a shared dream, the kids talk about their dream powers. Aside from being able to bring people into her dreams, Kristen is also a gymnastics dynamo, Kincaid is extremely strong, Taryn is “beautiful and bad,” and Will is a Wizard Master and can walk. As they’re showing off, Joey wanders out of the room and down the hall (still in the dream). He encounters the nurse (Marcie) he’s been lusting after the whole movie, but she turns out to be Freddy instead. Joey is held captive in the dream and falls into a coma. Nancy and the kids have a final group session to save Joey. Meanwhile, Dr. Gordon forces Nancy’s father to take him to where the Elm Street parents put Freddy’s remains so he can be given a “proper” burial.  Taryn and Will are killed when the group gets separated. The rest of the group finds Joey, but have to make it out of Freddy’s nightmare maze. In a hall of mirrors, Freddy replicates himself as reflections and captures Nancy, Kristen, and Kincaid. Joey finds his dream power (his voice) and frees them by yelling. Nancy is ultimately killed in the confrontation and the torch is passed to the surviving teens Kristen, Kincaid, and Joey. Dr. Gordon completed his mission and Freddy’s remains were consecrated and buried in the junkyard. After receiving his burial, the survivors assume he’s really dead for good.

Dream Warriors was a pretty strong film in that it enriched the existing story and did something new and interesting with it without ruining the growing mythology, and I think it would have worked even better as a direct sequel to the first film than Freddy’s Revenge. The overall tone of Dream Warriors was more on par with the first film and didn’t seem as rushed as Freddy’s Revenge. That being said, there are a few issues. The cast of characters is larger and it’s obvious that there were focus problems- who was the lead? The kids themselves are more enjoyable (and relatable) to watch after the eye roll inducing performances in Freddy’s Revenge. Heather Langenkamp gave a rather flat performance, but bringing her back was an interesting addition and gave closure on her storyline. Patricia Arquette’s shrieking screams reminded me more of an angry bird than a scared girl, but her overall performance was satisfactory.

One of the best scenes in this movie was Phillip’s death. The filmmakers really thought out his death when they made him a sleepwalker. The stereotypical zombie walk that he does could be, at least in the movie world, mistaken for a bizarre jerky sleepwalk by his roommate and the nurse at the desk. The prosthetic makeup for this scene was great and looked frighteningly real.

Dream Warriors is probably one of the strongest horror sequels I’ve ever seen. Krueger went mainstream in this movie and took a step further into pop culture with a tie-in music video featuring the band Dokken.

Budget: estimated $4 million- 4.5 million
Opening weekend: $8,880,555
Gross: $44,793,222

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: Dream Master (1988)

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Dream Master premiered roughly a year and a half after Dream Warriors. New Line execs decided to be greedy and forgot the lesson of Freddy’s Revenge. They rushed into making another sequel when they realized they had a hit that was ripe for expansion. They enlisted a Finnish commercial director named Renny Harlin who made his Hollywood debut with Dream Master. The script was still being worked on during filming, so Harlin was fighting a losing battle to deliver something that could compete with Dream Warriors. Even with a good premise, this movie wasn’t a strong follow-up to Dream Warriors.

It’s a year after the events at Westin Hills Asylum and the final three “Elm Street” kids, Kristen, Kincaid, and Joey are now out of the asylum and trying to integrate back into high school life. Joey and Kincaid have moved on and believe that Freddy is gone for good, but Kristen, thoroughly traumatized, can’t believe he’s really gone. Kristen keeps dreaming about Freddy’s boiler room, now dormant. She draws Joey and Kincaid into one of these dreams but they assure her that Freddy is really gone and that she’ll stir things up again if she keeps going into the boiler room.

The next day we’re introduced to some new characters: Alice Johnson, the mousey shy girl; Rick Johnson, Alice’s street fighter-esque brother who’s dating Kristen; Dennis Johnson, Alice and Rick’s alcoholic father; Debbie Stevens, the tough chick with a fear of bugs; Sheila Kopecky, the smart girl with asthma; and Dan Jordan, the jock that Alice has a crush on. Things progress in typical Nightmare fashion as Kristen struggles to stay one step ahead of Freddy and starts to unravel when Kincaid and Joey die the same night. Trying to help, Kristen’s mother resorts to lacing one of Kristen’s drinks with sleeping pills. Kristen falls asleep and tries to have a happy dream, but is drawn into Freddy’s boiler room again. Krueger knows she can call others into her dreams and wants her to bring in more people for him to kill. Kristen refuses his demand but ends up bringing Alice into the dream anyway. Freddy throws Kristen into the boiler, but she gives Alice her power before she dies.

Freddy uses Alice to bring in the other teenagers. One by one, Alice’s friends start to die and she gains their strengths like her brother’s martial arts skills and the strength of her friend, Debbie. Alice also takes a little memento from each to remember her friends by.  Before the final confrontation, Alice gears up with all the trinkets she kept as memories. Alice then enters a dream that ends up in a church; she and Freddy fight but he is ultimately undone by a rhyme her mother told her (briefly mentioned early in the film). Watch Freddy’s death here.

“Now I lay me down to sleep, the master of dreams, my soul I’ll keep. In the reflection of my mind’s eye, evil will see itself and it shall die”

Dream Master had the biggest budget in the franchise until Freddy vs. Jason came out. This movie manages to be good and bad at the same time. The role of Kristen had to be recast due to Patricia Arquette’s pregnancy, and Tuesday Knight wasn’t the greatest choice. Knight had only acted on the small screen in multiple soap operas until this film came along and it shows. The characters are pretty flat and uninteresting across the board; none of them, with the exception of Alice, shows any kind of growth. The nightmare sequences are mostly bland and uninspired. Rick’s death has him falling asleep on the toilet at school and “wakes up” to half the cheerleading squad bursting through the door. He sees a burnt Kristen before the bathroom stall turns into an elevator that opens up onto a loosely Asian-themed room. Rick is then pummeled by an invisible Freddy and runs around the room kicking and miming a fight before being stabbed in the chest. Sheila literally gets the life sucked out of her. Someone was asleep at the switch when they wrote these two scenes.

But, this also has one of my favorite Nightmare kills: Debbie’s death in the roach motel. It actually feels like Debbie is caught in her dream; the others don’t. Lisa Wilcox’s performance as Alice was alternately flat and overly dramatic, something that carried over in to the next film. However, her character growth, going from a shy mouse to holding her own against Freddy, is one of the more successful elements in this film. This film also seems to be where Freddy Krueger starts to transform from menacing dream murderer to a sadistic trickster. He’s not really hiding in the shadows anymore and there are a ton of eye-roll inducing one-liners and pop culture puns (here and here) that he cracks off when things are slow.

So, even though the movie was poorly written with vague characters and zero scares, it made enough money for New Line to greenlight another sequel the following year.   

Budget: estimated $13 million
Opening weekend: $12,833,403
Gross: $49,369,899

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)

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Where do I even start? New Line jumped the shark with this one, folks, plain and simple. As with Freddy’s Revenge, New Line rushed the production. It was written, cast and filmed within a year of Dream Master, premiering on August 11, 1989. Dream Child had a smaller budget than the previous film and was the lowest earning film in the franchise until New Nightmare came along. By this point, it’s obvious that the studio wasn’t even trying to get a movie close to the quality of the original Nightmare; it was just a plot they believed could be rehashed every year or so with new characters and nightmares to rake in the cash. However, they had to find plausible ways to bring Freddy back for each installment since he dies at the end of each film. Dream Child, by far, makes the least sense as it tries to explain Freddy’s return and it’s just a bad movie. I love schlocky movies, but this one was near unwatchable for me.

There’s really not much in the way of a defined plot here. We have Alice and Dan, now a couple, about a year after the events in Dream Master. Dan is killed in what appears to be a freak accident outside the restaurant where Alice works. Not long after, Alice discovers she’s pregnant and has to deal with her father who is struggling to remain sober. Her father accepts Alice’s pregnancy with almost no hesitation and says it would be good to have a kid around the house again. Alice’s friends start to die off and she’s convinced that Krueger is somehow using her baby to do it but the people around her dismiss her paranoia as some kind mental break due to pregnancy hormones. Alice has a vision of Freddy feeding her friend’s souls to her unborn baby to make it like him. The final conflict happens just after Alice finds her son, Jacob (now about 7?) waiting for Krueger in a dream. I honestly don’t know how to describe this, so please watch this video.  Alice goes on to have her baby and lives, supposedly, happily ever after because we don’t see her in the next installment.

New Line brought in yet another fledgling film director, Stephen Hopkins. Hopkins brought back the darker look of the earlier films, skewing toward the gothic, but the film still focused on grotesque imagery (like Freddy’s rebirth in a nightmare) and some off-the-wall death scenes. In a dream sequence/vision, Alice sees Amanda give birth to a deformed child that is truly disgusting to look at; Freddy was actually born looking like a normal baby.

There were only 3 deaths in this movie and they were all fairly interesting. Dan gets fused to a motorcycle in his nightmare. Greta, who is laboring under her mother’s aspirations that she becomes a model, is force-fed the innards of a doll (that’s supposed to be her?) while appearing to simply be choking at her mother’s dinner party IRL. Then we have Mark, the comic artist, who is pulled into a comic book to confront Freddy and turns into a gun-toting hero who actually uses the line, “Get ready to die, you scar-faced limp dick!” They fight and of course he loses; he gets turned into paper and is sliced to pieces before he dies. Did you catch the RoboCop sounds when he holsters his guns? The deaths were more imaginative than in Dream Master, but that’s all that was better. There’s no real structure at all to this movie; it’s just a vehicle for gruesome death and gross-out scenes.

Freddy Krueger finally tiptoed past the point of no-return and became a true caricature of himself. He’s no longer scary or menacing in any way; he’s become a joke that laughs at his own cheesy one-liners. He went from being menacing to acting like that one uncle at the family reunion that doesn’t know to shut up when people stop laughing.

I really don’t know where the writers meant to take this one or what they meant to accomplish, but this film turned into a confusing mess. Honestly, if I had to score this one, I’d give it 2/10 stars for the simple fact that the death scene effects are better than the ones in Dream Master.   

Budget: estimated $8 million
Opening weekend: $8,115,176
Gross: $22,168,259

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

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I’ll start this one off by saying that there’s another discrepancy in the timeline, as noted in my first article. Maggie Burroughs (Katherine Krueger) is supposedly 38-40 in this film. Given her birth year, 1961, that would mean the film was set in 1999, though it’s clearly not. I would probably place Maggie as 30-31 to set the film more in line with the year in which it was made.

With another flop under its belt, New Line revamped their cash cow one more time for Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. We all knew it wouldn’t be the last movie, but they seemed willing to let Krueger die for real after the bad box office return of Dream Child. They brought in another novice director, Rachel Talalay, who went on to direct Tank Girl and a lot of TV. It had a smaller budget than the last film, but showed more promise from the opening scene.

The film starts off with our John Doe on a plane and he’s not having the best time. He goes straight into a nightmare that has Freddy reprising the role of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. Freddy lets “John” live and drops him in the middle of nowhere. He’s later found by Maggie and brought back to the center where she treats abused kids. She makes it her mission to help John find out who he is and where he came from while trying to keep three other teens (Tracy, Carlos, and Spencer) from running away. The audience already knows that Freddy’s plan is to draw Maggie and the kids back to Springwood, which has become a very strange place. Most of the town is abandoned since Freddy killed off all the children and there are a bunch of crazy parents wandering around a carnival for kids who are long dead. Even beyond the carnival scene, things are a little off. The appearance of Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold make it even weirder.  Carlos, Spencer, and “John” get killed off leaving Maggie, Tracy, and Doc (a therapist) to keep Freddy from achieving his ultimate goal of leaving Springwood to conquer the world. Maggie has to enter Krueger’s mind to uncover how to kill him and discovers that she’s Freddy’s daughter. She brings Kruger into the real world to fight him, a call back to the original film, and supposedly kills him, releasing the Dream Demons to find another vessel.

This movie had a better premise than the previous two movies but didn’t do anything to fix the issues they had. The main issue being that Freddy is basically a cartoon character now. He has a little more real dialog and you find out a lot about his past before he was killed by the Springwood parents. The other characters, except for Maggie, aren’t very deep or well-thought out. The kids might resonate with the abused individuals of the audience, but they’re not really that likeable. The strangest thing about the whole movie is that it takes place only a few years after Dream Child. Somehow, Springwood went from a nice looking slice of suburbia to a practical ghost town in the space of two or three years.  Understandably, the adults in town basically gave up, but why bother to stay?

The reviews were bad and audiences didn’t like it, but it made just enough money to push on with another film. However, it would be 3 years before that film hit theaters.

Budget: estimated $5 million
Opening weekend: $12,966,525
Gross: $34,872,033 (domestic)

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

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I don’t know what Craven thought of the 5 sequels that followed his original film, but it can’t have been too good because he decided to helm a project based on one of his original ideas for Dream Warriors rather than let New Line make another abysmal sequel. It takes place in the real world, not in the world created in the 6 Nightmare films. It stars our original final girl, Heather Langenkamp, as herself with on-screen appearances by Robert Englund, Wes Craven, and John Saxon as themselves. The premise is a great one, but it flew over the heads of most of the audience and resulted in poor box office earnings. The film follows Heather Langenkamp as she takes on Freddy one last time. I recommend watching the trailer here before proceeding.

The plot is a little silly if you look at it too closely. An ancient being known only as The Entity has taken the form of Freddy Krueger because he is the darkest creation of that generation. Somehow, Wes Craven managed to tap into that evil when he created A Nightmare on Elm Street and trapped the Entity within the story. Once the original franchise was completed, the Entity was no longer bound by the confines of the movie and started to force its way into the real world. In order to be completely free to roam the world and kill innocent people, the Entity must fight a gatekeeper; in this case, it is Heather Langenkamp.

The Entity starts to possess Heather’s son, Dylan, as a means to draw her into a confrontation. As Dylan’s health and mental state deteriorate, Heather takes him to a hospital where they try to make him sleep. He spits out his pills and stashes them to help Heather later on. “Freddy” kidnaps Dylan and drags him into the dream world, but the boy uses the sleeping pills to create a “trail of breadcrumbs” like in Hansel and Gretel. Heather and Dylan defeat the Entity by shoving him in a furnace (or oven) before being able to return home. Heather finds the script for the film with a note from Craven thanking her for having the courage to play Nancy one more time.

The film explores some real experiences with a stalker and crank calls. But Craven also used New Nightmare as a commentary on how making horror films affect those involved and how studios will crank out inferior sequels just to capitalize on a working formula. Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson later put this metatextuality into Scream as they deconstructed the rules of slasher films and had the characters self-aware in the sense that they joke about slasher tropes in a huge wink to the audience.

A lot of people had a problem with Freddy Krueger in this film. Fans didn’t like the stylized/satirized appearance, with the exception of the wicked new bone and muscle claws. His features were too sharp and clean for their burned killer and the addition of the long black trench coat didn’t endear the character to audiences. What these same people failed to realize is that this isn’t their Freddy; it is an ancient demon in the guise of Freddy Krueger. There’s a bit of dialog that seemed to go over people’s heads where Wes Craven talks about tapping in to a source of real evil.

Though I like this movie, it has some real problems. The concept is a little difficult to get across; even writing this I struggled to word it in a way that could be understood.  It’s not surprising a big portion of the audience didn’t understand it. There are some pacing issues and editing problems, because it seems like there should be more to this movie that got left on the cutting room floor. Sometimes the movie seems like Heather and Nancy merge in all the wrong places, making it feel like we’re just following an adult Nancy in another movie rather than the actress in her real life. This may have been intentional since fans often have a problem distinguishing an actor from a popular character, but it felt messy to me.

There were some great parts of this movie- there was more slasher fare that audiences loved and I personally welcomed the return of a more serious Freddy Krueger after nearly a decade of corny jokes and cartoonish antics. The effects shots and deaths were a little more creative than they had been in the past few films, as well. All in all, it was a creative and an interesting twist on the franchise.

Budget: estimated $8 million
Opening weekend: $6,667,118
Gross: $18,090,181

Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

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Freddy vs. Jason was a mash-up audiences had been clamoring for ever since Freddy Krueger became a pop culture icon. Who could pass up the opportunity to pit wise cracking Freddy Krueger against the stone silent, machete-wielding Jason Voorhees?

The plot boils down to a blend of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, but feels like little more than hollow fan service. Freddy is once again turned into a walking joke, slipping back into the corny schtick that helped bring down the franchise. Jason is just Jason- he’s big, strong, silent, relentless, and still loves his mama.  

This installment is supposed to take place after the events of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday by roughly four or five years. Freddy, now stuck in hell because no one in Springwood remembers him, finds Jason and tricks him into coming back to life to punish the people on Elm Street. The idea being that if Jason can drum up enough fear, Freddy can come back.

Once Freddy realizes that he’s opened Pandora’s Box by bringing back Jason (because he won’t stop killing), he immediately wants him dead. When Freddy discovers that Jason is supposedly afraid of water during a dream sequence, he thinks he’s figured out how to get rid of Jason.  That assumption flies in the face of everything we know about Jason. Yes, he drowned because a bunch of camp counselors weren’t paying attention, but he’s never shown to fear water except in Freddy vs. Jason. Even in this movie, that dream scene is the only one where Jason shows any kind of fear of water.  This “mistake” is either bad writing, an attempt to retcon the information, or the writers just didn’t care. It could have been they were trying to play the fire vs. water angle, but it doesn’t really play out well.

Despite its pretty obvious flaws, I have a soft spot for this one.. Freddy made a return to a scarier version of himself (despite the stupid jokes), the nightmare sequences were decent, and it was interesting to see these two horror icons duke it out on the big screen. I commend the filmmakers’ attempt to give fans what they wanted and they mostly succeeded; it was an entertaining popcorn flick.

Budget: estimated $25 million
Opening weekend: $36,428,066
Gross: $82,622,655

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010 reboot)

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I really don’t have too much to say about this one. The plot is basically the same as the original and based on Wes Craven’s original characters, though he was not consulted during the writing process as he was with previous sequels.

Freddy is now portrayed as the gardener who lives and works at a preschool. The kids loved him; until the parents became suspicious that the kids were acting a little strange. They didn’t want to believe that Freddy was hurting the kids until Nancy makes a confession about what Freddy would do. Nancy’s mother, Gwen, tells her Freddy skipped town before he was arrested. In reality, the parents chased Freddy down and cornered him in a utility/boiler room that they lit on fire so their kids wouldn’t have to get up on the witness stand and tell what happened to them.

Nancy, Freddy’s “favorite,” begins to remember the abuse she suffered as a child and struggles to find answers. She confronts her mom, as in the original, but is only given part of the story. Freddy has a new angle in this movie as well- he isn’t merely trying to kill Nancy. He’s trying to keep her awake so long that when she finally does fall asleep, she’ll be stuck in a coma where he’ll be able to toy with her as long as he wants. But of course, Nancy and her friend Quentin get rid of Freddy by bringing him into the real world; Nancy hacks off his gloved hand and slits his throat before they set fire to the room. There’s also the jump scare ending where Freddy pulls Gwen (Nancy’s mom) through a mirror.

I’m not a huge fan of this movie for a number of reasons. It as a visual tone problem; everything is draped in that blue and gray filter that every movie around 2010 had and it made the whole film look muddy. There weren’t enough brighter scenes to offset the overall darkness of the film.

The performances were all a little flat, especially the one given by Rooney Mara. I felt absolutely zero empathy for this girl because she spent the whole movie radiating a feeling of cold indifference. She’s supposed to be terrified but acts like she’s going through the most boring experience in her life. Quentin, played by Kyle Gallner, was a little bit better. I actually felt bad for this kid because he’s obviously scared and he’s spending his time with Nancy the Ice Queen. I don’t see any chemistry between these two and they’re supposed to have a potential relationship on the horizon. There’s not a whole lot of character development beyond “abused as small children”  but they don’t really push that part of the character, instead relying on their current interactions with Freddy to drive the movie.

Jackie Earle Haley, who took over the role of Freddy Krueger, had the deck stacked against him from the beginning; diehard fans of the original movie weren’t going to give him a fair shake, myself included. That being said, I think his darker performance was a good choice. It was nice to see a return to a more menacing antagonist with the removal of the jokes and puns. The makeup, which was modeled after real burned skin, looked a little better to me than the versions we got in later installments of the franchise. There’s something about it being realistic that makes it more gruesome to me and his raspy voice fits the look in just the right way. Was Haley the right man to fill Robert Englund’s shoes? Maybe not, but he gave one hell of a performance and deserves credit for even trying to take on that role.  Even after getting Robert Englund’s blessing, Haley knew he was fighting against a legacy more than 20 years in the making but he still went through with the movie and got a lot of undeserved hate; I was just as guilty of this as any other fan of Robert Englund’s Krueger.

Budget: estimated $35 million
Opening weekend: $32,902,299
Gross: $63,075,011

I’m going to end this a little differently than usual. After spending the last month immersed in these movies, I think it is only fair that I get to rank them. I know people will say I’m wrong about some of the placements, but this is where these films rank for me. The original A Nightmare on Elm Street will always take the top spot because it’s still my favorite. It will probably be a long time before I sit down to watch these movies again; I’ve had enough of the Nightmare franchise to last me at least another year.

  1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

  2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

  3. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

  4. Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

  5. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

  6. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010 reboot)

  7. Nightmare on Elm Street 5: Dream Child (1989)

  8. Nightmare on Elm Street 4: Dream Master (1988)

  9. Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below. Also, if you’d like to make suggestions about article topics feel free to leave those below or DM me on Twitter @InsomniacTX.