Tag Archives: one two Freddy’s coming for you…

9, 10… Michael Bay’s done it again

elmst2010A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

3 Stars  2010/18/93m

“Never sleep again.”

Director: Samuel Bayer / Writers: Wesley Strick & Eric Heisserer / Cast: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Thomas Dekker, Katie Cassidy, Kellan Lutz, Connie Britton, Clancy Brown.

Body Count: 4

Dire-logue: “Why are you screaming? I haven’t even cut you yet.”


Remakes, re-imaginings, reboots, rehashes – they get everywhere like that STD you just can’t get rid of. Not that I’d know, of course.

You gotta feel for Wes Craven though, now three of his most famous horror flicks have been re-somethinged in the last five years! We never thought anyone would be so foolish as to touch Elm Street, but then after Halloween “happened”, all bets were off.

elmst2010-1In fairness, Nightmare 2010 is no worse than Rob Zombie’s attempt to re-ignite interest in the Michael Myers saga, it’s actually a little better.

Unlike that film and Platinum Dunes’ re-thingy of Friday the 13th last year, Freddy’s re-birth sticks closer to the source material than it ought to: suburban kids are having a shared nightmare of a burned dude in a Fedora and the kind of stripy sweater you’d pick up in C&A before immediately putting it back again – and said dreams are deadly. This time, things unfold in a different way: the core group of teens witness the apparent self-throat slashing of their friend Dean at an all night diner. We, however, saw him fall asleep and get slashified by razor-gloved Fred K.

Things switch to focus on his girlfriend Kris (Cassidy), who ‘inherits’ the nightmares and soon becomes the next victim, passing the baton on to her ex, Jesse, and finally along to slightly more resourceful teens Quentin and Nancy. Yes, Nancy is back. Not Nancy Thompson, mind, Nancy Holbrook, played by Rooney Mara, whose sister Kate was the lead in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary.

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Some textbooks are just really, really emotional

Nancy and Quentin’s detective work exposes a secret kept by their parents, but it’s got a few subtle differences to Craven’s original, concerning the pre-school all the kids went to but none can remember. Why? It’s never revealed. They just seemed to have completely forgotten. It seems that their entire pre-school class is being eliminated one by one in their sleep after their folks did the olde pitchforks and torches routine on the school’s caretaker, who was allegedly abusing the kids. Key word: allegedly.

This is one huge question mark hanging over proceedings: was Freddy guilty or not? There were no murders, no Springwood Slasher, just unfounded accusations that may or may not mean anything and we have a strange dream flashback of what happened to Freddy – yes, it’s time to spoon-feed the audience so they needn’t bother being smart enough to figure out anything on their own. Oddly, the sequence is witnessed by Gallner in nothing but Speedos.

Much is made out of the don’t-go-to-sleep premise and the babble about ‘micro-naps’ allows for some interesting moments where characters continually slip in and out of their dreams over short periods as they struggle with their fatigue – but do we really care? Freddy is at the centre stage and the teens are just there to be slashed at. The first few to go have little to do beyond act scared and the pairing of Nancy and Quentin doesn’t have a fraction of the appeal Heather Langenkamp did.elmst2010-2

Nancy herself is played capably by Mara and as an emo-misfit rather than the girl-next-door she was before – she’s not even terrified the first time she encounters Freddy – so why should I be? Her dad is entirely absent and so the police play no part and mom is marginalised into a 2D parent figure, serving only to admit to a couple of things and be there to collect her daughter when required. Cassidy, as Kris, simply looks too old to still be in high school. Haley makes for an acceptable Krueger, maintaining enough menace so’s not to crap all over Robert Englund’s original performance.

Dunes’ take on Friday the 13th was smart enough not to re-tell the same story, playing instead like another sequel with naive storytelling and there is less lore to upset in a Jason film: teens, woods, machete – you’re done. Elm Street could have been a decent ‘side-quel’ or whatever they call ‘em, a follow up to the original, allowing them to basically re-use most of the plot elements without having to undo 26 years of material: as it happens, the bath scene is half-revisited and Freddy’s uber-scary wall-stretching moment becomes a truly godawful CG-fest. What is this? Craven managed ten times as much on 10% of the budget!?

It’s easy to mock remakes of films that were just fine in their original forms: there’s simply nothing to be gained creatively. It exposes the Hollywood fixation with bums-on-seats trumping quality output, accentuated here by the use of music video director Bayer in the hotseat. His visuals may be competent but depth and auteurism are entirely non-existent, dripping in a sort of muted tone that’s haunted too many films of the last decade or so. But it’s here and there’s nothing we can do about it. Even I’d rather there be remakes of horror films over no horror films at all.

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From Elm Street to Emo Street, self-harming included

Nightmare 2010 is basically an okay film in its own right that plays a little better on DVD than the big screen. The story is no longer fantastically inventive enough to wow anybody and the non-Freddy characters are too bland to evoke much empathy for their shared plight. Any sense of desperation is long gone, replaced by a sort of teenage nonchalance to it all. Nobody seems to care that much about any of it, so why should the audience?

You have to wonder, with the phobia of horror sequels that Hollywood appears to have, after we get A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 in 2013, will they reboot again? Surely you can’t number something ‘Part 4′ anymore? I bet Craven is awaiting the call that tells him Scream is now old enough to warrant a remake…

Blurbs-of-interest: Haley was in Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence; Katie Cassidy was in Harper’s Island and remakes of Black Christmas and When a Stranger Calls; Thomas Dekker was in Laid to Rest and its sequel. Aaron Yoo from the 13th remake played the video blogger.

Out of the closet, into a nightmare

nightmare_on_elm_street_2A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE

3 Stars  1985/18/82m

“The man of your dreams is back.”

Director: Jack Sholder / Writer: David Chaskin / Cast: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Rusler, Clu Gulager, Hope Lange, Marshall Bell, Sydney Walsh, Robert Englund.

Body Count: 9-ish

Dire-logue: “Lisa, there’s a Jesse on the phone!”


Although often cited as the worst of the Elm Street franchise (a view I shared until a few years ago), Freddy’s Revenge, on a subtextual level to say the least, is actually pretty good viewing. Plus the fact that it’s so superbly 80s, even the metallic shininess that adorns the titles!

*shing!*

*shing!*

Although there’s enough evidence that this sequel was rushed into production without a lot of thought, at least the creators tried to vary the theme rather than provide a retread of the original and things begin magnificently with a creepy dreamscape that could rival some of those in #1 for effectiveness. Fears of kidnap, social inadequacy, and hell are realised almost perfectly in the sequence, which introduces us to our final boy, Jesse…

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Jesse and his family have recently moved into 1428 Elm Street and their teenage son is in Nancy’s old room and already having nightmares about a burnt, claw-fingered guy who, it seems, is more interesting in getting Jesse to do his bidding rather than just slashing him to death.

Jesse soon becomes torn between what’s real and what’s in his head and his parents naturally blame it all on drugs but then some murders occur: first his high school’s nasty gym coach in an exceptionally sexual manner (we’ll come on to that later), then his buddy Grady and some poor schmucks invited to love-interest Lisa’s pool party.

Lisa demonstrating what happens if you look like Meryl Streep and dress like Tiffany

Lisa demonstrating what happens if you look like Meryl Streep and dress like Tiffany

There’s no dream-stalking in Freddy’s Revenge, at least none that’s as clear cut as the other films. No, “oh shit, I’m asleep!” Only Jesse needs to stay awake and sometimes that doesn’t appear to work as Freddy cuts his way out to wreak havoc whenever he feels like it.

Elm Street 2 has a reputation as ‘the gay film’ in the series. Why? Well, from electing an effeminate boy as the lead who whines to Lisa that “he’s [Freddy] trying to get inside my body,” is a good start. Then there’s Nancy’s diary that quite literally comes out of the closet with insights. The aforementioned gym teech is into S&M and catches Jesse in a downtown gay bar before escorting him back to school where the coach is then tied to the showers, stripped, whipped and slashed by Freddy before the showers spurt blood in a bizarre ejaculative gesture. It’s worth noting that furiously chewing gum has never succeeded in making ghostly things depart for future reference.

elm4Jesse – it’s in the name! – shrieks in a high-pitched voice much of the time before Freddy literally comes out of him to take over and it eventually takes Lisa’s kiss to save the day. In effect, heterosexuality is what claims victory, re-repressing Freddy into the background and out of harms way.

There are those who criticise the film for being a ‘gay pride parade’ but it couldn’t be more the other way if it tried. 80s America wasn’t really much of a ticker tape parade for homosexuality at the best of times and the film paints quite a marginalised portrait: the thing that lurks inside trying to take over is evil and must be repressed. Quite the celebratory message indeed.

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Is it worth pointing out the irony of these people who moan about diverse sexuality being explored in a film series where the central character is a child molester? I’d bet they’re the same ones who whinge when there are no tits on display. It’s OK, look, there’s an undead kiddie-fiddler instead!

Anyway, back in the black and white world of horror cinema, Freddy’s Revenge fails on several levels: there are only two ‘proper’ murders, although both are good, not enough of the skipping-rope chant, the acting is all over the place and Patton doesn’t make much of a sympathetic hero and it’s really Meryl Streep-a-like Myers who does the legwork. Freddy though, looks great and at his scariest with a sort of moist quality to his skin (ew!) and the final shock is amusing.

Why be scared of Freddy when there's a giant poster of Limahl over your bed!?

Why be scared of Freddy when there’s a giant poster of Limahl over your bed!?

Who knows what writer Chaskin was trying to achieve here? Parts of it work and parts don’t, but it all looks well made and it’s certainly different and betters – at least - parts 5 and Freddy’s Dead.

Blurbs-of-interest: Jack Sholder edited The Burning and directed Alone in the Dark; Christie Clark (Jesse’s little sister) was later in Children of the Corn II; Marshall Bell was in Identity; Clu Gulager was in The Initiation; Englund appeared in Behind the Mask, Hatchet, Heartstopper, The Phantom of the Opera and Urban Legend.

Pant-Soiling Scenes #9: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

The first slasher film I ever saw was A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 when I was about 11. Brown pants and bad dreams. I flat out refused to watch any other Freddy films until I was 19. Oddly, it was my second viewing of the original Elm Street that creeped the hell outta me.

There’s mucho scariness in the film; the nightmare scenery is classic stuff but I personally find this moment – lasting just a matter of seconds in the run up to Tina’s uber-frightening encounter with Freddy Krueger – to be ingeniously terrifying. ‘Tis the stretchy horror wall…

pss-elm-streetHe’s like…coming through the wall for Nancy!! It’s so horrible! I want to cry.

“I’m your boyfriend now, Nancy.”

I think y’all should check out the trailer for the upcoming remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, due out next year.

I’m sending big thanks to the fab Evil on Two Legs, where I was first made aware of it.

Looks like quite the faithful remake for a change, with a little added origin flair to it and it’s also good that we might just see some of the guys’ nightmares this time round!

Actually quite impressed and excited!

Dream a grisly dream

nightmare_on_elm_street_three2A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS

4 Stars  1987/18/93m

“If you think you’ll get out alive, you must be dreaming.”

Director: Chuck Russell / Writers: Wes Craven, Frank Darabont, Chuck Russell & Bruce Wagner / Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Craig Wasson, Patricia Arquette, Robert Englund, Priscilla Pointer, John Saxon, Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman, Jennifer Rubin, Bradley Gregg, Ira Heiden, Larry Fishburne, Penelope Sudrow, Brooke Bundy, Nan Martin, Dick Cavett, Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Body Count: 6

Dire-logue: “In my dreams…I am the Wizard Master!”


A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 holds the dubious honour of being the first slasher flick I ever saw, way back when I was about 11 or 12, a group of kids together in a TV room at a camp site, an older brother’s video cassette, fear, horror, Freddy!!, nightmares of my own for about six weeks. Never will I watch a horror film again, I said.

Even now, parts of Dream Warriors still give me a familiar shiver as I hark back to all those “little slices of death” as Edgar Allan Poe’s quote begins the flick, the most slasher molded entry in the series and probably the best of the sequels. Attempting to pick up the pieces left by the misfire that was Freddy’s Revenge (the gay one – which has a charm I’ll explore further when I add it to the site), Wes Craven rejoined the production team as a co-writer and first act in his role was to bring Nancy back into the fold.

Nancy, again played by the lovely Heather Langenkampenfussenschmidt, comes to help out at the Springwood Psyche Ward where a group of nightmare plagued teenagers are failing to convince the staff of the existence of their mutual boogeyman and, more importantly, failing to stay alive. We’re inducted into tale with Kristen (Arquette), who has a particularly eerie nightmare where she’s stuck inside Nancy Thompson’s old house – now Freddy’s – and ends up with a slashed wrist.

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The staff, primarily made up of bitchy matriarchal type Pointer, sassy porter Fishburne and Craig Wasson’s flakey but nice doc, think it’s all down to sex, drugs and rock n’ roll and just want the kids to have a good sleep. Awww…that’s it. Nancy’s arrival is followed by two grim deaths, both of which are inexplicably written off as suicides and she, somewhat a little late, tells the remaining kids about Freddy and what he did to her six years earlier.

elm3aHelpfully/contrivedly (you choose), Kristen has the ability to pull other people into her dreams and Nancy tries to turn the kids into ‘Dream Warriors’ using their most fantastical abilities of their wildest dreams against Freddy: wheelchair dork can walk and is the Wizard Master, ex-junkie chick is bad-ass punk, black guy has super strength and Kristen can backflip all over the joint. All the while, Freddy torments Nancy from beyond, scarring poor comatose Joey in the process…

There really should be a comma after 'him'

There really should be a comma after ‘him’

Throw in a creepy nun that only Wasson can see and John Saxon’s cameo as an alcoholic Lt. Thompson and we got ourselves the best type of 80’s horror flick!

"You are the last of the Elm Street children... Again."

“You are the last of the Elm Street children… Again.”

Things manifest in a joint assault against Freddy in the group dream, some of the kids die, some don’t, the creepy-ass nun seems to know a lot about Krueger (hmmm…), mute kid speaks again and there’s a sub-Jason and the Argonauts skeleton-of-death moment that hasn’t dated so well. The vein puppet sequence and “this is your big break into TV” would likely be close to the top in the Best Deaths in Slasher Movie category when the Oscar’s finally decide that this is a base level requirement ignored for too long.

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Dream Warriors is definitively 80’s: the framing, the hair, the music, the general tone of the picture and it’s inventively brutal effects work, something the later films used as their hook when Freddy had become about as scary as a basket of kittens. Characterisations are sharper than Part 2 and the ensuing sequels and there’s still something grossly repellent about Englund as the villain, although this film was most definitely the turning point of the franchise from high-rent Friday the 13th competitor to all-out pop culture icon status where victims became interchangable and nobody cared about them. It was a massive box office hit (outperformed only by Elm Street 4 and, later, Freddy vs. Jason, smashing the hockey masked one out of the running.

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There’s a lot to like about this charismatic and occasionally downright scary film (that kids bike that rolls into Kristen’s room – argh!!! Not the mention the best use of the creepy “One, two, Freddy’s comin’ for you… rhyme). For one thing, it’s not afraid to kill off once important players or sympathetic victims in the name of horror and, perhaps most impressively, is the end credits song by German spandex rockers Dokken, the video of which appears on the DVD as the falsetto squealings of the lead singer defeat Freddy…

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Blurbs-of-interest: Sagoes, Eastman, Bundy and, of course, Englund all returned for the next film, The Dream Master; Sagoes also appeared in The Back Lot Murders. Langenkamp returned in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare with John Saxon, who had also appeared in Welcome to Spring Break, The Baby Doll Murders, Tenebrae and the original Black Christmas. Wasson was in Schizoid. Chuck Russell previously produced Hell Night.

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