WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE
“This time, staying awake won’t save you.”
A.k.a. A Nightmare on Elm Street 7
Director/Writer: Wes Craven / Cast: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Miko Hughes, Matt Winston, Rob LaBelle, David Newsom, John Saxon, Wes Craven, Tracy Middendorf, Fran Bennett, Robert Shaye.
Body Count: 5
Been a bit Elm Streety round here recently, hasn’t it? Well, after this I’ll give it a rest for a while. Promise. The remake just got me hankering for the originals.
You know when you don’t like a song that everybody else does but it’s “just not you” but you’re well aware it’s good, A). that happens to me loads and B). that’s kind of how I am with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. It’s a stupendously good film, anyone can tell that but to me it’s merely a bit better than good.
Understandably peeved with the way Freddy Krueger went from frightening villain of your dreams to campy sell-out within a few short years, his creator Wes Craven decided to have the last word on the subject with this looking back into the box from the outside sorta deal.
There’s talk of making a new Freddy film around LA, which coincides with a series of localised earthquakes and actress Heather Langenkamp’s freaky dreams and those of her young son, Dylan, who watches old Elm Streets in zombielike trances and chants “one, two, Freddy’s coming for you…” She’s also getting prank calls from an obsessed fan and things get worse still when her special-FX department husband gets clawed driving home one night.
Car crash, everyone says with the exception of Heather, who things something else is afoot. She catches up with Robert Englund, Wes Craven, John Saxon and various New Line representatives who try to convince her it’s all in her mind. Dylan is taken to hospital for testing, where suspicion falls on Heather until there’s another murder witnessed by hospital staff.
Eventually, Heather and Dylan take on Freddy in a dream and put an end to him once and for all. Well, until Freddy vs. Jason nine years later anyway.
The self-referential aspect catapulted into the stratosphere by Scream two years later is what makes the film. It’s smartly written, with a context of Freddy existing beyond the constraint of his films and crossing over into the real world plus some chucklesome little nods to the old films (as well as cameos), including that fabulous “screw your pass!” moment, and the wounds of Krueger’s razor fingers cropping up all over the place.
What holds the film back – for me, at least – is the low body count (two of the murders are merely referenced to in a news report) in ratio to the nearly two hour running time and drawn out scenes about Heather’s fears of her own madness. It’s just lack that re-watchability that a 90 minute quality slasher flick has: I’ve watched it twice in about 12 years. But, if anything, New Nightmare reasserted Craven’s directorial prowess and was probably a massive contributing factor in him landing the Scream films.
Blurbs-of-interest: Englund was Freddy in all the other ventures until the 2010 remake and was also in Behind the Mask, Hatchet, Heartstopper, The Phantom of the Opera and Urban Legend; Langenkamp played Nancy in the first and third Elm Street movies; Rob LaBelle was in Jack Frost; Tracy Middendorf was later in Scream – The TV Series; Craven also directed Deadly Blessing and The Hills Have Eyes Part II.