Yaphet Kotto

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

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1991

New Line Cinema

Directed by Rachel Talalay

Produced by Michael De Luca, Michael N. Knue, Robert Shaye and Aron Warner

Screenplay by Michael De Luca

Based on a story by Rachel Talalay

Based on character created by Wes Craven

By the time we get to FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE, Freddy Krueger has been around for eight years now and he’s simply no longer scary at all. How could he be? By this time Freddy has appeared in rap/music videos, hosted his own horror anthology TV show and his face appears on lunch boxes, kid’s pajamas (which shows you how loopy merchandising can get back as Freddy Krueger is a killer of children) T-shirts, coffee mugs, shot glasses, tote bags, bumper stickers, oven mitts in the shape of his famous bladed glove…I think you get the point. By 1991 Freddy Krueger had been marketed up the yin yang and Robert Englund is appearing on award shows and talks shows as Freddy joking and clowning, breakdancing and riding skateboards. So when you no longer take a horror icon seriously anymore, what’s left to do? Turn him into a live action cartoon, that’s what.

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Peter Jackson wrote an unused screenplay for this movie in which Freddy Krueger was now perceived by teenagers as not being a threat at all and treated as a joke. In fact, his script had kids taking sleeping pills just so they could go into the dreamworld and beat up on Freddy. That would certainly have been better than what we got in FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE which for most of its running time is more Looney Tunes than Wes Craven.

Set ten years after the end of the previous film, we’re told that Freddy Krueger has killed off every last child and teenager in Springwood, Ohio and the remaining adults who still live there have pretty much gone insane from grief. Let’s face it, that’s a pretty depressing opening for the movie as what’s happened is that clearly Freddy has won. None of the battles, sacrifices and deaths of the characters in the previous movies have meant a thing because ultimately, Freddy got what he wanted. But now he needs to get out of Springwood and he needs one more very special child to do so. That child just may be John Doe (Shon Greenblatt) who wakes up in a youth shelter with nothing but caffeine pills and an old newspaper clipping of a missing woman named Loretta Krueger.

John comes under the care of case worker Maggie Burroughs (Lisa Zane) and dream specialist Doc (Yaphet Kotto) who also work with other troubled teens such as Carlos (Ricky Dean Logan) who was physically abused by his mother so badly he lost his hearing one one ear. Spencer ( Breckin Meyer) is a pothead. Mainly to piss off of control freak father. Tracy (Lezlie Deane) uses boxing and martial arts as a way of controlling the rage stemming from the sexual abuse she summered at her father’s hands. Maggie herself has her own issues in the form of recurring nightmares about Springwood and that, along the article John Doe suggests to her that they should take a trip to the town to get some answers for both their problems. Carlos, Spencer and Tracy hide in the back of the van and all of them end up in Springwood where Freddy awaits with the secret of who the final Springwood child is and reveals his master plan to escape Springwood and kill more children because as he puts it in the movie’s only chilling line: “Every town has an Elm Street…”

This is the one that everybody remembers mainly because of the cameo appearances by Elinor Donahue, Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper (as Freddy Krueger’s abusive stepdad) Tom Arnold and Roseanne Barr (who are billed in this movie…no lie…as ‘Mr. and Mrs. Tom Arnold’) and it’s a shame because Lisa Zane’s (Billy’s older sister) performance is really good and deserves to have a better movie to be in. She, Yaphet Kotto and Robert Englund are really the only performances to watch out for as they commit to the material and give it all it’s worth. Even though here Freddy Krueger is definitely a cartoon character (the scene where he kills Spencer by video game is cringe worthy) Robert Englund is obviously trying his best to work with what he’s got.

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But it’s scenes like this and where he shows up as The Wicked Witch of The West that neutralizes the good ones such as where he replaces Carlos’ hearing aid with one that amplifies his hearing to the the point where the dropping of a handful of nails sounds to poor Carlos like explosions going off in his head. That’s the old sadistic Freddy we used to know and love at work there. Or the one where Carlos is dreaming he’s opening up a road map and it keeps on opening and opening and opening until he’s suffocating from the road map filling up the entire back of the van.

And it’s surprising to me that Rachel Talalay directed this one in such a slapdash silly manner as she’s been associated with every “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie from the beginning as a producer. One would think that she would know the character inside and out and come up with a truly knockout “last movie” in the series. But she obviously was more interested in the getting to the 3D sequence that is the climax of the movie complete with “dream demons” that supposedly explain Freddy’s supernatural powers and were undoubtedly pulled outta the same hat George Lucas got his “midichlorians” to explain The Force.

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FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE is the one movie I would truly point at as being the real clunker of the series. I can only recommend it being watched if you’ve already watched all the other movies in the series already. Fortunately, despite the title, it wasn’t the last and the next two Freddy Kreuger movies would more than make up for this one.

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89 Minutes

Rated R

Better In the Dark #47: LIVE AND LET DIE and THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN

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Our survey of The Bond Films arrives at a major turning point as The Boys Outta Brooklyn reviews the first two movies to feature Roger Moore. It’s the edge of some very, very dark territory with some seriously goofy films (including one Tom subtitles ‘Black People Hate Bond’), but they do the usual cool eyed dissection. Plus Derrick says something so hilarious it makes Tom speechless and we rant about our choice for the worst Bond Girl ever. There’s a solar-powered laser weapon aimed at your head…so get to clicking!

http://www.betterinthedarksite.com/episode-archives/eps-41-50/

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Truck Turner


1974

American International Pictures

Produced by Fred Weintraub
Directed by Jonathan Kaplan
Written by Michael Allin, Leigh Chapman, Jerry Wilkes and Oscar Williams

 
Isaac Hayes will probably always be remembered as the composer of the score for “Shaft” and with good reason. The “Shaft” theme song is as recognizable and as ingrained into pop culture as The James Bond Theme, The Buckaroo Banzai Strut or The Indiana Jones March and Isaac Hayes deserved the Oscar he received for the score. As an example of the power and utter coolness of the “Shaft” theme, John Singleton used it for his version in 2000 totally unchanged and even thirty years later, the “Shaft” theme was still utterly cool shit and I remember the audience in the theatre I saw the Sam Jackson version of “Shaft” totally losing it when the theme song was played.

So maybe when Isaac Hayes saw how much fun Richard Roundtree, Jim Brown, Jim Kelly and Ron O’Neal were having playing badass black heroes he wanted to join in the fun and I guess that’s the main reason he not only did the score but also starred in TRUCK TURNER, a minor but entertaining entry in the blaxplotation genre of films that dominated much of the theatres in the 70’s and 80’s alongside of  the kung fu craze.

Truck Turner (Isaac Hayes) is a bounty hunter who with his partner Jerry (Alan Weeks) works the L.A. ghettos. Truck is a former pro football star that got hurt playing and now has to chase bail jumpers to earn his bread. He’s got a reputation as being one bad mutha indeed and his tag line after he beats the piss outta anybody dumb enough to get in his way is to bellow: “Anybody ask you what happened, tell ‘em you got hit by a TRUCK!” Truck and Jerry are hired by a bail bondsman (Dick Miller) to go after a particularly dangerous bail jumper: a pimp named Gator who is exceptionally violent. Truck and Jerry balk at taking the job but after they’re promised a thousand bucks apiece (hey, back in 1974 that was a lotta money), they change their minds.

Gator proves to be even harder to find and impossible to catch. They’re forced to kill him and that’s when the real problem starts: turns out that Gator has a stable of the hottest, most money-making ho’s in L.A. and they’re under the thumb of his partner, Dorinda (Nichelle Nichols) who puts a proposition to L.A.’s pimps: the pimp that brings her the head of Truck Turner gets Gator’s million dollar stable of ho’s. Truck Turner is soon confused as he finds himself the target of every pimp in L.A. who tries to whack him while wearing some of the most outlandish outfits you’ll ever see in a 70’s movie.

One of the pimps is a little more dangerous than the others, though. Harvard Blue (Yaphet Kotto) has his eye set on Dorinda’s stable and he calls in a crew of shotgun wielding hitmen who call themselves The Insurance Company. They call themselves that because once they take your policy they insure that you’re gonna die…

The fun in watching TRUCK TURNER comes from the performances and the really bizarre crew of pimps who try to kill Truck during the movie. One of them is dressed in a checkerboard leather jacket with fur sleeves and a Jiffy-Pop hat who actually looks surprised when Truck spots him on a fire escape. And Yaphet Kotto sports this plaid fur coat through much of the movie that absolutely has to be seen to be believed. It’s also a hoot watching Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura) really have fun cutting loose and playing a hooker/madam. And Scatman Crothers shows up for a few minutes as a retired pimp and any movie that has The Scatman in it can’t be all bad, now can it?

I liked how Isaac Hayes played Truck as pretty much of a slob and not really all that bright. Truck isn’t much of a thinker, as he prefers to shoot, stab or slug his way out of the situations he finds himself him and let’s face it, not all heroes have to be geniuses or strategic experts. But there’s something charming about Truck’s loyalty to his friends and I really liked the scene where he sets his girlfriend up to be arrested as a shoplifter since jail is the only place he can think of to keep her safe while he goes after the bad guys.

TRUCK TURNER is obviously dated in its clothing and slang. And Isaac Hayes really isn’t all that great of an actor. This movie and “Escape From New York” are probably the two movie roles he’s best remembered for but I like him better in TRUCK TURNER because he worked with what he’s got: his voice and his eyes. There’s a scene where Truck is walking down a hospital corridor and the camera is focused on his eyes and they look absolutely chilling and communicate quite well that Truck isn’t playing around anymore. But there are a whole lot of other things to recommend such as the performances of Yaphet Kotto and Nichelle Nichols who have so much fun with their roles you wish they had more screen time. And there’s a white one-eyed pimp named Desmond (John Kramer) whose rhinestone eye patches match his cowboy shirts, which is one the movie’s best and funniest running gags. In fact, there’s a lot in TRUCK TURNER that might make you think this is a spoof of the blaxplotation genre, especially with the fantastically overstated outfits of the pimps, the cars, the scene where Nichelle Nichols trots out her girls while she rattles off how much they made turning tricks in the previous year and the wildass shootouts where Truck wields a .357 Magnum with as much psychic ability as Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry since the both of them apparently share the ability to know when somebody on the roof of a building across the street is aiming at them.

So should you see TRUCK TURNER? If you’re a fan of blaxplotation like me or just a fan of really good cheesy 70’s action movie, yeah. TRUCK TURNER is by no means a classic of the blaxplotation genre but it’s a nice little time waster if you want to see Isaac Hayes try his hand at being an action hero or just want to dive into the blaxplotation genre. Recommended for Netflixing if you’re in a blaxplotation mood on a Friday or Saturday night.

Rated: R
91 minutes