Freddy Vs. Jason

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2003

New Line Cinema/Crystal Lake Entertainment

Directed by Ronny Yu

Produced by Sean S. Cunningham/Robert Shaye

Written by Damian Shannon/Mark Swift

Based on characters created by Wes Craven & Victor Miller

It’s not supposed to be so much daggone fun to watch people getting killed in the most graphic and horrendous ways imaginable. It’s not supposed to be intoxicating to see so much blood gushing in all directions. But intoxicating fun is exactly what FREDDY VS. JASON is from start to finish. It’s a manic gorefest that hits the ground running right from the start and doesn’t stop. If you were to pause the movie for a minute and actually try to make logical sense of the events of the movie, you’d stop watching. But because the energy level of the movie is so high and you’ve got one wickedly brutal murder coming so fast on the heels of the previous one that the blood hardly has had time to dry, you don’t care. Well, let me put it this way: I didn’t care.

FREDDY VS. JASON is in the tradition of those great Universal movies in which they would team up their monsters. Movies such as “Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man” “House of Frankenstein” and “House of Dracula” threw together The Frankenstein Monster, Dracula and the Wolfman scheming, plotting and battling each other. In this one it’s Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) who does most of the plotting but once Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger) gets an idea of what’s going on, Jason comes back hard in his own fashion. After all, when you’re unkillable and indestructible you don’t have to be a strategic genius.

Freddy Kruger has lost much of his power due to the fact that over time, the adults of Springwood have suppressed any and all information about him. So the current generation of teenagers living in the town has never even heard his name and has no idea he exists. This leaves Freddy stranded in a sort of limbo between Hell and The Dreamworld. But he can cross between the two realms and he does so to find a pawn that he can use to regain his power. Freddy finds Jason Voohees in a state of suspended animation dreaming of slaughtering misbehaving teenagers and of his beloved mother. Freddy uses those dreams to manipulate Jason into resurrecting himself (how does he keep doing that?) Freddy then sends Jason after the Springwood teenagers, figuring that the killings will be attributed to him and the resultant fear and terror will feed him power.

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Not a bad plan at all as far as plans go, right? But the problem is that Jason Voorhees is like the living incarnation of that Rolling Stones song “Start Me Up.” Once you get him started, he’ll never stop. Jason proceeds to decimate the teenage population of Springwood and Freddy realizes that if Jason does kill off all the kids that then he’ll be right back in the same predicament he was in at the start of the movie. So now Freddy has a vested investment in stopping his pawn. At the same time, a heroic band of teens have learned about Freddy and figure that the only way to stop him is for one of them to go into The Dreamworld and bring him back into the real world and force Jason to battle Freddy. As you might have surmised by now, this movie’s plot is built upon a lot of plans that go horrendously wrong.

But you want to know what’s really important: do Freddy and Jason fight? Yes, they do throw down not once but twice. The first fight is in The Dreamworld where Freddy has home court advantage and the second takes place in the real world. At Camp Crystal Lake, no less which is Jason’s turf. The battles have all the sophistication of a WWE wrestling match but they’re just as entertaining. Freddy and Jason hack and slash at each other with machete and razor-blade glove, rip limbs off of each other, send each other flying through the air with kicks and punches that could stun an elephant and get back up for more mayhem.

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The acting is this one isn’t anything to brag about and forget about characterization. 99% of the cast is dead by the end of the movie anyway. The cast is there for only one reason, to be killed by either Freddy or Jason and they do their jobs admirably. But the three standouts would have to be Monica Keena as Lori, Our Heroine. Kelly Rowland as Our Heroine’s Best Friend and Jason Ritter (John Ritter’s son) as Our Heroine’s Boyfriend. Somebody really needs to work on getting Kelly Rowland into more movies. I’ve only seen her in this and “The Seat Filler” and both times I was struck dumb at how gorgeous she is on screen. And she throws herself into every scene she’s in with sheer gusto. She demonstrates a gift for comedy in the scene where she’s persuaded by her friends (some friends!) to give Jason mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Robert Englund in particular appears to be having the time of his life as Freddy. Not that Englund didn’t give it everything he had in all of his performances as Freddy. One thing Mr. Englund can never be accused of is phoning it in. But he seems to be taking a particular relish in playing Freddy as the behind-the-scenes manipulator/puppet master working the other characters in the movie. There isn’t much one can say about Ken Kirzinger’s performance as Jason because one really doesn’t need to perform as Jason. One simply needs to be big and intimidating and on that level, Mr. Kirzinger delivers.

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So should you see FREDDY VS. JASON? Absolutely. It’s without a doubt an extremely well made movie, one of the best in the series. Everybody throws themselves into it with a great deal of enthusiasm that more than makes up for any plot holes and director Ronny Yu knows how to keep the story moving with not so much as slowing down for a minute. And there’s a lot of neat little callbacks to elements from both the “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” series. I love a horror movie (or any movie for that matter) that knows exactly what it’s supposed to be and succeeds at being that. Enjoy.

Oh, and P.S.: while this movie is the last of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies, when I re-watch the series every October I leave “New Nightmare” for last for reasons I’ll go into in my review of that movie. But I recommend that you do that also.

97 Minutes

Rated R

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 since 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 has 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 her control freak father. Tracy (Lezlie Deane) uses boxing and martial arts as a way of controlling the rage stemming from the sexual abuse she suffered 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

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

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1989

New Line Cinema/Heron Communications/Smart Egg Pictures

Directed by Stephen Hopkins

Produced by Robert Shaye and Rupert Harvey

Screenplay by Leslie Bohem

Story by John Skipp, Craig Spector and Leslie Bohem

Based on characters created by Wes Craven

There are those who will say that by the time the series got to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD, Ol’ Freddy Krueger and his antics were getting pretty tired. I don’t agree with that. There’s still a lot of talent hard at work in this one and in a lot of ways, it’s a better story than “The Dream Master” which invoked the rule of Just Go With It as opposed to adequately explaining its plot. At least here in THE DREAM CHILD, screenwriter Leslie Bohem respects the intelligence of the audience by providing a motivation and a reason for Freddy once more coming back to life. And it’s a pretty good idea Freddy has at that. The movie also boasts a Freddy Krueger that’s significantly more sadistic than he was in his earlier movies. The story is darker and the kills more gruesome and personal. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this is the darkest movie of the series so far and will remain so until we get to “New Nightmare”

Life has finally become normal for Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox) She’s been dating Dan (Danny Hassel) the football jock she had a crush on in “The Dream Master” and they’re making plans to travel to Europe for summer vacation after high school graduation. Her dad (Nicholas Mele) has quit drinking and rebuilt a loving, healthy relationship with his daughter. She’s even got a whole new crew of BFF’s. Greta (Erika Anderson) is a leggy, gorgeous aspiring supermodel whose every move is closely monitored by her mother. Mark (Joe Seely) is a geek who plans on being a comic book artist and is madly in love with Greta. Yvonne (Kelly Jo Minter) works as a candy striper at the local hospital.

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Yes, Alice’s life seems like it’s all going to be sunshine, lollypops and rainbows from here on out. Until the new nightmares start. Nightmares where Alice is dressed in a nun’s habit and wearing a nametag saying ‘Amanda Krueger.’ She’s in a lunatic asylum where she is attacked by the inmates. There are more dreams in which Alice, as Amanda, relives Freddy’s cursed birth by herself giving birth to him. Once again reborn, Freddy sets about killing Alice’s friends but leaving her alone. Alice discovers why after Dan’s shocking and unexpected death: she’s pregnant with Dan’s baby and Freddy has used the dreams of her unborn child to get into her dreams as well. Freddy needs her alive at least until her child is born. Alice’s friends are woefully unequipped to help her but she does have one powerful ally. Amanda Krueger’s spirit has joined the fight to aid Alice in defeating her damned son once and for all.

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Although Lisa Wilcox has improved a lot as an actress since “The Dream Master” the real star here is the special effects, the dream imagery and three of the most visually striking kills of the entire series. Dan is riding on a motorcycle that merges with him and both become this H.R. Giger inspired biomechanical demon. There’s a simply amazing shot of this creature roaring down a highway billowing smoke behind it. Mark falls asleep and is sucked into a black-and-white comic book where he is turned into a 2D character. When Freddy cuts him, instead of blood flowing out, it’s all the color from his body. Greta is fed to death. It’s a lot more creepy and grisly than it sounds, trust me.

The ending is also imaginatively done with Alice, Amanda and Freddy all trying to get to Alice’s son on M.C. Escher staircases that go every whichaway. It’s a fun scene to watch but we get back to the gruesomeness in the jaw dropping scene after that where Freddy tears his way out of Alice’s body. The special effects boys obviously had a field day in this movie and it shows. There’s some truly imaginative stuff done here.

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The acting is nothing to brag about. The cast of this movie are all nice to look at and they work hard at trying to create characters but it’s obvious way too early that these are just victims and outside of Alice don’t present any real threat to Freddy at all. Kelly Jo Minter gets the thankless job of being the one friend who doesn’t believe any of this Freddy Krueger stuff and so is stuck with repeating the same lines about Alice acting crazy over and over and over again. The few scenes that Erika Anderson and Joe Seely have are quite cute, though. His character’s crush on Greta is genuinely sweet and he does make a good impact on the screen when he states how much he loved her.

The two characters and actors who really stand out are supporting characters. There’s Whitby Hertford as Alice’s son, Jacob. Pazuzu only knows where the casting director found this kid from but his big sad eyes, deadpan expression and delivery of my favorite line of his: “Oh. Hello” tickled me to no end. And Nicholas Mele as Alice’s dad gets to show a nice bit of character development in here. In “The Dream Master” he was an obnoxious, self-hating drunk unable to deal with the death of his wife and had lost touch with his kids. Apparently the death of his son in that movie pulled him together and in THE DREAM CHILD he’s a sober, fully supportive parent who’s going to AA meetings, grown back his spine and looks out for his daughter.

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But I can understand why A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD is considered to be a tired movie. By this time it’s pretty clear that nothing anybody can do is ever going to be enough to get rid of Freddy for good. The final scene makes that clear. So why continue with the series if Freddy’s never going to be defeated? I guess that’s why New Line decided to make the next one; “Freddy’s Dead” the last one. But Freddy certainly didn’t deserve to go out the way he does in that one.

But that’s a review for another time. You want to hear if A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD is worth your time. Well, if you’ve watched the first four then why wouldn’t you watch this one? It’s not a waste of time but it is one that you could have playing in the background while you’re doing other stuff and not feel as if you’re missing anything. Enjoy.

90 Minutes

Rated R

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

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1988

New Line Cinema/Heron Communications/Smart Egg Pictures

Directed by Renny Harlin

Produced by Robert Shaye and Rachel Talalay

Screenplay by Brian Helgeland and Scott Pierce

Story by William Kotzwinkle and Brian Helgeland

Based on characters created by Wes Craven

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER is that bad of a movie. It is a disappointing movie in a lot of ways but that’s because it had to follow the grand slam home run that was “Dream Warriors.” Let’s face it, “Dream Warriors” is one hell of an act to follow. THE DREAM MASTER is nowhere near as bad as “Freddy’s Dead” but I’ll take “Freddy’s Revenge” over THE DREAM MASTER any day.

We catch up with the surviving Dream Warriors: Kristen (now played by Tuesday Knight) Joey (Rodney Eastman) and Kincaid (Ken Sagoes) who have apparently been released from treatment at Westin Hills and are now attending high school, getting on with living normal lives. At least Joey and Kincaid are. Kristen is still returning to the dreamworld, obsessed with the notion that Freddy Krueger is still alive and well somewhere in the dreamworld, still after them. Joey and Kincaid quite sensibly tell her that she may in fact herself cause Freddy to come back if she keeps on looking for him.

Kristen reluctantly agrees and concentrates on rebuilding her life. And she’s got a good one. She’s got a new BFF, Alice (Lisa Wilcox) Sheila (Toy Newkirk) a brainy black girl, Debbie, a tough chick (Brooke Theiss) who looks out for Sheila and she’s even got a boyfriend, Alice’s brother Rick (Andras Jones.)

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Turns out that Joey and Kincaid were right as Freddy does indeed return to resume killing of Elm Street children. Once he finishes off the last of the Dream Warriors he turns his razor bladed glove on Alice and the others. But before Freddy killed her, Kristen was able to pass on her powers to Alice. Now, whenever one of her friends is killed by Freddy, Alice gains their abilities. How? Don’t ask me. THE DREAM MASTER isn’t big on explaining much of anything but we’ll get to that in a bit.

The movie eventually comes to a showdown in the dreamworld between Alice, now powered with the various abilities of her friends and her brother (Rick’s martial arts skills, Sheila’s intelligence and Debbie’s greater strength thanks to her avid weightlifting) and Freddy.

Let’s get what I didn’t like out of the way first so I can end this review on as upbeat a note as I can, okay? First of all, killing off Joey, Kincaid and Kristen is such a downer that I can’t express it. I mean, in “Dream Warriors” these characters earned their victory over Freddy Krueger and deserved to live their lives in peace. To bring them back in THE DREAM MASTER only to kill them off so coldly and callously is a kick in the ass to the integrity of all the characters in “Dream Warriors” who gave their lives to fight and finally defeat Freddy.

Having said that, I gotta admit that I always knew that if Joey was gonna get it, it would be from chasing a chick. And Kincaid’s next to final scene always gives me chills as he’s in a junkyard that as the camera pulls back we see it apparently covers an entire planet, screaming to the sky over and over; “Freddy’s Back! Freddy’s Back!”

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Tuesday Knight as Kristen is a disappointment in the role but it’s not her fault. Patricia Arquette made such an impact as the character that I feel that if they couldn’t get her back (allegedly she wasn’t even asked to return) they should have just left the character alone. Rodney Eastman and Ken Sagoes bring a lot of energy to their roles for the brief time they’re in the movie and it’s welcome as the crew of young actors in THE DREAM MASTER are nowhere near as interesting or vibrantly memorable as the cast of “Dream Warriors” Oh, they give it their all and I commend them for their work but they just don’t command my investment into their characters. I was tickled pink to see Brooke Bundy return as Kristen’s slutty mom, still shouting “Andale! Andale!” at her stressed out daughter.

But the major flaw of the movie is its refusal to explain anything. Freddy Krueger returns because…well, simply because he’s needed to return. But at least it’s done in a truly memorable fashion with Kincaid’s dog urinating fire on Freddy’s bones. The movie never bothers to explain exactly how Kristen passes along her power to Alice or how that enables Alice to absorb the abilities of her friends when they die. Some cockamamie rhyme about The Dream Master is pulled out of nowhere and that along with Freddy looking at his own reflection (?) enables Alice to defeat him.

But remember how in my review of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” I mention how the series was different from the “Halloween” and “Friday The 13th” series in that the producers, writers and special effects people tried to do something different in each movie? Well, the dream sequences and visuals in this one are exceptional. The one scene that still freaks me out, out of all the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies is the one where Debbie is turned into a cockroach and trapped inside a roach motel. There’s the scene where Kincaid’s dog pisses fire on Freddy’s bones. Yeah, it’s goofy as hell but damn if it don’t work, somehow. There’s the scene in a movie theater where gravity goes berserk and Alice is pulled into the movie she’s watching. And the conclusion has the souls of Freddy’s victims fighting their way out of his body, ripping him to pieces in the process. It’s a doozy of a sequence, heightened greatly by Linnea Quigley’s contributions to the scene. Don’t worry…you’ll know her when you see her.

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So how does A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: THE DREAM MASTER stack up against the others in the series? As I keep on emphasizing and will maintain: it’s not that bad an entry in the series. It just has the misfortune to follow the movie that is generally regarded as the best sequel of the franchise. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the production values (which are actually damn good, btw) the visual effects or Robert Englund’s performance here as he fine-tunes Freddy’s wisecracking one-liners. And the direction by Renny Harlin is professional and peppy as Harlin knows how to keep a movie moving. But the fate of the Dream Warriors and the uninspired characters doesn’t make this one of my favorites in the series.

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And instead of a trailer, here’s one of the best examples of just how goofy things were back in the 1980’s. By this time Freddy Krueger had become such a pop culture star that he appeared in a video rapping alongside rap superstars The Fat Boys! Enjoy!

93 Minutes

Rated R

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

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1985

New Line Cinema/Heron Communications/Smart Egg Pictures

Directed by Jack Sholder

Produced by Robert Shaye

Written by David Chaskin

Based on characters created by Wes Craven

When discussing the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series with others, the question always comes up as to just why has this movie franchise managed to still be popular and successful even after so many years. Fans of the franchise such as myself faithfully rewatch the series every Halloween and it’s continually picking up new fans who weren’t even born when the series was in the theaters.

Me, I think it’s because unlike other franchises such as “Halloween” and “Friday The 13th” which pretty much told the same story over and over and over again, one movie after another, the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies honestly tried to do something different with every new entry in the series. Whether it be in terms of actually advancing the terrifying story of Freddy Krueger or doing special effects work that really were outstanding and cutting edge at the time (the scene with the chick who gets turned into a cockroach and crushed in a roach motel in “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master” still freaks the shit outta me) the creative folks involved truly did try to do something different with each movie. The “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies don’t become one big blur as other franchises where it gets hard to remember what the plot of different movies were. You name a specific “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie to somebody and I’m willing to bet that they can pretty accurately describe what the plot was.

And that brings us to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE which truly is about as different a horror movie you’re going to find. Why is it different? First, there’s Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) himself. For some unexplained reason, Freddy has decided to manifest himself in The Real World instead of safely killing Elm Street kids in their sleep. To this end he’s picked Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) as his host body. Jesse’s family have moved into the former home of Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp doesn’t appear in this one, though. We don’t find out what she’s been doing until the next movie, “Dream Warriors”). Jesse takes Nancy’s old room for his own and immediately begins having dreams of Freddy Krueger who demands that Jesse kill for him. Jesse even finds Freddy’s old razor bladed glove in the basement of the house and his girlfriend Lisa (Kim Myers) finds Nancy’s old diary in his closet.

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While Jesse struggles to understand what’s going with him with the help of his friend Ron (Robert Rusler) Lisa does research into the background of Freddy Krueger and the series of mysterious killings that took place on Elm Street five years ago.

And now here’s where the movie goes off into the direction it’s best known for: the homoerotic subtext that supports most of the movie. I myself think that the movie’s director and writer messed things up when they had Freddy plainly be seen by other people as they had a pretty interesting psychological angle going, with Freddy representing Jesse’s repressed homosexual feelings for Ron. There’s two scenes in the movie where it could be interpreted that Jesse has had sex with men and unable to deal with this aspect of himself kills them and blames the killings on Freddy, hallucinating that he sees him. Want more evidence? There’s a great scene where Jesse is making out with Lisa at a pool party and suddenly panics due to Freddy manifesting himself in Jesse and he breaks it off, running to Ron’s house, sneaking into his room in the middle of the night. Ron gets in the best line in the movie here: “Now let me get this straight…she’s waiting for you in the cabana. And you wanna sleep with me.”

Not enough for you? There’s the high school gym teacher that is killed in a pretty blatant S&M fashion after he encounters Jesse in a gay bar. Most of the victims Freddy terrorizes and/or kills are men. Mark Patton himself in interviews lays claim to being the first male Scream Queen and he gets my vote. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie where the lead male role does so much screaming. In fact, most of the men in this movie are ineffectual, with Jesse’s father Ken played by Clu Gulager leading the way. This cat is so much of a brain dead blockhead he borders on being a sitcom dad. It’s the women in this movie who are level-headed, sensible and have steel in their spines. Taken just on that level of traditional male/female roles in horror movies being reversed and the homoerotic subtext, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE makes for intriguing viewing.

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But how does it rate purely as a horror film? I liked how the movie takes its time introducing the characters and making sure we know who’s who and what they’re all about before the mayhem starts. I don’t think it’s anywhere near as violent or as blood-soaked as some of the later films. But it manages to showcase a couple of really nice sequences. The major one being the scene where Freddy tears his way out of Jesse’s body. And the pool party scene is redeemed by that terrific shot of Freddy haloed in flame proclaiming to the terrified teenagers; “You are all my children now.”

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But you really can’t get around the fact that when you look at the movie objectively, it’s not a Freddy Krueger movie. Supposedly Freddy has exactly thirteen minutes of screen time. In a movie that runs eighty-seven minutes, that’s not a lot. The movie’s not about Freddy Krueger at all. It’s about a young man confused and conflicted about his sexuality with Freddy as a supporting character in his own movie. Now some may call this the weakest “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie but me, I’ll still take A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE over “Freddy’s Dead”

87 Minutes

Rated R

A Nightmare On Elm Street

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1984

New Line Cinema/Heron Communications/Smart Egg Pictures

Written and Directed by Wes Craven

Produced by Robert Shaye

I honestly do feel sorry for those of you who missed the 1980’s. Because you missed the craziest, most insane and yet most fun decade of recent American history. Especially if you were a movie fan. How else can you explain that the major cultural icon of 1980’s horror movies was a pedophile? A wise cracking rapist and murderer of children? Because when you get right down to it, that’s exactly what Freddy Krueger is. He’s a pedophile that terrorizes children before he rapes and kills them.  And I think that’s why the 2010 remake wasn’t a success. Freddy Krueger is very much a cultural icon that could only exist in a certain time and place in American history. In fact, he’s become a dream of an earlier time. Which is most appropriate for the character.

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But no…you can’t have pedophiles as the main character of your Politically Correct horror movies nowadays. Because that’s too close to Real Life. The Internet has shown us that pedophiles are everywhere and all our nerve endings are way too sensitive. And so we don’t have the distance where we can see a Freddy Krueger in a movie and laugh at his one-liners. Because we’re not that innocent anymore. We talk to the monsters everyday online.

But the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET from 1984 is still here and it can be watched and enjoyed as a superior example of imaginative horror. The entire NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series, along with the ‘Phantasm” movies is still my favorite horror film franchise of the 1980’s and I think it’s because I’m still fascinated by how they play so freely with what is real and what is a dream.  In A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET there’s a scene that still freezes my blood when Our Heroine Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) falls asleep in her tub while taking a bath and Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) yanks her through this tiny hole in the bottom of her tub, snatching her from the Real World into his Dream World.
nightmareonelmstreet1984-bathtubhandBecause that’s the only way Freddy can attack you. Nancy finds out from her alcoholic mother Marge (Ronee Blakley) that years ago she and a bunch of other parents in the town of Springfield took revenge on Freddy Krueger for killing 20 children. Krueger went to trial but was released on a technicality. The outraged parents burned Freddy alive. And now, Freddy has come back for revenge from beyond the grave, striking at the children of the parents who killed them through their dreams.

Nancy figures that out but it’s a futile revelation because eventually we all have to go to sleep and when the children of Elm Street go to sleep, Freddy Krueger is waiting in their nightmares with his razor bladed glove to strike and slay.1984 A Nightmare On Elm Street 013

There’s so much to like about A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET I honestly don’t know where to begin. The star-making performances of Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund is the major draw. Upon watching this movie recently (and yes, I rewatch the entire NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series during the Halloween season and have done so for the past four or five years) I was again struck by how little dialog Freddy has. He certainly isn’t the wisecracker we get to know in later movies. This Freddy is horrifyingly committed to his mission of revenge.

This movie is also noted for Johnny Depp’s first major Hollywood role and he quite rightly has the most spectacular death scene in the movie. I’m sure he didn’t plan it that way but it’s kind of fitting that Johnny Depp in his very first major role has an over the top scene. John Saxon and Charles Fleischer (the voice of Roger Rabbit) are also here in supporting roles. In fact, John Saxon has top billing even though his role is a supporting one. Amanda Wyss has more screen time than John Saxon and she gets killed twenty minutes into the movie.

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So should you see A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET? I’m pretty sure you have and so you have your own opinion about it and I’m not here to change your mind. Only to give you my opinion and here it is: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is one of the most original and entertaining horror movies I’ve ever seen. If you’ve seen it, I hope you agree. If not, let’s argue.

Rated R

91 Minutes