Posts Tagged ‘freddy movies’

h1

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

August 21, 2020

Director: Chuck Russell (The Mask, The Blob, Eraser)

Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Craig Wasson, Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne

Anticipation Level: High

How Was It?

This review may contain spoilers.

The last good Freddy movie before a long stretch of total crap. I still haven’t revisited Part 2, but I’ve never liked that movie and I don’t expect that to change, even after watching the Mark Patton documentary. I felt fine skipping Freddy’s Revenge because this movie ignores that sequel anyway (Note: I do plan to watch it again soon [Note: and I did obviously]).

Dream Warriors holds up really well and has some of the most iconic moments (the Freddy worm, the whole puppet sequence, the T.V. death scene) of the whole series, but it is also probably responsible for making Freddy a punchline factory. I love the whole “welcome to prime time, bitch” scene, but let’s be real, that’s the moment that started the transition from a relatively scary Freddy to the cornball jokester he’d become over the next three movies.

This movie seems to answer the questions about the ending of Nightmare 1. Nancy’s friends and mom really died, the grey streak in her hair is back, and I guess whatever happened after she turned her back on Freddy and made him disappear was a dream?

The concept of the Dream Warriors is pretty cool. There’s a girl that can pull other people into her dreams and when she does so that person can come in with a superpower (i.e. super strength, wizardry, etc.) and that makes these kids quite a bit more formidable than the standard issue group of horror movie victims.

I think the acting in this movie is mostly fine. You don’t realize how good Patricia Arquette is until you watch someone else play the same role in Nightmare 4 and, well, it’s a night and day difference in quality. Heather Langenkamp returns as Nancy Thompson and while her presence gives the kids hope and credibility, I can’t say Langenkamp is a strong actress by any means. Somehow, it seems she has gotten worse at her craft in the three years between the original Nightmare and this one. Robert Englund has a lot more scenery to chew in this movie compared to the original. He’s wonderful. While Freddy was already a thriving entity, I’m pretty sure this is the movie mostly responsible for making him the pop culture icon he still is today.

Dream Warriors is a strong entry in the Elm Street series and one of my favorite flicks out of all the slasher movies featuring horror’s biggest icons. This movie builds really well on the original – thanks in large part to Wes Craven returning as a screenwriter – and provides some of the best kills and special effects of the whole series. A proper horror sequel and a must see for genre fans.

Replay Value: One of two Freddy Krueger movies I could probably watch over and over again as an adult.

Sequel Potential: We’re not even halfway yet.

Oscar Potential: None.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

h1

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

August 18, 2020

Director: Jack Sholder (The Hidden, Alone in the Dark, Supernova)

Starring: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Englund, Robert Rusler

Anticipation Level: Low

How Was It?

This review may contain spoilers.

It’s kind of odd that Scream, Queen! inspired me to start re-watching the Nightmare series, but didn’t make me particularly want to revisit the movie the documentary is about. That’s because I’ve always hated it and have long thought of it as my least favorite in the franchise. I guess that makes sense. I fell in love with these movies when I was a kid and not only does Freddy’s Revenge feel completely out of place in the context of the whole series, but it’s not surprising that the wise-cracking pop culture icon of the later installments is what appealed to me as a child. This Freddy is still pretty dark and scary (I mean, he claws his way out of Jessie’s body) and what is now largely recognized as a running homsexual subtext weirded me out when I was younger. I just have never enjoyed this movie and it’s probably the film in the series I’ve seen the least.

Having watched it again though… it’s not terrible. Like… it’s certainly better than Nightmare 4. Freddy is still pretty dark and menacing in this installment. His first scene has him mostly in the shadows as he drags his glove blades along the seats of the bus walking towards Jessie. Later, he pulls back his scalp to show Jessie his brain. Plus, when he does talk, Englund’s voice and cadence is still scary sounding. He’s not a cartoon character in this movie.

But this movie is pretty damn silly in a lot of parts. I’m sure I don’t need to mention Jessie’s dancing scene as he’s putting things away in his room. The scene with the bird? I have no clue what that was. Is Freddy a dream demon or can he possess things in the house when everyone’s awake? Or how about when Jessie goes to the gay bar in the middle of the night and runs into his gym teacher? That’s strange enough, but then the teacher makes him run laps at the school and take a shower afterwards? This whole thing feels like it should be a dream sequence, but it doesn’t seem to be.

Imagine being the police and finding a high school kid wandering around a highway butt naked in the middle of the night and then discovering his gym teacher dead at the school the next day. I’m not saying that kid is obviously the killer, but you MIGHT want to have a chat with him.

This movie has some good visual effects. The scene when Jessie is at Grady’s house and Freddy steps out of Jessie’s body is pretty spectacular. It’s gnarly and I love when you can see Freddy’s eye looking around at the back of Jessie’s throat. This movie is pretty light on death scenes though because when Grady dies, we are about an hour into the movie and he’s only the second death. I also like the melting effects in Freddy’s death scene.

On the other hand, the Freddy makeup looks atrocious in some of the shots in this movie. It looks fine overall, but there’s a couple of takes where it’s obvious they got really lazy with it.

The pool scene used to be the saving grace of this movie for me, but it’s not as cool as I remember it. I thought he slashed up a whole party full of teenagers, but there’s only a few deaths directly caused by Freddy. I’ve always envisioned a lot more carnage in my head. There’s a great shot of Freddy with the fire blazing behind him as he stands tall with his arms up in the air and says, “you are all my children now.”

This movie has another shitty ending. Freddy is basically defeated by “I love you”s and a kiss. That’s about as lame as turning your back on him to end a movie, but at least we get the cool melting visual effects here. I mean… is Jessie even into this chick? I’m not sure how this even works. The big controversy of this movie is all the homosexual subtext and the writer of the movie is now on record as admitting that he wrote that all in there on purpose… so what is this? Jessie’s character appears to be at war with his sexuality, so it’s just strange that a woman saying “I love you” is what gets rid of the Freddy demon inside him.

My only comment on the acting is that it’s mostly fine. Mark Patton (who is gay himself) is on record saying that his performance was based on how the script was written, so it’s pretty sad that the backlash from this movie drove him out of Hollywood and out of America. He was just doing his job and the writer painted him as a scapegoat for all the criticism. Nothing cool about that.

Overall, this movie is better than I remembered. Definitely not the worst in the series. It’s also not a good movie. As of now, I think this is probably better than Nightmares 4, 5, and 6, but at least those movies were bad and didn’t take themselves seriously. Freddy’s Revenge is definitely still trying to be scary and serious, so the fact that it’s not good is less forgivable.

Replay Value: Historically, this movie has had the least replay value in the series for me, but I think that is subject to change. Still, it’s not a Nightmare movie I’m excited to watch.

Sequel Potential: Evil never dies.

Oscar Potential: None.

4/10 (Lackluster)

h1

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2019)

August 16, 2020

Director: Roman Chimienti & Tyler Jensen

Starring: Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Englund, Robert Rustler, Heather Langenkamp, Jack Sholder, David Chaskin

Anticipation Level: Medium-High

How Was It?

I’m not going to lie, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge has always been my least favorite entry in the ANOES series – and one of my least favorite in any of the biggest and long-running horror franchises. It just didn’t do anything for me. I’ve seen it multiple times and only a few scenes have stuck with me all these years: Freddy emerging from the lead character’s body and Freddy getting loose in the real world and terrorizing a pool party. Cool stuff. The rest of the movie? Not so much.

This documentary is about Mark Patton, lead actor in the movie and how the backlash from it ran him out of Hollywood and into self-isolation for the next several decades. This doc examines the homosexual “subtext” in the film – something that has come to light in a positive way in the last half decade or so – and how Patton, a closeted gay man in the 80s, was blamed for how the film was perceived after its released, with the writer even denying that any subtext existed and implying that it was the actor’s fault it came across that way.

I’m pretty interested in anything related to the major horror franchises (I’m also reading Taking Shape, a book about the Halloween movies, and a Wes Craven biography right now), so I was immediately intrigued when I saw this documentary pop up. I can’t act like I was never homophobic. I graduated from high school in 2000 and no one my age dared come out of the closet back then because questioning someone’s masculinity or sexuality was the ultimate insult. I can’t change the past, but I’ve definitely grown over the last 20 years – and I think a good portion of society has as well. Mark Patton starred in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 in 1985, over a decade before my high school years, back when being homosexual was seen as a certainty to get and spread HIV and AIDS. This documentary examines all of that and shows how brutal it was to be a gay man in the mid-80s, but also highlights how things have changed and how Nightmare 2 has become a very important movie to a lot of people.

This is definitely an interesting watch. If you’re any sort of fan of the Nightmare series, I’d recommend it, but you should definitely watch Nightmare 2 again first (which I did not). However, since watching this, I have re-watched every Nightmare movie except Freddy vs Jason (that’s next) and the shitty remake (which I actually re-watched earlier this year), so this doc made me revisit the entire series again for the first time in maybe 15+ years for most of the entries.

Replay Value: Not much, but if I ever decide to revisit the series again (as I’m doing right now), I’d probably watch it again.

Sequel Potential: N/A

Oscar Potential: No Best Doc nod for this one.

6/10 (Recommended)

h1

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

July 21, 2020

Director: Wes Craven (Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3, Scream 4, Last House on the Left, People Under the Stairs)

Starring: Heather Langenkamp, John Saxson, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund

Anticipation Level: N/A

How Was It?

A chronological, as-I’m-watching-it review with MANY SPOILERS:

I absolutely love this movie. It’s easy to forget how great the original Nightmare is because of how bad many of the sequels were. Of all the horror franchises that I loved as a kid, I think the A Nightmare on Elm Street movies have arguably aged the worst. I think about half of them are nearly unwatchable as an adult. But not this one. This one is great.

Right from the jump, the theme music is unique and creates an unsettling tone. The opening dream sequence also does a great job of teasing an ominous presence while not exactly revealing what Freddy is. How about that close up shot of Freddy’s eyes behind the pipes? Ah yes, back when Freddy Krueger was actually scary.

The second dream sequence is AWESOME. I’ve seen this movie so many times that I feel like I know it shot-for-shot and Tina’s second dream just has so many iconic moments: Freddy coming out of the wall above Nancy; Freddy with the stretchy long arms; Freddy slicing his fingers off; Tina pulling his face off while he just laughs through it; and then the unbelievable death scene that sees Tina thrashing through the air as some unseen force slices her to death while her boyfriend Rod watches helplessly and then her body just drops to the floor with a thud. BLOOD IS EVERYWHERE. Holy shit, what a scene.

It’s a bit disturbing when the news report of Tina’s murder says that she was 15 years old. I mean… Tina and Rod were having some pretty loud, raucous sex off screen there. Granted, the actress playing Tina was 24 or 25 when this filmed, but still…

LOL @ Nancy getting private access to Rod, a murder suspect, when he’s in jail. How does that happen? Sure, her dad is a cop, but it’s obvious that he wants her nowhere near this guy and his co-workers should be aware of that. Later, we see Nancy barge in to the police station and demand to see Rod again, bullying the cop at the desk to let her through before dad puts a stop to it.

I have to say the acting in this movie is pretty good for an 80s horror flick. And by “pretty good,” I mean it’s not laughable like it is in a lot of the genre pics of the time. Interestingly, I’m inspired to type this by Heather Langenkamp’s super cringy delivery of “how can you say I don’t take her death seriously?” after her mother says, “I guess you don’t think murder is serious.” It’s a brutal moment in an otherwise reasonably acted flick.

I really like how Nancy’s teacher walks by her when she’s falling asleep in class and gives her a knowing touch. It feels like a rare authentic human moment from a meaningless character in a horror movie. It would just be so stereotypical for the teacher to walk by her and startle her awake for having the nerve to fall asleep in class like what she went through the night before is not public knowledge. Also, shoutout to Lin Shaye playing the teacher here. She will later star in the Insidious movies as Elise Rainier.

Another iconic scene from this movie: Freddy’s glove coming up out of the bathtub water between Nancy’s legs. Not sure how you can grow up watching these movies and not think about that scene when you’re taking a bath as a kid. I think this scene is also the first time we hear the famous Freddy nursery rhyme from the jump rope girls. This scene also has more awkward sexualization of a supposed 15 year old – you can see Nancy topless when Freddy pulls her under the water. Heather Langenkamp was really 20 (and it was probably a body double anyway), but Nancy is 15! Why are we seeing her breasts? It’s weird.

I love when Johnny Depp asks Nancy what happened to her arm and she replies, “I burned it in English class.”

Let’s give Nancy some props. She’s a fighter. How many heroines in horror movies do you see that are ready to take on their tormentor less than halfway through the movie? Nancy asks Glen to watch over her while she sleeps because she needs to go “look for someone” and that someone is Freddy Krueger. Her friends are being killed and she knows the dream world has real world ramifications. This is a BOSS move. Of course, Glen shits the bed and falls asleep. What an ass.

The sleep clinic is another nice touch of giving the main character some credibility. This is a scene where the stereotype would be for the results to show that everything is normal and Nancy is just making this stuff up… but instead, mom and doctor see that things aren’t even close to being normal. Nancy’s dreams are off-the-charts FUCKED.

This prompts mom to tell Nancy the truth about Krueger being a local child murderer and reveals that she’s been keeping his bladed glove in their basement furnace like a serial killer holding on to a souvenir from a murder. This part of the movie is a bit muddled. Fred Krueger got off on a technicality in a case that got the “lawyers fat and the judge famous?” Uh, okay. If you say so. And none of the teenagers in the area know about this obviously super infamous case that happened right in their own backyard? Uh, no. Not even in the pre-internet age is this even remotely believable. Literally everyone in that town would know about what Fred Krueger did.

Ugh, the ending of this movie is brutal. Craven really botched it. There is just so much going wrong. How is Nancy barricaded in her house exactly? Her mom is a semi-functional alcoholic and though it’s never explicitly said, all indications are that Nancy’s parents are divorced and her dad doesn’t live with them…. so who made their house an inescapable fortress? Mom? Yeah right. I guess it’s feasible that she paid some professionals to do this, but… I’m rolling my eyes here.

How absurd is it that Nancy is linked to three murders, she’s a police officer’s daughter, there’s a bunch of cops at a murder scene right across the street (including dad!), she’s screaming bloody murder at the top of her lungs and shattering windows trying to get someone’s attention… and her dad’s co-workers are just standing there looking at her like, “what’s that crazy kid on about now?” This is the kind of stereotypical bullshit that always happens in these movies that A Nightmare on Elm Street was doing such a good job of NOT doing. This whole sequence just blows.

There’s such a Home Alone vibe to Nancy’s final encounter with Freddy. She has booby traps set up all over and he runs right into them. She even says, “come and get me” at one point, a line straight out of the Kevin McCallister playbook. But Home Alone came out in 1990, so does that mean that Home Alone has an A Nightmare on Elm Street vibe?

How bad is the mom’s death scene? Nancy and dad walk in just in time to see a fake looking corpse descend into the bed and disappear. Then Nancy says to her dad, “now do you believe me?” with zero emotion or regard for the fact that her mom was just murdered. For a movie with tons of awesome visual effects, I can’t believe how pathetic her mom’s body looks here.

Finally, this conclusion just doesn’t work for me at all. How anticlimactic is it that Nancy defeats Freddy by simply turning her back on him and taking away his “power” by not believing in him? The fact that she turns around to see if he’s there afterwards is proof enough that she still believes in him. Somehow this ending also brings her mom and friends back from the dead, so essentially nothing that happens actually happened. But then they drive off in a Freddy-themed car and mom gets pulled through the door by Krueger, so wtf? I suppose Wes Craven answers this question in Nightmare 3 because when Nancy shows up her hair is streaked grey and she says her friends were killed by Freddy. I dunno. It’s all just so bogus and leaves a gross stain on an otherwise wonderful horror movie.

I forgive A Nightmare on Elm Street for all its flaws. The first 80 minutes of this movie are just way too enjoyable for the last ten minutes to ruin it. It is chock full of iconic moments and Freddy is a looming, sadistic, and scary figure. This Freddy gets off on scaring and toying with his victims before he kills them and the corny one-liners that he eventually becomes known for are nowhere to be found in this film. This movie is not completely absent of camp, but I think Nightmare 1 strikes the perfect mix of camp and scary.

I wish the ending was better, but this is still an all-time horror classic to me and its replay value seems unending. I’m sure I’ve seen this at least ten times and I still enjoy it thoroughly. Wes Craven created one of the most memorable villains to ever grace the silver screen. 35 years later and a decade since the last Freddy movie (and arguably 25 years since the last good one) and Freddy Krueger still feels relevant today. A must see horror flick and one of the best the genre has ever had to offer.

Replay Value: Plenty. I’ve seen it so many times and I’m still eager to re-visit it with each viewing.

Sequel Potential: None. Well, except for seven sequels, a remake, and endless amounts of merchandising. And it’s not going to stop there either – though we are currently in the longest stretch between Freddy movies since he debuted in 1984.

Oscar Potential: Nightmare 1 received zero Oscar nominations, but I think it should have at least been considered for Art Direction, Makeup and Visual Effects. Having watched both A Nightmare on Elm Street and (loosely) visual effects nominee Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom recently, I think Nightmare was clearly better in this department.

8/10 (Must See)

A Dark Knight Classic