7 Days Of Freddy, Day 7: New Nightmare 7 Days Of Freddy, Day 7: New Nightmare
I’ve never considered New Nightmare a true sequel, more like a lateral move from the first one. Craven is back as writer and director,... 7 Days Of Freddy, Day 7: New Nightmare

I’ve never considered New Nightmare a true sequel, more like a lateral move from the first one. Craven is back as writer and director, simply chomping at the bit for a final crack at Freddy. While he had some nice things to say about some of the sequels, it’s pretty apparent he wasn’t crazy about the direction they went, making Freddy more comical than scary. The flaw in his logic, however, is he’s as guilty of making a mockery of Freddy as anyone else was. At least with the other films in the series, they knew to keep things to about 90 minutes,  a nice tight running time. Craven, on the other hand, had to ramp it up to nearly two hours, which would be fine if it was interesting, but alas, New Nightmare suffers from the most fatal of errors in a horror movie (let alone a Nightmare movie), it’s got a great opening 5 minutes, a great ending 20 minutes, with the rest being dead boring.

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Even with the poor quality of some sequels, I never found myself checking my watch as often as I did here. Getting through it was actually a bit of a struggle. I find this odd now because I remember when I saw this in the theater I liked it a lot more and didn’t find it especially boring. Perhaps I’m getting cranky in my old age…well, crankier, I guess, but even with a kick ass ending, I was still glad it was over. (I could also attribute this to having watched each movie twice in the past 10 days as well.) Craven goes the meta route in New Nightmare, and how you like the movies really hinges on how much you like the direction he went.  It’s hard to do well, and to his credit at least, Craven pulls it off (as opposed to say Stephen King imposing himself in the Dark Tower books).  There are some shaky places, and I think it’s a bit more than he could handle, but Craven is nothing if not ambitious here. Apparently having a relatively decent budget unleashed his creativity.

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We start off as we did in the first, with Freddy making his glove. This one, however, is all high tech and Terminatorish looking.  When it gets a mind of its own and kills the two effects guy, you think maybe it could be Freddie haunting the set of a Nightmare movie (which really, would have been cool), then we see Heather Langenkamp playing herself, her “son” and her husband who happens to be the head effects wizard. The disembodied glove goes after Nancy and her son, and she wakes up in the middle of an earthquake. This is one of many tremors she goes through in the movie, and will all due respect to Wes and crew, the earthquake bits reminded me of Star Trek TOS where they would all throw themselves around the bridge as the camera shook one way then the next.

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Heather has been receiving crank calls and anonymous letters from an obsessed fan taunting her with the nursery rhyme from the movie. After doing a TV interview, she stops at New Line’s offices for a meeting with Bob Shaye, who plays himself. They want to do a new Nightmare movie and have Heather come back to star in it as Nancy. She wants nothing to do with it and heads home, only to find her son Dylan having a fit of some sort.

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She calls her husband Chase, who reluctantly leaves a job to go home because of his son, but on the way, he falls asleep behind the wheel and dies in a car crash.  At his funeral, there’s another earthquake, and Heather hits her head on the casket, knocking herself out and seeing Freddy.  From here on it’s Nancy and Dylan (and sometimes Dylan’s babysitter), racing to keep Freddy from reemerging.

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Fans of the series (of which I’m one in spite of some negative comments), will no doubt enjoy seeing nods to the original movie, as well as the sequels. There also nods to classic horror movies such as Nosferatu, which might be lost on today’s younger audiences.

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With the set up out of the way, the first thing I need to say is the revamped Freddy, the 2.0 version I guess you could call him, sucks. I know that’s not a professional criticism, but it fits. I don’t like the new makeup, and the addition of an overcoat, and a new hat, plus the Doc Martens is simply not needed. I’d say it’s overkill if it weren’t quite so silly looking. Freddy looks more like a flasher than a villain here. The saving grace for Krueger is Englund, who seems to have some of his fire back and gives his best performance since Dream Warriors.  He also does a great job playing himself as well.  And please don’t get me started on the organic looking new glove he has. It’s awful.

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Those who have read up this entry know that I haven’t been especially kind to Heather Langenkamp’s acting abilities. While she will never be, what I would consider a great actress (or even a good one), she is pretty competent here and show far more range than she had previously. It’s obvious she’s been working at her craft, but she will always be a weak link acting wise in the series. It’s very hard to critique someone’s acting ability when they’re just playing themselves, but I can say, Wes Craven, Robert Englund, John Saxon, and Robert Shaye do what they need to. John Saxon does the best of them all, and it’s always a pleasure to watch him.

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Miko Hughes (who also played Gage Creed in Pet Sematary), is surprisingly good. He’s asked to do a lot of things I’m not sure I’d want my child doing, but he’s quite believable, and when he slips into Freddy possessing him, he has the voice down pat.  It’s really a diverse performance, and it’s to Craven’s credit that he managed to get Hughes to act on a truly adult skill level.

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As I said earlier, there are a lot of things that New Nightmare has going for it, but the total isn’t greater than the sum of its parts I’m afraid.  Think too much about the plot, and you’ll see inconsistencies; some of the dialogue is really kind of hackneyed; I already mentioned the makeover for Freddy, but perhaps the biggest offender is the final 20 minutes or so.

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We’re taken into Freddy’s world which seems to be a mix of a boiler room, elm street house, and Greek ruins. There’s a giant Freddy head that Heather and Dylan fall through when they get to the dream world, and you kind of roll your eyes and shake your head. And for all of the talk about wanting to get away from the silliness of the other movies, there’s one bit where Freddy goes to eat Dylan, and his jaw elongates like a snake’s and it’s perhaps one of the silliest things from any of the movies.  Still it is an exciting end if you can get past some of the contrivances. Your best bet is to keep your finger on the fast forward button.

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After the Psycho series, Nightmare is my second favorite franchise. In spite of it not living up to its full potential, they’re still good entertaining fun, and we can always pretend the bad ones were simply a dream.

5/10 gloves

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Scott Colbert

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  • Agree, very good resume. My judgement on that movie is even harsher. I don’t get all the positive reviews, people must have been taken away by the admittedly original approach.
    But there is so much lame stuff. The scene with the kid climbing on the tower in the playground to rousing dramatic music is sooo bad.
    And the end was not just only as silly as the sequels, it was in contrast to them pretty outdated too. Wtf, why Greek ruins? Because of that dream gods stuff from Part 6?
    And not to speak ill of the dead, but…. Wes Craven is just lousy as actor. He should have stuck with his cameo in “Scream” as his only screen appearance.

  • Dr. Geiszler, Kaijuologist

    Well, I’m a nutter for meta stuff so I guess I had more fun with this entry. I read somewhere that Wes Craven was supposed to have his eyes gouged out in the movie but he felt that he couldn’t pull it off. At least he knew his limits.

  • But it would have been more exciting if something happened to the real life characters, at least one of them.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    This review is way too harsh on what is a flawed, but ambitious movie. I see New Nightmare as a dry run for the more accomplished Scream (if by happenstance), and excursions into meta-fiction were, by the mid-nineties, really the only way to regenerate the genre’s tired tropes. Especially when it came to long-running franchises like this one.

    But there are certainly missed opportunities – the biggest being the absence of a frightening sequence where Robert Englund falls asleep and is terrorized and killed by the “real” Freddy (also himself) – a la Tina in Part I. That would certainly have ramped up the horror, and taken things into truly bizarre schizoid territory. Perhaps it might have worked even if Craven himself had been one of the victims. I didn’t have a problem with his acting.

    New Nightmare is also very unfocused and uneven, with too many sidelines that aren’t relevant, such as the stuff with the kid. It’s really a movie about the creative process/storytelling itself, and how the writing/filming of horror fiction can function as a ritual act to expunge our deepest fears and anxieteies. Craven should have stuck more rigidly to that theme and left out the other nonsense.

    P.S. I don’t agree that King’s inclusion of self in his DT tales was intrusive, either. Some may contend it, but, for me, that’s what elevated those books from merely an excellent fantasy epic into something far greater. In fact, the latter DT tales are a close cousin to some of New Nightmare’s themes and I wish Craven had been similarly bold in his approach, instead of relegating the cameos and real-life elements of his story to a few isolated scenes.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    “I read somewhere that Wes Craven was supposed to have his eyes gouged out in the movie but he felt that he couldn’t pull it off.”

    That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. And Englund, in a never-shot scene, was supposed to be killed by a giant spider. But who the hell wants to see a spider with no personality do the deed? Englund in Freddy guise should have killed Englund in plainclothes. Split-screen doubles were possible to do in the nineties, a la the Back to the Future movies.

  • I just noticed that there are some parallels to Star Trek: Generations.

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Really? What were they?

  • What did most people (including me) expect when they heard about the plot? We expected that both crews would work together. Then when it was obvious that only Kirk would travel into the future, we expected that he and Picard would work together like in a buddy cop movie. What did we get?

    15 min of Picard and Kirk together on screen, mostly wasted on maudlin dialogue.

    Same here, we expected Freddy to meet his creator, impersonator and so on face to face…

  • Turd Has Escaped The Gravy

    Hmmm…X-Men: Days of Future Past reneged on similar promises. I’m sensing a pattern here…

  • True… in the end it was just ole Wolverine meeting the new crew and the old crew was sidelined.

  • Dr. Geiszler, Kaijuologist

    True, I suppose. Maybe a confrontation between Englund and Freddy.

  • Well one says I’m too harsh, another says I’m not harsh enough, I think I have the right balance. ????

    As far as King goes, for me, I think it was a jump the shark moment that was only redeemed by the end of the final book.

  • My favourite. Don’t care.

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  • god bless you

  • CoolHandJuke

    i always wondered what would have happened if Wes hadn’t continued writing the script. would he still be alive? #toosoon?