HOLLYWOOD─Last week we talked about indulging in a movie marathon during this quarantine that involved one of the most iconic horror villains of the 80s in Jason Voorhees and the “Friday the 13th” franchise. This week I want to turn the attention to another iconic villain of the 80s, one whose terror I think is more relenting because it targets your dreams. Any guesses as to who I’m referring to? I’m talking about Freddy Krueger and the iconic “A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise.
Now, I know plenty of you are thinking Freddy Krueger is not scary, but c’mon people: a stalker who comes after you in your dreams? And if you die in your dream you die in reality? It does not get more genius than that people. Wes Craven (bless the late great director, writer and producer’s soul) first unleashed this original idea with “A Nightmare on Elm Street” in 1984. This movie was scary as hell; I don’t care what anyone says. It was inventive, original, thrilling and made people really start to question their dreams, nightmares and why some are so visceral. In addition, it really made us question why some dreams are so hard to differentiate from others.
When the audience first met our night stalker, Freddy Krueger, he was spooky. A horribly burned man, who wears a fedora, red and green sweater, and his weapon of choice is a glove with razor claws. I would argue this was the first time in the horror genre we were introduced to a heroine who was smart and not just a damsel in distress in Nancy Thompson (Heather Lagenkamp). Seeing the back and forth between her and Freddy was a ton of fun to watch. Skip the second chapter, which is just an utter mess people, so let’s talk about “Dream Warriors.”
I love this movie, while not my favorite in the franchise it is indeed the best sequel because it’s smart, delicious comedy with sheer terror. This installment is another case of a film balancing horror with comedy and doing it well to where you are still scared when you watch the movie. The movie sees a band of teens including Patricia Arquette as Kristen, who aligns with Nancy to tackle Freddy. Our characters have unique powers and that is a challenge for Freddy, but he does find a way to gain an edge which forces the audience to root for the villain and our protagonists.
Now my favorite in the franchise is “The Dream Master,” the fourth entry that leads to an end of one saga and the beginning of a new saga with heroine Alice. Some could argue there are some loose points with the narrative. This might be a direct result of the writer’s strike that transpired while the movie was being made. Its visually stunning, full of great characters, and a villain that continues to prove that he is one of a kind as the dark side of Freddy becomes more comedic than ever. Continuing with the ‘The Dream’ saga, our fifth entry is “The Dream Child” that continues to follow Alice as her unborn child allows Freddy to stalk her and her pals.
The movie is a mixed bag; it’s not perfect, but it’s not terrible. It has some unique kills and I must say the plot is intriguing it just needed to be fleshed out a bit more. “Freddy’s Dead,” just like any other horror franchise sees the end of the character as we explore his backstory, with some unique cameos and a 3D element towards the climax of the movie which hit theaters in 1991. Not the most satisfying ending, but entertaining. Then we have Wes Craven’s genius and I mean genius take on Freddy returning him to his dark, terrifying self, with a meta-flick about the boogeyman crossing over from fantasy into reality. “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” is clever, super intelligent and unlike anything seen before.
This requires thinking minds because the story is layered and engrossing. I loved that Freddy had a new look and became a terrifying villain yet again. Also helps with Craven, Thompson, John Saxon and Robert Englund himself making appearances in the flick. It is totally underrated in my opinion people. There is no reference to “Freddy vs. Jason” or the 2010 remake of the classic (which is absolutely terrible people). If I’m being truly honest, for this “A Nightmare on Elm Street” marathon, select the original, ‘Dream Warriors’ ‘The Dream Master,’ ‘The Dream Child,’ ‘Freddy’s Dead’ and ‘Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.’