WATCH THE SERIES: A Nightmare on Elm Street part two

In our last post, we got into the origin of the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Now, sadly, we start to discover why — and when — the series started to go downhill.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child – 1989

What can you say about a movie where the director, Stephen Hopkins (Predator 2Judgement Night), says “What started out as an OK film with a few good bits turned into a total embarrassment. I can’t even watch it anymore.”?

A year after the last film, the returning Alice (Lisa Wilcox) and Dan (Danny Hassel) have been dating and seen no sign of Freddy until a shower turns into Alice going back in time to witness the creation of Freddy by the maniacs of the asylum. She tries to forget the dream as she’s graduating high school the next day, along with comic book lover Mark, model Greta (Erika Anderson, Twin Peaks) and aspiring nurse Yvonne (Kelly Jo Minter, Maria, the video store clerk from The Lost Boys).

The dreams don’t go away, with Alice witnessing the birth of a Freddy baby that makes its way to the church from the last film. He tells her he’s learned how to come back to life, just at the moment that he kills Dan. At the same time, she also learns that she’s pregnant with her dead boyfriend’s child.

No one believes that Freddy is after Alice, but Greta soon is killed by being forced to overeat in her dreams. Oh yeah — Alice is also seeing a fully grown boy she calls Jacob who she believes is her future son. Freddy is feeding his victims to her unborn baby — who yes, is also Jacob — to make him evil.

There is an imaginative scene where Freddy kills Mark within a comic book world, as well as the world that Freddy lives in now. But the ending, where Amanda Krueger seals away Freddy and Jacob decides to stay with his mother amidst strange puppet heads gets a little ridiculous. Actually, this entire movie is, supposing that teens we’d want to watch a movie about the terrors of teen pregnancy mixed with the terrors of being an Elm Street teenager.

Supposedly, there’s an uncut version of this movie that’s never been released that would change a lot of people’s opinions on the film. I’ll watch it again if that ever comes out. Yes, I know there was an unrate VHS release but supposedly there’s even more missing.

Maybe it’d be a better film if New Line had given the director more than four weeks to work on it. And get this — the poster was released before the producers had a clear idea what the movie was going to be about, other than the idea that Freddy would be a fetus and the title would be The Dream Child.

Somewhere between the fourth and fifth movies, Freddy’s Nightmares began airing on syndicated TV. The pilot episode, which tells Freddy’s origin story in great detail was directed by Tobe Hooper. After this, every episode would tell two stories about the city of Springwood, Ohio. The second tale in each episode would usually expand upon a character from the first story. Freddy may or may not be directly involved, but he’d appear in the beginning and end to do a wraparound sequence.

Directors like Tom McLoughlin (Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI ), Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers), Ken Wiederhorn (Shock Waves), John Lafia (writer of Child’s Play and director of Child’s Play 2), Dwight H. Little, who delighted my wife’s childhood with the fourth and part of the fifth segments of Halloween as well as Murder at 1600 and even Englund himself (he’s Freddy in every episode and let’s not forget that he directed 976-EVIL).

Let’s face it — Freddy was entering massive saturation, being on TV every week, appearing in a black and white Marvel comic book written by Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber that was pulled after two issues due to internal concerns with its violent content, a video game from LJN (of course) and a line of toys that caused great controversy.

The Maxx FX line is one of sadness. Conceived by Mel Birnkrant, the creator and designer of toy lines like Outer Space Men and Baby Face.

Maxx FX was to be toys that had a special effects creator action figure as well as all of the costumes to make him into different monsters, from Universal classics to the Alien, Jason and Freddy. Check out the article on the creator’s site — where the videos and image above were taken — to learn more. I have the Freddy Maxx FX in storage, having found it for only $10 at a closeout store a year after it was to be released.

Thanks for indulging me on that trip to the memory lane section of the toy aisle. Let’s get back to the movies!

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare – 1991

Look, any horror movie that starts off with a Goo Goo Dolls song is just going to inspire my ire. But let’s try to be objective and not consider some of the better ideas for this sequel, including Jacob coming back to lead the Dream Warriors and a Peter Jackon screenplay where Freddy would stop being a threat and have the Elm Street kids even taking sleeping pills to screw with him.

Instead, this one starts ten years after where we left off, with Freddy having killed every single child from Springwood except for one teenager, John Doe. Waking up outside the city, he has no memories of why he’s there or even who he is.

He’s taken to a youth shelter, where he meets Spencer (Breckin Meyer), Carlos and Tracy (Lezlie Deane, 976-EVIL), who want to skip town. Part of Dr. Maggie Burroughs’ (Lisa Zane, sister of Billy) treatment is to take John to Springwood to cure his amnesia. The other kids all hide in the van and we’re off to the home of Freddy, just in time for John to have a nightmare and the van to wreck.

The abandoned house that the teens find turns into Freddy’s former home on 1428 Elm Street and we soon learn that Freddy has a child. After spending most of the film thinking John is the hero, he’s killed by Freddy, who reveals that he has a daughter.

Around here, Yaphet Kotto shows up and explains that he can control his dreams and how to defeat Freddy — drag him into the real world. If you’re screaming at your TV because this didn’t really work in the first film, you aren’t alone. And if Maggie being Freddy’s kid doesn’t hit you over the head with the sledgehammer of subtlety, then you just aren’t paying attention.

The last ten minutes of this movie — where Maggie goes into Freddy’s dimension to battle the dream demons that power him — were shot for 3D. Freddy gets blown up real good after Maggie gets off a kiss off line, saying “Happy Father’s Day!” Actually, no one feels good about this movie or this ending. Then again, the original theatrical version ran for 100 minutes while every home video release has run for 88, so obviously, big chunks were edited out of the film.

In the place of a decent tale, we’re given cameos by Johnny Depp, Tom Arnold, Roseanne Barr, Elinor Donahue and Alice Cooper as Freddy’s abusive father. That makes two 80’s slasher franchises that Alice has been involved with now.

This is the only Elm Street film to feature a female director — Rachel Talalay — and no female victims. Talalay would go on to direct episodes of Sherlock and Dr. Who, as well as Tank Girl.

Where can you take Freddy after all of these trials and tribulations? How can you make him more relevant? You have three choices, really. Go outside of the canon, a crossover or a remake. In the next chapter, we’ll discover how the Elm Street series would eventually do all three.

BTW — I figure this is a good place as any to mention some songs inspired by Freddy Krueger. Join me, why don’t you?

Also released on their album “Back for the Attack,” Dokken’s “Dream Warriors” is one catchy song and the entire reason I wanted to watch the third film. Don’t get me started or I’ll be singing it all day.

Prince Markie Dee of the Fat Boys Uncle Frederick has died and a lawyer claims that he has to spend one night in his haunted house to get his inheritance. If you ever wanted to hear Robert Englund rap, well, here you go.

Tracey Knight didn’t just star in The Dream Master, she’s also fond of singing this little ditty, which opens the movie.

Before Will Smith was a huge star, New Line actually sued him and his partner DJ Jazzy Jeff over this song and a planned music video, forcing a sticker onto all copies of their album “He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper” stating that this “[This song] is not part of the soundtrack…and is not authorized, licensed, or affiliated with the Nightmare on Elm Street films.”

Stormtroopers of Death was a group made up of Anthrax’s Scott Ian and Charlie Benante along with former bandmate Danny Lilker and Billy Milano, who likes Freddy so much that his next band, M.O.D. would record “Man of Your Dreams.”

Former KISS guitarist Vinnie Vincent got into the Freddy action with this song and video from the fourth film. Man, how about the days when bands got budgets like this to produce music videos?

An album packed with dream related songs, both originals and covers, this also has Robert Englund doing intros to every song. They’re all redone by studio musicians, the Elm Street Group.

Finally, one more PS — the image for today’s Elm Street series comes from Sungold’s line of bootleg Monster toys. Their version of Freddy has an even better name: Sharp Hand Joe! You can even get a t-shirt of this from the awesome folks at Pizza Party Printing!

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