Where could a Nightmare on Elm Street go after five movies, a TV series and numerous appearances in pop culture? Freddy had gone from a horrifying villain to somehow, the hero of the series. Sure, this had happened to Godzilla and Gamera, but those monsters were always friends of children, not murderers of them.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – 1994
Originally, this film was going to be A Nightmare on Elm Street 7: The Ascension, but Wes Craven had the goal of creating a more intelligent meditation on the effects of horror on those who created it. He also wanted to bring Freddy closer to what he envisioned him as being in the original film, both in look and how he behaves.
Heather Langenkamp, yes played by Heather Langenkamp, played Nancy Thompson in the first and third movies in the Elm Street movies, but now she keeps dreaming that Freddy is coming for her, her husband Chase and her son Dylan (Miko Hughes, Gage from Pet Semetary). She awakens to an earthquake tearing through her house and a prank caller who continually keeps phoning in Freddy’s nursery rhyme.
After a talk show appearance with an in-costume Robert Englund, Heather learns that New Line Cinema wants her to work on a new Elm Street film that her husband has already been doing effects for. And when she arrives home, her son is watching the first film, screaming at her when she tries to turn it off. She calls her husband to help and as he rushes home, he falls asleep at the wheel and is killed by Freddy.
At the funeral, she has another vision of Freddy and John Saxon — you better believe I stood on my couch and cheered — tells her that she needs help. Dylan refuses to sleep and becomes obsessed with Krueger, which leads to her visiting series creator Wes Craven, played by, you knew it, Wes Craven.
Craven explains that Freddy has always been alive, a supernatural creature that attached itself to the films and was freed when Freddy died for the last time in the fifth film (perhaps it was just that he was upset that that one is so bad). Englund knows even more, but soon disappears from all contact.
After an aftershock to the earthquake, Heather takes Dylan to the hospital, where the doctor on call believes that he’s being abused. While police have her under custody, Freddy appears and kills the babysitter much like the first kill in the first film.
Dylan sleepwalks across a crowded freeway with Nancy in pursuit as the film grows more nightmarish — yes, I know that was super literal. After being injured saving him, Heather returns home, only to learn that John Saxon has now become her/Nancy’s father Don Thompson. She decides to embrace her old role and Freddy emerges into reality, taking her son into her world.
Working together, Dylan and Heather/Nancy shove Freddy into an oven — echoing how the parents of Elm Street stopped him in the original story — murdering him. They awake in bed, with a copy of the film’s script close behind. There’s a note from Craven, thanking her for defeating Freddy and playing Nancy one last time. Now, she has jailed the demon into the film’s world all over again. Dylan asks if it’s just a story and Heather says that yes, it has all just been a story. Yet that’s up to debate, as In the ending credits, Freddy Krueger is listed as playing himself.
If the end result is similar to Fulci’s A Cat in the Brain, this was not lost on the Italian godfather of gore (and emperor of eviscerated eyeballs). In his lone U.S. convention appearance (at the January 1996 Fangoria Horror Convention in New York City), Fulci would claim that New Nightmare rips off his film.
This movie was well-received by critics, but where can you go with Freddy Krueger? Simple. You make him battle someone else. 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason would pit the two horror icons against each other and the results were that each would have to reboot afterward. You can read our thoughts on this film from last year’s Friday the 13th Watch the Series post right here.
A Nightmare on Elm Street – 2010
Samuel Bayer directed the Nirvana video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” amongst literally hundreds of other videos and commercials. For his first movie, he was selected to remake the first Elm Street, a task that had to feel herculean.
Produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes team, the goal was to do what they had done for their Friday the 13th remake: take the best parts of each film and make one new story. However, they soon learned that going back to the first film was really the only way to go. They also made Krueger an actual child molester and not a killer, as well as making him meaner, with a look more like an actual burn victim.
Robert Englund endorsed the film (and Jackie Earle Haley playing Freddy), but Craven was not as kind, perhaps because he wasn’t consulted before the movie was made.
Kris Fowles (Katie Cassidy, Black Canary on TV’s Arrow) meets her friend Dean (Kellan Lutz, Twilight) at the Springwood Diner, but soon, Dean is asleep and dreaming of Freddy Krueger, who slices his throat. In our reality, Dean cuts his own throat as waitress Nancy (Rooney Mara, the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, who hated being in this movie so much that she nearly stopped acting) watches.
The children of Elm Street soon learn that they all went to pre-school together, where they were abused by — you guessed it — Freddy Krueger. Now, they’re all dreaming of the burned killing machine. Kris is soon killed by him, with her murder blamed on her ex-boyfriend Jesse (Thomas Dekker, John Connor from the Fox Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show, who called this film a horrible mess). Of course, he’s soon dead in his jail cell.
Quentin (Kyle Gallner, American Sniper) and Nancy begin investigating and soon learn that once the parents of Elm Street learned that Krueger was molesting their children, they hunted him down and burned him alive. What follows is pretty much the same tale as the original, with Freddy being pulled into our world and a similar shock twist ending.
I really have no idea who this movie is for. You can just go watch the original to see a much better, more imaginative film. Bayer has a great visual style — he came up in directing with Bay and David Fincher — but between the CGI makeup for Freddy, the portrayal of him and the general been there, done that nature of this film, I was bored throughout. Then again, I realize that millennials don’t have as many DVDs as me or any interest in watching a movie from the early 80’s.
Platinum Dunes producer Brad Fuller has been quoted as saying that while the film was a financial success, the backlash didn’t stop for two years. The company wouldn’t make another movie until 2013’s The Purge and hasn’t remade a horror movie since.
While a talented actor, I just don’t like Haley in the Freddy role. Maybe its because he has referred to the original as, “The worst movie ever.” Or perhaps that’s just sour grape, as there’s a rumor that Johnny Depp tagged along when Haley auditioned for the original and got the part while his friend didn’t.
Want more Elm Street?
2011’s I Am Nancy explores Heather Langenkamp’s feelings about starring in the films and her role in the series.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street will be out later this year and is all about Mark Patton’s journey in Hollywood after making the second Elm Street. It looks really interesting and you can find the official site here.
Nightmares in the Makeup Chair is another upcoming film that is all about the process that it took to transform Robert Englund into Freddy every single day of filming. You can learn more here.
Beyond the Marvel comics we covered, Freddy has also appeared in comics from Innovation Comics, Trident Comics, Avatar Press and WildStorm Comics. There was also a crossover comic with Dynamite Entertainment that was all about Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, which puts a dream movie into the hands of eager readers.
If you love Mortal Kombat, good news. You can play as Freddy in the 2011 edition of the game and its Mortal Kombat X mobile game. While he looks like the 2010 version of the character, that’s really Robert Englund providing his voice.
Freddy is also available for the slashertastic game Dead by Daylight (you can also play as Michael Myers, Leatherface and the Pig from Saw), which also came with a playable version of Quentin Smith from the 2010 film.
I almost forgot…Freddy also chased politicians on DC Follies…
He also was on The Goldbergs last week!
Thanks for joining us on our voyage through Elm Street! Do you have a favorite? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments!