Wes Craven's New Nightmare

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"This is still a script, right, Wes? "

Oct 27th, 2009

This october a complete Blu ray box set of Freddys adventures is going to be released. Its time to revisit one of the best horror franchises of all time.

New Nightmare is a hidden gem, I bring this title up frequently as great horror but it's becoming increasingly harder to find people who have seen this film. No matter how much I love the original Nightmare on Elm Street this is my favourite movie to feature Freddy even though it's not actually meant to be Krueger.

Released in 1994 this has all the elements that made Scream such a worldwide hit yet somehow never created the same ripples in the horror community (despite being the superior movie).

Set within the real world we follow Heather Langenkamp (the cast play themselves) who played Nancy in the Nightmare series. Heather is tortured by dreams of her family in danger and blames her experiences from making the Freddy films. Over time Heather is dragged back into the production of a new Krueger flick to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first (yep this was released exactly ten years after the original).

After the death of her husband Heather has to care for her overly distressed son all the while questioning if her dreams are real. Has Krueger found a way into the real world? Or is the stress of her life causing a mental break?

Wes Craven was brought in to help write Nightmare on Elm Street 3. Apparently he was not happy with the direction the franchise was headed in (in fact he didn't want the film to become a franchise). At that time Wes suggested a sequel in which Freddy invades the real world and stalks the makers of the latest Freddy flick but was turned down by the studio heads who wanted a more direct sequel. For the first time ever I'm actually happy studio interference happened as this lead to one of the best Nightmare sequels (the Dream Warriors) and allowed Wes' idea to be put on hold until the main franchise was over. Eventually the studio allowed Wes to make his vision but it had evolved from just another sequel and for that I am truly grateful.

Scream played with the conventions of what was real and what was a movie but never to this scale. With the actors playing themselves and events mirroring those in the real world (Heather actually had a stalker) it's easy to accept this as reality and makes all the horrific scenes more effective. This film does not shy away from controversial topics ranging from censorship, mental health and child abuse – the horror here comes from real life terror even with the supernatural elements thrown in.

For some strange reason this is classed as a slasher film but in no way does it resemble the emptiness of that sub genre. This film is hard to classify as it never delves into satire, playing everything straight The acting here is amazing and I was truly surprised that Wes Craven was just as good as the rest of the cast playing himself. There is death but it's never glamourised, this film is better described as a drama with a supernatural twist.

Like the Nightmare series there are dream sequences, but they are not as fantastical. This way it's hard to tell what takes place in the real world and what is false. Blurring these lines has us feeling the same confusion Heather experiences – it's not until about an hour in that the true threat appears, but everything up to this is fascinating and allows us to bond with the characters and feel the same fears.

Heather Langenkamp is perfect even though it's strange to see her in this situation, my familiarity with the Nancy character made this a bizarre experience – she was the same yet different. It really is amazing that she remains so likable despite the fact that her character appears overprotective to the point of irritation. This meaning to be the real world had me warm to her more as she was a fantastic mother.

Robert Englund is great here and manages to display three different characters. His energetic television personality, that represents everything that went wrong with the Freddy character over the years (children chanting his name). His more reserved portrayal of himself outside of the public eye and of course the new, darker Fred Krueger.

The new Freddy is not as playful as his counterpart in the films, in fact he's not actually the same character but a demon obsessed with the films. To support this he's given a new devilish look and a far deeper savage voice. This version of Krueger is terrifying and his screen time is limited making every appearance more special.

The music here is far more epic and orchestral than the old franchise with a few cues to famous instrumentals sneaking in, this is a different beast. There are no rock tracks but I never missed them as this was meant to be different and the change in style allowed me to distance myself more from the old series.

The only problem I have with this film is the high quality of it, it makes me look back at the old Nightmare series with resentment that it was never this good. This film also makes me look forward to the Scream films and onwards and sigh, even Wes Craven who always went for pure terror also eventually descended into farce, Take a look at Cursed.

This is a great movie and really deserves to be seen. Able to stand on its own the film manages to throw in numerous references to the old franchise for the die hard fans. This is a adult tale and unfortunately I think that's where this film failed to draw an audience. Many lump this in with the old franchise so it was never given a chance with new viewers, also the older viewers were more into the "child" friendly goofball and were not prepared for such a visceral tale. I love this film. 9.5/10

Best Kill
There's a throwback to the wall drag kill in the first Nightmare but I actually prefer this one

Freddy Krueger credited as himself
Was filmed under the code name Nightmare on Elm Street 7: The Ascension
John Saxon also cameos here

Other reviews in the series

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Freddy vs. Jason
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

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Movie Details

Movie Poster Here
Director: Wes Craven
Screenplay: Wes Craven
Released: 1994
Starring:Heather Langenkamp
Robert Englund
John Saxon