1/23/10

Some Long Overdue Love for Wes Craven's New Nightmare

"Maybe we're gonna have a big earthquake. They say things get really weird just before."- Tina Gray ( A Nightmare on Elm Street)

When Wes Craven took the Fred Kruger myth back, he reworked it as a post modern/showbiz/fairytale and gave the world one of the more original horror films of the 90's (considering that the Nightmare on Elm Street thing had pretty much been beaten into the ground by this point, and Freddy Kruger was about as terrifying as a Hanna-Barbera cartoon character).  

The film starts with a familiar set up; a glove with long knives is being fashioned in some kind of hellish workshop...

...but it does not take us long to realize we are on a movie set, and look it's Heather Langenkamp and a couple of actors playing her husband and son...

...that handsome hubby is one of the special effects guys working on the film, and at first it's just another day in Hollywood-land, until suddenly, the damn glove malfunctions and starts flying through the air slashing at everyone on set...

...chaos ensues...

...as the glove rips out the heart of another one of the stage crew...

...even the director, Wes Craven, can't stop the madness...

...but wait, Heather wakes up, it's just another nightmare - however, a major earth quake is occurring...


...soon Heather and handsome hubby make their way down to their son's bedroom and make sure he's OK.

Later that same morning, at breakfast, it seems that Heather's son, Dylan has formed a familiar face in his Cream of Wheat...

...and if that's not enough, he keeps turning on the tv where it seems that the original Nightmare on Elm Street is playing in heavy roataion.  Heather turns the set off...

...and the little guy goes ballistic.  If all of this isn't enough, apparently, Heather has a crazy fan who makes harassing phone calls to her house.  Clearly all of this is just making her wreck.  Nonetheless, Heather is a trooper, and she agrees to appear on a television program that same morning...

...where the topic is the 10th anniversary of the original film.  To add to the merriment, Robert Englund in full Kruger drag shows up ...

and the audience loves his campy antics...

...after the show, Englund asks Heather to do another Nightmare film with her, she declines but says that she'd consider a romantic comedy.  And then as she's about to leave, she's summoned to New Line Cinema's office...

...where both Sara Risher...

...and Robert Shaye try to talk her into appearing in a new Nightmare film.  And once again she declines.  However, she soon discovers that Wes Craven has already started a script, and that handsome hubby has been working on the effects.

When Heather get's home she discovers that once again, Dylan is having another fit, the baby sitter can't explain why, she says he was taking a nap and then he woke up screaming.  Finally, Dylan tells his mother about the scary man who tries to come after him in his sleep.  He also tells her that his stuffed dinosaur, Rex, is what he uses to protect himself.  Uh oh, looks like Rex might have had an accident.  Heather decides to call handsome hubby (who is on the set of a commercial working)  and have him come home after their son's latest episode, handsome hubby agrees and heads home...

...dozing at the wheel, handsome hubby suddenly  feels something tapping at his crotch...

...giving it a cursory scratch, he sees nothing is wrong...and then dozes off again...

...and suddenly the infamous gloved hand rips through the car seat and into his chest.  Handsome hubby is killed.  It's at this point that Wes Craven's New Nightmare takes on a decidedly much darker air than any of the subsequent Elm Street sequels ever did.  From Heather's mourning of her husband's death, to little Dylan's decent into madness.  That said, we do get some fun moments like a half a second cameo by...

...Mr. Nick Corri of Nightmare 1.  Corri and others have gathered for hubby's funeral, and half way though the proceedings another earth quake hits, knocking Heather out for a second...

...causing her to hallucinate this morbid moment of Kruger dragging her son into his father's coffin...




...luckily, John Saxon manages to wake Heather up and comfort her.


Trying to keep some semblance of normalcy, that night, Heather agrees to read Dylan his favorite fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel.  Dylan seems to really enjoy the fact that after the witch is burned in the oven, the children return to the safety of a parent.  

The next day, Heather meets with John Saxon again, and he almost has her convinced that little Dylan is fine until they discover the kid teetering high above the playground...

...after he's rescued, he tells his mother that god would not take him...


The next day, Heather calls Robert Englund and tells him about Dylan, her crazy stalker (who has also been sending her odd single sheets of paper in the mail with one letter printed on them), and finally, that she's having nightmares.  She tells him that she's dreaming of Freddy again, but it's different, he's darker, more menacing.  Then she asks Englund if he's been having any odd dreams...

...and even though he claims that he's not having bad dreams, something is driving him to create the bizarre paintings he's been doing lately. 

That night, she dreams again, only this time, Dylan is wearing finger knives...waking up from the latest nightmare, she finds Dylan walking around the living room staring at the floor...


...where all of the stalker mail has been arranged to form this message, and the phone does ring...


...and the old familiar tongue from the phone pops out  - but this time we hear Freddy's voice say, "I touched him".  Frankly, this is the creepiest moment for me keeping in mind that Kruger was supposed to have been a child molester originally - and since most of Freddy's attention thus far has been on Dylan.


Now, the poor kid starts foaming at the mouth...

...as does the phone.  And finally, Heather takes Dylan to the hospital...

...where a rather imposing doctor treats the boy and then starts to question Heather about her personal life, and if she lets her son watch the horror films she's starred in ...clearly the doctor feels that this little boy is the victim of some kind of parental abuse.   Leaving her son at the hospital, Heather decides it's time to pay a visit on Wes Craven to get to the bottom of things.

On her sojourn, she passes real life evidence of the earthquakes that have been tormenting Southern California.

Once she gets to Craven's she discovers that he is indeed working on a script. But there's something else, something darker at work here.  Wes hypothesizes that some demonic force is trying to break into our world via his creation, and the only way to stop that would be for Heather to once more play Nancy and best the deamon/Freddy once and for all.

The most chilling moment of the film occurs as Heather and Wes are talking, and the camera pans over to Craven's computer screen showing the script he's working on, and it's the same dialogue we are hearing until the scene does indeed, fade to black.

Heather goes back to the hospital and has another nightmare when she dozes off at Dylan's bedside ... this time the imposing doctor becomes Freddy...

...after she wakes up, we find that Freddy has finally manifested and is about to kill Dylan's babysitter...


...and this of course hearkens back to Tina's death in Nightmare 1.  Dylan runs from the hospital at this point...


...while a monolithic Kruger looms over him as he tries to cross a traffic choked, multi- lane highway with Heather in hot pursuit. 

Heather manages to contact John again (once she and Dylan have crossed the highway), and by this point she's hysterical and raving...to make things even more intense, John keeps calling her, "Nancy" - and he's driving a police car, and Heather's clothes have turned back into the familiar pair of pajamas she wore for much of A Nightmare on Elm Street ... and once John leaves...


... the exterior of her home becomes very familiar, and Heather understands that she must become Nancy; one last time. 

Meanwhile, inside, Kruger has arrived - note the Nosferatu homage here- kidnapped Dylan and taken him to a hellish dream world that Nancy/Heather must now infiltrate.

Following a trail of sleeping pills her son left for her, Nancy/Heather climbs into Dylan's bed, goes under the covers and slides on down into a phantasmagorical world...

...where she discovers her son being pursued by Freddy in some sort of ancient temple...

...the walls of this place are adorned with the seven deadly sins...as well as all manner of creepy crawly things, but Nancy/Heather is ready to kick some ass...

...she's apparently got one mean right hook!  Eventrually, like Hansel and Gretel did, Mother and Son trick Kruger into climbing into a sort of oven...

...and send...

...him back...

to hell.

Once Kruger is vanquished, Heather and Dylan escape and tumble out of bed into the boy's bedroom where they discover a script with a note from Wes Craven...

Heather pages through the script and finds everything she has gone through in black and white ... her son, as is dictated in the script, asks her to read it to him...and she does.







10 comments:

apt said...

I loved how they managed to put in some of the original dialogue in it, too.
"Screw your pass!"

LOL

wavingpalms said...

The phone bit always remind me of the gag from STUDENT BODIES. But then, I'm funny that way.

Pax Romano said...

APT, that's right, I forgot the Screw your pass bit..

WP, Yeah, Student Bodies...

Sarah from Scare Sarah said...

I loved this. When I was was a kid, watching horror films I was too young to watch, I would always tell myself it's not real. But here it does become reality! Great film.

The Divemistress said...

I really like this movie and I loaned my copy to a friend of my roommate. But the roommate moved out and is no longer talking to the friend. Perhaps I should write a reality-bending story to get back my DVD...

Planet of Terror said...

This movie is so underrated. Good call on the Nosferatu nod. I had never made that connection before. Awesome review Pax!

forestofthedead said...

Great movie and great and post about it. I love the Freddy crossing into our world thing, I mean the guy freaks me out to begin with, this takes it up a notch.

Te* (Slasher Film Sanctuary) said...

I really liked this film, it was so different from all the other films. Not to mention the dream sets were amazing.

James said...

I love that you love this, Pax. It's such a clever, creepy film - I reckon it usually doesn't get the credit or praise it deserves. I especially liked all the references to the first film - it felt like a nice homage at times, though without being too 'knowing' about it.

jennypower said...

Great write up, I'll have to watch this one again. Now I'm off to IMDB to see whatever happened to the son, who was so creepy in this and also in Pet Semetary.