35- “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” #52PickUp

It’s that time again; Halloween Season! And since I’m a few weeks behind (and I have more than four Halloween-themed movies to watch) I’ve decided to begin early.

When I decided that I would watch classic films from my childhood, I knew that a film from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series had to be included.

What I didn’t realize was how difficult it would be to choose. See, I love all of them, as Freddy Krueger is my favorite horror villain (yes, even over Jason), and each film has its own personality. One of my favorites was the sixth film in the series: Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, but I didn’t think it represented what I enjoyed about the series, even though the dreams are awesome, and the kills are unique (first comics, and now video games, yo!).

Then it hit me. What better way to fully represent not only the film’s history, but my love of fourth-wall breaking and the idea of creating film and the mythos involved, but to talk about the seventh film:

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Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is a perfect “end” to the series for many reasons, most notably, the fact that the original names behind the first film came back to close the book on the demon known as Freddy Krueger.

The film follows the actress who played Nancy on the original NOES, Heather Langenkamp, as she begins her re-intergration in Hollywood. It’s the ten year anniversary of the original film, and she’s hesitant to appear for the event because of what it could mean for her five year old son, Dylan, experiencing any horror elements at such a young age.

Meanwhile, her husband works in the film industry for a practical effects company. He’s working on a new glove for a final Nightmare film, unbeknownst to Heather. And she’s been getting harassing phone calls imitating the Freddy voice and chanting the song, “One Two, Freddy’s Coming for You…” 

All of these elements come to a head when Heather learns Wes himself is making the aforementioned last NOES film, of which she refuses to be a part. Will she play Nancy one last time to defeat Freddy?

Conversation-inciting theories ahead!

The film plays with the metaphysical breaking of the fourth wall and ponders the question: should we play the role we were meant to play or buck the trend and ignore our roles in life? At least that’s one way to interpret this film and its meaning.

We could even delve into this further, and say the script for this “Final Nightmare” is the script for New Nightmare, because it is. Exactly. Heather begins to read the script for the actual movie to Dylan at the end of the film. So in a way, she’s reading her life in the past week out loud, beat for beat.

So in a way, it’s about Heather “playing” herself in this world in which we live. The world around us could be seen as a collectively subconscious construct, and we only “see” what we’ve all created, all the while there is a film crew around us just about ready for lunch.

Then of course, Freddy in this sense represents the evil we are witness to, but then that means, that entity is just acting out, and soon will also go to lunch. That “actor” is still playing a part in this fake world we’ve created and could halt and change his demeanor at any moment, but we as the collective director, adamantly refuse to let that happen. There is something to the spiritual bond we all share, and this film is referencing it slightly.

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I’ve had a sordid history with the slasher in the green and red sweater. My first time experiencing Freddy was while watching A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child in 1990 on the USA Network, and from that moment on, I began to have nightmares of my own.

For three solid months – every single night – I’d dream of Freddy chasing me, succeeding in my death every night. Sometimes, he’d even team up with Jason! I’d wake up panicked, breathing heavily, terrified of falling back asleep (just like the movies!).

Then the next night, I’d attempt sleep again – deftly afraid of more dreams – and the loop continued until finally, on the last night, I found myself sitting on a staircase in front of a suburban house. Here, Freddy sat down next to me and calmly discussed something with me. I cannot remember what we discussed, but it was the last night I ever dreamt of him.

Then, years later, I wanted to catch up with all of these films, and by chance, we came across an antique shop that actually had all six of the first films on VHS. I quickly bought them all and watched one after the other. That reminded me that I had once seen the second film as a kid on USA, because I had remembered the teetering school bus in that one dream sequence.

Where/ when did I first see it?

I first watched this film in 1995, when it released on home video (and well after my dream spell).

 

How does it hold up?

This film holds up incredibly well. Wes Craven was waaaaay ahead of his time, as this film was two years before Scream. He must have enjoyed the parody of the series, and took it a step further, examining the genre as a whole.

What did I like about it and why?

Freddy has always been an entertaining character, wise-cracks and all. So this film took the tired “comedic” Freddy and made him frightening once more.

Plus, FOURTH WALL! Whoo!

Lessons Learned?

  1. Never trust a film that says “Final” or “Last.”
  2. When you go to bed, make sure you’re tired, otherwise you’ll dwell on the thought of having a dream about Freddy, and it will come true.
  3. Try not to watch these as young kids… they’re scary.
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Look at that FACE!

Where can you see it?

Check out Wes Craven’s New Nightmare on CanIStream.It?

-Jamie (@GuyOnAWire)


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One thought on “35- “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” #52PickUp

  1. Pingback: #52PickUp Retrospective | GuyOnAWire

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