New Line Cinema, 1991
Director: Rachel Talalay
Staring: Robert Englund, Lisa Zane, Breckin Meyer, Shon Greenblatt
James Simpson takes a somewhat eccentric yet personal look at A Nightmare On Elm Street 6…
Yes, I got the ball rolling with UK Horror Scenes REVOLUTIONARY (maybe) series of reviews where we, the humble pen people of UKHS, share with the reader a movie or two that is a little special for us. Plus we like to watch it on or around October 31st. So, as we all approach that time of year when we dress up like make-believe serial killers or fairies (take a guess as to what I will dress as), I decided to ‘sneak one in’ just days before the Big H happens.
Freddy’s Dead. It can either send shivers down the spines of Elm Street fans due to dread or joy. I, personally, find the film a guilty pleasure. Many an hour was passed in my youth by standing in my local independent VHS rental shop (who also sold cigarettes and batteries) staring at the back of horror movies they stocked. All those gory photos caught the attention of my fickle 8 year old mind. But one that stands out more than any was Freddy’s Dead. As it was a rental tape it was typical of many of that era: it came in a HUGE box. Perhaps the same size as an iPad? Anyway, the artwork truly had me thinking it was the best film ever made. Stop laughing, please. I was only 8! That kid with the mutant/spider/hearing aid thing in his ear was the picture that convinced me ‘The Final Nightmare’ was ace. So, growing up I always longed to see how they did kill Freddy. After all, the tag line boasted “They saved the best for last” (please, stop laughing).
I finally saw it in 2000 at the still tender age of 16. A friend claimed his older cousin had a copy of that very same big box VHS that I longed to see. It was gathering dust in his attic (along with VHS copies of Bad Taste and Brain Damage). My friend informed me it came with the much mooted 3D glasses that enabled the viewer to see Freddy’s death in ‘glorious’ 3D! Little did I know that the naff 3D effect was an attempt to get naive fans to see the ‘final’ Elm Street movie after years of shoddy sequels left a sour taste in the mouth of cinema goers. But this friend managed to smuggle it out of his cousins house and one October afternoon, in the college common room, we wiped away a thick layer of dust as we both went “WOW!” (I wish I was lying).
So we watched it later that day. I think two teenage boys wanting to see a Freddy Krueger movie was bound to make it seem like a good thing to watch. The opening sequence was excellent (despite the Wizard of Oz bit) as it set the scene for what started off as a good film. On reflection it wasn’t anywhere near the claim of ‘best for last’. But for a while I loved that movie. It represented a feeling of ‘growing up’. I had gone from that kid staring at the video sleeve to the teenager watching any scary movie he liked. However, 13 years later and nearly 30 years old, I have re-watched it many times and each time I marvel at how silly I was to think it was the best thing ever. Yet I still watch it at Halloween. It is a fun picture to watch if you can ignore the often frivolous nature of the plot and ignore the fact there were much better sequels before it.
It also marked the end of an era for cinema. One of the most popular horror movie icons of the 1980’s had out stayed his welcome. Freddy’s Dead was released in 1991, a couple of years after previous Elm Street flick The Dream Child (aka Elm Street V). Freddy was diluted, he was now deemed old hat. The cinema goers of the eighties had been purged on Fred. There had even been a TV series and a music single. All credibility was gone, he was no longer scary but just cheesy. New Line Cinema must have realised this for them to decide to, symbolically, kill the creation that saved them from going out of business. While the idea of Freddy lived on, thanks to New Nightmare and Freddy vs Jason, the original spirit was laid to rest.
So this Halloween I will be thinking of all this as I yet again watch Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. Haven’t we all got guilty pleasures when it comes to a horror franchise that has other, stronger, entries?
Plus I liked A Nightmare on Elm Street II: Freddy’s Revenge!!!