Film Review: A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

Release Date: April 27th, 2010 (Hollywood premiere)
Directed by: Samuel Bayer
Written by: Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer
Based on: characters created by Wes Craven
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Cast: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz

New Line Cinema, Platinum Dunes, Warner Bros., 95 Minutes

Review:

This film has been out for seven years and I really didn’t want to see it. I’m a massive fan of the original film and some of its sequels. More importantly, I am a bigger fan of Robert Englund and how he has played the character of Freddy Krueger over his 19-year and 8 film span. Englund was Freddy and Freddy was Englund.

However, if you absolutely had to recast the role, which they didn’t have to, Jackie Earle Haley isn’t a bad choice. The thing is, this was a role doomed for failure because it belonged to Robert Englund.

The character had also become increasingly more funny and campy, as the original series pumped out yearly installments. While Haley’s Krueger has a good one-liner or two, it just doesn’t have the impact and hilarity of Englund’s infamous one-liners. But that isn’t Haley’s fault. This was just a stupid film, that similarly to the Friday the 13th remake, a year prior, didn’t really understand the magic behind its predecessors.

The film is horribly acted, completely lacks suspense and has no originality. This remake steals all the cool shit from the original 1984 film and does it all over again with shitty CGI and unimaginative execution. Watch the original film’s scene where Freddy starts to come through the bedroom wall and then watch that same scene in this 2010 version. One is terrifying and feels real, the other feels like an unfinished cutting room floor scene of the Sandman from Spider-Man 3.

Kate Mara’s always depressing sister plays Nancy and completely lacks everything that made Heater Langenkamp great in that role. The kid who plays the Johnny Depp role is useless and pointless, Black Canary form Arrow essentially plays Tina from the original but they changed her name. Her death scene also treads the exact same water as the original but does it poorly and doesn’t add in anything new.

Also, Freddy, in this film, is a straight up child rapist. While that was implied in the sixth film (Freddy’s Dead) of the original film series, I never really accepted that after it took six films to make that point. Plus, Freddy’s Dead was mostly atrocious and added a bunch of crap to the mythos that didn’t need to be there, ala Jason Goes To Hell.

This movie is garbage. It brings nothing new to the table and it’s execution and creativity don’t even come close to the original Wes Craven directed masterpiece. Pretty sad, considering this film had a much larger budget to work with and the future of the franchise was riding on it being successful.

In the seven years since, there has not been a sequel and talk about Elm Street is nonexistent. Granted, it will eventually get rebooted again. I just hope that the next attempt isn’t soulless crap like this was.

Film Review: Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

Release Date: August 15th, 2003
Directed by: Ronny Yu
Written by: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift
Based on: characters created by Wes Craven, characters created by Victor Miller
Music by: Graeme Revell
Cast: Robert Englund, Monica Keena, Kelly Rowland, Jason Ritter, Chris Marquette, Lochlyn Munro, Ken Kirzinger, Katharine Isabelle, Zack Ward, Brendan Fletcher

New Line Cinema, Crystal Lake Entertainment, 97 Minutes

Review:

I have now reviewed all of the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street films, excluding remakes. I have finally gotten to the end of the ride, where the big main event that everyone always wanted to see, finally happened. The showdown of the immortals! Freddy vs. Jason!

For some reason, this film disappointed fans of both franchises. I’ve never really been sure why, other than complaints about the use of CGI having less of an effect than the practical effects of the 1980s used in Freddy’s dream sequences. Yeah, it does feel less organic visually but the spirit is still there and the emotional tone was perfect.

The plot is pretty well done, as it brings together both of these worlds and merges them into one thing. Freddy Krueger gets into Jason’s mind while he is wandering Hell and poses as his mother, telling Jason to go to Springwood to start killing the teenage population. If the teens live in fear, Freddy can manifest in their minds once again. Pretty good setup and it created an interesting scenario that saw Jason stalking teens in Freddy’s neighborhood.

I wasn’t a fan of Kane Hodder not being cast as Jason Voorhees. Ken Kirzinger did a solid job as Jason but the character was missing those Hodder mannerisms that became iconic over his four film run as the character.

Robert Englund was fantastic as Krueger, especially after a nine year hiatus following the more serious New Nightmare. This was Freddy back at his comedic and sinister best. And even though he only has one kill in this entire movie, the comedic effect of Jason beating him to the punch with kills was entertaining and added a cool dynamic to these horror icons’ relationship.

Monica Keena is fucking gorgeous in this movie and she was a good lead. She overacted in some scenes and screamed ridiculously too often but she was one of the better teenage characters out of any of these films. Jason Ritter was okay but it was cool seeing John Ritter’s kid get a shot in Hollywood. Kelly Rowland was atrocious as Kia, the nerd kid was boring and the rest of the supporting cast were ripoffs of popular actors of the time, most notably a poor man’s Jack Black and a horrible wannabe Jay from Jay & Silent Bob fame. Also, there was a heroic deputy that knew about Jason Voorhees. His character was a wasted opportunity where they could have brought back Tommy Jarvis from the fourth, fifth and sixth Friday the 13th films. It would’ve been cool to see Jason finally get his revenge on Tommy.

I don’t think that Ronny Yu was the best choice for director. He wasn’t bad but some of the action sequences were too Hong Kong and just felt weird and out of place. There were lots of shots where things would go into a strange slow motion pace with the visuals blurred and obscured – probably to hide things and keep the budget down. It wasn’t a style consistent with either film series and it became distracting.

As far as the Freddy vs. Jason battle, it happens twice in the film: once in the dream world and another in the real world. The ending is also open ended and ambiguous. You could argue that either monster won and in the end, they both survive anyway.

Unfortunately, there were no sequels after this for a joint film or solo films for either monster. Years later they both got remade with inferior films. It’d be nice to see them get a good reinvention in the future or to just pick up these films where Freddy vs. Jason left off. Although, Robert Englund says he will never play Freddy Krueger again, as he is a lot older than he was when he started in 1984.

Film Review: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

Release Date: October 14th, 1994
Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by: Wes Craven
Based on: characters by Wes Craven
Music by: J. Peter Robinson
Cast: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Miko Hughes, Tracy Middendorf, David Newsom, Fran Bennett, Wes Craven, Robert Shaye, Marianne Maddalena, Sam Rubin, Sara Risher, Nick Corri, Tuesday Knight

New Line Cinema, 112 Minutes

Review:

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is a sequel of sorts to the original series but it is also a standalone film. Reason being, it is supposed to exist in the real world, as Freddy Krueger evolves from being a monster on the screen to manifesting in the real world to terrorize Heather Langenkamp, the actress who played Nancy in the first and third films in the series.

The film is a reinvention of the Freddy Krueger mythos. This is why I am reviewing it as its own thing.

Freddy enters our world, after being killed off in the film series. He needs fear to exist and if no one is making movies, he will evolve beyond them. The premise is bizarre but it gives the franchise a bit more originality and energy to give the audience something compelling and new.

For some reason, Freddy has evolved physically, as well. His scars are very different, he sometimes wears a trench coat and he no longer wears a glove, as his claws have grown organically out of his hand. Additionally, he now has a razor on his thumb. He looks more primal overall but I’m not a big fan of the trench coat.

The film also feels more serious than any of the previous chapters. The ante is upped creatively and it brings more realism to a horror fantasy.

Langenkamp was great, playing herself and having to deal with her child being terrorized and her husband being murdered. Her husband in the film was played by her real life husband.

As for the kid, Miko Hughes was stellar. He was a good child actor in a time when many weren’t. Also, he is the youngest potential victim Freddy has ever gone after on screen.

There are less deaths than normal but the real world feel adds more to those scenes. There is just something sinister and wrong in the scene where the young kid sees his babysitter dragged across the ceiling and gutted by Krueger. Robert Englund as Freddy, was at his evil best.

Watching Heather have to protect her very young son from a monster she unknowingly helped create, is more interesting and emotional than watching another slasher film full of mostly unlikable teens getting slaughtered for the umpteenth time.

I don’t know if a sequel to this could have ever materialized and been as good. It was best that this formula only lasted for a single film. And ultimately, it was a really good film.

Film Review: The ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ Film Series, Part II (1988-1991)

 A Nightmare On Elm Street IV: The Dream Master (1988):

Release Date: August 19th, 1988
Directed by: Renny Harlin
Written by: Brian Helgeland, Scott Pierce, William Kotzwinkle
Based on: characters by Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner
Music by: John Easdale, Craig Safan
Cast: Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Danny Hassel, Tuesday Knight, Brooke Theiss, Andras Jones, Toy Newkirk, Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman

New Line Cinema, Smart Egg Pictures, Heron Communications, 93 Minutes

Review:

The Dream Master is the most successful film of the original series of six. I believe it is because it took the formula of Dream Warriors and then upped the ante and shot it more like a 1980s MTV music video in a time when MTV ruled the world and teenagers’ minds.

It is a colorful film with great editing and visuals. It opened the door for director Renny Harlin to go on and have a pretty big film career.

While Dream Warriors is my favorite film of the series, this one is right behind it. The dream sequences are very imaginative even the few that are a bit cheesy. But, at this point, the franchise was serving up more cheese and laughs than utter dread. Sure, Freddy was still sinister and evil but he had fully become the character everyone was cheering for.

Robert Englund was stellar as usual and he had great chemistry with his new foil, Alice (played by Lisa Wilcox).

This film sees Alice gain the powers of her friends as they die. Whatever their talents are, she has them all by the end of the movie, giving her more ammunition when taking on Freddy. She also knows how to control her dreams in a way that others before her weren’t able to do. She is Krueger’s perfect nemesis. Ultimately, where Nancy is the godmother of all the Elm Street children, Alice is their unrelenting protector.

I love this movie. It was also the last of the good films in the series.

A Nightmare On Elm Street V: The Dream Child (1989):

Release Date: August 11th, 1989
Directed by: Stephen Hopkins
Written by: Leslie Bohem, John Skipp, Craig Spector
Based on: characters by Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner, William Kotzwinkle, Brian Helgeland
Music by: Jay Ferguson
Cast: Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Danny Hassel, Beatrice Boepple, Whit Hertford, Kelly Jo Minter, Erika Anderson, Nicholas Mele

New Line Cinema, Smart Egg Pictures, Heron Communications, 96 Minutes

Review:

Alice is back. This time she’s pregnant. Freddy wants the baby in an effort to resurrect himself. Essentially, we have the A Nightmare On Elm Street version of Rosemary’s Baby.

I was glad to see Alice and her boyfriend Dan return but overall, this film sucked.

There were a few good dream sequences, mainly the one where the kid gets sucked into the comic book. Also, the force feeding death to Greta was pretty well done and stomach churning – literally.

While this film tries to give Freddy Krueger more backstory, it chips away at the mystery too much. They revisit the nun mother plot from the third film and expand on it. All this ties it to the baby plot thread.

This film was also toned down in its color palate and just feels and looks really bland after the MTV-esque Dream Master.

It is mostly a sterile film with little to add to the series. Considering they got Alice back, they wasted an opportunity. Additionally, the writers completely disregarded the fact that she had the ability to get her friends’ skill sets. She ran around like a bad ass, which was fine, but she didn’t have the magic about her character that was there in the previous installment.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991):

Release Date: September 13th, 1991
Directed by: Rachel Talalay
Written by: Michael DeLuca, Rachel Talalay
Based on: characters by Wes Craven
Music by: Brian May
Cast: Robert Englund, Lisa Zane, Shon Greenblatt, Lezlie Deane, Yaphet Kotto, Breckin Meyer, Ricky Dean Logan, Johnny Depp, Tom Arnold, Roseanne Barr, Alice Cooper

New Line Cinema, 89 Minutes

Review:

This is, by far, the worst film in the series. While Freddy’s Revenge was a weird piece of work, it had so many redeeming factors. This film, truly has none.

The mythos is completely fucked up, similar to what happened to Jason Voorhees around the same time with Jason Goes to Hell. Freddy now has a daughter, he is now cemented as a child molester – which was just implied before, he had a normal family with a nice house but murdered his wife in front of his daughter and none of it made much sense or added anything interesting.

The film fast forwards to ten years into the future where all the Elm Street kids are dead and Freddy needs the last kid to go out and lead others to him. The fact that Freddy just assumes that kids will make it back there, doesn’t make any sense either.

Also, there are barely any kids in this film. Only three of them die. There are also too many survivors in the end.

Most of the dream sequences are completely retarded. For instance, the one where the kid is trapped in the video game is more of a cartoon and looks nothing like video game graphics. Also, the game play makes no sense. It was clearly devised by someone who never played a game before.

The drug use parts were also written by someone who clearly never smoked weed. Weed doesn’t make you hallucinate like LSD. But in this movie it did. Sure, you could write that off as Freddy making the kid trip when he got drowsy but it still doesn’t make much sense given the scenario.

The film is capped off by an atrocious 3D sequence through Freddy’s brain. It serves no purpose to the story and just makes the film look more ridiculous when played back over twenty years later on a 2D screen.

I hate this movie. Freddy wasn’t killed by the heroine of this film, he was killed by shitty execution, shitty writing and a shitty director.

 

Film Review: The ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ Film Series, Part I (1984-1987)

A Nightmare On Elm Street was my favorite horror film series, as a kid. Today, it still ranks up there and I consider it to be the best of the big horror franchises of the 80s. Sure, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Hellraiser and several others are great but nothing is as imaginative and as creative as the world Freddy Krueger lives in.

Freddy Krueger is a force of nature, in the films and in reality. He went on to be a pop culture icon and even had the highest grossing independent film of all-time.. twice!

In this review, I will cover the first three films in the franchise.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984):

Release Date: November 9th, 1984
Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by: Wes Craven
Based on: characters by Wes Craven
Music by: Charles Bernstein
Cast: Robert Englund, John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, Johnny Depp

New Line Cinema, Media Home Entertainment, Smart Egg Pictures, 91 Minutes

Review:

The original film was written and directed by the series creator, Wes Craven. This is the film that cemented Craven as a horror maestro. While he had some solid successes before A Nightmare On Elm Street, this film was his first massive hit.

Being created during the height of practical effects, this film features some technical marvels from a filmmaking standpoint. Craven and his crew used several rotating sets to achieve a few different effects and it turned out to be pretty stellar. Also, they were very inventive on how to achieve things visually on a film with such a small budget. This film is a must-see for any film student just for the special effects alone.

In regards to the horror, this is the scariest film out of any of the Elm Street movies. It is dark, it exudes terror and Freddy is a lot more sinister in this. He gets funnier as the series rolls on and almost becomes a twisted anti-hero.

In the first film, he is still frightening. Robert Englund was the perfect actor for the role of Freddy Krueger and he would get more comfortable with the character in each installment. But whether it was Englund not being too comfortable yet, Craven’s direction or both – the character of Freddy is on a different level of dread in this chapter.

Heather Langenkamp was great as Nancy and was always a delight every time she showed up in one of these movies. Johnny Depp was pretty decent as Glen and this was his first film. Amanda Wyss did good in the role of Tina. The film also featured John Saxon, formerly from Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon and the Canadian slasher film Black Christmas, as Nancy’s dad and the top cop on the Springwood police force.

While this film is a technically savvy and paved the way for a lucrative franchise, I found the ending to be odd and kind of pointless. Nancy basically wins by telling Krueger that she takes away any power she gave him and he disappears into a cloud of dissipating photons.. or something. Her mother then sinks into her bed as a skeleton, waving goodbye. It was probably fine for the time but it plays horribly today. It just feels obvious that Craven hadn’t really thought the ending through before shooting it. Besides, Nancy defeating Freddy by ignoring him wasn’t really effective, as we got five more sequels in the regular series, A New Nightmare, Freddy vs. Jason and a remake years later.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985):

Release Date: November 1st, 1985
Directed by: Jack Sholder
Written by: David Chaskin
Based on: characters by Wes Craven
Music by: Christopher Young
Cast: Robert Englund, Mark Patton, Kim Myers, Robert Rusler, Clu Gulager, Hope Lange

New Line Cinema, Smart Egg Pictures, Heron Communications, 85 Minutes

Review:

Freddy’s Revenge or as it should be retitled, Freddy’s Big Gay Hilarious Gangbang, is a bizarre movie. It ignores the rules established in the first film in an effort to be completely different and to not retread the same story. While I respect the filmmakers’ efforts in not making a clone film, all it did was create a lot of confusion about the established rules and mythos.

The main character is Jesse Walsh (played by Mark Patton). Jesse is a loner and an outcast but weirdly, the hot ginger girl in school likes him.. a lot. In fact, she deals with way too much of his shit and Freddy’s shit just over her high school crush. Besides that, Jesse wants to spend more time with his new guy friend, Ron. He even runs away to Ron’s house after he freaks out about the girl being ready to bang him.

Many consider this to be the gayest horror film of all-time and rightfully so. It is amazing at just how gay it is and that’s not a knock, it is actually pretty fucking cool.

From Jesse and Ron wrestling each other’s pants off, to Jesse’s flamboyant sexual dance while cleaning his room, to the leather bar, to the school coach getting murdered while being tied to shower pipes as his ass is repeatedly slapped by a towel, to Jesse constantly whining about Freddy being “inside him”, to Jesse wanting to sleep in Ron’s room, to Jesse screaming like a girl, to Freddy emerging from Jesse’s body during one of the most obligatory gay exchanges in cinematic history, this is certainly a pretty gay but extraordinarily fabulous movie. Wikipedia has more information on the homoerotic subtext here.

The film lacked almost everything that made the first film scary. However, it had some of the best effects. For instance, the aforementioned scene where Freddy emerges from Jesse’s body was insane and still plays pretty well today. Even if Jesse’s body was replaced by a robotic dummy, it was there, on the set, and it looked more real than anything modern CGI can do.

Freddy’s Revenge is a bizarre installment to the series but the bizarreness is what makes it special, unique and definitely worth a watch.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987):

Release Date: February 27th, 1987
Directed by: Chuck Russell
Written by: Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner, Frank Darabont, Chuck Russell
Based on: characters by Wes Craven
Music by: Angelo Badalamenti, Dokken
Cast: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne, John Saxon, Priscilla Pointer, Craig Wasson, Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman, Jennifer Rubin, Bradley Gregg, Ira Heiden, Penelope Sudrow, Dick Cavett, Zsa Zsa Gabor

New Line Cinema, Smart Egg Pictures, Heron Communications, 96 Minutes

Review:

Dream Warriors is my favorite film in the series. Wes Craven came back to write the story, which was then tweaked and fleshed out by Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and so many other projects).

This chapter pretty much ignores the second film, it goes back to the rules and mythos of the first movie and expands on it. It brings back old characters, introduces new characters and blends them together well. You care about the old, you care about the new and there is almost perfect harmony with the cast.

This is my favorite group of teens out of any of the films. Actually, they are my favorite group of any teen group from any horror film ever. They were all unique, interesting and had a great dynamic.

The film introduced us to Patrica Arquette as the lead heroine Kristen. It also brought back Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon as Nancy and her father. Laurence Fishburne shows up in this as an orderly at the rehab center where the teens are.

This movie introduces the concept of being able to control dreams in an effort to combat Freddy. Each teen also has a special power or skill set that makes their interactions with Krueger more interesting.

The one thing this film did, that set the stage for every film after it, is that the dream sequences got really elaborate and a lot more creative. We didn’t just have some guy taking teens to a boiler room in their mind in an effort to slash them to bits. We now had Freddy using their fears and things about them to torture them in unique ways. You like puppets? Well, you get strung up by your tendons like a puppet. You like TV? Well, you get killed by a TV. You like titties? Well, titties lure you to Freddy.

Dream Warriors is the perfect Elm Street film. It has everything and it also stars the most iconic characters in the series and opens the door for the future of the franchise.

*Continued in Part II.