12.07.2009

Thanksgiving on Elm Street Part 7





As much as I’ve been slacking on the blog, I really appreciate all the support and well-wishes from you guys. Wow, it sounds like someone died. Regardless, even though it’s not that big of a deal, you guys made it worth your time to leave some comments that made me feel better. And I appreciate it. Now, I’m happy to finally conclude the Thanksgiving on Elm Street posts with:
New Nightmare
If Wes Craven is coming back and we’re at sequel number seven, you know something’s up. You better be prepared for a sequel that is quite different from the others, explores uncharted territory, and attempts to bring some degree of seriousness back to Freddy Krueger. Although many fans are prone to disown the film from the series and it may be construed as “not a true Nightmare movie,” I am actually a supporter of Craven’s chosen path. It allows for gravity, as well as levity. For once, Freddy can be taken seriously and that’s something that every Nightmare fan can appreciate. Although Freddy’s new look is a tad, um, plasticy, the tonality is much darker. This is especially true because Freddy’s attacks are primarily aimed at Heather Langenkamp's young son, Dylan. There are a couple of genuinely creepy scenes featuring Dylan in a trance-like state under the control of Freddy. Still, there are also plenty of great comedic moments throughout the movie, as well as fun nods to the original film. It’s like a “Where’s Waldo?” game for homages. Every time you watch it, I’m sure you’ll find more.


The concept is brilliant: Freddy transcends multiple realities, dreams as well as film. In New Nightmare, Freddy can simultaneously be a slasher movie icon, as well as a genuine threat to people in the real world. As strange as it may sound, it actually goes along with the metaphysical world established in the other films. Freddy Krueger is largely dependent on the imagination. If he can enter through the mind’s fictional dream world, why couldn’t he then enter through the cinema’s fictional story world? This setup not only allows for an amusing experience for the horror fan (although admittedly gimmicky), it serves as a perfect way to explore themes of horror spectatorship. Is horror a reflection of the violence in reality? Or is it some sick fascination playing out of subconscious desires? Do we revel in a fantasy so long that it becomes difficult to disconnect from it? Perhaps Craven is taking a hyperbolic approach to answering the question of the impact media violence has on its viewers. Through his hyperbole, he seems to be criticizing that notion—arguing that horror ultimately comes through the self, not through the medium. New Nightmare also appears to be an early (and more extreme) experimentation of similar themes of self-reflexivity that Craven later raised in Scream.



While there is plenty of room for an intellectual reading of New Nightmare, it’s still a piece of entertainment, fused with inside jokes and convoluted logic. It has plenty of bad moments, along with some great scenes. I give Wes Craven all the credit in the world for being bold and explorative, even if the results may be hit or miss. For this edition of Thanksgiving on Elm Street, I’m going to share some very intriguing trivia.

-The same plot was originally drafted for Dream Warriors in 1987, but the concept was rejected. This may have been a better choice, but not only because I love the third installment. It also allowed the series to become so prolific that the themes of New Nightmare are presented with much more potency as a seventh film, as opposed to third.

-All of the scenes with earthquakes were filmed one month before the big L.A. earthquake in 1994. Two weeks before the end of the entire shoot, the big one hit. They filmed the actual damage from the earthquake and it appears in the movie when Heather is driving.


-Freddy’s new glove, which is said to be more organic, was inspired by Theatrical poster artwork for the original film.

- Lin Shaye, who could be considered a genre actress, plays the role of a nurse in New Nightmare, as well as a teacher in the 1984 film.


-Jessica Craven, Wes Craven’s daughter, has a bit part as a nurse.

-Heather Langenkamp had a stalker in real life. Craven asked permission to write that storyline into the script
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-Heather tells the nurse, “Screw Your Pass,” when she enters a restricted area of the hospital. She says the same thing in the original film regarding a hall pass at school.


-The working title of the film was A Nightmare on Elm Street 7: The Ascension


-Although the movie didn’t fare as well as other Nightmare films in theatres, it still made over twice its budget after making a total of $18 million in domestic box office revenue

-Here is what Roger Ebert has to say about the film:
Serious fans of horror movies relate only in a secondary way to the chills themselves; they're connoisseurs of the genre, the special effects, the makeup, the in-jokes. They're going to love this movie, which seems to have been made not only for but by Fangoria fans. But it also works for general audiences. I haven't been exactly a fan of the "Nightmare" series, but I found this movie, with its unsettling questions about the effect of horror on those who create it, strangely intriguing. (click here for entire review)

9 comments:

  1. OMG, Roger Ebert. I've always thought he couldn't be farther away from relating to horror fanatics, but that's a personal opinion. He's right about relating to the chills in a secondary way, but he's way off about special effects and make-up being key. At least in my case. Halloween 1978 had precious little of either one, and it was a superior horror film to about 80% of the horror genre as it stands.

    I agree with the rest of his statement, however.

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  2. You know, I have never seen this flick all the way through from start to finish. Gonna add it to my Christmas wishlist! Loved all the reviews! Great fun, thanks for doing this.

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  3. Awesome, I love it when movies turn meta! It so rarely works properly. For some reason while my boyfriend and I were on a Nightmare binge, we skipped this one. Will have to watch it now.

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  4. This entry is probably tied with Dream Warriors for my favorite entry in the series. I love the new take on Freddy's blurring of the lines between imagination and reality.

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  5. Loved to read your thoughts on the Nightmare series as a whole.
    Love the series up to number 5, the other two, well … for me they might as well not have been made (although, it was lovely to see Heather back on screen in part 7, she's IMO one of the few saving graces of that movie). I'm not so keen on that whole self-reflexivity going through the horror genre (which is vastly over done by now and sometimes handled so bad, they actually feel the need to spell things out as if they thought the audience to be to dumb to notice otherwise).

    In "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" I felt the concept of having the actors playing their real life alter-egos to be more of a hindrance, personally I feel it destroys the illusion to have an actor play himself in a movie, it's a gimmick that’s simply distracting.

    But hey, I think part 4 to be the most fun of them all (with part 1 taking a separate top position, you can practically see the shift occurring the horror genre took in the eighties between part 1 & 2 of Nightmare, generating a clearer style split than the one we witness in the Jason movies) so, yeah… :)

    On a side note, the poster art for the Nightmare movies certainly ranges among the most gorgeous (part 7 being the exception as they went with a different, less striking concept, for that).

    So, after having done Freddy and Jason (no innuendo intended, I swear!) you have no more excuse to avoid revisiting “Freddy vs. Jason”.

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  6. LJ, I agree with you about Ebert. He acts like he "gets it," but he really doesn't. However, like you said, I thought this quote was actually pretty relevant. Even if we horror fans do look for more than makeup and FX.

    Wings, It's definitely worth a viewing!I'm glad you enjoyed the retrospective. It's so much fun.

    Tasha, You should go back on watch it. It really does cap off the series. You don't want to end with the taste of Freddy's Dead in your mouth.

    Bill, Glad to see another fan of Dream Warriors, as well as the less traditional approach to Freddy in New Nightmare.

    Old Folkie, I am with you on the self-reflexivity thing to a certain extent. It gets hokey for sure. It was still a relatively fresh idea at the time of New Nightmare, though. Yes, the posters are incredible! I'm glad you brought that up. As for FvJ, I haven't been avoiding it. I actually ADORE that movie believe it or not. I just didn't want to include it as part of the chronology of either series. I will definitely do a review of it soon though!

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  7. Wonderful and insightful end to your Nightmare series!

    I've always been struck by Freddy's glove in the original poster and was glad Craven also picked up on that. It looks like something that could come straight from a Cronenberg movie.

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  8. Agreed breaking the 4th wall with this premise was a brilliant move in the series, and it brings up many fascinating ideas about fiction and reality in and outside of the genre. An excellent addition in the series, and a personal favorite!

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  9. I really like the whole series and seriously appreciate you going over them.

    Part 7 is so different and yeah...I need horror movies that make me think here and there, so yay for this movie.

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