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Wes Craven goes for "Art" in New Nightmare!

Wes Craven goes for
Wes Craven's New Nightmare

Thanks (or for horror haters, place blame) to Wes Craven for making the 80’s the era Freddy Krueger built. Six films and a path of dead teenagers later, Freddy bowed out for good in 1991’s “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare”. Not only was it the end for Freddy, it marked a down period for Craven, whose “Shocker” and “The People under the Stairs” didn’t capture the mystique his famous razor armed menace owned. In 1994, ten years after he directed the first “Nightmare”, Craven decided to resurrect his fiendish muse one more time.

However, while “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” is the seventh film of the series, Craven’s deviation from genre clichés in favor of a taut, intense thriller didn’t quite connect to Elm Street ’s faithful. Bitter Balcony can see why the initial response was colder than an unused boiler room (we fell in love with Freddy as a buffoonish murderer), but after revisiting “New Nightmare” years after realizing how silly the rest if the films are, this underappreciated chapter had an ambition that should please fans upon a newer viewing.

Wes Craven brings back the saga’s first heroine Heather Langenkamp along with original cast members John Saxon and, of course, Robert Englund. “Nightmare” fans recall that Langenkamp’s character Nancy fell victim to Freddy in part 3, and usually returning from the dead is reserved for the monster. The twist in “New Nightmare” is bringing a movie within a movie premise, having Langenkamp and fellow actors play themselves (Who says our gore can’t be avant-garde?).

Several weird occurrences have Langenkamp sensing something fishy. Things get worse when her son Dylan (Miko Hughes, aka the creepy kid from “ Pet Cemetery ”) starts channeling Krueger. A terrible “accident” kills her husband Chase (David Newsom), intensifying Langenkamp’s visions of Freddy and the threat it presents to Dylan. Connected with all this misfortune is Craven himself, whose new Elm Street script takes a life of its own. With Freddy eager to enter the real world, Langenkamp must reprise Nancy again for a final battle with her repulsive adversary.

In “New Nightmare”, gone is Charles Bernstein’s classic piano melody and replaced with a pretty chilling score by J. Peter Robinson. Also, Freddy is seldom seen, perhaps his shortest screen time in the series. When Freddy does make his entrance, his eyes have turned wickedly green, and his burns are more protruded and fresh. Even his trademark glove has merged with the dorsal side of his hand.

As for direction, Craven’s overlapping phone rings and tortuous seismic activity sets a build-up Alfred Hitchcock would tip his hat to. “New Nightmare” also has a minimal body count, but there’s the right amount of blood to keep fans happy. Unfortunate for “New Nightmare”, it wasn’t successful enough to bring Freddy into the 1990’s. Craven’s new concepts would come to fruition with the satirical “Scream”, a film that set the tone for late nineties horror. But don’t sleep on “New Nightmare”; it is a frightening little number.

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Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by: Wes Craven
Starring: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp

Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

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