Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Something Rank (#4)

4 Fiends, 36 Feuds, Frequent Flaying

Previous Entries:
(#36-33) (#32-29) (#28-25)
(#24-21) (#20-17) (#16-15)
(#14-13) (#12-11) (#10-9)
(#8-7) (#6-5)

(#4) Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)

"Miss me?" - Freddy Krueger

Wes Craven's razor sharp return is a film-within-a-film-within-a-franchise. A meta horror exercise that directly recalls those halcyon days when we first met Freddy Krueger. Once a janitor spoken of only in hushed tones on the playground is now an icon spoken of with such high regard by his leading lady. A bedtime boogeyman having reached the heights of Santa Clause or King Kong.

Freddy Krueger has expanded beyond the dreams of Craven and into the nightmares of filmgoers across the decades. But with that revelation comes the knowledge that Freddy's grotesqueries have also become like a recurring dream. Some scares maybe, but we all saw it coming. Over the years the restless nights of Elm Street teens seemed more and more to the fault of a clumpy mattress. With a deviously clever device in mind, Craven strives to make the ultimate fanboy revival and finally put the series to slumber. Acknowledging its own historical horror legacy, fully embracing its fanbase, and bringing back its original cast -- as we know them now and as their iconic characters -- Wes Craven's New Nightmare goes through the looking glass of the original Nightmare film, through the ground glass of a fresh lens.

Heather Langenkamp plays Heather Langenkamp as she deals with her own hesitations of reviving Nightmare's original Final Girl, Nancy, and rejoining the grisly franchise now as a parent. Meanwhile, genre veteran Robert Englund digs his claws into Freddy both old and new. He paints himself as a reclusive LA painter and a freshly menacing Freddy that splatters Tinseltown blood red. John Saxon, too, returns to once again scowl on the sidelines -- supporting his co-star Heather, but disapproving still of his on-screen daughter, "Freddy Krueger. Yeah, right..." New Nightmare continually folds in on itself, shredding realities, leaving Freddy to rule the realms with his iron fist.

As Nightmare's ultimate creative force, Craven also folds himself into the film's many meta layers, preparing within the film a script for Freddy's final face-off. He speaks of writing Freddy throughout the years as, "Keeping the genie in the bottle." All the while the monster has surpassed its creator and is squeezing through the celluloid cracks into our "reality." The Craven within the film would be pleased to know he's written one of his most sophisticated screenplays, one that saw the self-referential suspense of Scream several years earlier. It's worth every bad dream he had.

With Wes Craven's New Nightmare we finally have a savvy satire of the Nightmare franchise, and an innovative horror film just the same. One that surprises and startles even as it embraces its tongue-in-cheek nature. Quite literally given Freddy's love for tongue action (he makes another dirty phone call and is rightfully tongue tied over the lovely Miss Langenkamp). It's also a unique spin on a classic fairy tale -- a morbidly modern variation on Hansel & Gretel. Think Ambien instead of bread crumbs, and a gothic, rotten candy house with a spacious oven. Freddy Krueger, like the child-hungry witch, is still a legend worthy of the playground. While Freddy may have overshadowed his master, Wes Craven's still a true master of horror.

The Face of Fear:

Killer Looks:

1) Freddy Krueger:
Post-surgery and pleased with his new look.

2) Robert Englund:
At home and at the office.

3) Swallowing the Heavens
4) Vomiting into Hell

My Thoughts Exactly...

Up Next: #3

The janitor cleans up after those damn, filthy kids...

1 comment:

Rob said...

Welcome back, it's been too long. Come back much sooner with the next entry!