WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE (1994 )
aka A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 7: THE ASCENSION
Alright, righteous Kreugerites, time to spend some more time with the Slash Men; that would be me, humble HH staff reviewer, Slash–& of course the celluloid Slashman, Mr. Frederick Kreuger. After the solidly disappointing dog shit experience of slogging through ANOES 6; Freddy’s Dead–the Last Nightmare, this film is refreshing, rejuvenating, reinventing the workable principles that
Wes Craven originally created, then quickly lost control of. This one is a keeper. Ironically, though well received by the critics, New Line Cinema considers it to be one of the worst earners in the series; with a budget of 8 million, and a domestic gross of about 18 milion; a fucking financial disaster; right!
The NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET Box set that I have had for years, concluded with this film; & its extras included the fact that “Freddy Kreuger is now one of the most well known & recognized screen villains since Darth Vader.” In the decade since the franchise began, there certainly was a lot of commercial marketing of Freddy toys & products.
Taglines: Terror no longer stops on the screen.
This time, staying awake won’t save you.
He’s back, scarier than ever!
Wes Craven wrote & directed this entry, really endeavoring to end the series with a strong film. He had tried to help things out on ANOES 3, but it was not enough to put the franchise back on Craven course. Actually, this scenario was to be used in DREAM WARRIORS, but New Line rejected it. He was going to try & get Johnny Depp to appear in this one, but by ’94, Depp was becoming a star. Depp, later laughed, saying he would have been in the film if he had just been asked.
With this film, Craven was able to return Freddy to his original character, much more menacing, much less comical (no one liners in this one at all)–with an updated costume, glove, & appearance.
All the production values on this movie were outstanding.
The musical score was done by J. Peter Robinson, who has written scores for 91 films since 1985, including RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD II (1988), CADILLAC MAN (1990), WAYNE’S WORLD (1992), RUMBLE IN THE BRONX (1995), THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN (2005), & THE BANK JOB (2008).
The excellent cinematography was done by Mark Irwin, who has lensed 122 films since 1976, including PLAGUE (1979), SCANNERS (1981), VIDEODROME (1983), THE DEAD ZONE (1983), THE FLY (1986), BAT 21 (1988), ROBO COP II (1990), DUMB & DUMBER (1994), SCREAM (1996), THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998), & SCARY MOVIE 3 (2003).
FREDDY’S BABE GALLERY:
Heather Langenkamp appears as both herself & Nancy Thompson.
We can revisit some wholesome tit-shits she did between her three appearances
in the Freddy series.
Tracy Middendorf debuted as babysitter, Julie.
She was not shy about sharing her tits on camera.
Thanks from the gallery rats, Miss Middendorf.
Claudia Haro was the New Line Receptionist, bending over to pour some coffee with a teasing cleavage shot.
In other films she has been more accommodating with breasts.
Tuesday Knight was back for a cameo as herself.
She has become quite the model.
Here is an expanded batch of her nice tit-shots from another film.
Amanda Wyss was back too, so we need to include a re-visit
to some brave tit-shots she makes available for the Gallery.
Kathryn Greenwood played a nurse; she sent a boffo tit-shit just for us.
The film has no opening titles, which propels us into the film within a film premise, maybe even a docu-drama feel to it. Several wonderful macro-shots of someone in Freddy’s tattered sweater working on heated metal on an anvil & work bench, constructing the knife-hand we have so learned to love & appreciate–fucking Ninjas would probably named it Eviserater.
It is a new prototype for the killing glove–an actual animatronic hand. The character picks up a meat cleaver & cuts off his right hand; blood spurts & gushes like a small geyser, as “Freddy” latches the new hand on his bloody stump.
Camera dollys back & we see a Freddy hand-double as the real Wes Craven calls Cut, & we are treated to seeing an actual set for a Freddy Movie; all accurate & shit. We meet Heather Langenkamp playing herself, visiting her F/X supervisor husband, Chase Porter, bringing their son, Dylan, to visit with his Dad (not that I was counting, but the name Dylan was uttered over 100 times in this movie). Now here’s where things get complicated–Heather is married to a special effects guy in real life, & he does have a cameo in this film & Miko Hughes, who plays Dylan, in real life his father also is a special effects man.
Chase puts 5 year old Dylan on his shoulders, & we enjoy a great crane traveling shot as they walk through the set, exposing all the flats, weights, lights & cables. They stop at a workbench, where a couple of the F/X nerds are putting the finishing touches on a new animatronic hand, that has fingers as blades that move very realistically. Heather fusses about showing Dylan the hand, but Chase tut-tuts here; Hell, all the kids know about Freddy Kreuger, he’s like Santa Claus or Batman.
Showing the Hand to Dylan, the metal fingers move, cutting Chase’s fingers. The the hand begins moving independently. One of the F/X Techs checks & it is not plugged it. The Hand jumps onto his chest, & slices his throat, before leaping on to the second Tech & tearing open his chest. Heather & Dylan cower in fear, eyes wide. Just as the Hand attacks Chase, Heather wakes up at home in the middle of a violent earthquake; an after shock of the fifth earthquake in a month apparently.
They check on Dylan, who seems to be pretty rattled; oddly their bedroom is upstairs & his is downstairs. Heather notices that Chase has real cuts on his fingers, which he attributes to a broken mirror during the quake. So the plot kicks into gear.
Chase is concerned about a strange stalker who has been calling Heather, using Freddy’s voice, chanting the Freddy song, and/or threatening her (in reality, Heather did have a stalker, & Wes Craven weaved this into the plot).
Chase has to leave town for a couple days to work on a movie in Northern California. Heather is headed off for a TV interview because she is now quite popular, this being the tenth anniversary of the Freddy Franchise & shit.
Just as Chase is leaving, a ton of weird shit occurs–Heather receives 2 of the Freddy stalker phone calls, she finds Dylan watching ANOES (1984) on television. When she snaps it off, the kid comes out of a trance & begins screaming. She runs to the door to stop Chase, but his truck is already on its way. The doorbell rings during another call–it’s the babysitter, Julie; who is a nubile teenage blond–perfect Freddy meat thinks I.
A studio limo shows up to take her to the interview. During the interview, Robert Englund surprises her by slashing through a curtain & showing up in the Freddy costume; the audience goes ape shit–Freddy is a super star; You are all my children now! Englund quips.
Afterward, Englund gets all huggy with Heather & promises to get together with Heather sometime soon. She receives a phone call from New Line Cinema who want her to stop by that day so that they can pitch a new part for her in an upcoming film.
So, gosh, lucky us, we get to see what the New Line Cinema office looks like, where we meet producer CEO Robert Shaye, playing himself, surrounded by Freddy paintings, posters & action figures, pitching a “New Nightmare” film that Wes Craven is working on (without showing it to anyone yet). Craven wants her to play Nancy Thompson again. She, of course fucking freaked by all the Freddy events cascading upon her, thanks Bob sweetly, says she will have to think about, & heads home.
Arriving at home, she is greeted by the sound of Dylan screaming, pitching a shit-fit. She rushes to his bedroom where Julie is trying to calm him. He has had a nightmare where a “bad man” with a claw hand is chasing him. He shows them his stuffed dinosaur, Rex, that he stations at the foot of the bed to protect himself. Rex has 4 claw slashes on his side. Heather repairs it with duct tape & they all head off to beddy-bye.
The next morning, Heather, attired in a fetching see-through nightie, finds Dylan watching the original Nightmare move on TV again (it has been established earlier that Dylan sleepwalks). She wakes him up, after hearing him mimicking Freddy’s voice, & the kid has another hissy-fit. This worries Heather so much, she calls her husband, demanding that he come home immediately because Dylan has had several “weird episodes”. Chase, reluctantly, says he will see her in three hours.
Cut to Chase in his pick up traveling home on some two-lane highway in the dark; WTF, he was called at 9 a.m.–how did it get dark so fast? Why wasn’t he on the damn freeway?
Chase begins to get sleepy, of course, a standard Freddy plot device. Freddy’s claws slash through the seat cover & plunge into Chase’s chest; just the killer hand, no sign of Freddy, as the truck crashes.
Cut to Heather admiring herself at home, freaked beyond freakdom, looking in her closet for something just as Freddy leaps out at her, making his first appearance, sporting his more demonic-looking Freddy mask & the new robotic hand.
He chases her around the room, knocks her onto the bed, jumps on her, struggles to slash her, gets one good slash in on her left forearm, when the doorbell rings. He splits–poof–and she finds two highway patrolmen at the door with the news that Chase is dead after a terrible accident, and she will need to get dressed, come down to the morgue, & identify the body.
Now, I have to say that overall, Heather had been doing a better job of acting than in the past; especially better than in ANOES 3–but in this scene, she showed about as much emotion as if the cops had just told her they were selling damn raffle tickets. This flat affect style continues during the morgue scene, where she identifies her husband’s body, and sees the Freddy claws marks on Chase’s crotch & chest; making me wish she could have made even more progress with her acting lessons; oh, well, blood under the fucking bridge, folks. (Oh, & each time they pulled the sheet off Chase to look at his dead face, we could see a large vein in his neck pulsating). She does fake a good bout of vomiting; a combination of clam chowder & pea soup.
Cut to Chase’s funeral, attended by Wes Craven, Robert Englund, John Saxon. Robert Shaye, & Tuesday Knight as themselves. In the middle of the service another big earthquake happens, tossing Heather off her chair, banging her head on the coffin handle; inducing a new dream–the coffin pops open, Dylan is in it with his father, & Freddy is pulling the child deeper into the recesses of the silk lining.
She jumps into the casket, grabs Dylan’s hands, & pulls him to safety, just as Chase comes to life, with blood spurting out of his eyes pleading with Heather to stay with him.
Then Cut to Heather waking up, finding everyone staring at her, the coffin intact, but Dylan missing. John Saxon finds the kid who had wandered off, & as the mourners are leaving, he comforts her.
Dylan gets even weirder after that, so Heather has Saxon over to talk about all the problems. Saxon struggles with a lot of questions about mental illness in her family, & that he recommends mental health intervention.
Cut to Heather visiting with Wes Craven at his home. He kind of does a Mystic bullshit pose, believing that Freddy has now become attached to a real Demon, who has targeted Heather & her family; this evil entity was somehow released after the series concluded with THE FINAL NIGHTMARE. He begs her to consider that she has to play Nancy Thompson one more time in order to stop this new demon who is stuck on the old scenario.
Nancy calls Robert Englund who, it turns out, has been having bad dreams himself, & is busy being distracted by painting a Dorian Gray painting of Freddy with the new demonic demeanor. Fuck Englund, I thought, he will be of no help–though I lamented that he could not confront Freddy in a combat just for the irony of it.
We have another earthquake, like #7 I think, & Dylan cannot calm down–so Heather recruits Julie, & takes him to the hospital. The head Nurse, assuming either child abuse or mental instability, decides the child must remain there over night. Dylan wants Rex there to protect him. Heather heads home to get the stuffed animal, but instructs Julie not to let Dylan go to sleep until she returns.
Of course, the nurses see a sleep deprived child, and they decide to sedate him, (one of the nurses is played by Jessica Craven). Dylan drops into a dream immediately, & he sees Freddy walk out of the wall and stand behind Julie; who cannot see him.
Freddy attacks her, & there is this terrific killing scene, in which the set rotates, like in ANOES (1984), where Julie is slashed to pieces while being dragged up the wall, & across the ceiling;
alternating between shots where Freddy, in stylish overcoat, is visible to Dylan, & not visible to Julie who is being murdered;
blood trails run up the walls, & across the ceiling; then Julie drops to the floor a bloody dead mess.
Arriving too late, Heather finds the dead Julie, but Dylan is missing. Their home there in Hollywood was only a mile from the hospital, “just over the freeway.”
Heather is driving her Volvo station wagon, like the one her movie mother had in the original film, & she calls John Saxon, tells him whassup, & begs him to help–but then she sees little Dylan in his yellow PJ’s walking up the hillside of the freeway.
She stops the car & chases after him. He is sleepwalking, of course, walking across the freeway, with cars colliding, just missing him. (This processed shot done against a screen looks pretty dumb.)
At one point, Dylan turns & sees Freddy up in the sky; several times Freddy with a giant gloved blade hand, picks up the child to prevent him from being hit. Heather starts across trying to reach him. She is struck by a truck, but only seems slightly hurt; her leg & foot banged up. (to their credit, they have her limping through all the rest of the scenes in the movie, & we do see her bandaged forearm as well).
Limping into her home, she finds John Saxon there with Dylan; but while discussing things, Saxon morphs into his character, Lt. Don Thompson, and he is calling her Nancy. She understands what is happening, & goes with the flow. Suddenly they are both wearing the exact same costumes they wore in the original film. He gets into his 1984 police car & drives off.
She turns around to find that her home has turned into 1428 Elm Street, the Thompson family home that has appeared in every film in the series, this time with a bright blue door again (Craven rejecting the red door used in the sequels).
OK, she enters her old movie home, can’t find Dylan, picks up a large carving knife out of the movie kitchen, keeps searching & finds a trail of sleeping pills (like fairy tale bread crumbs) which leads her to the old movie bedroom, which now looks like Dylan’s new bedroom. She finds trusty Rex torn to bits on the floor.
She put the bed blanket over her head, takes a handful of sleeping pills, & drops immediately down a chute, which drops her into a splash pool within Freddy’s Demonic Underworld;
a terrific eerie set set up like some kind of Greco-Roman Druid temple, with demonic murals on the walls.
Oh, yeah, it has been established that Dylan’s favorite Grimm’s fairy tales was HANSEL & GRETEL, & he loved the part where the wicked old witch is fooled, then pushed into the oven & killed. You know how it is with Freddy & furnace oven fires, so there are several of them flamed up all about, adding to the hellish feel to the place.
Brandishing her prop butcher knife, looking about as menacing as Lucille Ball, Heather hears Dylan screaming, and heads off to assist him. We see Freddy toying with the child, not having made up his nasty little mind whether he wants to fuck him or eat him.
Dylan crawls into one of the oven/furnaces, which has its flames on “low” imagine that. The entrance is too narrow for Freddy to get in, so he keeps reaching for the boy as best he can, while Dylan screams like a young Shirley Temple not getting her ice cream break.
Heather finds the stairs leading up to Freddy, soft as quicksand, just like her movie stairs did in the original movie. She struggles mightily, puffing like a lesbo wrestling with her vibrator.
Freddy decides to do the old extend-my-arm routine, stretching it out 6 feet. He just reaches the frightened child as Heather/Nancy sinks the butcher knife into his butt, back, & calves. Poor Freddy seems to be stuck half in/half out of the oven, as she continues to stab him like 112 times.
Then the old devil Freddy tongue, seen often in the many sequels, snakes out & wraps itself around Heather/Nancy’s neck, & python wraps up her face. (This scene took two days to shoot).
Meanwhile Dylan has found a side exit out of the oven, appears at his mother’s side, takes the butcher knife, & splits the tongue in two, making old Freddy have to retract it, & try to stuff its forkness back into his chops.
Heather/Mom/Nancy & Dylan/Miko work together to keep stabbing Freddy while shoving him the rest of the way into the oven. Then the kid finds the the flame lever, and cranks it on full. Jesus, Freddy is being incinerated yet again, & as he screams, the Demon within rises out of him, & flees.
Heather & Dylan rush off hand in hand, like Hansel & Gretel running from the wicked witch’s gingerbread house, and the whole fucking underworld starts crumbling & blowing up; water, steam, & flames exploding, pillars collapsing–as Heather & Dylan jump into the reflecting pool, & whoosh, they are ejected from under the covers on Dylan’s bed, onto the floor, burned, bruised, wet, oily & wounded.
While hugging Dylan, who seems to feel a lot better now, Heather finds a script on the bed; the script of the movie we just viewed; with a postscript written longhand by Wes Craven, thanking Heather for playing Nancy one last time & defeating Freddy.
“Is it just a story, Mommy?” Dylan asks.
“Yes, honey, it was just a story.”
“Read it to me, please.”
As the camera tracks backward, Heather begins reading the script as if it were a fairy tale. Roll the end credits, which is cool since there were no opening credits. Freddy Kreuger is listed as himself, which made me smile.
This is the only film in the series that has orchestrated music over the end credits rather than an insipid rock ballad or hip-hop rap song–and the music by J. Peter Robinson was incredibly good; better than anything I have ever heard in a NIGHTMARE score. It is worth watching this film just to hear this closing music.
ROTTEN TOMATOES rated the film with a whopping 77% Critics Approval, & a 65% Audience Approval.
Janet Maslin of the NEW YORK TIMES wrote: “An ingenious. cathartic exercise in illusion & fear.”
Desson Thomson of the WASHINGTON POST wrote: “It is witty, smart, funny, entertaining–& you’ll still like yourself in the morning after watching it.”
Roger Ebert wrote: “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.”
Christopher Null of FILMCRITIC.COM wrote: “Craven takes us into one of the most bizarre horror set ups ever to be put on film–as he actually reveals, yeah, that those other six films were just “movies”, but now it is “real”–and he is not kidding.”
OMG, thank-you, Wes Craven for providing us with some fresh perspective, for the most part, clever writing–excellent camera work, art design, & special effects that were several notches above the stuff within the last 5 sequels–and I believe that that the musical score done by a real composer, rather than rip-off studio out takes of some group called THE SWEATY CLITS or BUTTHOLE BANDITS or LIL’ KICHANDRA, was bang on for both mood & emotional support.
I like Heather Langencamp’s tits, blue eyes, & pouty lips, but as an actress, Christ on a crutch. give us a fucking break! I really like the MovieWithinAMovie concept, & old Wes took that premise outside the envelope, & I really dug it. On the expanded 10 star HH scale of rating, I would give this one a humungous 8.5 stars; that’s right, gore fans, this was an excellent Indie horror good time ride.
Next up we tackle FREDDY VS. JASON (2003), directed by action specialist Ronny Yu. Jesus, are we ready for the merging of the NIGHTMARE & the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchises; After the tussle, who will emerge on top?