Tuesday, October 18, 2011

“Faster than a bastard maniac! More powerful than a loco-madman! It's... Super Freddy!”

The Dream Master wasn’t a very good movie, but it was enjoyable enough and made crazy amounts of money for a horror film, so that pretty much guaranteed a sequel. A sequel that builds on what the previous movie did, good and bad. It’s 1989’s A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child.

A year after the last movie, Alice and Dan are a couple and seemingly free of Freddy. Alice starts dreaming of a nun, Freddy’s mom Amanda Krueger. Alice and Dan graduate high school and party with their new friends. Alice also starts having dreams about a baby turning into Freddy. After Freddy causes her boyfriend to fall asleep at the wheel and die in a collision, Alice finds out she’s pregnant with Dan’s baby and starts seeing a kid named Jacob. There’s a bunch of stuff about trying to find Amanda Krueger’s body and something about how Freddy is using the dreams of Alice’s unborn baby to enter the dreams of other people and…yeah, this movie actually makes no sense whatsoever and a lot of time is spent on characters trying to explain the incomprehensible plot.

Alice Johnson: Lisa Wilcox, only now much more blonde. And pregnant. While not nearly as irksome this time around, there’s also not a lot of character development going on. Her boyfriend dies a horrible death and that doesn’t really seem to bother her as much later on as it should. She gets a lot of weird scenes with Freddy and Jacob (her unborn son) and there’s a whole motherhood angle touched upon and how it’s a scary thing. She’s oddly not as competent or heroic as she was at the end of the last movie. And Jacob’s kind of goofy by the end.

Dan Jordan: Danny Hassel is not in this movie much. He’s still a jock and still with Alice, and manages to fall asleep at the wheel. That’s about it.

Greta Gibson: Erika Anderson plays a would-be model. The series has a weird undercurrent of mothers who are either complete bitches or negligent in some other way. Kind of weird. Anyway, she gets force-fed to death because of Freddy’s blunt sense of irony.

Yvonne: Kelly Jo Minter wants to be an Olympic level diver and she’s the resident skeptic. She thinks Alice’s dream thing is crazy.

Mark Gray: Joe Seely is a comic book nerd who’s actually surprisingly helpful at researching information on how to fight Freddy. Sadly, he gets offed in a really weird dream sequence where he confronts Freddy as his dream-powered alter-ego the Phantom Prowler (kind of evocative of the Wizard Master in 3)

Freddy Krueger: Robert Englund is seriously the really only good thing throughout the movie. He continues to be great in this, with some moments of awesome dickery that hammers home the one constant thread throughout these movies: Freddy Krueger is a complete and total asshole with no redeeming qualities other than mugging for the audience watching at home. That’s the simple truth of the character. There is absolutely no subtlety to the character at all. He is evil for the fun of it, unrepentant, and unstoppable and he loves every minute of it. Being a hideously scarred undead creature that can only prowl inside people’s dreams has the tradeoff of giving him nigh-limitless reality warping powers within dreams. He’s essentially a god within his area of expertise. That right there’s the core dichotomy of Freddy Krueger. He’s a destructive, vengeful being with godlike power and a childish sense of humor that can be defeated (temporarily) by waking up. No wonder he’s associated with kids so much, because he’s like the ultimate personification of childish mischief without any limits or controls.

Directed by Stephen Hopkins, the movie continues to be extremely 80s in its style and seems to know that what the audience is here for is the bizarre dream scenes. The movie delivers these in great detail. The effects are nice, and the major Freddy kills are actually pretty damn memorable. Set design for the dreams continues to be pretty cool, including one M.C. Escher-like area where the geometry is all kinds of improbable.

And then Freddy skateboards because skateboards were cool in 1989.

Characters by Wes Craven, Story by John Skipp, Craig Spector, & Leslie Bohem with Screenplay by Leslie Bohem. Here, the script is definitely a mess when it doesn’t involve Freddy murdering people in their dreams. The teens are fairly uninteresting, the dialogue is boring and a lot of scenes are spent on exposition. The plot itself is a horribly convoluted thing that just doesn’t make sense. Freddy wants to be a father so he can give birth to himself so he can do what…? He’s using Jacob’s dreams to attack other people. I get that. But from there it just gets confusing. And kind of goes in a weird Freudian direction.

Original music by Jay Ferguson, which continues the fine tradition of a very 80s style horror score. Other music includes tracks from MAMMOTH, WASP (their capitalization, not mine), Schoolly D and Kool Moe Dee, because rap/hip-hop was just newly discovered by white people in 1989 (see Ghostbusters II) The soundtrack works and there’s nothing bad or wrong about it.

The Dream Child is probably the lowest point for the Nightmare On Elm Street series by virtue of being really, really boring when Freddy’s not around. Freddy’s Revenge might be harder to sit through because it goes completely off the reservation, but The Dream Child is just plain forgettable. If you’re going through the series like I did, then yeah, its worth a watch, but for a standalone experience, avoid it.

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