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Archive for April, 2010

Freddy’s Dead : The Final Nightmare

by on Apr.30, 2010, under Daily Review

I really don’t know what to say about this one. It’s got it’s plusses, but if this is what the franchise has become it’s a damn shame. Rachel Talalay Directs this time, and I’m a big fan ever since her incarnation of Tank Girl, so what else could you expect here other than a comic book version of Elm Street? It’s glossy MTV style and pace are reflective of her own colourful direction. The cast are pretty good with a mediocre plot involving the spawn of Fred Krueger (yawn) and I suppose the style fits quite well. This is probably better than the last few, as the inspiration and creative drive is vivid and dream like, although super over the top cartoon, complete with ‘boing’ noises right out of Tom & Jerry.

I found it intensely disturbing watching Fred dancing to ‘In-a-gadda-da-vida’, complete with full psychodelia and later becoming a Nintendoesque game character. It just doesn’t work for me; I find it insulting and disrespectful to the origins but this questions the ethics of Englund himself. How could he agree to this? And what made Yaphet Kotto think this film was a good idea?

The other point is how come Fred started laughing like Tommy Cooper?

This is the last in the line, end of the road. Freddy’s Dead and only a miracle will bring him back, although a homage style reinterpretation with the original cast could possibly do wonders to tidy up this 10 year nightmare of sequels.

This is the best of a bad bunch, but it’s not horror and it’s not what Craven would have wanted.

 

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A Nightmare on Elm Street V : The Dream Child

by on Apr.29, 2010, under Daily Review

After defeating The Dream Master in the last outing as the survivor of the new Dream Warriors team, Alice (Lisa Wilcox) returns only to find that Fred Krueger is still niggling at her dreams. She investigates his past, uncovering the horrific truth of his mother, a nun raped by a thousand lunatics. It’s not long before Fred gains enough power through a tremendous nightmare in which Alice witness’s the rebirth of the beast. But that’s not the only birth about to take place as Alice discovers she too is pregnant.

Freddy’s back as his incarnation grows more and more into Ronald McDonald with his cheeky smile and clever one liners, the rubber face has never looked so clean as he dresses in a host of costumes for added comic effect. Skate boarding even! It seems the further we get from the original, the more lost we are with what Fred Krueger was about. He was a child killer! Now we see his force feeding 20 something’s until their face explodes. ‘Bon appetite Bitch!’

The film has probably the worst cast in the whole series. Terrible acting. Lisa Wilcox has got some ability, but she’s struggling with the lead role here getting very little in support from Director Stephen Hopkins (A Director i’ve always liked. Judgement Night is a great film) and even less so from her peers, Joe Seely and Kelly Jo Minter are both very two dimensional.

The biggest issue here though is Krueger is just not scary. There is actually no Nightmare in this film and hasn’t really been one since the first offering. Have the script writers even forgotten the title of this franchise? Instead, focusing on ‘Dreams’ which become all a bit odd and weird working on individuals own thoughts and ideas. Nightmares should in essence dig into what terrifies people.  There is nothing terrifying here. The whole ‘evil baby’ business is a farce too. We just don’t need this kind of back story. Fred is an evil child killer, why invent this ridiculous urban legend style back story with the mother being a nun and the lunatic stuff going on. Stupid.

Finally. The music and score in this film is bar far the worst so far. Any why have Vincent Price’s laugh from Jackson’s Thriller over the end credits?

 

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A Nightmare on Elm Street IV : The Dream Master

by on Apr.28, 2010, under Daily Review

The problem we have here is the franchise is a victim of it’s own success. The film has a pretty interesting structure and plot, a great action director, Renny Harlin and continues more or less where the last film left off with survivors from the Dream Warriors hospital, now recovered and back in their homes. Kristen is unfortunately replaced with Tuesday Knight and this is the films first mistake. The loss of Pat Arquette is a big one. The second mistake is making Freddy even more glossy than previously. His jumper gets cleaner with every film, and his face more rubbery.

So, we have the Dream team back in their beds, awaiting Fred’s return. They know he’s dead, but it only takes a bit of thought to empower the evil child killers spirit and so, he’s back. Taking the teens to their darkest nightmares, and in some cases, ours, the viewer, too. Fred Krueger wearing sunglasses on a beach? Are you joking? Rod Eastman and Ken Sagoes return from the last outing to offer a decent performance and attempt to build some credence, but the plot this time swings from a whole host of new characters which leaves the viewer disorientated. Half of these could have been cut from the plot which would have made a neater affair. Instead, we get the old team and their new friends all caught up on the Krueger rollercoaster. The new casts age is crazy too. There is one bloke at high school who looks at least 40, and no, he’s not a teacher, but a student. Insane! The film has some interesting ideas, but the main problem is there is no suspense, gore or horror. The dream sequences don’t feel like dreams for the most past and it’s all a bit glitzy and glossy; Fred has become a clown.

Apart from this, there are some good points. The rebirth of Krueger is a great effect and the brilliant waterbed scene is truly from the spirit of the first movie. Also, the scene in the cinema was the highlight of the film, inventive, inspiring and genius.

(Is Alice Johnson’s house the same one used by Eastwood in Gran Torino?)

 

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A Nightmare on Elm Street III : Dream Warriors

by on Apr.27, 2010, under Daily Review

 This was a step in the right direction, getting Wes Craven back on board on script and story duty and a fresh new Director, Chuck Russell who brings enthusiasm and brightness to the franchise. We’ve also got some of the cast from the first film and a medley of cracking actors to boot!

Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) is back, all grown up (with a cool white streak in her hair) after studying dream psychology. Krueger is back too, in what seems to be his master stroke to finish off the kids from Elm Street who have all been having bad dreams, to the extremity that they are now in a special hospital, creating a club or team of Dream Warriors. Nancy is here to guide the youths in a mission to destroy Fred once and for all. Meanwhile, Nancy’s dad (John Saxon) digs out the old stashed bones of Krueger from the trunk of a car on a crushing site with some dramatic Harryhausen results.

This is a true sequel to the fine first movie. It’s well shot with an interesting plot. It’s dream world enhancements to the story are huge with most of the film set within the dream realm, Nancy coaching the youths in tricks to control their thoughts within the dream space. All interesting stuff. A great cast too. Patricia Arquette is brilliant here, (as always) Larry Fishburne is always cool on the screen too, but it’s great to see a return of Langenkamp who knocks out a brilliant performance.

What really makes this film though is the inventiveness and extremes that the plotline can take the viewer with some crazy masterful ways to die by the hand of Fred Krueger, and this is what makes him such a horror legend. No other slasher villain can rip out the veins from a teen’s arms and legs and dance them like a puppet. Great effects too, care of Shoshtrom and Yagher who provide plenty of comic fantastical gore. And of cause, Rob Englund has perfected the role with this film, mixing what he learned from the first two and creating a nasty, yet witty child murderer. Great visuals early on also, reinforcing and taking us back to the roots that Fred is actually a ‘child’ murder and not a ‘teen’ murderer which was kind of forgotten in the second outing.

Finally. Angelo Badalamenti brings the whole piece together with a terrific score, complimenting Bernstein’s original Krueger theme tune.   

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A Nightmare on Elm Street II : Freddy’s Revenge.

by on Apr.26, 2010, under Daily Review

This is the beginning of the end and I really blame the idea of Fred Krueger becoming Freddy. It’s all a bit friendly for my liking. Director Jack Sholder takes control of the red and green money machine, as Wes Craven cringes at what New Line pictures are doing with his characters. Sholder has made some pretty interesting films, although nothing overly inspiring. The Hidden was quite good, as was Alone in the Dark, but Elm Street 2 is a disaster.

The plot is as follows. Jesse (Mark Patton) is a nerdy teen, moving into a new area and unfortunately, the house of Nancy from part 1. It’s not long before he’s having dreams of Mr Krueger, but this time around, Fred is out for possession, using Jesse as a host in order to connect with the waking world. None of this makes any sense really and it’s difficult to make out what is reality or dream as the dream sequences are so un-dream like. It flows more like a teen comedy really, although for some reason, the lame character of Jesse bags him a girlfriend Lisa (Kim Myers) who is totally out of his league and a best friend in the form of the popular school baseball player, Ron (Robert Rusler) which is unrealistic. Rusler is quite a good actor but it wouldn’t take much to stand out from the rest of the cast. Another highlight is Jesse’s dad being Clu Gulager, Burt from Return of the Living Dead.

Fred or should I say Freddy is more in the spotlight here, less of a dangerous nightmare and more of a comedy one line king. His jumper is cleaner and brighter and even his burnt fleshy face is a little less disgusting, less burn and more shiny  rubbery ish, although, one of the highlights is the removal of the skin from his scull cap to expose the brain of the monster. There are some pretty good moments, but they are few are far between and this chariot with Jesse riding is unconvincing. I couldn’t care less and was preying that Fred would hurry up and mince the lot a bit quicker to get me to part 3 and hopefully a more talented cast, better script, finer direction and a little less 80’s looking.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street

by on Apr.25, 2010, under Daily Review

This was the combination Craven was working towards, mixing a fine blend of horror and fantastical which could work with the hardcore audience and the mainstream. Here he got the balance dead right. This is actually landmark film making, a milestone in the history of the genre. Back in ’85 I watched this film for the first time, as a young teen I was terrified and excited at the same time, knowing this was quite unlike anything else available at the local video store. It actually felt like this film was made for me, for my generation. It’s protagonists being average all American teens in an average suburb.

Nancy and her friends are all having the same bad dream. A spooky bloke, dressed in a red and green sweater, burnt skin and knives for fingers stalking in the shadows. But is it more than a dream? When Tina, Nancy’s best friend is brutally sliced up, it becomes clear that the monster in their nightmares is more than just a bad dream.

This is an amazing original plot which allows Craven to play about with dream sequences as the teens nod off randomly throughout the film, the viewer is left watching drifty, dreamy scenes which are perfectly composed, many scene not knowing what’s dream and what’s reality, especially in the closing moments of the film. The actors are of the usual Craven stock; young blood, unknowns with great talent. Heather Langenkamp takes the lead as Nancy and although she’s an unusual choice, being slightly geeky and not overly attractive, she works a treat. Amanda Wyss as Tina is brilliant, as is Nick Corri (Rod). The inclusion of a young Johnny Depp is a winning stroke, which highlights Craven’s eye for talent. And then of course, there’s Robert Englund as Fred. Never has there been such a perfect role for an actor within this genre. Englund gives the film an extra spark with such a subtle role for such an over the top character. His presence is magnificent here.

So we have this creepy bloke who can slice up teens in their dreams. This basically gives Craven the ability to do anything. Fred Krueger, the notorious child killer, now dead, haunting kids as a nightmare, has the ability to basically lay god. Anything is possible. He opens up his own stomach with his blades, cuts off his own fingers, can materialise physical objects into his own form. This is dream world. A great scene has a dead Tina in a body bag, corpse being dragged around a school by an invisible force. Her death is actually one of the best in the film, an incredible effect, after being sliced in the chest, she is levitated in the air before rolling up a wall and across a ceiling. Stunning.

A great thing about this film is its time stamp. It was released in 1984 and is a pure reflection and document of a time. TVs, cassette players, land line phones and this is before I mention hair and clothes, but unlike some films from that era, Elm Street carries its look with pride and holds up due to original plot and quality performance from is cracking cast. Wes Craven here hits the mark with his trademark strong leading lady, caught up in a troublesome scenario which is brought to the screen with real atmosphere and some vicious moments of violence and gore, implemented with one of the genres most exciting figures, a villain who is seen little in this first outing, mainly in shadow as he murmurs creepy one liners as he chases teens in their nightwear. And then there is the ingenious use of the screeching of knives against metal. Legend.

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Week 26

by on Apr.24, 2010, under 365 Schedule

With the reimagining of Elm Street due, we look back over the past 20 years of the franchise, and the first in a 3 part series of ‘365 Horror- Slasher Legends’

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street II
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street III
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street IV
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street V
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street VI
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street VII
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Summer of Fear

by on Apr.24, 2010, under Daily Review

A lesser seen early Wes Craven number shows all the creative style and essence which is signature to Craven’s movies. On a first look, this is a situation drama, made for TV. Solid filming with great strong characters and a story which works well for the mainstream and a low budget. This is the very beginning of Craven’s rational mainstream encounter, embracing a new audience in an attempt to win over the studios, gain higher budgets and calm his brutal reputation as the master of horror after his initial ‘Last House’ and Hills Have Eyes’. Following these two films is no easy challenge and it’s easy to see why this film would be dismissed as it could be seen as selling out.

Rachel (Linda Blair) is a young privileged teenager, whose nose is put out of place by her beautiful cousin, Julie (Lee Purcell), coming to stay. She soon suspects her cousin is in cahoots with the devil, dabbling with the occult.

Is his the moment of Craven’s enlightening of a bigger audience? Again, we have all the signs of the masterpiece he is aiming for, although restrained here with budget and rating. Linda Blair is the master stroke here; with real screen presence she ignites the screen with charisma and charm and a brilliant natural ability. The role Blair takes is the usual Craven focus, being girl next door type seen over and over in his films. Scream, Elm Street, Blessing. Even his other films show strong female leads, Friend, Hills, Last House etc, but here, Blair leads the way for the role of Sidney and Nancy in later films.

Apart from this strong historic documentation, what else does Summer of Fear have to offer? Blair is outstanding with hair which is mesmerising, but acting ability which really has been wasted since. She’s so natural and that’s the films winning point. The plot is interesting and the pace works well with the subject. Purcell is great in the role of the cousin and when she does turn into super witch, she’s amazing, but the rest of the cast are an obvious TV collective which Craven inspires into a better than average performance. There are some beautiful scenes, and camera shots which express Craven’s ability and show an eagerness to capture an emotion and create a film far more ambitious that production allows.

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