Englund/Langenkamp/Hughes/News ~ Wes Craven's New Nightmare
Halfway through A New Nightmare
Heather Langenkamp goes to visit Wes Craven to discuss resurrecting the Freddy Krueger series for one last film. Craven's script focuses on a malevolent demon that has escaped from the stories in which he was trapped because they have lost their power to scare. Sound familiar? This script-within-a-film refers, of course, to the real-life fate of the Nightmare on Elm Street
series, and is an idea typical of this intelligent movie which successfully blurs the line between this horror film and its real-life production context. Langenkamp plays herself, in virtually her own life: a D-list actress unable to match the success she found in the original Nightmare on Elm Street
films. She, like the rest of the cast and crew of the original films (also played by themselves--most notably Craven and Robert Englund, camping himself up as an adored celebrity and part-time "artist"), is haunted by dreams of the Freddy Krueger character. Craven's script reveals that if Freddy is not trapped within a story more powerful than the Elm Street
sequels--i.e. this film--he will become real.
New Nightmare is an interesting precursor to the Scream series, and it attempts to capitalise on its self-reflexivity in a similar way. The idea is that, having openly revealed that the rest of the Elm Street series were "only films", New Nightmare can then set about scaring your pants off. The biggest hindrance, however, is the Freddy character himself. Despite the fact that we are told that this is the "real" Freddy, rather than the cinematic incarnation we've seen many times before it is still difficult to shake off a persistent sensation of déja-vu. Freddy just isn't scary any more: his face looks a lot less gnarled than it used to be and even the once-terrifying claw seems to have lost its edge. Similarly, having hammered home the fact that this movie is real, those elements of the film which require a little more imagination--such as Freddy's body-stretching, the surreal scare sequences and the Gothic-fantasy finale--appear absurd. Thus, if certainly not as good as the original, New Nightmare is at least an intelligent, fresh and occasionally scary film: which makes it head and shoulders above most of its genre and certainly better than most of this series. --Paul Philpott
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.