Horror review: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 20, 1994

By Steve Newton

In the last scene of the ninth Friday the 13th instalment, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, the famed goalie mask of recently destroyed Jason Vorhees is pictured resting serenely on a leaf-strewn forest floor. Just before the scene fades to black, the unmistakable blade-fingered glove of Freddy Krueger thrusts up from the ground and pulls the mask down into the earth. You’d figure from that wee shock that the two horror icons might be matched up next in a film called Friday the 13th, Part 10 Meets A Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 7: Somebody’s Gonna Get It.

No such luck, boys and ghoulies. In the latest Krueger flick, his toughest opponents are a six-year-old boy (Kindergarten Cop‘s Miko Hughes) and his mother (Heather Langenkamp), the same distressed damsel he already got the better of in the feverish and genuinely frightening 1984 original.

Wes Craven’s new reality-based movie-within-a-movie sees Langenkamp, as herself, being terrorized by a Krueger-like phone caller. (She was supposedly stalked in real life by an obsessed fan of her TV series, Just the Ten of Us.) At the same time, Craven (who also plays himself) is working on a new Nightmare on Elm Street screenplay, one that is developing from his own dreams (as he claims happened with the script in real life). It seems the spirit of Freddy Krueger has moved beyond the screen and is no longer under the filmmaker’s control. To exorcise this demon once and for all (yeah, right), Langenkamp must face it in the real world.

Although Craven’s self-referential take on the Krueger myth is kinda clever, its end product is highly derivative, not very scary, and short on laughs: a female victim’s blood-soaked body is dragged across a ceiling, just like in the first film; the little kid gets to talk evil and spew goo, just like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. The only really jump-inducing bit is a direct rip-off from the first Nightmare film, when Freddy’s slimy tongue pokes out at Langenkamp from a phone receiver.

Unlike previous effects-filled and action-packed Elm Street entries–particularly parts 3 and 5–Craven’s New Nightmare is a lot of talk, as the actual moviemakers eat up screen time explaining why the film should be made in the first place. They just aren’t convincing enough.

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