This Is Freddy On Drugs … Beep! Beep!
(Spoilers for the previous five Nightmare on Elm Street movies are below).
Realizing how bad the last Nightmare film was, Freddy’s Dead (also known as A Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy's Dead) looks to wrap up the lingering story of one of horror’s most legendary slashers. Instead of trying to give Freddy a quality and meaningful exit, one that’s actually true to the origins of his creative existence, the filmmakers thought this would be the perfect time to create a horror comedy. In the process they turn one of the scariest film villains into a “park and spark” punchline.
Ten years after the events in The Dream Child, Freddy is believed to have killed every child in Springwood. A young teen with amnesia (Shon Greenblatt ) ends up in Springwood and sees Freddy in his dreams. He is told to “go fetch” as he exits the city. Shortly after, he ends up in an institution where he sees child psychologist Maggie Burroughs (Lisa Zane) who also is suffering form terrible nightmares. Together they return to Springwood in order to figure out the cause of these problems; there they are unknowingly joined by three teens – Carlos (Ricky Dean Logan), Tracy (Lezlie Deane), and Spencer (Breckin Meyer) who escaped from the institution.
Freddy’s Dead skips the standard lengthy opening sequence that has come to define the openings of the previous five movies, and instead begins with two quotes. One from Nietzsche:
“Do you know the terror of he who falls asleep? To the very toes he is terrified, because the ground gives way under him, And the dream begins…”and another from Krueger:
“Welcome to Prime Time, bitch.”Combining existentialism with comedy, instantly left me with the feeling that 90 minutes of my life was about to be wasted. Gut instincts so often prove to be correct.
The film’s attempts at inserting humor often fail spectacularly. Having Freddy drive a bus around with the word “special” on it in big bold letters fails at subtlety, and will more likely insight anger from people with mental or physical handicaps. It sets the movie up for what it spends a lot of time doing: making fun of handicapped people. Freddy constantly makes fun of Carlos’ hearing problems, and even spends a significant time dancing behind him making loud comedic gestures, while keeping his hearing aid from him. Freddy also insults the kid with amnesia for his memory loss, and he terrorizes Tracy with her past sexual abuse at the hands of her father.
The problem here is I can’t tell if the movie is laughing with these characters and their problems or at these characters for having these problems. Instead of coming across as funny, it often times comes across as uncomfortable. You could argue that being uncomfortable is a part of the horror genre, but this is the kind of uncomfortable that stems from filmmaking ignorance.
Nothing remotely scary happens either, and a lot of the kills feel like they belong in a Roadrunner cartoon. Even worse is the fact that the movie misses out on killing a number of the celebrities that makes cameos. Who doesn’t want to see Freddy kill Roseanne and Tom Arnold? Who wouldn’t want to see Johnny Depp get another death to match the one he had in the first Nightmare? All of these great opportunities … wasted.
The film was incredibly misguided when it decide to make Freddy a father. Who his child is, becomes the lingering, and incredibly stupid question the movie keeps asking. The point of including this in the plot seems to revolve around the idea that they want to give Freddy a meaningful and convincing death. The final battle that determines Freddy’s fate is anything but…
Not only does the movie’s ending fail to be meaningful, it fails technologically too, as it requires the use of 3D glasses. Before the final battle with Freddy takes place, the main character puts on a pair of 3D glasses … in the movie … breaking the fourth wall, and telling everyone who’s watching to put on their 3D glasses. It feels like a commercial’s interrupting the plot, but by this point so many mind numbing events have occurred you don’t really seem to care that your horror movie now has commercials in it.
If you’re buying the DVD, it should come with a pair of old-school 3D glasses … glasses where one lens is red and the other is blue. When you finally have to take the glasses off, you can count on a headache while seeing everything with a red tint in one eye and a blue tint in the other. This movie literally makes you feel pain.
I could go on and on, ripping this movie, but I’m going to wrap it up with some other quick points that really bothered me. The acting is worse than bad, especially performances from Lezlie Deane and Lisa Dane. The classical portions of the film score shamelessly rip off of Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain. (For you non-classical music fans that’s the music playing from the giant gargoyle video in Fantasia). A number of counter-culture and pot references make their way into the story including a “This is your brain on drugs” moment and Freddy rockin’ out to In-A-Gadda-A-Vida. The only thing that’s remotely decent, once again, is Robert Englund. This movie may find an audience with friends of 420, but otherwise I don’t see how anyone could really enjoy this.