Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2008-03-10 13:00

Directed by: Rachel Talalay
Written by: Michael De Luca
Produced by: Bob “Smirnoff? Smirn-on!” Shaye

Reviewed by: Brett H.

“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…”

It's quite possible that the reason I am involved with this site today is because of Freddy's Dead. As a kid, I taped the film off of Super Channel here in Canada and watched it relentlessly for many years. As VHS become more accessible and affordable in stores, I began my assault on the classics of horror in grade 9. I bought around 40 horror flicks and boasted that I'd never have to rent scary movies again. As of this writing, I own well over 900 of the bastards, so it's tough to find a statement further from the truth. I never really got into horror on DVD until August 26, 2002, when I ran across the Nightmare on Elm Street box set at a local video store. I researched it online and saw that Freddy's Dead was originally released in 3D and the DVD featured that version. That's about all the coaxing I needed and I took my $130 and got my set the next day.

The tail end of the 80s forever changed the scope of horror. Direct to video movies efforts were becoming increasingly prominent and without question horror flicks weren’t bringing in the bucks theatrically they once were. Still, studios milked their icons for every last dollar and by then the series’ were getting past their prime. The Nightmare on Elm Street series had churned out films at a pace of nearly one a year and had seen Freddy going from a dark entity to pop culture icon. Fans of Freddy usually enjoy the first four films to some extent (I still don’t understand the hate for Freddy’s Revenge, but the next two that followed were different birds altogether. Freddy’s Dead was “intended” to be the last film in the series and it set itself further from the other pictures than anyone could have ever predicted.

The film begins “10 years from now” and by this time, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) has wiped out every teen in the town of Springwood, Ohio. The adults of Springwood have lost their minds and all in all it’s a pretty shitty place to be. There is evidence that one teenager has survived the onslaught and the kick in the ass is he has amnesia. He goes by the name of John Doe (Shon Greenblatt) and Freddy has finally got to him. John dreams he is on a plane and he sees a little girl who informs him that, “he’s going to make you help him, because you’re the last.” He falls out of the plane and as he drops, he awakens from the nightmare. Not quite, though, as it turns out to be a Freddy’s Nightmares-esque dream within a dream sequence and Freddy Krueger is knockin’ on his door once again. But Freddy does exactly as the little girl says and shockingly lets him live.

John Doe wakes up in a small town where he is hauled in by the cops as they think he’s a junkie. They take him to the juvenile shelter and he meets up with Maggie (Lisa Zane), who is an employee of the place. They have a dream specialist kicking around who is referred as Doc (Yaphet Kotto) and of course, he plays an integral part when dreams and reality begin melting into one another. Krueger invades the dreams of the kids in the shelter and begins picking them off one by one in mostly comedic fashion, unlike earlier entries. But, there is another method to his madness. Unbeknownst to him, Freddy not only has John out finding souls for him to claim, but to meet up with someone important from the past. Not just anyone, but his long lost daughter. Scandalous.

I will tell you this right now, I can’t bash Freddy’s Dead like so many out there have done. The nostalgia factor is just too much for me to overlook, and not only that but the film just isn’t as bad as most claim it to be. Sure, it’s wildly different, but when you look at it as its own movie, you can’t help but smile. Although incredibly cheesy, Freddy still manages to have the odd dark scene where he shows that he still can kick ass, mostly in the scenes involving his daughter. In the scenes where he kills the juveniles in the home, it’s basically 100% comedy with Freddy killing by scraping his razors on a chalkboard until a guy’s head explodes and Freddy going Nintendo on another, killing him by putting him into a video game world. Back when I was seven years old, seeing Freddy’s glove turned into a Power Glove was about the best thing I’d ever seen. “What do you know? I beat my high score!”

It pains a horror fan to see one of their favorite series’ go from terrifying and dark to a light hearted dark comedy, but you can’t fault New Line for going this route either. The bane of the horror fan is the whine that constantly spews from their mouths in regards to the popular horror series’. If the filmmakers make the movies all the same tone and retread covered ground, they bitch that they want something different. So, the filmmakers do something different and then they bitch that it’s too far from what the story originally was. I understand people’s problems with the film, but my complaint looking back isn’t so much that it was different as I am upset that it had nothing to do with the fifth instalment, The Dream Child at all. In this reviewer’s opinion, the fifth movie was the worst in the series, but it wouldn’t have been hard to make the John Doe actually be Jacob and still follow the same path.

On the positive side, Freddy’s Dead delves deeper into the Freddy Krueger mythos as his daughter finds a way to get in his head and has the ability to access his memories. We see Freddy in human form playing with her and abusing her mother, not to mention flashing back to Freddy’s childhood where he is shown in school killing a hamster with a hammer. Not to mention teenage Freddy who was into self-mutilation. Freddy is also to be revealed to be controlled/influenced by some sort of dream demons. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the film, however, is the opening and end credits. The film kicks off with the famous Friedrich Nietzsche quote at the top of the review while some calm Goo-Goo Dolls rock music plays. The tune kicks into high gear and Freddy’s most well known quote, “Welcome to prime time, bitch!” is displayed. The end credits have a montage of some of the best scenes in Elm Street history as Iggy Pop’s great tune Why Was I Born? blazes through your speakers. The end of the song is even more amusing, as Iggy says, “Do you really think that… Freddy’s Dead?”

Freddy’s quotes are all funny albeit much more cheesy than the earlier entries in the series. Probably the most effective serious scene of the film is when Freddy’s daughter gets her hands on his glove and he looks at her and says, “Feels good, doesn’t it? Come on, let your daddy show you how to use it.” Another problem is since it was filmed in 3D, the sure-fire extravagant ending is toned down from what it should have been. Not only is the film much more drab looking than the other entries (gone are the moody set pieces and colorful lights), but the 3D gimmick isn’t imaginative in the least. On paper, it would appear that Freddy would go well with 3D, but they just never implemented it properly. Englund still rules as Freddy, though, and he does everything he can to make each scene entertaining. The performances are all pretty good, especially Lisa Zane and Yaphet Kotto. After another viewing, it does come off less comedic than I remember it, although it is still quite the jaunt from what you’re used to. Picture the polar opposite of the original and you’ll get Freddy’s Dead.

Thankfully, Freddy didn’t die and has returned twice since this movie in two much better movies. They both strayed away from comedy to a more sinister tone much to the delight of fans everywhere. Freddy is restricted as he doesn’t turn into other figures so much as he used to, but at the end of the day after watching the movie countless times in the last 16 or so years, I’d be hard pressed to picture the series without it. New Line’s DVD looks great, but you have to get the box set to see the film in 3D (it includes two pairs of awesome red/blue glasses with the Nightmare on Elm Street logo on them). With a remake in the works, we may never see Robert Englund don the glove again, but it’s been a good run. He is the closest thing to a Bela Lugosi or Vincent Price this generation of horror fans has. It looks as though the New Line Cinema we all know and love has been brought down, and it's sad to see them go after such great history in the genre. In 20 years, horror fans may be looking at the New Line logo in the way we look at Media's or Prism's now; memories of a better time in film history. It's all a shame and will certainly piss off legions of fans, but even the best things must come to an end. Buy it!

comments powered by Disqus Ratings:
Average members rating (out of 10) : 5.24   
Votes : 4 since 2008-04-11 22:34