Saturday, May 18, 2013

MR:Quickies Elm Street series

I did Jason and I did Chucky in the past.

It's nowhere near Halloween or a Friday The 13th, but Freddy only needs you to go to sleep to get you...

Created by the master of horror himself Wes Craven, A Nightmare on Elm Street is a slasher/horror film franchise that despite its few entries is equally as popular and well regarded as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th and Halloween series, if not better received thanks to its fewer weaker episodes.

Craven had already been perfect his craft and exploring the horror genre since his debut in the 1970s.

After the immense success in films such as The Hills Have Eyes and shortly after coming from the 1982 Swamp Thing movie, Wes Craven tried his own take on the whole slasher phenomenon that really became popular in the 1980s.

His own bogeyman would be completely different from the early established character. Not a mute giant but a smaller figure that would wisecrack he would stab you in the guts. Thus was born Freddy Krueger, the nightmares haunting killer.

With films blurring the lines of reality - a common theme in most Wes Craven films - and more and more original death scenes most special effect guys both dreamed and feared to have to execute, the success of Nightmare on Elm Street was immediate. And the series' long since left a mark on popular culture forever.

Movie title: A Nightmare on Elm Street 
Directed by Wes Craven
Release date 1984
Genre slasher horror

Here it is, the original A Nightmare on Elm Street!

The story takes place in the fictional  town of Springwood, Ohio.

Several teens get killed for a secret their parents hid from them all these years.

High school student Tina has been having a recurring nightmare recently. She's stuck in a boiler room, trying to escape while being chased by a strange burned man.

She gets cut in the dream and once woken up appears to sport those marks on her!

After discussing it with some friends, she finds out others have a similar dream as well.

But the more fear spreads out the stronger and more real these nightmares appear to be.

They become so real that once asleep one of them gets killed!

The adults claim suicide on that.. but they know it's something more.

Nancy gets a white streak in her hair from another frightening nightmare.. but not before being actually able to pull out the hat from this bogeyman into the real world!

They learn the truth, it appears this man was once called Freddy Krueger.

Freddy murdered several children but was able to escape justice thanks to a technicality. So the parents took the law into their own hands and burnt him alive.

But now he's back somehow...

The kids put a plan into action to pull Freddy out of the dreamworld where his powers appear to be infinite and bring him to justice once and for all!

Overall: It's a fantastic cult movie!

Wes Craven wrote and directed this classic late 1985 film.

The film is really frightening, unlike most of its sequels who would either focus on scares or gore. And it has such a great twist at the end...

Great special effects, the line between reality and dream blurs easily thanks to such an amazing direction.

The film proved to be a huge success and put veteran actor Robert Englund on the map.

It also features a young Johnny Depp at his debut (really cheesy acting on his part, but what would you expect?).

It launched an entire franchise and was able to get New Line Cinema's budget many times over. For a pretty small budget compared to most slashers at time and its future sequels it's really impressive.

While Wes Craven was trying to make his film differ from the older Friday or Halloween movies, A Nightmare on Elm Street became a stable of the genre and has since gone to be the inspiration for many other knockoffs at the time and other similar low budget horror films.

A great masterful horror story about the loss of innocence.

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

Movie title: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
Directed by Jack Sholder
Release date 1985
Genre slasher horror

Freddy's Revenge is a direct sequel to the the first one.

Five years have passed since then. And a new family has moved into Nancy's home.

Jesse got Nancy's old room. And quickly starts to have some nightmares.

Freddy is back and wants to use Jesse's body has a host to move onto the real world.

Jesse's girlfriend Lisa finds Nancy's old diary where she talks about her encounters with Freddy... which frightens here. Jesse appears to have the same problems.

The more nightmares he has the more he seems to be slowly turning into Freddy!

She finds some informations about Freddy. Such as the power plant where he used to work and bring his victims.

Jesse is losing his mind.. He doesn't recall sleeping but seems to be living a nightmare constantly!

They decided to take Freddy back to the plant to get him out and destroyed for good.

The plant  explodes and burns down...

Is it finally over, or....?

Overall: This second film was produced quickly. Released shortly the following year and directed by Jack Sholder this time.

Wes didn't want to make it originally. Since he didn't want Nightmare on Elm Street to turn into an ongoing franchise to distance it from the many, many other similar slasher films.

It's a much weaker film than the original and really feels like a "sequel" through and through.

I usually like new ideas and all, but they sort of turned this into a completely different sort of horror film with a new direction and all.

I feel like this might have been a much better film had it been an unrelated original movie.

Though it still is a very creative horror film.

The new ideas are ok, such as Freddy taking over own of his victims to get to people in the real world.

I give this one a: 1.5 / 3 Score!

Movie title: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Directed by Chuck Russell
Release date 1987
Genre slasher horror

Despite all these movies being filmed one year after the other, the story this time takes place six years after the first one.

Kristen Parker now lives in that street.

One night as she was staying awake late building their 1428 Elm Street's house in papier-mâché her mother forced her to go to sleep. Bad idea in Elm Street.

That night she dreams of exploring that street. She follows a little girl into a creepy house. She finds Freddy in the basement and tries to run away.

She wakes up... but no! It appears that she is still dreaming!

She wakes up with some cuts on her arms and they think this was a suicide attempt.

She is taken to Westin Hills Hospital. Now under sedation and away from more bad nightmares.

Kristen meets Nancy Thompson from the first film, now a dream specialist.

At Westin Hills she finds many others who have similar nightmares. Like Kincaid who sees himself as a though guy. And Philip a puppet maker. Taryn was a drug addict. Jennifer who dreamt to be an actress. Will tried to commit suicide and is now in a wheelchair.  Joey was so traumatized he won't speak anymore.

Nancy tries to teach them to not fear the dreams as so to weaken Freddy's power on them.

But Kristen has another nightmare! She is able to call Nancy into her dream who helps her right away. It seems Kristen has the ability to pull people into her dreams.

Nancy tells them about Freddy's real threat. It's time to confront this monster once and for all.

But Freddy starts to kill our characters manipulating their own fears and weakness. Like Philip toyed with like a puppet.

A nun Mary Helena tells them about Freddy's secret origin. How his mother was raped in an asylum.

They have to find Freddy's bones to lay them to rest, with holy water.

They attempt a group experiment to get back to Freddy.

In the end, Kristen discovers Mary was actually Freddy's mother Amanda Krueger mother all along.

Overall: For this second sequel, Wes Craven came back as a writer along Bruce Wagner and Frank Darabont.

He originally intented this film as the last one to put an end to this series once more. But success made it continue well past this episode!

His original plans was to have Freddy Krueger escape into the "real world". And by real world I mean he would haunt the actors filming a new Elm Street movie. But it was deemed way too meta for the studio so they refused it. (which wouldn't be the last from Craven's attempted storyline)

It's a much better film than the second. The film has some more black comedy humor on the demand of director Chuck Russell.

The nightmares/special effects are all so innovative and original!

The film also feature an heavy metal theme song by Dokken.Which is nice if a bit out of place at first (but it became sort of a standard on later installments)

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Movie title: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master 
Directed by Renny Harlin
Release date 1988
Genre slasher horror

Kristen, Joey and Kincaid have since the last film left Westin Hills Asylum having survived the previous story.

They now are back to school and are trying their best at living a normal life.

Kristen has now made some new friends. She even has a new boyfriend, Rick, who loves martial arts.

But Kristen fears Freddy's not dead. And accidentally pull Kincaid and Joey in her dream. They go back to Freddy's old house in the dream. When waking up they show signs of what happened in the dream.. but surely that is only due to her ability, and not Freddy's return... right?

Kincaid finds the place where Freddy's bones were layed to rest. And accidentally ends up resurrecting him back!

Kristen friends get killed one after the other. She tries to stay awake, but her mom put some sleeping pills in her stuff since she hasn't been sleeping much lately.

She gets killed by Freddy Krueger... but not before being able to transfer her powers into her friend Alice.

Alice and Rick arrive too late to save her, she is burned down along her bedroom.

After some more deaths, they try to get Freddy in an abandoned church. There Alice takes on the dream monster in a supernatural confrontation. She turns the spirits of the people Freddy killed against himself, ripping him apart...

Overall: A fan favorite episode.

This is when the Nightmare on Elm Street took a more B-movie tone, but don't mistake it, it still wasn't full on cheesy.

Die Hard 2 director Renny Harlin made this installment. It is said to be Robert Englund's favorite film in the series, and the only one Wes Craven deemed worthy enough.

It was also the most successful episode of the entire on Elm Street series on theaters.

Now, this one tried some great different new ideas compared to ANoES 2!

Like Friday the 13th Part VI around the same time, it also features a pretty silly hit song. This one being the infamous "Are You Ready for Freddy" rap by The Fat Boys. It's a personal guilty pleasure of mine, love hearing Robert Englund rapping alongside.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Movie title: A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child 
Directed by Stephen Hopkins
Release date 1989
Genre slasher comedy/horror

"One, two, Freddy's coming for you..."

The story is set a year after the last one.

Alice is now dating Dan. One time while in the shower, she "wakes" up in some old asylum in the shoes of a nun named "Amanda Krueger".

A bunch of creeps attack her and.. she wakes up before anything happens to her really.

She tells Dan about those nightmares. He's going to go on a trip to Europe soon.

At the school graduation we meet her new friends. Mark, a comic book nerd, Greta who wants to be a supermodel some day, and Yvonna, a swimmer.

Alice finds herself back in the old asylum as Amanda was giving birth to Freddy Krueger. The baby escapes. She follows the baby to the place where she previously defeated Freddy. The baby gets into Freddy's clothes and grows up into this monster...

He's back.

Dan falls asleep while driving his bike. He gets turned into a machine-man atrocity and gets killed in an explosion.

Alice faints in the street as she witnesses the scene. Turns out she's pregnant with Dan's child.

Freddy sets after Alice's friend and tries to kill them one by one playing with the personalities.

Greta eats herself to death. Freddy was about to kill Mark when Alice projects herself into his dream to help him.

Mark also gets a special dream ability but is cut into pieces before he can do anything to stop Freddy.

They have to free Amanda's soul to stop Freddy...

Overall: Well, the series went full on campy with this one.

It has less horror elements and a whole lot more funny lines and silly quotes from Freddy who seems to be more concerned about his one liners and jokes than stopping the kids really.

This film was directed by Predator 2 director Stephen Hopkins.

The new comedic direction is... unexpected. But it's still a pretty good movie by all means.

The film has a certain gothic tone that is well appreciated.

And a pretty strange blue filter through the entire picture.

Despite its many flaws, it features some interesting elements as well as exploring teen pregnancy in the horror genre.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Movie title: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Directed by Rachel Talalay
Release date 1991
Genre slasher comedy/horror

It is now 1999 (in the plot).

Since Alice and her son put a stop to Freddy they now moved away.

With all the bizarre "suicides" and murders, there are no more children in the entire Springwood.

Freddy finds one on a plane passing over the little town. Freddy is able to get him into a nightmare and lets him leave the city line Freddy can't cross in the dreamworld "and go fetch" some more kids.

Now an amnesiac "John Doe", the kid goes on a search for Freddy's daughter, Maggie. Yes, apparently he had a daughter.

Freddy wants to create new "Elm Streets" to spread his fear outside and expand his killing spree. Since, you know, he can't leave the street.

Long story short, Maggie finds out about Freddy. She is able to harm Freddy and brings a piece of his sweater into the real world.

So obviously at this point, the series decides it's time to jump the shark as Maggie puts on a pair of 3-D glasses. Now the audience steps in the 3D part of the film.

Maggie learns Freddy's past. She sees the troubled childhood the young Freddy had, being called "the son of 100 maniacs", how he was cruel to animals, beaten up by his stepdad, how he ended up murdering his own wife who discovered what he did to the children.

And how some Dream Demons granted him "eternal life" and a new sort of existence in his next life as he died in the boiler room.

Then Maggie has an over the top hand to hand combat with her father Freddy.

They fight for the possession of Freddy's glove. Freddy explodes to pieces with a bomb but the dream demons leave him to rot for good....? 

Overall: Freddy's Dead is a personal favorite of mine... but even I have to recognize ir's not a very good movie.

It was originally intended to be the last film in the series. Which it still is despite all the other films since then. It still is sort of the end of the original series up to nowadays, since it has been followed by a pseudo-spinoff (below), a crossover episode and the reboot recently.

It is also New Line Cinema's first attempt at a 3D film years before the craze we have now, and it's an early attempt at bringing the old 3D fad that was a trend in old monster movie serials. At least it's not the entire film as many horror films in the 80s and early 90s.

This film was directed by Rachel Talalay who would go on to direct the 1995 Tank Girl movie and The Borrowers in 1997.

The film has some cameos like Alice Cooper and even a return of Johnny Depp who hadn't been seen since the very first film (albeit in a different role).

I really like the credit montage in this film, featuring past films of the series.

Some earlier versions of this film's scrip originally had Alice's son Jacob from the previous film as the main character along the return of the dream warriors.

It's a pretty bad and silly film and thanks to kids loving the character by that point, a much less violent/less frightening standard bogeyman-type of movie. But at least enjoyable and not as bad as part 2.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Movie title: Wes Craven's New Nightmare
Directed by Wes Craven
Release date 1994
Genre horror

This time.. the film opens with the boiler room. It appears Freddy is back once more... or is it?

We're actually on a film set. Wes Craven is making a new Nightmare on Elm Street movie.

Some prop comes to life, people get hurt..

Actress Heather Langenkamp who played Nancy in the original film is having nightmares of her own.

It's the 10th anniversary of the Elm Street film series. Rob Englund scares Heather by accident who is having terrifying nightmares recently.

Her son his kidnapped by a real life Freddy Krueger. He takes him into the dream world.

She gets some help from Craven. Apparently an unknown evil or the incarnation of everything evil has taken on the form of Freddy. Or possibly the original Nightmare on Elm Street happened and has become such a fiction that people don't believe in it enough to see the monster invade people's nightmare in real live.

And it seees now Heather/Nancy as a sort of gatekeeper keeping it at bay.

Nevertheless, Heather has to embrace the heroine she was in the script to face down this nightmarish creature once and for all.

Overall: This one can easily be either the worst film in the series for you or the best one if you embrace the originality it deviates the series into and the fact it avoid expanding the original films or the mythology behind the series.

Being a "one-off" kind of affair, it plays the usual elements of a Elm Street film but really is its own separate entity.

It was great to have Wes Craven return to the series. As well as Heather Langenkamp back.

This time the actors get to portray themselves playing in an unnamed sequel.

The real evil "Freddy" entity gets out of the fiction and it's Heather Langenkamp playing Nancy one last time who must put a stop to the monster.

I really love the amazing new updated look for Freddy and all the simple but fantastic special effects in this one.

Wes would explore these very same idea later on with his Scream series.

He brings Freddy closer to the way he originally imagined him, more menacing and less comical.

It's both a love letter and a tribute to original film and its fans.

I give this one a: 3 / 3 Score!

And that's it for the Freddy Krueger series!

This horror icon still haunts people dreams and pop culture lore to this very day.

The series proved to be huge and quite successful.

Elm Street has been declined into many other mediums.

Apart a lousy 8-bit game and several comic book series, it's worth mentioning Freddy's fun guest appearance in the latest installment of the Mortal Kombat series.

Freddy also crossed over the Friday the 13th series in a long awaited if a bit underwhelming film.

And there's been a remake of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, even if it's a sub-par experiment it is also worth a look once at least.

That's all for this time's Quickies!

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