Sunday, March 17, 2013

Self Observational Sunday: Nightmare on My Street

So I’m unemployed (as made clear in my previous SOS) so what better way to spend time not working than watching the entire Nightmare on Elm Street series (except Freddy Vs. Jason) as well as the Documentary Never Sleep Again. This is my all time favorite horror franchise. It doesn’t mean I love them all but in general even the worst Freddy film (arguably Part 2 or Part 5) there are elements in the story that are quite interesting/impressive/etc.

There are elements about the film that are always sort of a pain in the ass. For starters the series seems to change it’s own mythology with each sequel in order to appeal to the story. The only movies that seem to follow the originals rules are part 3 and part 4.

I think like most fans Part 3 is tied with the original as my favorite in the series. In many ways I consider Part 3 (The Dream Warriors) the superior film but there is something to be said about how genuinely eerie the original was. Beyond that watching the documentary Never Sleep Again is full of so many interesting stories of the making of the 1984 original really makes the film all the more appealing to me. That being said the original did not contain a soundtrack by Dokken and a character who loves D&D so sorry Part 3 is my preferred viewing.

In the documentary Never Sleep Again there’s a lot of discussion about the original ending. Wes Craven was very anti-Sequels. He wanted Freddy dead and Nancy off to live another day while Bob Shaye wanted the movie to end with a Freddy is still around. It proposes an interesting concept about what is more satisfying. I agree with Wes that the symbolic statement is powerful ... the survival of Freddy is to overcome the fear of Freddy (something that they still try to propose in all the movies but due to new ending where Freddy is still around than it means that overcoming your fear isn’t actually what stops him so why keep trying?) however I always loved the absurd final shot of Nancy’s mother being pulled through that tiny window in the door.

I think it’s no shock that the best of the series (The Original, Part 3 and New Nightmare) all involved Wes Craven’s involvement. I don’t consider him the end all be all of horror filmmakers ... he’s made some garbage in his career; but what’s important is that he always has a nice little dab of psychology mixed into his horror. His versions of Freddy taps into internal fears far stronger than some of the later films.

Freddy’s Revenge is many many things. One of the things it is not is intentionally good. The film was voted by as the Gayest horror movie of all time (something that is discussed in great detail in Never Sleep Again ... seriously, if you’ve read this far and never seen that documentary you should probably do that now). The film is really the worst possible way to follow up the power of the original Elm Street. That being said I must say it was quite the ballsy thing to do. They literally followed up a smash hit by doing something completely and utterly different. As poor as the movie is, I do have to applaud the gutsy aspect to that. As I said even the worst of these movies have elements I like. There are serious B-Movie/Troll 2 aspects to it (Mark Patton’s dancing sequence, killer bird sequence, etc) but there is one moment that is incredible. Jesse’s transformation into Freddy is a dark, gory and eerie moment with some impressive and innovative visuals.

I always want to like The Dream Master more. It’s got some really innovative moments (including my favorite death - the cockroach) but all in all it’s not a very good movie. However it’s far superior to Part 5 - The Dream Child. I think Dream Child is my pick for the worst film (although Freddy’s Revenge is a close 2nd). Dream Child suffers from an absurd plot and the censors taking out most of the gore and violence leaving us to deal with the bad plot line and nothing else. I almost always find myself zoning out while watching it.

Here’s where my opinion and fan opinion completely differs. I love the shit out of Freddy’s Dead. Now hear me out... this was the first Elm Street film I ever saw. I caught it on TV when I was just starting to watch horror movies. I had to face some “demons” as I remembered the trailer for Freddy’s dead scaring me as a child. I had to face my demons. Now I get that the movie is bad ... hell it’s terrible. In the beginning of this SOS I mentioned that the films bend and twist the mythos ... no film fucks with it more than Freddy’s Dead. It drops the logic in favor of cool visuals. When people fall asleep their body either magically disappears (someone falls through a table and doesn’t come out of it) or defy physics and have a complete and utter lack of control of their body. There are elements of this in previous films (Tina’s death comes to mind) but no one was punching through walks or simply floating in mid-air (cue Breckin Myers). 

That being said the movie was intended to be tongue-in-cheek and over the top. There’s claims that Divine was supposed to be in the movie (despite Divine dying many years before Freddy’s Dead). 

Regardless of the positives and the negatives throughout this franchise (for the record I’m just ignoring the 2010 remake) it will forever remain my favorite horror franchise. It’s demented, dark and innovative. Next up I think I’m going to work my way through Friday the 13th and while I’ll enjoy it I know it won’t captivate me the way Freddy always has.

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