Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: No screaming while the bus is in motion.
At 7:15 a.m., the sun stating to stream in through my windows, I began my sixth Nightmare on Elm Street Movie — Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.
As the film began and a quote from Nietzsche was used to introduce the movie, I began to hope that maybe there was a chance I was in for something of quality— a movie that would send off the Freddy Krueger character in a positively inspiring manner (at least until he was resurrected for the seventh film in the series, of course).
My hopes quickly dissipated, though, when the Nietzsche quote was followed by a line from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors: “Welcome to prime time, bitch.”
Ah, the wit and wisdom of Fred Krueger — surely an ominous sign of things to come.
Set ten years after A Nightmare on Elm Street 5, Freddy’s Dead plays loose with any type of logic or semblance of continuity. Freddy Krueger, no longer just content to slaughter those children whose parents murdered him all those years ago, has systematically wiped out all of the children in the town of Springwood — leaving the community a dusty old shell of its former self.
And when I say dusty old shell, I mean the town has become a farce — with loony parents shambling through the street wailing and gnashing their teeth and former teachers haunting the abandoned halls of the high school and teaching invisible students the finer points of Freddy 101.
Freddy uses the last remaining teenager left in the town as bait — sending him out into the world to bring back more souls for the taking.
This John Doe (after being thrown out of Springwood by Krueger, the teen hits his head and loses his memory) succeeds in successfully bringing back a small contingency of runaway teens and a child psychologist — one of whom may or may not be the spawn of Freddy Krueger himself.
Lisa Zane stars as Doctor Maggie Burroughs, the film’s resident “final girl.” Shon Greenblatt, Lezlie Deane, Yaphet Kotto and Ricky Dean Logan also appear as potential Freddy Krueger victims.
Breckin Meyer also makes an appearance in Freddy’s Dead. While you might expect his character’s nightmares to center around a future starring in Garfield movies, Meyer actually plays a stoner character who — when tormented by Freddy Krueger — is sucked into a video game and dreams of being chased around by a pixilated Freddy Krueger. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Freddy hunched over a giant classic video game controller, mashing buttons and cracking jokes about Power Gloves.
As Meyer’s character dreams, his actual body continues to move around the room — even jumping up and down to break invisible prize boxes or crashing through walls. It’s at this point in the movie where you realize that Freddy’s Nightmare is a live-action cartoon — no more realistic then The Flintstones or Speed Racer movies.
Also making an appearance in the film are Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold — the two appearing as an Elm Street couple left childless by Freddy Krueger. The Arnolds aren’t the only famous people to make a cameo appearance. Original film star Johnny Depp returns in brief cameo — although he is listed in the credits as Oprah Noodlemantra. Alice Cooper also makes an uncredited appearance as Freddy’s father.
Freddy’s Dead makes no bones about what type of film it is. Within ten minutes of starting, Freddy Krueger’s riding a broomstick and cracking jokes that even Carrot Top wouldn’t touch.
As I watched the film’s atrocious opening sequence, I began to develop a theory about the series. The sooner Freddy Krueger is introduced into the film, the higher the chances are that the movie is going to be a real stinker. While the original few films used Freddy Krueger as a slow-boiling threat — having him mysteriously appear in the shadows for the first half of the film before exploding out into a memorable climax, the later films cut all pretenses.
I don’t blame the filmmakers, though. By the time Freddy’s Dead was released in theaters, Freddy Kruger was a genuine pop culture phenomenon. He had dolls, video games, comic books and had even hosted a television show. It was because of Robert Englund’s performance why audiences came to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street films — the teenage victims were just stepping-stones on the way to a successful box office.
The film’s death scenes are flat out ridiculous — making no attempts to resemble any aspect of reality whatsoever. A deaf teen named Carlos is tortured and killed when Freddy Krueger enhances his hearing aid and then scratches his glove’s knife tips over a chalkboard. Before he finishes him off, though, Freddy plays with Carlos like a cat would with a mouse — dropping a succession of pins on the floor. Get it? So quiet you could hear a pin drop? Ugh.
Honestly, by the end of the movie I started to not feel so bad about Robert Englund having been replaced in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. By the last few films in the series, Englund’s performance was almost 100 percent camp. Instead of playing the role as if he was a child murdering serial killer with supernatural powers, Englund was playing Freddy Krueger like he was some kind of guest on Hollywood Squares.
In Freddy’s Dead, Englund was even given a lot to potentially work with. More so than any other film in the series, Freddy’s Dead attempts to explain the origins of Freddy Krueger — flashing back to various points in Freddy’s history. You even get to see him as a ginger child prone to smashing class pets with a hammer. No wonder he turned out to be such a psycho — he was a ginger!
Turns out, being a ginger wasn’t the only reason Freddy was such a bad apple. Before he was murdered by the vigilante mob, it seems Freddy struck a deal with a trio of demon sleep worms — giving audiences the unbelievable gift of getting to see a group of howling sperm float around Freddy in 3D.
Of course, Freddy’s Dead is perhaps best known for it’s gratuitous use of 3D effects in the film’s climax.
You have to give props to the filmmakers, though, for their pretty ingenious (or ridiculous, depending on how you look at it) way of incorporating 3D effects into the film.
The glasses, you see, are actually a highly scientific way to spot Freddy Krueger while he is hiding in your dreams. While the glasses may appear to be just ordinary 3D glasses, when Dr. Burroughs puts them on and slips into sleep, they become a powerful weapon in her battle against Krueger.
Because 3D is being utilized, of course Dr. Burroughs also becomes surprisingly adept at throwing shurikens and knives.
I would like to congratulate Rachel Talalay for directing the first truly awful Nightmare on Elm Street movie I saw during my Nightmarathon. While some of the other sequels were silly in their own ways, it was Freddy’s Dead that was the first to be without any redeeming qualities whatsoever.
Congrats on a job well done.
To be continued…
Hey! Robert Saucedo forgot the power glove! Follow Robert on Twitter @robsaucedo2500.
Robert Saucedo is an avid movie watcher with seriously poor sleeping habits. The Mikey from Life cereal of film fans, Robert will watch just about anything — good, bad or ugly. He has written about film for newspapers, radio and online for the last 10 years. This has taken a toll on his sanity — of that you can be sure. Follow him on Twitter at @robsaucedo2500.