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Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

By Patrick Samuel • July 24th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 3/5
New Line Cinema

Original release: September 13th, 1991
Running time: 89 minutes

Director: Rachel Talalay
Writer: Michael DeLuca, Rachel Talalay
Composer: Brian May

Cast: Robert Englund, Lisa Zane, Shon Greenblatt, Lezlie Deane, Ricky Dean Logan, Breckin Meyer, Yaphet Kotto, Johnny Depp, Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold, Alice Cooper

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

There are so many things we have to contend with when we’re growing up; puberty, exams, first dates…but for some kids there are much worse things they have to deal with, and often on their own. Child abuse remains a touchy subject, despite the fact that in Britain alone there are approximately 50,500 children known to be at risk of abuse right now¹. That’s a high number and those are just the cases known to the NSPCC and it’s impossible to really estimate how many children out there are being abused, either by parents, carers, relatives, family friends or strangers.

Abuse, especially at a young age, can leave a stain on your soul. As you grow older you may or not realise the effect such an experience has on you. Whatever form the abuse takes (physical, mental or sexual), it goes on to affect the relationships we have with others. It can leave us with mistrust, a strong desire to rebel and act out against authority figures and in some cases we ourselves can go on to become abusers of others – unable to break the pattern. Or we continue to harm ourselves further, either in an attempt to disassociate ourselves from those past experiences, or because our self worth has been diminished so much.

Films have sometimes been known to touch on the subject of child abuse, but with varying degrees of success. One such film was the sixth instalment in the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. Having started in 1984 with the original Wes Craven film, the films went on to tell the story of child killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) who was burned alive by the parents of Springwood after he was freed on a technicality instead of being convicted for his crimes. Years later though Freddy came back in the dreams of the children whose parents killed him, tormenting them with nightmares before killing them. When they died in their dreams, they died for real and their souls made him stronger.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

As the films progressed we learned more about Freddy’s back-story. We saw how he was conceived after his mother Amanda Krueger, a nun, was raped by 100 maniacs in an insane asylum, and how he went from one foster home to the next where he was abused by his carers. The young Freddy, who showed a penchant for hurting animals, grew to enjoy the pain and suffering of others and it wasn’t long before he turned his attention to the children of Springwood and developed his weapon of choice – a deadly bladed glove.

However, by the fifth film there didn’t seem like much New Line Cinema could do with the monster they created and so it was decided the sixth film would be his send-off, declaring on promotional posters that they’d saved the best for last. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare opens with a caption telling us that the events we’re about to see took place ten years from when it was made in 1991.

“Mysterious killings and suicides wipe out entire population of children and teenagers. Remaining adults are experiencing mass psychosis. There is new evidence of one surviving teenager.”

On board a plane, flying at night in heavy rain is a teenage boy who’s trying to make his way out of Springwood, but when the floor beneath his seat gives way he starts to plummet back to Earth and wakes up with a start, only to find he’s now in a house Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmarethat’s falling through the sky and about to land with a crash. Taking its cues from The Wizard Of Oz (1939), this opening dream sequence features the once-terrifying dream killer riding a broomstick through the air, complete with hat and cape, and quipping “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little soul too!”. Within the first few minutes we realise rather abruptly that Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare will mix horror and comedy while trying to balance a story about teens in peril and digging deeper into the back-story of a wise-cracking child killer.

With the teenage boy (Shon Greenblatt) – now dubbed a John Doe – losing his memory and being picked up and taken to a youth shelter, he’s then assigned a case-worker, Maggie Burrows (Lisa Zane), who quickly concludes that the best way to help him remember who he is to take him back to Springwood. At the shelter we also meet Tracy (Lezlie Deane) who was sexually abused by Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmareher father, Carlos (Ricky Dean Logan) who was physically abused by his mother, and Spencer (Breckin Meyer) who was bullied by his father. They all work with Maggie and Doc (Yaphet Kotto) to try to come terms with what’s happened to them, as well as address their current anti-social behaviour that got them placed in the shelter.

Tracy, Carlos and Spencer stowaway in the back of the van to escape the shelter when John and Maggie leave for Springwood, but when they arrive their game’s found out and they’re instructed to immediately start heading back. Unfortunately that’s not possible because they’ve played themselves right into Krueger’s game and the only way for them to get out is to die, and maybe not even then. Finding themselves on Elm Street, the kids decide to stay in an old abandoned house, they’re many to choose from, seeing as the entire town’s fallen apart with decades of Kruger massacring its youths, but the house they choose morphs into 1428, Nancy Thompson’s house which has featured in all of the Nightmare films. Their first night on Elm Street might be their last as Carlos and Spencer succumb to sleep, leaving Maggie, John and Tracy to figure they should’ve never stepped foot in this town.

Though John believes he’s Krueger’s son, it’s Maggie who starts to piece together her dreams and comes to the conclusion that it’s her he sent for. Now that there are no more kids in Springwood left to kill, it’s time to branch out but he can’t do that without Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmarea link to the waking world. This leads to a showdown between the two as she enters a dream with Nancy’s original plan – to pull him out and make him and flesh blood so he can bleed and die.

While Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare tackles some tough issues of child abuse and the idea that eventually we all have to face our demons, the way it introduces comedy with some of the most absurd dream sequences and dialogue in the franchise’s history lessens its impact greatly. With its Wizard Of Oz nod, computer game graphics and 3D finale gimmick, the film’s the least scary entry in the series but on the plus side it boasts a hugely enjoyable soundtrack featuring songs by Goo Goo Dolls, Iggy Pop and Junk Monkeys, as well as an end credits sequence that lovingly looks back on all of Krueger’s best moments from 1984 to 1991.

Although we never learn the true identity of the John Doe, or even what might’ve happened to the previous film’s heroine, Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox), and her young son, Jacob, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare spins together its own mythology, setting it completely apart from the previous entries in terms of style, content, continuity and narrative.

Still, I can’t help but wonder what might’ve been if had the filmmakers chosen a different script to work with, say maybe A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Lover, written by Peter Jackson, or another one where the John Doe was actually Jacob, and which saw the Dream Warriors returning to help him defeat Krueger after Alice is killed. The film doesn’t quite deliver what it promises on the promotional posters, and also proved not to be the Final Nightmare as two more were made after it, but for wanting to show that whatever demons we might have in our pasts, facing them – as painful and terrifying as it might be – is something that’s always worth the fight. Seeing them in the harsh light of day, as we see Krueger here, we might find they aren’t so scary after all and start to move on from our nightmares.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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