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Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

By Patrick Samuel • February 19th, 2014
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
New Line Cinema

Original release: October 14th, 1994
Running time: 112 minutes

Writer and director: Wes Craven

Cast: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Miko Hughes, John Saxon

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Unless it’s the main villain, you never expect your favourite character to return in a horror movie franchise once they’ve been killed off. You can imagine my surprise then when in late 1994 I started to see tidbits in magazines that Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) star Heather Langenkamp, who completed her character’s story arc in the second sequel Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors (1987), would be starring in a new film that seemed to be reuniting her with her original co-stars and Nancy Thompson’s arch nemesis, Freddy Kreuger.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, released the day after my 16th birthday, was unlike any film I’d seen up until then. It took me completely by surprise and brought new life back into a franchise that, for all intents and purposes, was long dead following Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991).

Set in Los Angeles, rather than the fictional town of Springwood, and no longer on its famous Elm Street, the film lifts the veil and reveals to us the “real” world behind the Nightmare movies. Its star is Heather Langenkamp, the actress who rose to fame playing the iconic heroine Nancy Thompson in the first and third entries in the Nightmare movies. She’s different from the character she played in those movies; she doesn’t have the trademark white streak, she’s a wife, married to Chase Walker (David Newsom) who works in special effects, she a mother to a young boy, Dyland (Miko Hughes) and she’s struggling to keep her home and professional life separate because of a persistent stalker who’s sending her letters and making prank calls. Added to her tense state are her increasing nightmares about her stalker and a series of earthquakes which have been devastating the north-central San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

While Chase assures her there’s nothing to really worry about, she also begins to notice strange behavior in Dylan, especially after she catches him watching some disturbing scenes on television from A Nightmare On Elm Street. Heather worries that Dylan’s picking up on her concerns about her stalker and tries to get his babysitter Julie (Tracy Middendorf) to keep an extra eye on him.

What really shakes her up is learning that Wes Craven is working on a script for a new Nightmare and he wants her to be the star. Knowing that Wes only does horror when he’s been having nightmares, Heather’s convinced that her night terrors might be something more. All of this sets the stage really nicely for Freddy’s emergence in the “real world”, but this time he’s not the wise-cracking, Wes Craven’s New Nightmaregoofy-looking killer we became used to in later sequels such as A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) and A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989). He’s now darker, meaner and his weapon of choice; the bladed glove, has been modified and looks much more organic than mechanical. He looks more demonic, an embodiment of pure evil.

Without the Nightmare movies to keep the Entity contained, it can now enter our world as Freddy. As he grows stronger, Heather realizes the only way to defeat him and save her son is to become Nancy one more time. There’s a chilling moment when Heather’s talking to her former co-star John Saxon, who played Nancy’s father in the movies, and he keeps calling her Nancy. It’s the moment when Heather accepts that she has to become Nancy to fight Freddy, and she starts to look more and more like her with the white streak appearing and those familiar pyjamas.

Relying on aspects of the Brothers Grimm 1812 tale of Hansel and Gretel, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare also contains several homages to the original movie where we see the tongue phone, goo stairs and the line “Screw your pass” all making a comeback, as well as the brutal death scene of Tina Grey which is reprised here in a hospital scene. While it’s great to see Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon all appearing again, I did wonder why Johnny Depp and Amanda Wyss didn’t make an appearance, though Nick Corri can be seen briefly, together with Tuesday Knight, who doesn’t have any connection at all to the original Nightmare On Elm Street.

There’s no denying that Wes Craven’s New Nightmare gave Freddy the bon voyage he deserved, more so than with the ridiculous Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare or the dreadful Freddy vs. Jason (2003). Who better to have seen to Freddy’s real finale than his original maker, Wes Craven, and the one who first battled him, Nancy Thompson/Heather Langenkamp.

Wes Craven’s New 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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