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Consumed With Hate: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare

🛏️ Sweet Dreams are Made of This...

The Crime: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
The Guilty Party: Robert Englund, mostly
Overview: Freddy Krueger evolves into his final form, a half-hearted high-camp imitation of himself, for what was supposed to be a final outing.

Why I Hate It...

It's hard to overstate how big of a deal Freddy Krueger was in the 80s. On the elementary school playground we would pretend to be him and recite the series' nursery rhyme and listen to slightly cooler kids (read: kids whose parents were a bit looser with what they'd allow the progeny to rent) regale us with details of the plot and the many inventive murders. He was an existential threat with a terrifying gimmick--seriously, what 8-year-old isn't afraid of nightmares already?--but one that was inexplicably cool-looking and laced with dumb jokes and the knives on your hands. Not only was he iconic, but he was fully-formed right out of the gate, unlike his contemporary Jason Vorhees, who wasn't even in his first movie and wouldn't adopt the hockey mask until the second sequel. He was also everywhere. The span of time between A Nightmare on Elm Street and Freddy's Dead was seven years. That's six films shot over the course of probably eight or nine years altogether, which is nuts. And in the meantime he hosted, and occasionally starred in, a syndicated anthology show. These movies were a big-ass deal, is what I'm saying. But by the time I finally got around to watching one (read: Dad was a bit looser with what he'd allow the progeny to rent), it was Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, and I kind of didn't get what all the fuss was about.

The Nightmare series starts strong. The first was a low-budget teen slasher that rests on a powerful central character and a director who knows how to get scares with limited resources. Wes Craven has quipped that the most memorable scare in the whole film involved a fake tongue that cost him $13, far less than they spent building an upside-down bedroom so blood could pour onto the ceiling. Craven stepped out of the director's chair for a sequel that was fine in a standard "more of the same, but more" kind of way. The third pulls the story together into a trilogy, bringing back the protagonist Nancy from the first film and offering what could have been a definitive end with some expanded gimmicks. And then it was downhill from there. Supposedly Robert Englund got more control over the character he was playing and got to shape the direction of the movies and that direction was "camp." The stories got more and more nonsensical, the lore got needlessly complicated, and the murders got more and more over-the-top while the legitimate scares evaporated. By the time we got to 1991's final send-off film, this was happening.

Freddy's Dead finds a Springwood, Ohio, that has had literally all of its children murdered by Freddy, except one, whom Freddy sends out of town with amnesia so he can bring Freddy's estranged daughter because something something plot reasons he needs it in order to leave the Springwood city limits. And not only does she come back, she brings fresh teens with her. They find Springwood populated by shellshocked adults and bizarre cameos from Roseanne Barr and Alice Cooper. Some very non-suspenseful murders happen and finally the unthinkable happens and Freddy is able to turn himself loose on the whole world--but first his daughter defeats him, pulling him into the real world and shoving a pipe bomb into his gut before the invoking the title, at which point the credits roll and Iggy Pop sings the theme.

It's just such a nothing-burger of a film. It's kinda funny at times. Looking back, the most interesting thing to do is spot the cameos and realize that "oh, hey, Breckin Meyer is in this" and what-not. It's also kind of entertaining to spot the scenes that were made explicitly for 3D, because this movie was released in 3D because of course it was. Kind of a whimper for Freddy's last outing.

But then, it wasn't his last outing at all. Three years later, Wes Craven would return to helm New Nightmare, which reinvents the character with a meta-narrative about horror and the things that scare us and it's a really good one. Scary, even. And it manages to bring back Nancy once again. And then we got the cross-over with Jason Vorhees--a film that had been in development hell for literal decades. And then the inevitable reboot in 2010. None of it stuck.

Next week, we start down the path of trying to understand how the DCEU fell apart with Zack Snyder's tone-setting Man of Steel...

In CONSUMED WITH HATE, Kurt is revisiting media that he absolutely did not like one bit. See more posts.