Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
By: J.R. McNamara on October 3, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
New Line (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) & 4:3. English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 112 Minutes
The Movie
Director: Wes Craven
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Miko Hughes, Wes Craven, John Saxon
Screenplay: Wes Craven
Music: Mark Irwin
Tagline: "This time the terror doesn't stop at the screen"
Country: USA
Breaking the fourth wall of cinema is a difficult thing to do successfully. Taking that invisible barrier between 'real life' and ' on screen life' and having them collide is usually reserved for comedy films, where a character may make reference to being in 'a stupid movie' and then look straight at you, the audience for support in his claim. Wes Craven has been much more clever in this, the final Freddy outing, in so much as rather than breaking down the wall and making an experience that involves the viewer, he has given his actors a chance to not play themselves, but to play themselves the way that Wes Craven perceives them to be. This keeps the wall intact, but makes the viewer think the wall has been broken, and that we are being given an insight into the real lives of the actors involved.
The only things that are 'real' in this film are the names of some of the actor's characters, the fact that LA really has many tremors and that Heather Langenkamp did have a serious problem with a stalker, which Craven took liberty to adapt into the idea of this storyline.

Wes Craven's New Nightmare tells of Hollywood horror starlet Heather Langenkamp (Heather Langenkamp) who once played the character of Nancy in a popular horror film called A Nightmare on Elm Street. Lately, Heather's dreams have been violent nightmares, sometimes involving her son Dylan (Miko Hughes of Pet Semetary fame) and husband, special effects wiz Chase (David Newsom), and this is coinciding with some horrible tremors and minor quakes in her home in Los Angeles, and to cap all that off, a stalker has started to phone her and send her letters, all which seem to involve the character, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). Famed Director Wes Craven (Wes Craven) wants Heather to join him for another Nightmare movie when disaster happens. Her son starts to suffer from the night horrors which seem to be developing into epilepsy, and begins to act strange, and this escalates when her husband Chase is killed in a horrific car accident. Her life starts to look like the ingredients in a crap salad as she comes to the conclusion, via a massive plot hint from Craven, that maybe Freddy Krueger is more than a character in a story - he is actually being kept in check by the tales told about him, and as popularity fades, and the movies die out, this creature can escape the confines of his tales, and can start a campaign of terror. She calls on advice from her friends Robert Englund (Robert Englund) and JohnSaxon (John Saxon), but at the end of the day, she must face her demon herself. As reality and fantasy combine in this film set in a fantasy reality, she begins to feel that maybe it is all in her imagination….

This film is full of situation cameos, from costumes, to special effects that are very similar to those familiar with the Nightmare series. Wes Craven has gone for a more gothic, almost Hammer look for this film which is incredibly appealing, and Freddy is more villainous than he had been since the first film. Sure he still makes quips, but they are much more threatening than the advertising catch-phrasing of the previous three. The fact that the villain Freddy doesn't make a full appearance in this film makes him scary again, even though 'old Freddy' is given an opportunity to shine as the character of Robert Englund gets to dress up as him for a chat show. The Freddy make up is an interesting one, as it looks like the designer has been told what Freddy looks like, without actually seeing any previous make-ups, and the glove is now a bony exoskeleton, that includes a thumb blade.

At the end of the day there is nothing wrong with this film, but is nothing more than an interesting experiment, that like Jason X, was completely abandoned for Freddy vs Jason. The fact that Craven was aware of how overused Freddy had become, and did his best to make him scary again, makes this film a worthwhile watch.
The film is given a decent, artefact free transfer and is presented in both widescreen and 4:3.
Really nice audio on this disc, which is presented in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. This is a deep, textured soundtrack that sounds excellent.
Extra Features
There are several features on this disc:

The original trailer for the film.

The 'Jump to a Nightmare' trick where you can just watch each nightmare individually, without the storyline screwing up the gory enjoyment.

There is a commentary by Wes Craven which is an insightful and above all engaging commentary with Craven discussing many aspects of the film.

There is a text cast and crew bio section which has the biographies of Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Miko Hughes, Wes Craven, Director of Special effects William Mesa and Director of Photography Mark Irwin.

There are also some DVD-Rom aspects of this disc, which has some plug-ins that need to be installed, including a screenplay that can be read while watching the movie, a Dream World Trivia Game and access to some exclusive online Freddy content.
The Verdict
Sometimes restarting a franchise from scratch can be a disastrous affair (take Jason X, for example) but is such an unusual idea for a re-launch that it almost works. At it's base, it is enjoyable, but not really 'Freddy canon' and unless you need to own all the Freddy films, not really necessary.
Movie Score
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