"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

So here we are. The VERY LAST time we will ever see Freddy Krueger. Dead forever. Never, ever again will he appear in a movie of any kind, because this at last is the end of him. It says it right there in the title, twice. He is dead, and this is the final one. And what a journey it’s been. But thank God we have this precious last 89 minutes to spend with him.

I don’t know if all the New Line Cinema people were wearing funeral clothes when they made this, but behind the scenes it was kind of a family affair. Director Rachel Talalay had been working on the Freddy pictures since part 1, usually as a producer. This was her first time directing – she later did TANK GIRL. She’s also the only woman to ever direct a Freddy movie.

The writer was Michael DeLuca, who was New Line’s president of production for years, so you will recognize his name from all kinds of movies during the height of the company, like S7V7N and BOOGIE NIGHTS. Before this he had written the god-awful movie LAWNMOWER MAN as well as 5 episodes of FREDDY’S NIGHTMARES. One online profile of him says, “Michael De Luca is best known for receiving a blowjob at age 32 from the sister of actor Cary Elwes and producer Cassian Elwes in front of guests (such as ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGER, EMMA THOMPSON, JOHN MALKOVICH and QUENTIN TARANTINO) at a pre-Oscar party thrown by then head of the William Morris motion picture division, Arnold Rifkin at his home in March, 1998.”

Freddy's Dead: The Final NightmareIn the beginning of the movie the crazy ticket-taker is played by DeLuca’s boss Robert Shaye, who as far as I know has not hooked up with any of Cary Elwes’ family, but is best known for refusing to pay Peter Jackson the money he was owed for LORD OF THE RINGS and then spending New Line’s last dime directing THE LAST MIMSY (Mimsy’s Dead: The Final Mimsy). Before turning the keys over to the landlord Shaye gave Jason and Freddy to Michael Bay’s company. Too bad he doesn’t get killed in the movie.

FREDDY’S DEAD is also notable for some weird cameos: Roseanne and Tom Arnold as crazy people who try to forcibly snuggle and adopt the teen protagonists, Johnny Depp as himself (or his dead NIGHTMARE 1 character?) on a TV anti-drug PSA, Alice Cooper as Freddy’s adopted dad, the Harlem Globetrotters as the employees of the shelter for homeless teens where some of the movie takes place. (okay that last one is a lie, but it would’ve been a good idea in my opinion, I am pretty good at casting.)

In the role of “guy who gives the movie unexpected credibility” is Yaphet Kotto as the dream expert. This was only two years before he started in HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET. Also you got Breckin Meyer of the GARFIELD series of movies playing the stoner kid.

Now, you should probaly sit down for this because it is shocking as hell, but in my opinion part 6 is not all that great. Still, I think Tank Girl and Blowjob Guy deserve a little credit for trying some weird stuff. For example they made it take place in the near future when Freddy has actually killed all of the Elm Street kids except possibly one who is rumored to still be alive. This is explained to us with an ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK style map, and later when the teens and their social worker visit Springwood they notice that in fact there are no kids alive in the whole town, or at least at the carnival. They show a clown smoking a cigarette – at least somebody is able to take advantage of these tragic circumstances. Good for you, clown.

Also it seems to me that the physics of the dream killings has changed, so now the sleeping bodies are way more affected than they used to be. I know from part 1 on Freddy was able to carve into people’s skin and there was at least one sleepwalking victim, but in this one it goes further. You see a guy getting knocked around like he’s being beat up by an invisible fist. A guy who is walking up stairs in his dream walks up invisible stairs in real life. The best one is the guy who dies in a video game dream – his body bounces up and down like Mario, smashing his head into the ceiling. I’m surprised that didn’t wake him up though.

Yes, there is a video game dream, and yes, Freddy does make a joke about his “power glove.” He also has a line about a high score, which made me wonder how familiar he is with video games. I’m not sure when he was born exactly, and we see in some dream/flashback combos that he had a real bad childhood. But I’d like to think he had some peace playing pinball in a diner somewhere in his teens, and that’s why he knows what a high score is. I think he was supposed to die in 1968 or something, way too early to be kidnapping kids playing Centipede at the local pizza parlor.

Anyway, as you can imagine the dreams all have stupid gimmicks like that. The stoner dies to the tune of “Inna-Gada-Da-Vida,” etc.

We find out more unnecessary backstory – turns out Freddy had a wife who he killed because she found out about his murdering, and he had a daughter. Now we understand him so much more, don’t we? Pretty deep. Alice Cooper, who wears a plaid shirt and holds a bottle of booze (characterization), beat Freddy when he was young, and Freddy learned to enjoy it. When he was younger he killed animals. The other kids in school were mean to him and called him “Son of 100 Maniacs.” In other words, everybody’s misused him, ripped him up and abused him. Another junkie plan, pushin dope for the man. You know, it turns out not all of the lyrics from “Freddie’s Dead” by Curtis Mayfield apply to this movie.

I probaly mentioned this in an earlier review, but I’m not sure I agree with the biology of that “son of 100 maniacs” thing. I don’t think that works out. Also I kind of wonder what the point of it is in this version of the story. He has the abusive non-biological father and the childhood pet-killing, just like Michael Meyers in the HALLOWEEN remake. Everything but the Kiss t-shirt. So that implies that it was a bad childhood that turned him into Freddy. But then the son of 100 maniacs thing makes it seem like it’s supposed to be hereditary. He got it through genetics. Which is it?

Whatever it was that made him a psycho, we know from this one how he became a dream stalker. Turns out there are these flying stop motion worm monsters called Dream Demons who picked out the vilest most horrible human being they could ever imagine and gave him this power. Remember how Freddy was a child killer, he got off on a technicality, John Saxon and friends wanted justice so they went and burned him alive? Well, what John Saxon probaly didn’t know is that while they were outside making sure Freddy didn’t come out he was inside talking to flying skull-headed snake things. He wasn’t surprised to see them and told them “I want it all!” I wonder why they didn’t mention this in any of the newspaper articles?

Toward the end Freddy comes into the real world and shows up in Yaphet Kotto’s office, and Yaphet beats the shit out of him with a baseball bat. Unfortunately he didn’t know to set booby traps, and a mere bat beatdown won’t cut it for Freddy. But this does give Yaphet the idea to have the heroine fall asleep and dream, with a set time to wake up while holding Freddy so that they can kill him in the real world. This is also an idea he would’ve gotten from watching part 1. Of course, it didn’t completely work in part 1 because in that last shot he seems to have outwitted them after all. But Yaphet has an idea for upping the ante – kill the fucker in 3-D FREDDYVISION!

So the big ending battle is done in eye-damaging red and blue 3-D, recreated in all its muddy glory on the DVD. It does look slightly 3-D but also looks as fuzzy as an eighth generation VHS bootleg. Nevertheless, I believe this movie proves that 3-D is the future of moviegoing. This is where James Cameron got the idea from. This will really keep the theater experience alive. Hopefully all of the Freddy movies, as well as less genre-oriented movies like THERE WILL BE BLOOD and JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG, will be re-released with their final sequence in Freddyvision.

But even if Freddy’s legacy lives on in the form of 3-D scenes that hurt your eyes and cause you to keep taking your glasses off to make sure it’s still supposed to be in 3-D, I’m still gonna miss the deep fried old bastard. I know, I know, he was always killing people and he was just kind of annoying with all his stupid puns. So fuckin greedy about collecting souls. What was that all about? I know it’s easy to just think of him as a total prick, but somewhere inside there he was also a human being. It’s hard to understand there was love in this man. I’m sure all would agree that his misery was his woman and things. Things being his daughter and also the kids picking on him. You know what, now that I think about it this really is kind of based on the Curtis Mayfield song. He probaly shoulda got a story credit.

http://youtu.be/S3ximOJLvMY

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 at 1:22 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

26 Responses to “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare”

  1. What really made me laugh in “Yippee Ki-Yay Moviegoer” is that the whole story of Michael DeLuca getting a BJ from Cary Elwes’ sister is missing (I’m sure for legal reasons), but the line “I think Tank Girl and Blowjob Guy deserve a little credit for trying some weird stuff” is still there, depsite no further explaination who Blowjob Guy is and where he got his name from.
    Doesn’t matter if it was a joke or a mistake, I’m still chuckling over it.

  2. Yeah Vern, why was that story cut out? I mean what is she gonna do, sue ya for something an on-line blog claimed?

  3. I noticed that too. There was a bunch of shit I messed up after cutting things out. Luckily I don’t think there are any references to Mel Gibson committing a series of murders during the filming of LETHAL WEAPON 2 after I had to take out the review of PAPARAZZI. The legal department also made me cut a pretty extensive section of the LADY IN THE WATER review where I theorized that Shyamalan was in love with Ron Howard’s daughter. And several references to people being “crazy” (even though meant as a compliment).

  4. I know the hate is strong with this one, but what can I say – I had an absolute blast watching it. It moves along at a quick pace, the gags are surprisingly funny (look, you’re either down with Freddy breaking the fourth wall and whispering “ssshhh!” to the audience or you’re not) and it’s not Avengers: Endgame or anything but i enjoyed the time-hopping through Freddy’s timeline and the cameos and callbacks. Speaking of which, this is the 3rd movie out of 6 to do the Psycho-switcheroo of its main character, yet this is the only one that has an actual reason to do so since the first hour tries to make us think the wrong character is Freddy’s kid. (Shades of Blade Runner 2049!!)

    It’s kinda crazy that for this to be such a hated, disregarded entry, it does alot of shit you figure they would have done in the better-liked sequels. It’s the only one where someone gets a friend to knock them out to enter dream world, and the only one where someone meditates to join dream world as well. It’s the only one that shows parents being explicitly abusive, and incorporates that into their nightmares. (Again, this seems like something you would have seen in 3 or 4 but didn’t actually happen) This is also shockingly the only one that ever shows Robert Englund playing pre-burn Freddy (as opposed to having him cameo as a school bus driver or nurse or whatever). I know some people hate the retcon that Freddy was a suburban serial killer with a wife and kid, but I think it seems less farfetched today and explains how he got away with it long enough to kill 20 kids. Plus Part 5 hinted that he was monster-looking from birth, I think this version makes more sense.

    The 3D looks awful on the DVD box set, and Lisa Zane, who’s a dead ringer for Madonna, has about as much onscreen charisma as Madonna. Other than that, this might be the entry besides 3 that I have the least complaints about. It achieves what it sets out to do very well and hopefully public opinion will change on it one of these days.

  5. I dig this one too. I think there’s often something to be said for going for broke in a series which has already clearly strayed from its origins. This is the MOONRAKER of ELM STREETs, which I mean as a compliment. I even like the soundtrack switch from Hair Metal and early Hip-hop to College Rock, doesn’t particularly fit the series or the direction this one takes, but helps to build the unique feel of this entry.

  6. I will give this film that it follows in the more bizarro direction that part 5 started to carve out — not the same bizarro direction but the general direction of being a lot weirder than the relatively grounded parts 3 and 4. And Yaphet Kotto is great. And I also liked the little visual effect deal of how actually passing into Springwod is passing into another kind of dimension or something.

    That said, this felt a little too silly and Springwood felt weirdly small and depressing. Maybe that was the idea, but I didn’t care for it. The cast kind of felt like a less compelling take on the dream warrior kids of part 3. The last sequence does not play well on the small screen. Yeah, so, this was fine enough as a send-off event for goofy Freddy, but I still put it among the lesser films of the series.

    Still, fond memories for this one, like with part 5. I saw it with some friends on my birthday, so, I guess I would have just turned 13. The 3D was fun in the theater, and I still have some of the old glasses, which advertised Barq’s root beer and the impending release of SUBURBAN COMMANDO.

    I am stoked that you’re going back through these and digging them so much, Neal!

  7. Somehow I’ve managed to see this twice on the big screen in 3d 25 years apart. I liked it better the servings time. But look, I’m on Twitter a lot. This past year I’ve seen nothing but people taking mediocre to bad movies and suddenly reevulating them as some sort of lost masterpiece. It’s kind of annoying because there is nothing wrong with enjoying mediocre to bad movies. I just wish we would stop it with all the over praising.

  8. Thanks Skani! Yeah I’m surprised how easy it is to binge-rewatch these. It really is interesting how these movies follow the same trajectory as alot of franchises – 1) humble small-scale passion project beginning (NOES 1, Star Trek: The Series, Rocky 1, etc…) 2) beloved sequel that hits the sweet spot between the creator’s original vision and more commercial leanings (Dream Warriors, Wrath of Khan, Rocky II or III), and 3) big loud sequels that are crowd pleasers but look almost unrecognizable when compared with the first one (Freddy 4-6, JJ Trek, Rocky IV). (I’m glad Rocky-course corrected almost immediately but I doubt we will ever have a Star Trek movie again without a Khan stand-in and ‘splosions.)

    I haven’t seen the NOES remake in years but I remember it’s attempts to Make Freddy Scary Again didn’t really work and they shoulda just gone all out and remade Dream Warriors instead. (The way I maintain Eli Roth’s Death Wish should have been a remake of Death Wish 3)

  9. I definitely need a Make Freddy Scary Again hat. Can’t wait til you get to NEW NIGHTMARE. Speaking of over-praising, I think the praise for NEW NIGHTMARE is a bit of an overcorrect: It’s solidly very good, but there are some very wooden as-themselves non-actor performances, and it’s weird for Freddy to enter a space where the protagonists are all adults. That said, it IS solidly very good and a really bold creative choice when you put it against every previous Freddy movie. It’s not at all a movie I would have predicted happening. And I was absolutely there for bigger badder uglier more taciturn Freddy. Also, speaking of MaFSA,They actually did manage to put the lightning back in the bottle and make Freddy scary again.

    I couldn’t even watch the remake, still have’t, and I once owned Freddy comic books and ever FREDDY’S NIGHTMARE’S episode that was released on VHS.

  10. I’m sure we agree on some shit. THE SHINING? CRAWL? FRAILTY? THE BURNING? APRIL FOOL’S DAY? CREEPSHOW 1-2? I even warmed up to YOU’RE NEXT and HELL-FEST after awhile. I think the main difference is that I am more open to the slow-burn and A24 shit, though not all of it. I haven’t seen the VVITCH yet. Also, the films I loved as a kid — the 80s slashers, mainly — are ones I have a different relationship to now. For instance, unlike Neal, I don’t think I could legit enjoy a lot of the older ANOES films. I had the good fortune to see both ANOES 1 AND F13pt1 on 35 mm in the theater this year, and they were both fun, but neither was scary or even particularly chilling or moody. They both felt pretty pedestrian. I also had the good fortune of seeing Craven’s HILLS HAVE EYES on the big screen (my first ever viewing of it) about a year ago, and that did pack a bit of an exploitation wallop and had some pretty horrific shit. I’m not sure where I’m going with all of that. Anyway.

    Other good recent shit: I TRAPPED THE DEVIL (solid B- Ti West-type shit), CREEPSHOW series (3 episodes in and digging it), ZOMBIELAND 2 (lots of fun). I watched this one called THE WIND.

  11. …THE WIND was on some A24 VVITCH type thing, and I found it to be a chore. Kept threatening to go somewhere interesting but never quite got off the ground for me.

  12. That’s a big problem these days, isn’t it? I keep seeing all these movies on Shudder that sound like they should be interesting but then I realize it’s just gonna be some VVITCH shit, with the sepia tones and goat masks and static shots of wheat or whatever and then I groan and watch something else instead. Folk-horror sure seemed like a good idea at the time, didn’t it?

  13. Bahaha. HAUNT (2019) is on Shudder and free and pretty good. HELL-REST meets SAW meets HOUSE OF WAX remake. I enjoyed it. Between that and CREEPSHOW series, a month of SHUDDER is well worth it.

  14. That one did look pretty good. I hadn’t been back on Shudder in a month or two before the other night so there’s all kinds of stuff they have that I want to see, but there’s also plenty of movies that I would have watched in a minute three years ago but now seem guaranteed to disappoint. That’s what a bad horror cycle can do for an entire generation of scary movies.

  15. I feel like people saying One Cut of the Dead is a horror movie with a twist you can’t say does that movie a huge disservice. Peoples annoying insistence that everything needs to be spoiler free really can’t backfire sometimes.

  16. I felt the same way but I got yelled at for demanding spoilers so now I’m sheepish about watching it.

  17. Normally I don’t care about spoilers, but One Cut of the Dead is different. I went in knowing almost nothing, and it was absolutely the right way to see it.

  18. I don’t mean to overhype it. Nothing about it is going to blow your mind. It’s just that the overall experience works better if you don’t know certain things.

  19. Eh it didn’t work for me. It’s a funny movie at the end of the day though

  20. Skani: I watched HAUNT and you’re right, it is pretty good. Premise is kind of all over the place (Sometimes they can sense your greatest fear but not usually? That angle kinda peters out) but I think maybe that works to keep you on your toes. I followed it up with another Shudder movie, THE FURIES, that kinda had the same overall premise. The setup for it was totally different (more of a Most Dangerous Game/The Running Man deal than a “This haunted house is real!” situation) but it still came down to a bunch of sorta ersatz killers chasing a bunch of people around. The main difference is that the killers are not on the same team, so they often fight each other. It’s Australian, so it’s not fucking around when it comes to gore and hopelessness. There’s one particular kill that made me nod and say, “Well, that’s a new one.” I can’t remember the last time that happened (maybe the Pez dispenser kill in HATCHET?) so it’s worth watching for that alone. (No spoilers, but there’s an ax and a face involved.)

    Got any other Shudder recommendations? I think I’ll devote the last few days of Horror Movie Appreciation Month (formerly known as October) to catching up on their offerings. They got the new one from the MARTYRS guy so I need to check that out. There’s a nunspolitation-looking thing called GET MY GUN that has drawn my interest, and I should probably check out KNIFE + HEART and PARTY HARD, DIE YOUNG. There’s also ANOTHER “a buncha different slashers mixed together in a slashy poo platter” movie called PSYCHOPATHS that I’m interested in. Got anything to add to that?

    Honestly, without Shudder I might just give up on horror.

  21. The gore of The Furies is awesome. That kill you are talking about was fucked up. The rest of the movie is a piece of shit. You can tell it’s a guy trying to write female characters because no way a woman would write women that way. That whole thig, minus the outstanding gore, is just the fucking worst. Plus, the whole people watching murder thing only works for me when it’s an underground fighting tournament. I can understand how a ton of richc people would love to watch different fighting styles fighting in cool choregraphed fights. I feel like there isn’t as much demands to watch people gets murdered in various gory ways. I hate to be gross but it’s more believable for there to be a bunch of rich peoplay paying to see underage porn than to watch people get murdered.

    Anyway, none of what i said was a spoiler.

  22. For a second there I almost thought we agreed on something, Sternshein. I definitely did not think the film was a particularly accurate view of female relations, but it was ambiguous, which made it interesting. It took a risk in making the protagonist potentially unlikeable, and then it went a step further with the (autistic?) supporting character who really tested audience sympathy (and with good reason). I’m not saying it was a psychologically accurate character study or anything but it kept me engaged during the parts where most survival horror movies start to lag.

  23. Majestyk, thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check it out. Glad you found HAUNT diverting enough. You know, CREEPSHOW is pretty good so far. Does a nice job of catching the vibe of the original films. Beyond that, I literally only re-subscribed Saturday to watch that, so, I’m out of touch with what’s on Shudder. I want to watch that documentary about African Americans in horror, which I heard is pretty good. THE VOID was not so great in my opinion. MANDY is on there, but didn’t you already watch and not like it?

    As a parting gift, I recommend watching the little-seen Ice Cube music video SASQUATCH, which is a pretty effective music video, good beat, and overall vibe for Halloween, but then the lyrics are very silly, and I can’t understand if this is intentional, but I kind of think not.

  24. MrM, we can agree on the gore and that’s good enough for me.

  25. Turns out PSYCHOPATHS is a Mickey Keating joint, with all the good and bad that implies. It looks great, the filmmaking swings for the fences with a lot of ingenuity and very little resources and generally pulls off what it’s going for, but in the end it never 100% adds up to a full movie. I think this is his best work so far, kind of a Zombie/Tarantino/Rodriguez self-contained movie-movie movie with interlocking vignettes and retro production design. So far Keating has proved to be more of a talented mimic than a guy with a distinct voice, trying on different styles and tones with each flick, which he pumps out at a rate that is both admirable and kind of makes me wish he’d give his stories a little more elbow grease before he rolls film on them. Still, he’s young (looks about 12 years old to my old eyes) so this kind of precociousness is probably a good learning experience for him. I think he’ll make something amazing someday when finds a story that’s worth all the lo-fi razzle dazzle he’s learning on all these stylistic experiments.

    One funny thing is I noticed the Glass Eye Pix logo in the opening credits and assumed that meant a Larry Fessenden cameo. And of course he’s in the first shot. Because of course he is. Back in the 90s I never would have guessed that snaggle-toothed motherfucker from HABIT would become the Dick Miller of 21st century indie horror but it’s a welcome development.

  26. Oh, and I definitely saw MANDY and definitely loved it, as I am a rational human being with functioning eyeballs.

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