Kelly Jo Minter
We have now reached the part of this particular Survivor Series
that I have been dreading. I should provide a little background I suppose. A Nightmare On Elm Street was the first horror franchise that I became enamored with as a child. Whether it be due to the fantastical death scenes, having a villain who actually had a personality or just the fact that for the most part they were better made films than many of their counterparts, I’m not entirely sure. The original film was fantastic, as were Dream Warriors and The Dream Master. Hell, even Freddy’s Revenge has its charm despite the overly homoerotic subtext. But The Dream Child is where the series really went off the rails. I’ve actually avoided re-watching the film for several years, but now it has become time to pay it a revisit. Is it as bad as I remember? Or is it unjustly hated by the majority of the horror community and misunderstood?
First, let’s talk about the plot. The film begins with what actually amounts to one of the more tastefully done sex scenes in slasher film history between Alice (Lisa Wilcox) and Dan (Danny Hassel) from The Dream Master. Shortly after Alice begins having visions of Freddy again, leading to his rebirth. The rebirth scene literally feels ripped out of the opening scene of It’s Alive, complete with a literal baby Freddy, making n sense whatsoever. What she has trouble understanding is how these visions are happening while she is awake. After Dan is killed in perhaps the most brutal kill in the series Alice finds out that she is pregnant. It turns out that Freddy is using the dreams of her unborn child to make his attacks. Given that Alice’s new circle of friends were not a part of Freddy’s prior attacks, they are understandably hesitant to believe Alice’s story. But after they start being attacked they begin to believe, unfortunately too late for some of them. This all leads of course to another showdown between Freddy and Alice, who also needs to use Freddy’s mother Amanda Krueger to help defeat him once again.
Going back to the film, it isn’t quite as bad as I had remembered. I would still rate it as the worst of the series (unless we include the remake, which obviously takes the cake). It is without a doubt the darkest film in the series, both in content and appearance. The film has a much more gothic style which doesn’t blend as well with Freddy’s even more comedic approach. It almost seems like director Stephen Hopkins tried to take a page out of the Friday The 13th handbook, where Tom McLoughlin mixed a more gothic approach with humor effortlessly to create one of the greatest films in that series, Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. Unfortunately it doesn’t work here, as they are also touching on subjects that are far too sensitive to be included in a Nightmare On Elm Street film. These include abortion, adoption and the stresses of raising a child as a single parent. It just does not coincide well at all with the more gothic tone and comedic approach to Freddy. They tried to cover too much and couldn’t effectively cover any of it, resulting in a big mess of a film.
Even the death scenes in the film are all over the place. The film has one of the smallest body counts of not only the Nightmare films, but of really any mainstream slasher film. As I mentioned the first kill goes to the returning Dan, who is attacked by Freddy while driving. He escapes from his pickup truck but gets on a motorcycle which Freddy takes over and makes it mend entirely with his body. The result is certainly one of the most brutal and disgusting Freddy kills. Unfortunately given the nature of the kill, the MPAA had it sliced to ribbons. If you are able to get your hands on Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy the portion of that documentary covering The Dream Child actually shows some of the excised footage and what could have been. It doesn’t have as brutal of an effect as the MPAA cuts on a film like Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood but still damages what could have been one of the most iconic death scenes in the franchise. The next kill goes to Greta (Erika Anderson) who as an aspiring supermodel is under constant pressure from her mother about her weight and looks. As such, Freddy basically feeds her to herself, in one of the most ridiculous kills in the franchise. From there the only other Freddy kill is comic book nerd Mark (Joe Seely) who gets the pleasure of having what amounts to both one of the most visually stunning, but also ridiculous kills in the series. Mark discovers that in his comic dream world he has the power to turn into his own creation, the Phantom Prowler (which proved popular enough to have a Fright-Rags shirt based on it) to combat Freddy. Of course, being that the dream world is Freddy’s domain, he turns into Super Freddy, a beefed up giant version of himself. He then turns Mark into paper and slices him up to pieces.
It’s really sad what happened to The Dream Child as the character of Alice deserved better. There are many who look at her character as similar to Tommy Jarvis from the Friday The 13th series, and unfortunately her swan song would be this film. While Lisa Wilcox does a fantastic job in the film, expanding her acting to cover some of the aforementioned issues of becoming a single mother very well, the film itself just doesn’t work. As I mentioned before, there are so many aspects that went into the film, and because of that simply none of them work.
Body Count: 3
Best Kill: Dan. Being turned into a literal speed demon and becoming one with a motorcycle is one of the most brutal kills the series would ever see.
Next up we head onto Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. Outside of Freddy Vs. Jason, it would be the last time we would get the Freddy that he had become, as Wes Craven would come along a few years later to completely reinvent Krueger and return him to his darker roots. Stay tuned!