Wes Craven's New Nightmare
Rating -

Horror (US); 1994; Rated R; 112 Minutes

Heather Langenkamp: Herself
Miko Hughes: Dylan
Matt Winston: Chuck
Rob LaBelle: Terry
David Newson: Chase Porter
Wes Craven: Himself
Robert Shaye: Himself
Robert Englund: Himself/Fred Krueger
John Saxon: Himslef

Produced by Wes Craven, Marianne Maddalena, Sara Risher, Jay Roewe and Robert Shaye; Directed and screenwritten by Wes Craven

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Written by DAVID KEYES

"Wes Craven's New Nightmare" starts off with a nightmare sequence depicting the making of an new Freddy Krueger film, and the moves on to become a creative, intense, and psychologically tormenting movie about the fears of the audience and movie-makers. Before you get too confused, at first realize that this is the (count 'em) seventh film in the ongoing "Nightmare" series, based on a movie which was, coincidentally, filmed by the same man who did this one. His name is Wes Craven, and regardless of what Stephen King might think, he is the future of the horror genre. I can guarantee it.

His most popular movie, "A Nightmare On Elm Street," was a shock-fest of the most fearsome things in our everyday lives; the things in dreams and nightmares that spook us, frighten us, and make us wake up in cold sweat. It was the story of Fred Krueger, a man who was once, in life, a filthy child murderer, killed by the same parents of the children he murdered. In death, he was free to haunt the dreams of the surviving children in the neighborhood, and through their dreams, he was able to kill them with the razors on his right hand. The movie became so popular with cults and horror movie fanatics that it was followed by five less-than-stellar sequels.

The latest brings Wes Craven back to the series that made him famous. As the original "Elm Street" was about the fears of dreams, "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" is about the fears of evil forces and supernatural belief. It is a horror movie with a horror movie constructed inside of it; the people who made the original nightmare film are back here, playing themselves, as if their lives are being tormented by the movie they made nearly ten years ago. Since Krueger was killed in "Freddy's Dead" just a couple of years earlier, the people involved in the making of the original "Nightmare" film begin having the nightmares that we did after seeing it. Yet, the movie creates an illusion of reality as the backdrop for the film's characters; an evil spirit had been generated in the "Nightmare" franchise that, once released by the death of Krueger in "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare," was set free to torture and haunt the nightmares of the people who made the original film.

That's a mouthful, and a lot of information to digest. If you don't quite understand the setup, allow me to make a long story short (is it too late for that?). The original "Nightmare" movie scared the heck out of its audiences. With "Wes Craven's New Nightmare," who's to say that the people who made the movie can't be scared of it, too?

The premise is enough to recommend the movie all on its own. It stars Heather Langenkamp as herself; that is, the actress who was made famous in 1984 for playing Nancy, the antagonist to Fred Krueger. In an early scene, she is called into the studio by New Line Cinema executive Robert Shaye, and is then asked to star in a new "Nightmare" movie. Fans are ecstatic, you see; even though Krueger had been killed off, they want more of him.

But Heather, weary of her current nightmares about Krueger on the set of another film, almost refuses the project, until Shaye reveals that he is, too, having those nightmares she is having. So is John Saxon. So is Wes Craven. So is Robert Englund. In fact, that's actually why they want to do another movie in the franchise; Craven has the notion that, with another "Nightmare" movie, he can lay to rest the spirit of Krueger that haunts all of their dreams in reality.

What's even weirder, however, is the fact that, as Craven writes, his script's events actually happen. Dylan, Heather's boy, begins having the nightmares, too. Eventually, Heather's husband falls asleep at the wheel of a truck and is killed by Krueger's claws. Heck, Heather even gets mysterious phone calls and messages in the mail.

Since the events are being written by Craven, we get the impression that this is, by all means, a real life horror movie. It's fantasy yet reality. It's a dream yet a sub-concious one. The characters dream it, yet it's part of their everyday lives.

The script is uniquely profound and, as earlier stated, difficult to discuss in a review. This is a movie that has to be seen to be believed and understood. It's twisted, disturbing, and more unique than any movie Wes Craven has ever made. Sure, his original film is more organized and more effective, but how long does a series have to run before some new ideas come along? As "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" reached its provocative climax, I realized, for the first time, that life's superstitions and fears are not all that different from the ones portrayed in movies.

No wonder seven is considered the lucky number.

1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org. Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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