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Wes Craven's New Nightmare

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Wes Craven's New Nightmare
1994 poster
Offical poster
Information
Released October 14, 1994
Writer Wes Craven
Director Wes Craven
Starring Heather Langenkamp
Miko Hughes
David Newsom
Tracy Middendorf
Fran Bennett
John Saxon
Robert Englund
Tuesday Knight
Nicki Corri
Freddy Krueger
Runtime 114 minutes
Budget $8,000,000
Gross USA: $18,090,181
Chronology see bottom of page
Trailer

Wes Craven's New Nightmare is a 1994 horror meta film written and directed by Wes Craven. Although it is technically the seventh installment of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, New Nightmare is not part of the series continuity, instead taking place in a real life setting where Freddy Krueger is an iconic movie villain. The plot focuses on Freddy invading the real world and haunting the actors and crew responsible for the Nightmare on Elm Street films. The film received positive reviews, but failed on box office performance. After its release, the film grossed only $18.6 million on North America box office, becoming the lowest grossing film of the series.

Plot

Just as the first Nightmare film opened with the creation of Freddy's infamous glove, New Nightmare opens with the creation of an updated, more sinister and sleeker looking glove. As the maker of the claws appears to chop off his own hand in preparation for attaching the claws to his own wrist, the other people on the set wince, and the director, Wes Craven, encourages the effects specialists to pump more blood. Soon he yells, "Cut! Print that Gretchen!" Heather Langenkamp, her husband, Chase, and their son, Dylan, are wandering around the set of the new Nightmare on Elm Street movie.

Presently the claw, which was only a prop a minute ago, comes to life and starts maiming and killing the special effects crew. Dylan is now gone, and as the claw advances to attack Chase, Heather screams waking up in her own bed in her own house with Chase, during an earthquake in Los Angeles. After the earthquake dies down Chase has a couple of scratches, which are the very same as he had received in the dream. This causes Heather to wonder if they were sustained in the earthquake or during the dream. Heather reveals she has been receiving harassing phone calls from "someone who sounds an awful lot like Freddy", but they've stopped for the last couple weeks until now.

Heather is a guest on a morning talk show the very same day, where they discuss the 10th anniversary of the "Nightmare" films. Also, as part of the talk show line-up, Robert Englund as himself tears through a screen dressed up as Freddy Krueger to surprise Heather, Heather is slightly disturbed by this. Producer Bob Shaye asks Heather to visit his office at New Line Cinema, and explains that Wes Craven is working on a script for the new and final "Nightmare" film. Heather is asked to reprise her role as main character "Nancy", but decides against it with her own recent nightmares, disturbing phone calls, and disgruntlement over her son's change in behavior. Bob explains that her husband Chase Porter is also working on the film and he is creating a scary new glove for Freddy, much to Heather's dismay.

When she gets home, her son has an episode during which he warns her in a voice not of his own, "Never sleep again!" Worried, Heather asks Chase to come home, however Chase falls asleep at the wheel on the way and dies supposedly in a car crash. When Heather goes to identify the body, it seems to her that there may have been more than meets the eye to the "crash", as was made apparent by the claw-like marks on his chest. Dylan, now also grief stricken, continues acting even more strangely.

She enlists Wes Craven's help for making sense of what's been happening. Craven explains that he does not know much more than she does. He dreams a scene or two each night and wakes up and writes them down. Craven goes on to tell her that in the script he's been writing, pure evil can be temporarily defeated if its essence is effectively captured in a work of art that is able to allow evil to express itself. Craven explains that the evil has taken the form of Freddy Krueger because it is a familiar one. "Freddy" sees her as the gatekeeper who holds Freddy at bay, since Heather's character Nancy defeated Freddy in the first movie. To Freddy it is Heather that gave the character of Nancy her fortitude. Freddy is attacking her at her weakest points, trying to break her down before confronting her, prompting her to leave just as confused as when she arrived.

After a short sleep in Dylan's room, Heather wakes to discover Dylan is gone, she goes downstairs and finds Dylan in another episode. Heather finally takes Dylan to the hospital, there a doctor asks if Dylan said anything during his trance, Heather says "No" but the doctor later gets it out of her that Dylan has been doing Freddy-like actions and singing Freddy's theme. Later, Julie (Dylan's babysitter) shows up at the hospital and tells Heather she had a nightmare about him. Soon, two nurses want to sedate Dylan, but Julie had been instructed by Heather to not let Dylan fall asleep while she goes home to get Rex. Julie ends up punching a nurse and threatening another with a needle (cameo appearance by Wes Craven's daughter), and locks the door. Meanwhile, Heather tried to leave but had been stopped by security guards to be questioned by the doctor, the doctor suspects Heather is insane, and tries to get her to agree to foster care. Next, Dylan drifts to sleep, Freddy appears in the locked hospital room and brutally slays Julie. The nurses unlock the doors, and discover the murder in progress. They run, but Heather is concerned where Dylan went, the doctor realizes Heather is right. Heather soon remembers home, (previously she comforted Dylan by telling him their home is right across the freeway from the hospital). She discovers a giant Freddy dangling Dylan from above traffic. She arrives home and finds Dylan, but Freddy begins to manipulate the world around her, causing her to become Nancy and her house to become the house on Elm Street. By forcing Heather to accept the role he wants her to play, Freddy rises out from Dylan's bed and is fully in the real world. Heather runs inside and into Dylan's room only to find him gone, and the toy dinosaur Dylan believed was protecting him totally eviscerated by Freddy.

Heather takes sleeping pills to join in on a lucid dream, final showdown with Freddy to save an already captured Dylan. It occurs in a hot, steamy and water-logged dreamscape ruin, apparently Freddy's home turf. Dylan finds Heather, only for them both to be attacked by Freddy, Heather is knocked out, Dylan is left in a state of defenselessness.

Freddy lures Dylan into a trap and tries to attack him vigorously, Heather discovers the battle and fights off Freddy, but Freddy makes his tongue extend and wrap around her face. Dylan gets out of the trap to save Heather by taking a large kitchen knife that she brought in with her, stabbing Freddy's tongue and making it go back to its previous size. The two succeed in killing Freddy, by locking him in a lit furnace where upon catching on fire, (in a Hansel and Gretel-like ending) his true visage is shown amidst a fiery blast, all the while Dylan & Heather flee said inferno, escaping back to reality, where they find the script of the film Craven has been working on, waiting for them. Dylan asks his mother to read some of it to him, which she does: "We open on an old wooden bench. There's fire and tools, and a man's grimy hands building what's soon revealed as a gleaming set of claws. And the claws are moving now as if awakening from a long and unwanted sleep...."

Cast

Box Office

New Nightmare failed to make a big impression at the box office as any of the previous six films—the United States take-in was only $18.6 million and became the lowest earning movie of the franchise; however, this amount was still over two times the budget. The film debuted at number 1 at the United Kingdom box office in early 1995.

Reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, 79% of critics gave the film a positive review (Making it the second highest rated Elm Street film). Several critics have subsequently said that New Nightmare could be regarded as a prelude to the Scream series—both sets of films deal with the idea of bringing horror movies to "real life". While the Scream films appealed to huge audiences, New Nightmare has gathered a smaller, fan-led cult following.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave Wes Craven's New Nightmare three stars out of four and said "I haven't been exactly a fan of the Nightmare series, but I found this movie, with its unsettling questions about the effect of horror on those who create it, strangely intriguing." Kevin Sommerfield from the horror website Slasher Studios gave it four out of four stars and said "New Nightmare is that rare horror film in which everything works. The performances are pitch perfect, lead by a tour-de-force performance by the amazing Langenkamp. The script is full of twists and turns and the movie is quite possibly the best looking of the entire series."

Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman however gave Wes Craven's New Nightmare a negative review, stating "After a good, gory opening, in which Freddy's glove—newly designed with sinews and muscles—slashes the throat of the special-effects guy who's been working on it, the movie succumbs to a kind of sterile inertia. Wes Craven's New Nightmare isn't about Freddy haunting a film set, which actually might have been fun. It's about Heather Langenkamp, star of the original Nightmare on Elm Street, being menaced for two long, slow hours by earthquakes, cracks in the wall, and other weary portents of doom." Gleiberman described the film as "just an empty hall of mirrors" that "lacks the trance-like dread of the original" and the "ingeniously demented special effects" of Dream Warriors.

Trivia

  • In the ending credits it has Freddy Krueger listed as playing himself.
  • The film features various people involved in the motion picture industry playing themselves, including actress Heather Langenkamp who also reprises her role as Nancy Thompson. New Nightmare features several homages to the original film.
  • This is one of the only instances where Freddy Krueger is able to harm people outside of Springwood.
  • Wes Craven had wanted to ask Johnny Depp to appear in this film, but figured that Depp had grown beyond interest in acting in horror films, so he never worked up the courage to ask him. After the release of the film, Craven and Depp met up and Wes mentioned this to Depp. Depp responded that he wished Craven had asked because he would have loved to be in the film.
  • Wes Craven's daughter, "Jessica Craven" played in this movie as the junior nurse.

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