From the Archive: Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

freddy

After several weeks of copying and pasting for this weekly feature, I pledged to myself that I’d dig out the bin of old, old reviews again. Since it’s Halloween, I also decided I’d open a folder and choose the first horror film I could find. Which brings us to what was theoretically the last installment in the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Back when my old radio show cohort was regularly posting at his horror blog, Heart in a Jar, I suggested that he could write a really interesting essay on how the listeners to our show in the early nineteen-nineties would likely have never guessed that he was a devoted fan of the genre. Nearly every horror film that came our way was terrible. This one was no exception.

There was once a time in Hollywood when producing a horror film meant creating something filled with meaningful characters who find themselves in a terrifying and suspenseful situation. But then came a misguided revolution. Thanks in part to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, HALLOWEEN, and especially FRIDAY THE 13TH, the nature of horror films changed dramatically. The type of horror film we get today features a super-killer who knocks off mindless people devoid of personality one by one. Instead of being frightening, the super-killer thrives on surprise, making the audience jump rather than feel real dread. And the only suspenseful thing about the super-killer is what new, viciously graphic way will be chosen to destroy the latest victim.This trend has infected most of Hollywood’s horror output. The CHILD’S PLAY film series has had three installments featuring the murderous Good Guy doll Chucky and even more ambitious films, such as this summer’s BODY PARTS, often feel the need to add an unstoppable super-killer. The super-killers even have a king, but with his latest release…the king is dead.

FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE is the sixth installment of the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET film series, and it purports to be the last time we will see Freddy Krueger on screen. Freddy’s lethal antics have been solid at the box office since the mid-eighties, most due to the fact that Freddy was the super-killer that entertained audiences the most. He has more personality than his victims, a flair for coming up with brutal new ideas for killing kids, and loads of easily quotable one-liners. In the final film, Freddy has left the small town of Springfield, Ohio completely vacant of kids of all ages. The only people left are highly confused adults. As Freddy prepares to branch out to other communities, a diligent group of people from a juvenile detention center enter into a battle they’re sure will do away with Freddy once and for all. Along the way, Freddy kills a handful of teenagers using weapons like a super-powered hearing aid, a gigantic Q-Tip, and his own warped version of a Nintendo game.

And there’s all sorts of wild imagery, top notch special effects, and celebrity cameos along the way. Watch for Johnny Depp in a public service announcement and Tom and Roseanne Arnold in an embarrassingly overwrought cameo as a Springfield coupe at a carnival. Plus, the final ten minutes are in 3D or Freddyvision, as it’s being called for this film. But director Rachel Talalay doesn’t even take advantage of this gimmick, wasting time on flashback material, where the 3D is distracting. The special effects are impressive, but without an interesting plotline or compelling characters on screen, they become tiresome after a while. And the final battle is nothing but a protracted wrestling match with knives and clubs. Like most of this film, it’s simply boring. The final image of the film is of Krueger himself, with the letters R.I.P. beneath him. Whether or not Freddy Krueger’s rest is peaceful, let us hope it is an eternal one.

1 and 1/2 stars, out of 4.

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Posted in Film

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