10 July 2011

+JMJ+

Twelve Things about A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

12. If you're counting, this one is #5 in the ANOES franchise, the point in any popcorn series at which screenwriters are beyond scraping the bottom of the barrel for plot points. =P

On the other hand, if you got over the premise of the fourth film (See my Twelve Things about A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master!), you probably won't bat an eyelash at how Freddy returns in this one, through the dreams of the newest--and youngest--"Elm Street Kid".

11. Oh, those Elm Street Kids! You know I love them. But something else I love just as much is continuity. So when the two survivors of The Dream Master return, with a new group of fodder friends and seemingly no memory of the six classmates they lost so horribly to Freddy's nightmares only a year or two before, I feel bad.

Come on, Alice! Nothing to say about your brother Rick? And don't your new gang remember how Sheila had a fatal "asthma attack" in the middle of a test? That's not something anyone in the student body forgets, whether or not he also witnessed it.

10. So there's something about that happy high school graduation that rings hollow to me. It's during such celebrations that we remember those who are no longer with us, but there's no remembering of anyone here at all.

Nevertheless, I wish I could find a screencap of the graduation photo--an unexpectedly haunting frame from a series that doesn't usually care to be emotional. (Moreover, there's an empty seat in the picture, which could be taken to be either a nod to all Elm Street Kids who died before their own Graduation Day . . . or a reminder of the "invisible member" in all Elm Street families.)

9. Another thing I liked about the photo that is helping me write this post? Its inclusion of the parents.

Perhaps the greatest appeal of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies is its theme of children paying for the sins of their parents, who are totally in denial about what's going on. I mean, find me a modern teenager who doesn't relate to that. The nice surprise in The Dream Child is the extra depth. We have a couple of Elm Street Kids paying for the dreams of their parents--in the most literal, gruesome manner possible.

8. Take the most memorable death in this installment: the best example of how an Elm Street Kid's nightmare is just the flipside of an Elm Street Parent's Dream.


Greta's mother has big dreams about Greta having a supermodel career one day--and she does everything short of starving her daughter to make that dream a reality. Well, it's another dream that becomes reality when Greta finds herself being force fed her own intestines by Freddy. It all plays out during a dinner party her mother has thrown for people with contacts in the modeling industry. Classic Elm Street Parent cluelessness!

7. But the real gamechanger happens when two Elm Street Kids become parents themselves. Say what you like about the level of camp in this movie, but it marks the moment when the franchise grew up.

(Which is not to say it never regressed later on . . .)

6. And you know what? Elm Street Parents might suck horribly, but Elm Street Grandparents are just wonderful.

In The Dream Master, Alice's father was a stereotypical "good-for-nothing" alcoholic who actually scared me more than Freddy did. (At one point, I wondered whether Alice had been sexually abused.) But here in The Dream Child, we see him coming home from an AA meeting with a big bag of groceries and having a conversation with his daughter that goes . . .

Alice: "When did you become such a smart shopper?"
Mr. Johnson: "Since my little girl became a mom."
Alice: "Are you disappointed in me?"
Mr. Johnson: "No . . . no, I'm not. . . I'm sort of hoping it's a boy. It'll be nice to have a boy in the house again."
Amazing.

5. Which brings us to Freddy's own parents. We know from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (which I have yet to review) that his mother was a nun who found herself trapped inside a mental asylum and at the mercy of its inmates. Not quite Rosemary's Baby, but arguably a superior illustration of how much evil actually hates goodness and wants to twist it to bring more evil into the world.

Sister Mary Helena--formerly Amanda Kreuger--returns in The Dream Child so the writers can draw some kind of parallel between her and Alice. As the latter's friend Mark asks, after Freddy has killed several people through the dreams of her unborn son: "Have you thought about not having the baby?" If anything, that conversation should really have been between Alice and Amanda--with Alice asking the question.

4. Speaking of Mark, he was my favourite character--someone worthy of the Dream Warriors ensemble cast. (Oh, yes!) For when he finds himself sucked into a dream that might mean death, he fights back . . . as one of his favourite comic book heroes! I totally respect that.

3. But back to Alice's son and the only real technical issue I had with the movie.

Anyone else think he looks like Alfred Molina?
(Seriously!)

It is hard to find screencaps from The Dream Child (a damning indictment across the Horror blogosphere), so I'm making do with photos of the actors playing the characters. Note that the photos were taken long after the 80s.



Whit Hertford was a great child actor and is still pretty good today . . . but who in the world cast him as Dan and Alice's kid???

2. Speaking of kids, want to see Baby Freddy? . . . Of course you do!

Awwwww! Wasn't he a cute wittle thing?

By this point in the franchise, (Adult) Freddy has killed thirty young people--not counting the children he murdered before the first Elm Street Parents torched him to death. If you were his mother, and you had known his future career in advance, would you have "thought about not having the baby"? Just asking.

1. Finally, because you know I always tell you . . . WORST SOUNDTRACK!!! =(

I'm embedding no music.

Image Sources: a) A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child poster, b) Greta screencap, c) Jacob, d) Danny Hassel, e) Whit Hertford in The Addams Family, f) Alice Wilcox, g) Baby Freddy

10 comments:

Syrin said...

Baby Freddy is cute! In a complete ugly kind of way, of course. :)

The Mike said...

Hey now, some of us in the Horror Blogosphere....well, we suck.

I've never seen this one. :(

The Mike said...

But your post is awesome as always! :)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Syrin -- We can already Adult Freddy's unique brand of charm. ;-) The puppeteers deserve a pat on the back. You can't wring emotion like that with just CGI!

The Mike -- The Horror blogosphere is great and you could never suck!

If it makes you feel any better, The Dream Child is generally considered one of the weakest in the series (though not as bad as ANOES #6). But I thought it worth reviewing because of the very low body count balanced with a real attempt to tell a meaningful story. I'm not saying it all works out as planned (because it doesn't--LOL!), but there's more here than you'd expect from the fifth movie in a Slasher franchise. (There's also more here than you'd want, if you happen to be a Slasher fan. I can imagine fans watching this in the cinema and going, "Huh???")

EegahInc said...

I don't know, this one isn't that bad. If you think about Freddy's method of returning this time around, it's one of the most bizarrely pro-life movies you'll ever run across. Plus, I saw this at a drive-in, so it's got a huge nostalgia factor built in.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

This movie is very "pro-life"--even toward Freddy himself, which is a plus--but I prefer not to use the political label.

So I take it you didn't go "Huh???" at the drive-in? ;-) But what was the general reaction of others at the time to the low body count, the children (dream Jacob and unborn Jacob), and the motherhood theme?

paul bowman said...

Something you might enjoy: http://www.npr.org/2011/07/06/137470876/horrors-shock-value-redefined-in-the-1960s

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

A friend sent me that link last week without coming off as spammy.

EegahInc said...

"But what was the general reaction of others at the time to the low body count, the children (dream Jacob and unborn Jacob), and the motherhood theme?"

Unfortunately 1989 was all action and sci-fi (Batman, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Back to the Future Part II, etc), so I was the only one in my crowd still paying attention to horror. So really, the general reaction was "Huh, you mean they made another one?"

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Thanks, EegahInc. =)

By the way, I watched Freddy's Dead again last night. I really didn't remember it being so bad, but it makes The Dream Master look like Citizen Kane.