Son of 100 Maniacs Part 3
The final part of a series of articles looking back at the Nightmare On Elm Street films
Before I conclude my series of articles on the Nightmare On Elm Street films, I just want to take a second to point out that this marks my 20th article submission to Retro Junk. I've had a blast writing all of them and look forward to writing more in the future.
In case you missed the last two parts or need a refresher on them, they can be located here:
Son of 100 Maniacs Part 1
Son of 100 Maniacs Part 2
Even before his supposed Final Nightmare, Freddy's massive cultural impact branched out beyond the cinemas and into television. In an attempt to further cash in on the success, a horror anthology series titled Freddy's Nightmares was launched in syndication beginning in October 1988. Robert Englund once again reprised his role and acted as the host, and the pilot episode "No More Mr. Nice Guy" served as an origin story to his character. The series pushed the boundaries of what was deemed acceptable content in American television, and often featured graphic violence, course language and sexual content. As a result, the show was met with controversy, as certain syndication markets, unaware of the content, would air the show in the late afternoon, instead of its intended later evening slots. Despite it all, the show had a modestly successful run of two seasons and 44 episodes, and helped pave the way for HBO's smash hit Tales From the Crypt series.
Writer: Wes Craven
Director: Wes Craven
Release Date: 10/14/94
Domestic Box Office: $18,090,181
Adjusted for Inflation*: $34,000,000
History has certainly proven that use of the word "Final" in the title of a horror movie is meant to be taken facetiously at best, and Freddy proved to be no exception. Only this time, something much more unique was in store for the fans. Now taking place in the real world, the film utilizes the idea that creating the Nightmare On Elm Street series simultaneously created an entity that has taken the form of Freddy Krueger, who proceeds to terrorize the dreams of people responsible. Series creator Wes Craven returned to write, direct and play himself, and the film also features self portrayals from Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, John Saxon and even New Line CEO Robert Shaye amongst others.
[size=14]Freddy: "Miss me?"[/size]
While the screenplay was penned and production went underway in 1993, no one could've guessed that an odd case of life imitating art would suddenly occur. On January 17, 1994, a mere two weeks before production wrapped, Northridge was struck by an earthquake measuring 6.7, and the film's story just so happened to begin with an earthquake of similar magnitude. As a result, additional second unit footage was shot of the actual aftermath damage, to be used in the sequence when Heather drives to speak with Wes. Talk about freaky coincidences though...
[size=14]Freddy: "Ever play...skin the cat?"[/size]
Wes Craven's New Nightmare turned out to be a highly entertaining and twisted entry in the series. It excised the goofiness of previous chapters and went back to its darker and creepier roots. In a way, Wes basically said to the previous five directors, "Step aside, let me show ya how it's done." and I personally loved the ingenious results. It's unfortunate New Nightmare failed to capture similar box office returns of the previous entries and to this day remains the lowest grossing of the bunch. In my opinion, the film basically was just ahead of its time, and ultimately not what most mainstream audiences were looking for. It still remains my second favorite of the series after the original, and also acted as a good springboard to Wes Craven's highly successful Scream series.
THREE AND A HALF OUT OF FOUR CLAWS
A year prior to New Nightmare, New Line Cinema acquired the rights to the Friday the 13th series from Paramount Pictures, and released Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (yeah, right...) At the film's conclusion, the studio acknowledged the desires of horror fans a left a teaser for what was ultimately to come, a showdown between Freddy and Jason. After a seemingly endless period of script concepts and re-writes lasting a full decade, the wait was finally over in the summer of 2003.
Writers: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift
Director: Ronny Yu
Release Date: 8/15/03
Domestic Box Office: $82,622,655
Adjusted for Inflation*: $109,000,000
After years of slaughtering the teens of Springwood, Freddy discovers the residents have effectively erased all evidence of his existence. As a result, he finds himself powerless to continue his reign of terror, for if nobody fears him, he's doomed to remain dormant. In an effort to eradicate this problem, he resurrects and recruits Jason Voorhees to strike both fear and machete blades into the hearts of the promiscuous youth. The only problem is, Jason goes too far and begins to steal Freddy's thunder. What follows is a gruesome fight to the "death" between the two iconic characters.
[size=14]Freddy: "What's wrong, Lori? Miss your wake-up call?"[/size]
Oddly enough, despite having played Jason in the four previous Friday the 13th films as well as being a fan favorite, Kane Hodder was not approached to return. Instead, the studio opted to cast slightly taller stuntman Ken Kirzinger for the coveted role. Ken himself was no stranger to the world of Jason Voorhees, for he previously shared screen time with Kane in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.
[size=14]I'm sure if Jason could speak, he'd probably be saying here, "This is for taking my job 14 years from now!"[/size]
I was really excited to see this one, at the time I was 20 and finally old enough to see a Freddy film on the big screen so I made sure to go opening day. The results were a bit mixed, however. Visually, the movie is stunning, and the climactic battle does not disappoint. Unfortunately, like some previous entries of Freddy, the supporting characters completely lack appeal, and at times the acting is nothing short of horrendous. And yeah, I know, what do you expect from a movie bearing such a title, and for that reason I take it for what it is, fun, entertaining trash.
TWO AND A HALF OUT OF FOUR CLAWS
2003 certainly proved to be quite a year for New Line Cinema. Freddy Vs. Jason had become the biggest hit of both franchises, bringing in a worldwide total of $113 million. Shortly afterwords, a remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre achieved almost identical business, then Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King cleared a billion dollars and won 11 Academy Awards. The future certainly looked bright for Freddy, but sometimes things don't always turn out the way one hopes. In 2008, Warner Bros. announced that New Line Cinema would no longer act independently and fully merged the two studios together. As a result, co-founders Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne resigned their positions after forty years. With Shaye gone and no longer able to oversee further development of the franchise, the unthinkable happened. Nightmare On Elm Street was tagged to join the current trend of remaking classic films.
Writers: Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer
Director: Samuel Bayer
Release Date: 4/30/10
Domestic Box Office: $63,075,011
Adjusted for Inflation*: N/A
Oh, where to begin? As expected, the plot is similar to the original, only possessing certain alterations in a feeble attempt to convey the illusion it's a "creative interpretation" of the source material. In this version, Freddy starts out not being a child murderer, but being a far too friendly gardener of a preschool. Wait a minute, Freddy being the former gardener of a school, this sounds somewhat familiar...
But anyways, the children squeal on his controversial practices and this time the parents take him out before even involving the authorities. 13 years later, the children have completely lost all memory of the events in their youth including having ever known each other at that age. I've heard of repressing memories, but that strikes me as a bit too ridiculous honestly. Freddy begins killing the teens in their sleep, while friends Nancy and Quentin fight to survive.
[size=14]Chet: "Do you realize it's snowing in my room?!" Oops, sorry, wrong movie.[/size]
The movie's pacing and direction are amateurish at best. It becomes clear early in that the producers know nothing about building tension with their over-reliance on music stings for cheap jump scares. Their blatant recreations of classic moments from the original including a shot-for-shot duplicate of the bathtub claws moment only solidifies their lack of creativity. Even the wall-protrusion scene actually looks fake when compared to the brilliant original effect, with their desire to incorporate unnecessary CGI. On a side note, it bears a striking resemblance to scenes from The Frighteners.
[size=14]Peter Jackson may sue.[/size]
Of course, the movie's biggest problem stems from the absence of Robert Englund, who until now always played Freddy. Jackie Earle Haley, while a good actor in his own right, is just NOT Freddy, bottom line. His voice and mannerisms neither duplicate nor improve the character, and it doesn't help that he has to stumble through embarrassing dialogue. That includes a recycling of the "wet dream" line from The Dream Master, which feels somewhat awkward and out of place in the context of the scene as it appears in this movie.
[size=14]Jesse: "Oh, god!"
Freddy: "No, just me."[/size]
Freddy: "No, just me."[/size]
Yawn. The movie pretty much fails in every sense of the word, which is why I firmly believe that only bad movies should be remade in the long run. If you failed to generate a good product the first time, then naturally you'd want to try again. If you got it right to begin with, then what's there to "improve" exactly? Hollywood should take note, so future blunders like this can be avoided.
ONE OUT OF FOUR CLAWS
For more than twenty-five years, the character of Freddy Krueger has certainly proven his staying power as a horror icon. The Nightmare On Elm Street films single-handedly helped New Line Cinema grow from a struggling independent film distributor beyond expectations. And while the recent remake was an unmitigated disaster, I believe there's still hope for the franchise yet. After all, it's not too late to offer the role back to Robert Englund, he's not too old yet and I think he'd be more than willing to come back. That would be a great start, for who better to re-invigorate the character none other than the original son of a hundred maniacs.
[align=center][size=14]* Approximately calculated based on average ticket price of year released versus 2010.[/size][/align]