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Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) - Movie Review

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare movie

Considering how popular the Nightmare on Elm Street movies are, there’s one that rarely gets talked about.

It could be because it doesn’t necessarily fit into the main story that links all the films together, or it could just be that by the time it came out people were so done with the ever decreasing quality of each instalment that they opted to give it a miss.

Whatever the reason I think it’s a shame because it’s easily one of the best films in the franchise.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a horror/fantasy/mystery/thriller, and the seventh film in a franchise that not only established Wes Craven (Scream) as a horror legend, but also gave birth to one of the most iconic horror movie villains of all time, Freddy Krueger.

It stars Heather Langencamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Miko Hughes (Pet Sematary) and John Saxon (also A Nightmare on Elm Steet) among others.

This is what it’s about according to me:

Ten years after playing Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street, actress, Heather Langencamp is tormented by strange phone calls and dreams of Freddy Krueger. Fantasy becomes reality when a demonic force held captive by a familiar story breaks free and sets its sights on Heather’s young son as a portal into the real world.

This is yet another movie I watched loads when I was in my teens. I’ve always loved horror! When I was about 13 a friend and I would rent three videos from our local video shop every Saturday. It was usually a comedy, a horror and something random. Thankfully his mum didn’t mind us watching the scary stuff and would come with us to rent the films we weren’t nearly old enough to be watching (#greatparenting). During this time I worked my way through all of the Nightmare on Elm Street films.

To bring you up to speed, there are six movies in the main “Freddy” saga (seven if you include 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason). They tell the story of how a child murderer (Fred Krueger) who avoided prosecution due to a mis-signed document was then hunted down and burned to death by a lynch mob of vengeful parents. Somehow though, Freddy returned from the grave to continue his killing spree through the dreams of teenagers living in the fictional town of Springwood, Ohio. He was eventually killed (or was he?) in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991).

What’s particularly good about this instalment is how it reinvents itself and breathes much needed new life into the franchise. The thing that makes it so different to the others is that it’s set in “the real world”, with actors from the first film playing fictionalised versions of themselves. It even stars Wes Craven as Wes Craven!

Naturally, Craven cast Heather Langencamp (who played Nancy in the original movie, and who returned for “Nightmare” 3) in the lead roll of this film. She’s really good as a version of her real self and I personally find her performance extremely genuine and convincing. She’s also absolutely gorgeous which doesn't hurt.

It’s fun too to see other actors from the horror series on screen as themselves, Robert Englund and John Saxon in particular.

Just to make things even scarier this movie has a creepy kid, intended to be Heather Langencamp’s son. I don’t know why but kids always seem to make horror films creepier. I don’t know if it’s because in reality they’re inherently good and innocent so anything other than that goes against what we’re used to, but nothing scares the sh#t out of me more than the thought of a child’s laughter in the darkness, or a kid acting like a crazed psychopath. It’s just really unnerving.

As if a scary kid wasn’t enough, Freddy’s a lot darker and more sinister in this film, both in his persona and his physical appearance. He’s still rocking the trademark red and green sweater, but his fedora and famed knived glove have had an upgrade (not to mention he now has a pretty pimp full-length trench coat).

This is a great early 90s horror and something a bit different to what we’d seen before with the other “Freddy” films. It’s a refreshing and (I think) successful attempt at reviving a stale franchise, and it would’ve been a good book-end to the saga if they hadn’t made Freddy Vs. Jason 9 years later. They just can’t leave anything alone.

As much as I like the Nightmare on Elm Street movies there are really only 3 or 4 I’d bother to watch again. This is definitely one. In fact, despite the third movie being considered the best of the sequels, I actually prefer this one. I find it a much more engaging and entertaining watch.

If for some reason you never got around to watching this film (or didn’t even know it existed) I highly recommend giving it a watch, especially if you are or ever have been a fan of the franchise.

You can rent it for £3.79 on Amazon Prime.

Seen it? What do you think? Let me know below.


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