Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

My heart will go on… even if it does suffer from post-Titanic disaster stress disorder thanks to the iceberg Platinum Dunes. Who would have ever thought that Freddy would one day get raped by more maniacs than his ma Amanda? I spent the week floating on an ice cube holding onto Freddy’s gloved hand but he finally slipped away. I watched him sink, growing smaller and smaller, darker and darker until…pfft. What followed was a self destructive drunken rampage that if I remember correctly involved my robbing a hamburger joint with ROB LOWE while wearing a bunny mask and then beating the crap out of ALI LARTER for touching my baby, or was I just watching BAD INFLUENCE and OBSESSION back to back? I guess I’ll never know. (They say you’ve bottomed out when you can’t remember the night before.)

A wise Kindertrauma commenter suggested that I jump back on the red and green striped saddle again as soon as possible and that’s exactly what I did. It turns out that your Aunt John had never seen WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE so I just had to correct that immediately. While watching the film I thought about what I had learned recently from my friends on Elm Street. Why not take the lessons that I gained from the original film and apply them to my current depressive dilemma? I’m not referring to the very tempting act of denial as utilized by the Elm Street parents; I’m talking about Nancy’s final a-ha moment when she realized that she was feeding the beast.

So here it goes; NIGHTMARE REMAKE, I take back every bit of energy I ever gave you. You’re nothing. You’re shit.

Hey, it worked! It’s silly to get all bent out of shape when I still have my box set of the originals an arm’s length away. In truth, I should thank the remake for reminding me just how much I love them. What was I thinking looking for comfort outside my own DVD collection? The answer was here all the time. (Wow, aren’t those the lyrics to “Don’t cry for me Argentina?)

Now I’m not saying that WC’S NN is a masterwork or anything. It’s silly in spots but it’s entertaining as hell and if ideas were popcorn kernels the movie would be jiffy-pop. Aunt John even ended up loving it, which by the way, is not an everyday occurrence. I hate to “out” him on this but his attention span is so short that it was once mistaken for WALLACE SHAWN. (crickets chirp) No? No MY DINNER WITH ANDRE fans reading the blog today? O.K. lets move on because it’s time for a love fest. Thanks again 2010 NIGHTMARE, you really did help to remind me of how much I adore the original NOES crew, all of whom shine in the seventh installment…


What a clever and spiritual filmmaker. CRAVEN did more than create a highly effective scare movie with the original film. He created a character and a world that never existed before yet still felt as familiar as your own bad dreams. The sequels that the original spawned may not have been as satisfying, but CRAVEN constructed an open canvas that pushed other filmmakers and writers in creative ways that would not have been possible in any other series horror or otherwise.

I love how in NEW NIGHTMARE he pegs Freddy as a creature that has always existed and has appeared in many forms because that’s how I have always felt about him. From the first moment I laid eyes on Krueger I recognized every childhood fear collected in one shadowy form. CRAVEN has created so many classics that it’s not easy for NEW NIGHTMARE to rise to the top of the heap but there are few better examples of his ability to push the genre into new territory while still honoring the ancient art of storytelling.


What a guy. Is it any wonder that the three N.O.E.S. movies that SAXON appears in are considered the best? In a series known for it’s malleable, topsy-turvy environments, SAXON provides the perfect anchor of lucidity. In NEW NIGHTMARE he plays himself as a nurturing shoulder to lean on but observe as he starts to blend into his onscreen persona, a true pro at work. Yes, I recently included him on my “A-holes of Elm Street” list but really that was just because I wanted to look at his picture.


I think my respect for LANGENCAMP’s contribution to the original films has grown the most thanks to recent events. I may have made some disparaging remarks about her acting in the past but I’m taking them all back. Maybe her delivery can be a bit awkward at times (sometimes awesomely so) but there’s never any doubt about what she’s feeling on screen. LANGENCAMP’s Nancy Thompson is earthy and humble and fighting to realize her full potential. She’s a warrior with a heart of a lamb.

Many of the series other entries delved into the discovery of personal power but it was HEATHER who provided the perfect prototype. Those big blue eyes, that girl-next-door charm, this gal had serious chutzpa and she never had to be showy or vain about her emerging strengths. As played by LANGENCAMP you simply HAVE to route for Nancy, just as you’d route for any exotic creature poised toward extinction.

NEW NIGHTMARE gives her character a chance to expand and share her power maternally (much like Ripley in ALIENS). One can still point out her acting quirks throughout but what’s also prominent is her effortless charisma and unique accessibility. Put that up against the robots in the redo and just see who flinches first.


Mr. Irreplaceable. I’m sure there are many fine actors who could give the ol’ fedora a good whirl but there’s never going to be anybody who can approach what ROBERT ENGLUND has done throughout the series. Maybe some of the sequels got a bit too jokey but could anyone else have held your attention as he did? CRAVEN may have created an incredible character but ENGLUND fuckin’ rode that baby like a bronco.

One of the fascinating aspects of NEW NIGHTMARE is that it’s forward enough to encompass all aspects of the Freddy character. From his climbing out of the primordial ooze in Craven’s head with fairy tale lore still clinging to his shoes to his campy, zeitgeist media infiltration. ENGLUND can play Freddy any way you throw at him and as is hinted at in this film, the line between the performer and the character is difficult to pin down. ENGLUND is married to Freddy and Freddy to him, their marriage may not be recognized in your country or state but it should be. It’s a once in a lifetime thing when the stars align and the resulting merge is this sweet and symbiotic, don’t question it, just bow before it’s beauty.

WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE is a must for any fan or even non-fan of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series. It gives you a rare bird’s eye view of the creative process and it’s aftermath while still operating as an authentic horror film. The idea of bringing Freddy back to his darker roots was obviously thought of before the remake was ever commissioned and trust me it was done a far sight better in 1994. More importantly, if you’re like me and are still trying to scrape the residue of the recent incarnation off your shoe, it’s the perfect cure. Maybe there’s a purpose for idea-free, emotionless, parasitic films like 2010’s A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET after all; they serve to remind you who your real friends are.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
12 years ago

the remake was kind of like september 11th – we were betrayed, we were hurt, we were angry.  but, in the long run, it has bonded us all closer together and made us really learn to appreciate all that we had before it. xoxo Ali Larter 🙂

12 years ago

I love the ideas behind New Nightmare, the twisting “meta” storytelling stuff is fascinating and fun to watch, but whenever it turns into another Freddy horror movie I tune out a little.  Which shouldn’t make sense, because in the other movies I LOVE Freddy being Freddy.  I guess the combination of really fresh ideas with the “real” evil Freddy still quipping (“Ever play skin the cat?!”) doesn’t quite mesh for me.  If they’d made him a completely silent presence I think he would have been a lot more menacing…But I can’t blame them for retaining part of what made him so damn popular in the first place.

It’s been a while since I’ve watched that one, I should give it another go…I have the boxset too, and I usually go through the whole series over the course of about a week every couple of years or so.  I did that a few months ago, but for whatever reason didn’t get to New Nightmare…I’ll have to throw it in this weekend.

12 years ago

I’ve always had a fondness in my heart for Heather, being from my home town and all (Tulsa, OK), but holy crap is that a fabulous still of her. Wowzers, forget about Ali Larter! Man, did Heather just get flat-out beautiful at thirty or what? 

12 years ago

In a bit of spooky synchronicity,  my 15-year old daughter decided to watch this today, and we just got through with it 10 minutes ago. Feeling nostalgic, I decided to google some reviews, found this site, and found this post… neat!

Pax Romano
12 years ago

Oh yes, I have loved WCNN for years – a brilliant post modern film that actually made Fred Kruger scary again.  What a shame that they could not get Ronee Blakley back, I’d have loved to see her do a cameo in this film.
Fave moment:  The imposing female doctor who “becomes” Freddy.
Second fave:  Wes and Heather’s dialogue showing up on Wes’s computer screen complete with a FADE TO BLACK as the scene does the same.