Director: Chuck Russell
Writer: Wes Craven, Bruce Wagner, Frank Darabont, and Chuck Russell
Producer: Robert Shaye
Cinematographer: Roy H. Wagner
by Jon Cvack
Continued from Part 1...
Around the hospital, Dr. Gordon had been seeing an eerie nun wandering the corridors. Leaving the hospital and ending up in the church, she reveals that Krueger was once a patient at the hospital; the child of a young nun who was accidentally locked in with the patient as they pummeled and assaulted her; going on to say that the only way to officially destroy Krueger is for them to bury the bones with the mother.
It leads Dr. Gordon to ask Nancy where he can find her father who had managed the case. Donald Thompson (John Saxon) returns as a drunk who hasn’t spoken to Nancy in years; now a security guard or street cop. Things erupt between him and Nancy and Nancy returns to the hospital while Dr. Gordon implores Donald to help him find the bones.
Nancy follows the kids into another group hypnosis in an effort to kill Freddy once and for all. In another brilliant piece of practical effects, we see Taryn outside of some punk dive bar; no longer disheveled but back to her old punk self; imagining herself to have a pair of switchblades. She gets a stab in before Freddy raises his hands, revealing five syringe fingers filled with heroin. Taryn fails to refuse and he stabs her, causing an overdose. In pure 80s VFX goodness, a now walking Will uses wizardy to combat Freddy, zapping him with some type of spell that looks like a Ghostbusters Proton ray, paralyzing Freddy for a moment until he breaks free and stabs Will dead.
While they’re in the dreamland, Donald takes Dr. Gordon to a junkyard and another amazing set piece where they dig up Freddy’s remains (assumed to be part of the sequel’s final set piece). When they find the skeletons, another phenomenal use of stop motion occurs, in which the bones reassemble and Freddy’s skin follows and he rises up and kills Donald. Battling a dual front, Nanchy, Kristen, Joey, and Kincaid find one another and help push him to the other side and he’s floats in between, killing Nancy, though Dr. Corbin gets him back into the pit and douses him with holy water, burning him alive and destroying Freddy once again.
At the funeral, Dr. Corbin sees Sister Mary Helega once again, following her to a plot where she disappears and Corbin discovers her name as Amanda Krueger.
For fans of horror and slashers in particular, it’s difficult to argue that this is one of the best. It maximizes the imagery allowed within the parameters. I’m one of the few people I know who love the Saw series - almost every single one (minus the sequel). People complain about the violence and how its torture porn, but it’s simply another movement in horror films; subsequently replaced by a series of found footage and home invasion films, to which those were replaced by the current - and most exciting movement of Art House horror films. What makes Saw films engaging are the set pieces; what more could they possibly think and how this question extends across over eight films; most of which refuse to get fancy or abandon what works or improve the history or arching narrative. Instead, they take the format of a series of characters to be butchered by complex and terrifying machines and frequently provide fresh renditions.
Counter to its sequels (New Nightmare notwithstanding) this is what the other films have failed to accomplish. The movies work best when there are interesting characters battling the simple plot of a monster attacking them in their dreams. It allows a filmmakers’ minds to run wild; what worlds and carnage could they create within the confines of a nightmare, what images could they find that would burn into our minds no differently than the syringe hand, blood bed, or being attacked on the ceiling, as though by a ghost.
Beginning A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) while writing this, it too drops the ball; failing to provide much of character or situation. It’s facile. There is a group of new teenage victims and we’re provided with cursory glances. At the halfway point, it seems that there’s a desire to expand the victim to those beyond Elm Street; again, breaking what was working just fine to begin with.
Dream Master and Freddy’s Revenge also speak to Wes Craven and Chuck Russell’s master of craft; clearly working hard to ensure that the world is combined with memorable images. It goes to a longstanding theory I’ve discussed over the last few years in which high craft - from set design, to blocking, camera movement and composition to make up and effects - while the casual viewer might not understand why what they’re watching is good, they sense it. It’s like music. We don’t know why some songs are better than others, but we often discover that those better songs are better crafted when the hood is lifted. The other two sequels feel vapid and lazy; as though it was about quickly turning out another film rather than trying to make one that could stand up to alongside the slasher classics.
BELOW: Death by Television
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