Review Date: November 15, 2003
Released by: New Line
Release date: 9/1/1999
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
With A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
proving to be a disappointment at the box office for the seemingly unstoppable Freddy franchise, New Line decided to wrap things up and return to the well one last time. Since the last few films in the series had basically been exploits for Freddy Krueger anyway, New Line aptly decided to name the (at the time) final venture Freddy's Dead
. The film aimed to explore the entire Freddy Krueger mythos, and provide a satisfying conclusion to one of the screens most horrific villains. So did the film succeed, or has the Freddy franchise been dead since Dream Warriors
There is only a single teenager left in Ohio. He is on a plane and the plane sucks him out into a house. He wakes up and then discovers Freddy flying on a broom spouting lines from The Wizard of Oz
. Freddy takes him and teleports him in a manner not dissimilar to The Terminator
into a dark alley. The boy is taken by cops and placed into an institution, and when asked who he is cannot remember anything. I am not making this up.
Dr. Maggie Burroughs (Lisa Zane
) is his psychiatrist, and she tries to help "John Doe", as he is called. While helping him she realizes she too is having the same recurring dream as he, and therefore decides to take him on a field trip because she remembers a water tower from this one city. As they drive, they discover a couple other stoner misfits along for the ride, and together they get stranded in a fair. While at the fair, they talk to Tom Arnold and get lost. They finally all make it back to an abandoned house, and then Freddy stalks some of the expendable actors. First he blows up someone's ears by scratching on a chalk board, and then he trips out with a stoner to "In A Gadda Da Vida". I am not making this up.
Maggie discovers that Freddy has a long lost child that was taken away years ago, and that the saddening loss was what drove poor Frederick Krueger to madness. Now back in the city, Maggie teams up with Yaphet Kotto in order to destroy Freddy for good. She must bring him back into reality in order to kill him, but only, as Mr. Kotto explains, if she wears ridiculous 3D glasses. So in a 3D death match of death, Maggie must face off against Freddy and a couple serpent-like dream demons. I am not making this up.
My, Freddy, have far you have fallen. In the beginning you were a ruthless and hideous monster, and now, you're a joke. Freddy's Dead
is a convoluted nightmare, sporting one of the worst screenplays ever written by New Line big boy Michael De Luca. The film begins promisingly enough with a quote from Nietzsche, but then destroys all hope by superimposing it with "Welcome to prime time, bitch!" by Freddy Krueger. Right from this terribly contrived opening, the film shows no attempts at maintaining true to the original films, and instead turns it into a parade of cameos and parodies.
Throughout the 96 minute runtime, we are given shameless bits by Rosanne, Tom Arnold, Johnny Depp, Elm Street producer Robert Shaye, and Alice Cooper. Save for Cooper's creepy performance, everyone else listed is a pain to watch. If that wasn't bad enough, Robert Englund goes off the wall in a horribly scripted performance. He is instructed to fly on a broomstick, trip out on drugs, control his victim in a video game, do cartwheels and utter some of the most cringe-inducing one-liners ever. I guess it is a testament to Englund's acting ability that he was actually able to maintain a straight face throughout the movie.
This movie destroys everything that the previous entries in the series helped create. Imaginative dream sequences, a scary villain, frightening imagery and even plot coherence is completely thrown out the window in Freddy's Dead
. To this day I am still surprised to see the movie in horror sections, I could have sworn I was watching a comedy. The "acting" by Lisa Zane is such a step down from Heather Langenkamp and even Lisa Wilcox that the film becomes utterly laughable. She keeps a gaunt and straight face throughout, while bursting in and out of yelling matches with herself and anyone else around her. A horrible turn by a then-unknown Breckin Meyer is just as tough to stomach.
And then there is the 3D sequence. Instead of trying to close off any of the many open doors this confused screenplay introduces, the film instead goes on auto-pilot as a mirage of 3D images as instilled on the screen. "Freddy bashes a hamster in 3D!" I can just see the marketing execs at New Line thinking that they've hit a gold mine. The abrupt 3D ending stopped all chances of this film from becoming at least half decent, and instead just turns it into an attraction. Don't get me wrong, the 3D process is a nice gimmick, and it even works pretty well on the small screen here, but it just seems as a blatant attempt to mask the sheer disgrace of the rest of the film.
There are some interesting bits in the story. During the 3D sequence, Maggie goes back and explores some elements of Freddy's past, and some of those scenes play out pretty good. Freddy being whipped by his father and then later taking this aggression on his wife are interestingly contrasted. This could have been a great ending to the series that focused on Freddy's beginning and how he came to be. But those sugar-coated 3D scenes just seem tacked onto the lame story about the dwindling teenager reserve in America and Freddy's long-lost child.
As the film (finally) comes to a close, a montage of kills and highlights from the previous Elm Street
films are played. This serves as a reminder just as to how much better those previous installments were, and just how low this one set its sights. It did not try to do any justice to the long-running series, it just tried to entertain on the lowest common denominator. Alone, this film is not horrible, but in context with the series that it borrows from, it is an abomination. As the screen fades to black, the letters "R.I.P." are superimposed over a picture of Freddy. But with a film like this, how could he possibly rest in piece?
Presented in another 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, this film looks good, if not great. There is a bit of grain present throughout most of the film, and the black levels aren't quite as good as they were back in The Dream Master. Everything is for the most part free of blemish, although a few pop-up in the 3D sequence. Colors are again nice here, and overall the transfer is quite good. The basic problem is though, that the film lacks the stylistic visuals of the previous films, and therefore just looks kind of average when shown on DVD.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track here is pretty darn nice. There is much more movement around the speakers then any of the previous Nightmare films, and some effects are great, like a scene where hundreds of bricks are shattered. There are some experimental bits in the soundtrack, where sound cuts in and out and volume levels change, and it all sounds very well realized on this mix. The whole thing sounds extremely crisp and full of life. The original stereo track is also included, but the excellent 5.1 track is the way to go.
Here is where it pays to own the box set. Included in the box set are two 3D glasses that you can wear in order to experience the finale as it was shown in theatres. There is an option (on the box set disc only) to turn the 3D ending on or off. Watch it on though, as it is good for some laughs. The 3D transfer works pretty good, and there is a definite depth to most of the red and blue rendered scenes. It is great that New Line took the time to treat fans to the original 3D ending as it was meant to be seen, considering people like Paramount refuse to give the much better Friday the 13th, Part 3D the same kind of treatment.
The supplements on both releases are the standard stuff found on the rest of the discs. "Jump to a nightmare", biographies, and DVD-Rom extras like the screenplay and a trivia game. The box set release also has a "jump to a 3D sequence" menu as well. The encyclopedia disc contains various interviews and extras from Freddy's Dead
on it, as well as the theatrical trailer. Those who get the standalone disc will be treated to the trailer as well though.
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
is a near disgrace to the original film, and retains hardly any of its groundbreaking characteristics. It instead resorts to gimmicks and parody to tell its weak story. The audio is a great track, and the video very solid, as per usual when it comes to New Line. The 3D sequence is a fun extra, and it is nice to see New Line include it on the disc. Since the 3D sequence is really the only reason to experience this film, buying the box set is really the only way to go with this title. That way you can watch the original films and conclude for yourself just how bad Freddy's Dead
Movie - C-
Image Quality - B+
Sound - A
Supplements - C+ (standalone), B+ (box set)
- Running Time - 1 hour 36 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English subtitles
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- English Stereo
- Cast & Crew bios
- Jump to a nightmare feature
- Interactive screenplay (DVD-ROM only)
- "Dream World" trivia game (DVD-ROM only)
- Theatrical trailer (standalone only)
- Optional 3D sequence with glasses (box set only)
- Jump to a 3D sequence (box set only)