I know that the internet of late has devoted an excessive amount of time to '90s nostalgia. This year especially has been a deluge of 20-year retrospective pieces, as it turns out that 1994 was a pretty big year for pop culture. And yet, as tired as I am of such things, I joined the ranks of the guilty this week with a piece I wrote for Film School Rejects.
It has been twenty years since the release of my favorite sequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street, the very meta Wes Craven's New Nightmare. It's always felt to me like a very clever movie that was under-appreciated in its time and any notoriety is has in retrospect seems to be as a footnote to Scream, which followed two years later. I gather that "real" horror fans hate how it takes place in the "real world" makes Freddy of the previous six films just a character in a movie. The movie's uniqueness repells some, but for me, that's why it's worthy of being celebrated.
I'm grateful that Film School Rejects gave me a forum in which to express that.
“Every kid knows who Freddy is. He’s like Santa Claus or King Kong.” – Heather Langenkamp in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.
In a film full of truthful observations, that line always struck me as the truest, or at least the most relevant to my own relationship with Freddy Krueger and the Nightmare on Elm Street film series. I was four when the original came out in 1984, so I was too young to experience that film or most of the first few sequels on their first release. As I grew up, my awareness of Freddy came from what seeped into popular culture. As best as I can remember, my introduction was either a kid in my 4th grade class wearing a Freddy mask for Halloween, or possibly an ad for the costume in a comic book.
So “my” Freddy was less the disturbing child murderer whom Wes Craven created for what probably felt like a standalone film, and more the watered-down pop icon. Less a psychological threat, and more of a catchphrase-spewing gimmick killer. It’s the difference between how the shark from Jaws plays on screen, and experiencing him on the Universal Studios tram tour.
As a result, Freddy never scared me as a kid, nor did I have any desire to see the movies. I knew that they came out every year or two and I assumed all of the movies were stupid slasher films, in which, I saw no appeal. I remember seeing a trailer for Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare in 1991 and thinking it looked incredibly awful. Good riddance.
Then came 1994 and the release of Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.
Read the rest over at Film School Rejects.