Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The Top 5 Must Haves to make the new Nightmare on Elm Street a horror fan's sweet scream dream
The ad campaign for the upcoming remake of Wes Craven's renowned Nightmare on Elm Street has been teasing us with tons of scary footage but since Wes himself is not on board(along with any of actors connected to any of the original films),there are doubts amongst the old school fan base of just how good this fright flick update will be.
Many of the concerns are more than overcritical cares by die hard followers of the horror series,particularly with Michael Bay being the producer and to tell the truth and shame the devil,Bay is not known for his cinematic subtlety,folks. His revamps of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes haven't won everyone over,despite the decent box office returns and there are worries that Freddy won't be his true fiendish self here.
As a fangirl myself,I thought it would be helpful for those both old and new to the Nightmare films to make a checklist of the key elements which make any Freddy film a scary success. The considerations here are not,with one exception,about the cast or the crew but with the standard touchstones set up in the series that make it a terrifying thrill ride and very important if you want people to pay and pack the theaters on opening weekend and beyond:
1) FREDDY KRUGER MUST BE A REAL MONSTER
In the slasher movies of the eighties,your fear franchise was as only as good as your villain and Freddy was one of the big dogs in this league. Part of that is rightfully due to Robert Englund,the actor who originated the role and kept on wearing that striped sweater for every sequel,including Wes Craven's New Nightmare and Freddy Vs. Jason. He also hosted a horror anthology TV show called Freddy's Nightmares,which didn't last long,and made other appearances as the character.
Even when the humorous aspects of the series took over,Englund managed to hold on to Freddy's menace and used his body language as well as his verbal skills in order to maintain the terror of the character. Freddy may have ventured into campy waters as time went by but Englund knew how to make him turn badass on a dime.
The casting of Jackie Earle Haley(who was one of the best reasons to see Watchmen last year) as the new Freddy is a sign of good gruesomeness to come but he still has some mighty big shoes to fill:
2) WARRIOR WOMAN AS THE MAIN OPPONENT
One constant in the Freddy films,despite the various directors,actors and writers who have signed on here,is that a woman always defeats Freddy in the end. That president was set by the heroine of the first film Nancy(Heather Langenkamp)and has carried on to even the weaker entries of the series such as Freddy's Dead:The Final Nightmare.
It's one of the big reasons that these films have such a strong female following and the plot lines tend to have a hero's journey for the unlucky leading lady who evolved from typical teenager to dream warrior diva who saved the day. In addition to Nancy,one of the most memorable fierce females who faced off on Kruger was Alice in Part 4 and 5 who was granted this dubious honor by Kristen,one of the survivors from Part 3's Dream Warriors(Patricia Arquette played that dream walker gal but let Tuesday Knight take over the role for Dream Master).
Alice was a very meek and mild geek girl until having Freddy use her new found dream powers to pick off her friends motivated her to fight back. As played by Lisa Wilcox,Alice made quite a lasting impression on many of the Freddy fans and while her character isn't intended to be part of the current remake,she is still up there with Nancy as a template for future female foes of Freddy:
3) CREATIVE KILLS
What made the death scenes in Nightmare movies stand head and shoulders above the rest of the slasher movie genre offerings was that Freddy killed people in their dreams,which gave free license for the filmmakers to be literally off the wall with designing those ultimate demises.
The best kills were the ones tailored to that character's personal fear factor,using their inner demons to fuel Freddy's murderous frenzy. They also gave him the opportunity to crack his infamous one liners,which became almost as dreaded as the night terror traps themselves:
4) SICK SENSE OF HUMOR
Speaking of one liners,while the series slowly evolved into a gory joke fest that annoyed many of the fans, it was impossible to completely drain the Freddy films of mirth. Dark humor was and is a major part of Freddy's personality right from the start and one of those things that made him fun to watch and even at times root for:
5) STAY STEADY WITH THE MYTHOS
The true sticking point for longtime Nightmare fans will be how close to the original mythology of Freddy Kruger that the new film stays with. Granted,certain things were made up as they went along(Freddy having a daughter,for example)but there are important details that should be be adhered to so that the passing of the torch is complete.
Most folks know that Freddy was a child killer who was freed on a legal technicality which motivated the parents of Springwood to take some fiery street justice into their own hands. His family ties make him the "bastard son of a thousand maniacs"(his mother was a nun locked in an insane asylum by mistake one horrible night)and a good way to destroy him is by burying his physical remains on holy ground.
While Freddy is all powerful in the dream world,he can be pulled out into our reality and is most vulnerable there. Deviation from any of these tenants can resolute in a serious outbreak of displeasure online and off from disgruntled Freddy followers,so I hope that the new crew took extra care to keep their pertinent plot points in line with that spooky status quo:
The new Nightmare on Elm Street is only a couple of weeks away and with any luck,the revamp will be worth not only the time and money put into it but the effort as well. It would be nice to have a good excuse to walk down the dark side of Elm street but it would be even better to do so as part of a glorious revival of a classic movie monster rather than a remembrance of the way terror thrill rides used to be:
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