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Monday, June 02, 2014

The Year of Freddy Fear spends some quality time with The Dream Child

Welcome once again to our look at the Nightmare on Elm Street legacy known as The Year of Freddy Fear and this month's scary selection is Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child.

 This film is the last of what I call a mini-trilogy within the series(The Dream Team, if you will) and it picks up a few years after the events of Dream Master with Alice and Dan,the survivors of that sleepy slasher attack. It's graduation time for them both, along with a few new friends like Greta, a would-be model with a stage mother from hell, Mark a nerdy cartoonist with a crush on Greta and Yvonne, the down to earth swimmer.

While things seem to be going well for Alice, with her dad now a recovering alcoholic on good terms with her and a trip to Paris in the works for her and Dan, she is troubled by nightmares that involve Amanda Kruegar(played by a younger actress than in the character's earlier appearance in Dream Warriors) and how she came to be pregnant with Freddy. Those dreams turn out to be harbingers of doom that announce the return of our man Fred, strongly hinting the back door that he found inside Alice but she's not too quick on the uptake at first:

Yes, Alice is pregnant and Freddy is using the baby's dreams to start up his night stalking yet again. His first victim is Dan via a gruesome motorcycle transformation(the death sequence was heavily edited in order to get the film an R rating as well as Greta's last supper scene) and Alice is left with a lot of dilemmas both awake and asleep.

For one thing, her insistence on discussing Freddy openly causes concern not only amongst her friends but a few adults such as Dan's grieving parents who want to adopt the baby as soon as it's born and very willing to call Alice an unstable "single mother." First of all, she's a single mom only because Dan is dead and secondly, what kind of doctor rats on his patient like that? Hello, HIPA laws, people!

Fortunately, Alice is determined to keep her baby safe from any threats and her dad stands by her, which is quite a change from how most parents are portrayed in NOES. The man has his flaws but he offers Alice plenty of support and refuses to take crap from his potential in-laws, so good on him!:

Alice's strong maternal instincts help her bond with the trapped spirit of Amanda Kruegar, who plays a vital role in stopping Freddy this time out, along with Jacob(Alice's baby who establishes a psychic communication with his mother and is shown as a ten year old boy).

Amanda's participation here brings this trilogy full circle as an awake person is sent to find the grave of a departed one in order to mend the balance between worlds. Only this time, it's in freeing Amanda that Freddy is sent packing and where he ends up is truly a Freudian nightmare.

The Dream Child is not considered anyone's favorite movie in the series(Robert Englund has said that it's one of his least enjoyable depictions of Freddy) and while it did make money, it also made a lot of people squirm in their seats for reasons other than the usual.

What was that,you ask? Well, in my humble opinion, it was all of the pregnancy imagery and themes which would make both guys and gals feel a tad queasy there. From the beginning of the dream sequence where Alice is trapped in a flooding shower stall to the boiler room pool that Yvonne is tossed into,not to mention the gruesome birth reenactment that Alice and Amanda are forced to relive, the visual suggestions of the womb are not what most NOES fans bargained for.

I give this movie a lot of credit for daring to take this direction. Even the original poster art for Dream Child ruffled some feathers(shown above) for having a fetus instead of the baby carriage in Freddy's clutches that they eventually went with. They touched on some real life fears(which any good horror film should do) such as facing the world after high school, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and yes, abortion.

 At one point in the movie, Mark politely hints to Alice that one way to stop Freddy might be going that route and while Alice refuses, it is noteworthy to point out that most mainstream genre fare for young people around that time period wouldn't even mention that option. Way ahead of it's time this film was in dealing with the horrors of teen sexuality:

So, while NOES 5 may have not been a fan's sweet dream, it did offer plenty of fearsome food for thought there. I do wish that Alice had made a return in one of the later films(her storyline and Jacob's as well was continued in the NOES graphic novels) because she was a real solid leading lady and her performance here makes her as memorable as Nancy,at least to me.

 Tune in next time as The Year of Freddy Fear takes a summer job at The Mangler and until then, don't forget to tip your babysitter as generously as possible:

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