Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, A (1989)
Release Date: August 11th, 1989 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Stephen Hopkins Actors: Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Kelly Jo Minter, Danny Hassel, Erika Anderson, Nick Mele, Joe Seely, Valorie Armstrong, Beatrice Boepple
he top-billed actor is now Robert Englund, which means that this fifth entry into the series is no longer afraid to simply confirm that the star of the show is Freddy Krueger (although he certainly has been, unofficially, for a number of films). Surely there was never any doubt in the minds of fans. Even though a returning cast member or two is involved, it doesn’t mean audiences actually care about the human victims, who merely throw themselves into the path of Freddy’s signature razor-blade-glove.
Alice (Lisa Wilcox) is attacked by possessed water inside her shower, revealing a touch of obscured nudity and a sense of the increased exploitation levels that would mark the shift into the moviemaking arena of the ’90s. But it’s all a dream – in which she’s transported into the asylum where Amanda Krueger was ruthlessly raped, resulting in the birth of Freddy (Robert Englund). For the first time since the events of the previous film, Alice doesn’t feel in control of her dreams – despite inheriting the powers that Kristen gave to her, involving the ability to drag other people into her dreams.
The following morning at Springwood High, Alice participates in the graduation ceremony, along with her new boyfriend Dan (Danny Hassel). But even during waking hours, her mind wanders off into daydreams, resulting in transportations into the past, where she witnesses Freddy’s birth and other horrific imagery related to his upbringing – or spawning from the bowels of hell. Somehow, Freddy has inserted his mother’s soul into an earthly prison, allowing him to return to Alice’s dreams – and beyond, into the realm of the living.
Or some such nonsense like that. The storylines have never been this franchise’s strong points, even though, interestingly, this outing delves deeper into Krueger’s history. The look here is cleaner and sharper, with the cinematography benefitting from advancing technologies, right alongside the special effects and the nicely eerie set designs. But the subject matter remains rooted in the high school variety, full of hormones and booze, cheesy language and mannerisms, and lots of forced hanky-panky. Teens might make for better fodder, unsuspecting and naive and superior screamers, but it’s difficult to be scared by any of the scenarios or convinced by the acting, as they’re all so generic and unintelligent.
Equally ludicrous are the ideas implemented at every turn. Even though the transitioning into nightmares is still admittedly amusing, the specific scary visions, based on individual fears, are rarely terrifying. Mutant baby Krueger is more hilarious than anything else; Dan’s metamorphosis into a Ghost Rider-like speed demon is incredibly silly; Greta’s (Erika Anderson) bulging-cheeks makeup is entirely phony; Alice’s ride through an umbilical cord is hokey; and Mark’s (Joe Seely) comic-book-based run-in with Super Freddy is supremely goofy. Meanwhile, Englund whips up his usual one-liners as he mugs to the camera in extremely over-exaggerated ways, having apparently graduated to a full-on comedian (in one scene, he even skateboards). Clearly, this chapter of the long-running series is meant to be funny – perhaps even more than it’s supposed to be a slasher flick.
– Mike Massie