Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (A Nightmare on Elm Street 7) (1994)
Release Date: October 14th, 1994 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Wes Craven Actors: Heather Langenkamp, Miko Hughes, David Newsom, Wes Craven, Marianne Maddalena, Tracy Middendorf, Robert Englund, Claudia Haro, Matt Winston, Rob LaBelle
his next entry into the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise isn’t actually the seventh part. It’s not really even a remake or a reboot, though it could serve as either. Instead, it’s a film within a film, in which the principle cast plays themselves, acknowledging that the series of movies they participated in up to this point were pure fiction. It even goes so far as to open with a dream within the film within the film.
Heather Langenkamp is married to Chase Porter (David Newsom), a special effects technician (for Cut to the Chase FX), and has a young son named Dylan (Miko Hughes). She’s struggling to get her acting career back on track, struggling with vivid dreams of the Freddy Krueger prop glove malfunctioning, becoming possessed, and killing people. She also deals with frequent earthquakes (in California), prank telephone calls (clearly predicting director Wes Craven’s upcoming project, “Scream”), and Dylan’s screaming bouts. When Chase leaves for the weekend and Heather has a television interview to attend, she has friend Julie (Tracy Middendorf) watch her son, though she has a very bad feeling about leaving the house – and that Freddy might not just be a work of fantasy.
When Robert Englund makes an appearance at Heather’s interview – in full Freddy Krueger makeup and costume – things really take a turn for the foreboding. And for the absurd. If it wasn’t difficult enough to take this property seriously, especially with the last several outings – each progressively goofier than the last – the premise of pretending that the actors are residing in the real world while Krueger attempts to haunt them – for real – makes little difference. Essentially, considering the limited fame of these cast members (and the fact that not everyone plays themselves and that flashbacks and editing techniques are overly pronounced), it might as well be a completely new group of people getting killed off by Krueger. It’s not like New Line Cinema (“The fans, god bless ’em, are clamoring for more!”) needed a legitimate avenue to bring back their valuable entity. In fact, Langenkamp and Englund appearing as themselves just might be the weakest part of the picture. And the strongest is Dylan behaving strangely (supernatural possession with many of the components from “The Exorcist”), in that perpetually unnerving, creepy-kid way, even if Hughes isn’t the best child actor.
Much of the practical items, makeup, prosthetics, and stop-motion animation has been replaced by CGI, which, though not unwatchable, isn’t as convincing or as endearing. The gore has stepped up a notch (though the body count has diminished), the cinematography has become a bit sharper, and the atmosphere is a littler eerier, but the story is still just as repetitive and unoriginal – all while thinking it’s being clever (taking on concepts from “Misery,” “Delirious,” and “Last Action Hero,” while also stealing more than one of the best sequences from the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street”). Plus, Englund seems too comical to portray a normal human, even as he tries earnestly to be sincere. At least the Freddy character has become more sinister (his look has changed slightly as well), moving about with a greater ferocity (and better coordination), and dispensing with the cheesy one-liners (until the end, anyway).
– Mike Massie