Wes Craven's New Nightmare

Wes Craven's New Nightmare

1994, R, 112 min. Directed by Wes Craven. Starring Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Miko Hughes, Tracy Middendorf, Fran Bennett, John Saxon.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 21, 1994

It's been ten years and five mediocre sequels since Craven and the then-fledgling New Line Cinema released the original -- and superlative -- A Nightmare on Elm Street. Over the course of the series, the character of Freddy Krueger has grown into a horror film and cultural icon, trading in his ominous silences and rusty blades for supposedly witty one-liners and convoluted backstory, not to mention talking dolls and even a board game available from Toys `R' Us (which makes it a bit unnerving to recall that the character started out as a razor-appendaged child molester with third-degree burns). Craven's New Nightmare forgoes the quips and returns the series to a darker tone, giving Freddy a whole new (streamlined, almost) look and takes an inspired stab at breaking down the fourth wall between the real and the unreal. Craven's conceit in the new film is that once the original film series ended, the spirit of Krueger's character actually comes to life in the “real world” and begins to wreak havoc for stars Langenkamp, Englund, Saxon, and Craven himself (all of whom play themselves in the film). “How to get rid of Krueger once and for all?” Langenkamp asks Craven at one point. “That should be obvious. Make another movie,” is the deadpan reply. The self-reflexive nature of New Nightmare is a twist we haven't seen before, and it works well, up to a point. It's bizarre to see Craven, agent Marianne Maddalena, New Line president Robert Shaye, and others playing themselves up there on the screen -- it gives you the feeling that this is the horror genre's version of The Player. Despite this new spin on an old grave, however, Craven allows the last 30 minutes of New Nightmare to spiral down into the hack and slash cookie-cutter plotting of all the last five films. It consists of one long set-up with no final punchline, though New Nightmare obviously gets points for conceptual originality. What's next, interactive Freddy CD-ROMS?

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Wes Craven
Wes Craven, Philosopher of Terror
Wes Craven, Philosopher of Terror
Remembering the horror innovator

Richard Whittaker, Sept. 5, 2015

More Wes Craven Films
Scream 4
This reboot of the franchise is too self-referential for its own good.

Marc Savlov, April 22, 2011

My Soul To Take
Wes Craven wrote and directed this serial-killer movie – but you'd never know it to look at it.

Marc Savlov, Oct. 15, 2010

More by Marc Savlov
Remembering James “Prince” Hughes, Atomic City Owner and Austin Punk Luminary
Remembering James “Prince” Hughes, Atomic City Owner and Austin Punk Luminary
The Prince is dead, long live the Prince

Aug. 7, 2022

Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone
Texas-made luchadores-meets-wire fu playful adventure

April 29, 2022


Wes Craven's New Nightmare, Wes Craven, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Miko Hughes, Tracy Middendorf, Fran Bennett, John Saxon

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle