(On DVD, November 2018) Now that’s more like it. After a second film that didn’t do much with the possibilities of the series’ central premise, here comes A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors to dig a little deeper in its potential. Almost entirely forgetting the second instalment, this volume finds Freddy Kruger tormenting kids, the first film’s final girl coming back, and the kids finding a way to fight back. Now, I don’t really like the series—it’s cheap, it’s occasionally far too silly for its own good, the actors are really not good (I like looking at Heather Langenkamp, but her acting here is terrible) and there’s a huge gap between the potential of the series and its execution. Still, Dream Warriors is watchable enough: the imagery of the dream sequences is far more interesting than your average slasher, while the idea of youth fighting back is promising (the execution; not so much). Alas, there are more than a few clunkers in the works: Freddy Kruger definitely takes a turn for comedy here, moderately defanging the antagonist. The story also flirts with a highly inappropriate relationship between doctor and intern, undermining the whole atmosphere. I’m not a fan, but I didn’t have the feeling of wasting my time.
(On Blu-ray, November 2018) I probably shouldn’t expect much from the Nightmare on Elm Street series, but its second instalment feels silly and dull. Freddy’s Revenge clearly isn’t beholden to any kind of internal logic, meaning that stuff happens without explanations or rigour in what is made possible by the rules of the series. The strength of the Nightmare on Elm Street series is how its films can flip squarely in dream logic without much notice, but there isn’t enough of that in this sequel. There are, to be fair, some decent sequences here and there—the idea of a character possessed to conduct a series of murders is horrifying enough, and there is one showcase sequence in which antagonist Freddy gruesomely emerges from the protagonist’s body. The special effects do have a quaintly charming quality that reminds us that this is merely a movie. Still, taken at face value, Freddy’s Revenge isn’t much to talk about—as if someone had seen the first film and had to turn out a half-baked script in a few weeks. But if you do read about the film and discover that there was an intentional attempt (not recognized by the director) from screenwriter David Chaskin to insert a significant amount of homosexual subtext, then the film suddenly become far more interesting, even in retrospect: Suddenly, the lack of romantic chemistry between hero and heroine, the tone of the coach sequence, the “friendship” between the two male leads and the body-horror all become pieces of evidence in a deeper reading of the film. I’m not among the target audience for such alternate takes on material, but it’s there and it does lend quite a bit of depth to what had been at face value an uninspired sequel.
(In French, On Cable TV, July 2016) Watching this movie without much knowledge or affection for either the Friday the 13th or the Nightmare on Elm Street series had me feeling as if I was attending a very strange party to which I hadn’t been invited. The concept of horror villain fandom baffles me—I had the impression that Freddy vs Jason was trying to get me to cheer for one mass murderers of children or another, which just seems wrong. It doesn’t help that Freddy vs Jason is, in most aspects, a thoroughly forgettable slasher: Here are a bunch of teenagers, there are the monsters, watch as they get picked off one by one until the final girl. Yawn. The film’s sole distinction is the amount of worship that Freddy vs Jason has for either Freddy Krueger (cackling one-liners) or Jason Voorhees (silent brute), which doesn’t translate into anything meaningful. Again: I’d like a horror movie that doesn’t make me feel like a psychopath, please. Some aspects of the film warrant mention due to imperfection: the CGI effects, in particular, look fake and dated. Some of Ronny Yu’s direction has some high-energy moments (with Robert Englund clearly having fun in a familiar role), even though the Crystal Lake third act feels far too long for its own good. I almost certainly could have gotten more out of Freddy vs Jason had I watched the interminable series that inspired it. But frankly, I have better things to do.