Harry says this NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET was effin' awesome & creepy as all fuck!
Last night, at the after party for IRON MAN 2, Moriarty (or as he is now calling himself, Drew McWeeny), told me he’d seen the new NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and he felt it really wasn’t much of anything, but then went on a long rant about how shitty Ridley Scott’s ROBIN HOOD was – and how the combination of the two films almost made him wish to give up writing about film.
SO – to say I went into tonight’s screening with a great deal of trepidation is very accurate. We had the Platinum Dunes dudes coming in. Some hot shot commercial director that I wasn’t familiar with. And then Jackie Earle Haley, someone that was the reason I was throwing this event was coming, but he would be leaving before the post-film Q&A. That was my only relief going into this screening. If it sucked, it’d be a whole lot easier to be as mean as I would need to be if I loathed the film an inkling of what I felt going in.
You see. I fucking love FREDDY KRUEGER movies. I like JASON and MICHAEL MYERS… but Krueger is the badass of modern horror. Freddy has scared me, entertained me, disturbed me and yes… he’s even given me nightmares.
But I love nightmares. I love being scared. I love getting “ick’d out”! I love that creepy unfair way that Krueger is. I love that the characters have to learn to fight him in a dream world. I love that Krueger is a mystery for each kid to solve. What is he? Who is he? Why me? And… how do you stop a dream monster that is waiting for you to just shut your eyes?
As a horror geek, I’ve spent, literally, COUNTLESS hours discussing and talking about Freddy Krueger with any and all fans of Freddy that have populated my life – and there are many.
My single favorite event that I’ve ever partnered with Tim League on was the last time Robert Englund played the character in FREDDY VS JASON at CAMP HACKNSLASH – when we had Robert there.
How big a Freddy geek am I? I spent an inordinate amount of money for a pair of size 12 Freddy Nikes – and I’ve kept them in great shape – although when I asked my wife where they were today, it turns out they were in the Laundry room covered in cobwebs. Kinda perfect really.
FREDDY KRUEGER has been in cobwebs. In a way, of every character needing a remake or being faced with an inevitable remake – Krueger was both the most painful to conceive of – but also the ideal character to reinvent.
Platinum Dunes has made their very best film by leaps and bounds with A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. And the resulting film was as if every other film they’ve done, they learned from every mistake and actually stumbled across exactly what they’ve been needing.
A film with a purpose for being remade.
I honestly feel that this is a very smart film. Smart in so many ways – and that’s not something I can really say about the Platinum Dunes movies. They make handsome looking remakes, but smart remakes?
The best thing they did in the CHAINSAW remakes was to bring R Lee Ermey into the mix. With AMITYVILLE – it was hiring Ryan Reynolds. In the FRIDAY THE 13TH remake – it was the Dock death. But with A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET – it is just about everything.
More than ever before this is a HORROR MYSTERY. Freddy is all at once, scary, sardonically funny and powerfully sympathetic. Jackie Earle Haley plays Fred Krueger as a human being. And he plays Freddy as pretty much a nightmare. They bring us face to face with the true monster of Freddy Krueger which wasn’t the hand knives, wasn’t the dream powers… it was that Fred Krueger was a child molester. (No, they don’t SHOW that) But they give you scenes that will give you the creeps – while also giving you enough to believe that it may be possible that Krueger was burned alive for something that could very well have been the concoctions of pre-school age children. After all… there was no trial of Fred Krueger. No kids on a stand pointing to where on a doll they’d been touched. No jury of his peers. No day in court for Mr Krueger. No, this was always a case of vigilante justice by the involved parents – then hushed up, forgotten and put away.
This was the shame of a community of people. A modern day lynching essentially, but it resulted in a man being burned alive. There are aspects of Jackie’s performance that reminded me of Peter Lorre in Fritz Lang’s towering work in “M”. Jackie goes to places that Englund was never really allowed to explore. Freddy’s punishment was never questioned before. Nor were Krueger’s motivations in killing the Elm Street kids.
There’s actual new material being presented into the mythology that I really really love. The movie actually introduces notions that I’ve never really thought about before with a character that I’ve given a shitload of thought to.
Englund’s Krueger had become a “Horror host” with some really nasty moments with victims. He was all about the relish and the cowardice. And I LOVE THAT about Englund’s take on the character.
But with Jackie Earle Haley… he absolutely makes Krueger a Monster again. Englund’s eyes dance, Jackie’s drill holes through the characters. He has eyes that would paralyze you. And they take delight & there’s a handful of relish to him too, but there is no doubt about it… he means to really and seriously fuck up his victims.
There’s a rage and even a look of innocence while doing it. This Freddy has a delight that isn’t quite like anything I’ve seen before. It isn’t a better Freddy exactly, it is just…
Wholly new. Looking at stills of the character in makeup doesn’t really begin to show what they’ve done here. There is more pain in the face of Krueger than was there before. The best effect of all – are Jackie’s eyes. They seem to be lidless, unblinking and serious about what he’s doing. He means it. And that is very scary and disturbing.
Now, lest you think this is a film all about Freddy – and you’re right it is. Every scene is about Freddy – how characters try to discover him, deal with him, interact with him in a dream state, childhood state, real world state…. Well, it gives the character a weight and a state of awesome that is wholly new.
Imagine if after Boris Karloff… had Universal cast Raymond Massey as the Monster and actually adapted Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN. That’s kinda what has happened here. Or if today – they cast Jeremy Irons as the Monster… did an ever more “realistic” approach to the makeup – while keeping in line with the overall design.
I love love love the look of Freddy, the new soul of Freddy and dammit… I’m excited about fucking FREDDY KRUEGER and that was not what I thought I was fucking getting on board tonight.
At one point in the post film Q&A I dared to dream that if this film succeeded wildly enough… that having Jackie as Freddy – in the big version of Freddy character. The nightmare master Freddy – the one that gets surreal with the nightmares and to have those nightmares given all the talent, budget and WOWness that the world of visual effects could give them. Basically – to dream of Freddy – not being done in the Horror Basement – but the Penthouse. Can you imagine the big Krueger movie. DreamWarriors – in the hands of a Frank Darabont, with Jackie in the character and a sky is the limit visual palette?
Well, this film is the perfect INTRODUCTION to a whole new world for Mr Fred Krueger. I’d love to see this film shock the box office world. To me, I love Freddy Krueger the way I love BATMAN, IRON MAN, SUPERMAN, SPIDER-MAN… He’s one of the single most disturbingly delicious characters that has been invented on screen and if there’s a HERO in the HORROR world… the guy that could and should bounce horror out of the budgetary ghetto – I’d love for it to be Freddy.
This is a character that could be done A-List. Jackie is the exact right actor for the role – and I’d kill to see Jackie do not only this character for the rest of his life, but also a Bogart style side career. The man has anvils of charisma. I’d relish seeing him grow his career. He absolutely deserves it. He’s been doing tremendous work for a very long time and this is a STARRING vehicle for him. Sure, he ain’t a pretty face in this. Freddy is one of the most intensely disturbing figures I’ve seen on screen in quite some time.
Now – how about the rest of the cast?
They are, everyone, better than expected. With the standout being Clancy Brown, no he isn’t the John Saxon character. Nancy doesn’t seem to have a Dad in this film. In fact all the kids seem to be the progeny of single parent households. That is closer to modern reality than most would like to admit and dramatically – it means these kids often times are home alone a lot, even when their lying murderous parents are around, they’re not much help – and they’re not real significant. These are parents that at some point hunted down and killed a man for what 5 year olds told them. Is there really any doubt why all the parents should be single? I imagine the guilt of that kind of thing really could breakdown most any marriage. You just wouldn’t want the reminder. And I like that all the affected kids aren’t all in one location – though most of our main characters are.
Rooney Mara and the rest of “high school teenagers” keep the mid-twenties set typically older than the real High School kids tradition alive in the Freddy universe. She’s also attractive, but that isn’t the first thing you think with her. She’s been working on demons for a while. Long before the nightmares there was something else with her. Something that made her not quite fit in. To bury herself in art and something that she could never fully articulate. In fact, that’s kind of the case with a lot of these kids. Everyone is damaged. Everyone in the film was tainted by Krueger before he became a nightmare.
That isn’t overtly said – but you can tell – none of these characters are quite right. There is something wrong going on. But isn’t that how it should be in a community that handled their anger, vengeance and perverted sense of justice so horribly. One girl’s reaction to the last kill of the movie – during the Q&A was modified by a “Fucking Yeah!”
There is vengeance to this film. Freddy was a very bad man – did horrible things perhaps, but does anyone deserve to be burnt alive trapped in a building that you’re keeping him from escaping? That’s how my mom went. Burned to death in a fire. Once you see that – there is a crazy fucked up righteous indignation that fuels Freddy in a way I’d never really seen him before.
This wasn’t the crazy comic book bastard son of a hundred criminally insane maniacs and a nun… This was… the gardener… at a Pre-School. The reverse of Henry Jones and Patty McCormack’s positions in THE BAD SEED, but very much visually referenced and possibly inspired.
The added mystery of the kids having to figure out what is killing them, why it is happening, who it was and what exactly did their parents do. At no level are these kids in a good place. They learn of repressed memories, lying murderously deceitful and emotionally ineffective parents – and they have a fucking dream god of mischief wishing to torment them beyond the pains of mortal death. This is… a really bad situation to be in.
And that is as it should be in any good Nightmare on Elm Street, right?
This isn’t the Freddy Krueger I grew up with. This one is more disturbed, more fiercely intense and yeah, he’s got more of that same sense of humor, but with real murder in the eyes. If you look for that – Jackie is giving it to ya. And that’s awesome in my book.
If you want more spoilers – read around, I’m not really giving much away – just telling you – there’s a damn good NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movie. Hopefully you’ll agree.
And Will Smith! Isn’t it time for a remix awesome as fuck NIGHTMARE ON MY STREET video with you and Jackie Earle Haley?
Well, I can dream. But then maybe that's your nightmare...