WES CRAVENS NEW NIGHTMARE
In appearing as himself here, Wes Craven conducts a remarkable probing of his own thematic territory. In the film, Craven claims to write his films from his dreams and says that he waits for his dreams to direct him. Whether this is the case or not, it demonstrates a unique insight into Wes Cravens view of his own creative processes and the reason why the dream world plays such an important role in his films. It is also Craven casting himself in a unique shamanistic role that allows him to recursively twist the creative act of writing and making a film, indeed the very act of viewing it, back on itself. What makes Wes Craven's New Nightmare so startlingly original is the extent to which Craven invokes the self-conscious sense that we are viewing the film that is about to be made. In one scene, the camera focuses on Cravens word processor, which describes the passage of dialogue that has just taken place and then says Fade to Black, which the screen promptly does. Or the remarkable end where Heather Langenkamp returns from her battle with the Freddy monster to find Cravens script, entitled Wes Craven's New Nightmare waiting for her, describing the last lines she is going to say to her son and how she then sits down to read the script to her son from the beginning as though it were the fairytale she were reading him earlier. The scene where Craven tells her that the original film released something evil that the sequels were able to contain but which has now been unleashed again with the sequels coming to an end is a truly incredible piece of straight-face mythologising. (And, the more cynical might also note, a good excuse to make more sequels).
Where Wes Craven's New Nightmare works less effectively is as a straight horror film. The actual horror element in the film is surprisingly low key. New Nightmare is a much more intellectual horror film than any of the other Elm Street series and this, along with its relative lack of blood and effects, may explain why New Nightmare was the least financially successful of the A Nightmare on Elm Street series. Certainly, Wes Craven does create a number of effective surprises like the scene where all the callers single letter letters are found pieced together on the floor arranged to make the phrase Answer the Phone just as the phone starts ringing.
Wes Craven's New Nightmare is probably the most serious piece of acting Heather Langenkamp has done to date. Despite the strength of the role, she still fails to engage audience sympathy or create any depth. Cravens find is Miko Hughes, who was also the undead kid in Pet Semetary (1989), who appears genuinely unnerving, walking about with taped-on finger gloves. The New Line executives prove rather flat as actors. [Notably missing is producer Rachel Talaly who had departed the series and gone onto greater success as director of Ghost in the Machine (1993) and Tank Girl (1995).] Robert Englund proves that, even when playing himself, he cannot give a straight performance.
The other Elm Street films are: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), A Nightmare on Elm Street Part II: Freddys Revenge (1985), A Nightmare on Elm Street III: The Dream Warriors (1987), A Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master (1988), A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989), Freddys Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) and Freddy vs. Jason (2003). A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) was a remake of the original.
Wes Cravens other genre films are: the brutality and revenge films The Last House on the Left (1972) and The Hills Have Eyes (1977); the suburban witch film Summer of Fear/Stranger in the House (1978); Deadly Blessing (1981) about murders around a religious cult; the comic-book adaptation Swamp Thing (1982); Invitation to Hell (tv movie, 1984); A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984); Chiller (tv movie, 1985); The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 (1985); Deadly Friend (1986) about a teen inventor who revives his girlfriend from the dead; The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), a strikingly beautiful film about Haitian voodoo; Shocker (1989) a campily incoherent film about an undead executed killer; Night Visions (tv movie, 1990); The People Under the Stairs (1991); the Eddie Murphy vampire comedy Vampire in Brooklyn (1995); the slasher deconstruction trilogy of Scream (1996), Scream 2 (1997) and Scream 3 (2000); the werewolf film Cursed (2005); the dispossessed soul slasher film My Soul to Take (2010); and Scre4m/Scream 4 (2011). Wes Craven has also written the scripts for A Nightmare on Elm Street III: The Dream Warriors (1987), Pulse (2006) and The Hills Have Eyes II (2007), and produced Mind Ripper (1995), Wishmaster (1997), Carnival of Souls (1998), Dont Look Down (1998), Dracula 2000 (2000), Feast (2006), The Breed (2006), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), The Last House on the Left (2009), The Girl in the Photographs (2015) and the tv series Scream: The Series (2015 ). He also created the tv series The People Next Door (1989) and Nightmare Cafe (1992).
(Winner for Best Original Screenplay at this sites Best of 1994 Awards).