Okay, the headline is a little sensationalized, but the point is the same.
For us die-hard Freddie fans, the trailer for the new A Nightmare on Elm Street was both an encouragement and discouragement. It got us all hyped up seeing some very familiar and creepy visuals and sold us on the fact that the filmmakers understood the tone of the original.
Then we get that last couple of shots of Jackie Earle Haley as Freddie–and it left a decidedly “WTF” taste in my mouth.
When I saw this one at the drive-in (before taking a look at an original print of the real ANOES…yeah, be jealous) one of my uninitiated compatriots leaned over to me and said “why does he talk like that?”
It’s true folks….Freddy kind of has the voice of an idiot man-child. And his face, while somewhat creepy and decidedly more “realistic-burn-victim-y” than in the original series, is just a lot less scary than the oozing mangled flesh of the original (we’re talking Nightmare 1 and 2) Krueger.
Here’s the trailer for reference:
But what really struck me about the trailer is that Freddy seemed oddly familiar.
My mind harkened back to a horror film I saw once…one that was made four years after the original Nightmare. Its horror villain was a cult leader who had died in a fire along with his followers. He stalks the lone survivor of that day, a young girl in a psychiatric hospital (Dream Warriors anyone?), and attacks her through…you guessed it…her dreams.
Did I mention the title? Bad Dreams. Yeah, it’s like they took the Nightmare title, stripped away the intrigue, and focused on the most obvious aspect of the horror classic.
(Side note: this one also has some striking similarities to Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions which was also about a cult leader returning from the grave to claim his victims. Check that one out if you haven’t yet.)
Now, Bad Dreams is not a bad movie. It’s actually fairly creepy, and it goes out of its way to distinguish itself from the Nightmare series. Still, the similarities are unmistakeable.
Here is a trailer:
Now, maybe I’m on crack, but I see a sincere similarity between Harris in Dreams and Jackie Earle Haley’s Krueger. Both take the realistic burn-victim approach, and both seem to have burned-out lips and stretched, folded flaps of skin.
Here are a couple of pics. Keep in mind…the Freddy we’re seeing is very de-saturated, so the colors are not going to match. Still, the similarity in approach is evident.
Before you get in a tizzy telling me I’m making wild accusations, know that I am not arguing that the makers of the new Freddy movie sat down and copied this rehash of Nightmare. Not at all. But I think they have approached the character in a similar way, focusing on staying somewhat “realistic” to the look of a true burn victim. I mean, I’ll be the first to admit that these pictures are wildly different, but I thought it was worth note.
The truth is that the “in-dreams-killer” mythology has been circulated and recirculated pretty regularly for the past twenty years with the Nightmare series and its many copies. I’m all for the filmmakers doing something a little different, but I want Freddy to stay somewhat recognizable. And I want him to look AND sound sinister and menacing. There is no need for Freddy to look “realistic” or “like someone would really look like if they got severely burned.” He’s a monster in your dreams, and he can choose to look like whatever the hell he wants.
I hope that fact isn’t lost on the filmmakers. Some of my best Freddy moments are when he takes on other appearances (like the “No running in the hallways” girl in part one, or the “Snake-Monster” in part 3).
Keep it classy, filmmakers. And make sure you aren’t pulling too much from real life or other movies. Remember, Freddy can be whatever the hell he wants to be in any given moment, and dream logic reigns supreme.
Just don’t have him kill someone by controlling him via Nintendo controller like in part 6. That was super lame.