Eye For Film >> Movies >> Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) Film Review
Freddy’s Dead was designed to bid farewell to one of contemporary horror cinema’s most iconic bogeymen, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). While it certainly aims for an epic feel – complete with cameo appearances from the likes of Johnny Depp, Rosanne Barr and Alice Cooper, and a climactic 3D showdown between Krueger and his estranged, and previously unmentioned daughter, that takes places within the mind of Krueger himself - it just can’t pull it off.
Emerging as one of the weakest titles in the series, director Rachel Talalay’s attempts to give Freddy’s Dead a darker, grittier edge are lost beneath the clownish Freddy shenanigans and ridiculous death scenes; one of which features a tech geek (Breckin Meyer in an early role) being sucked into a computer game and battered to death by a crudely animated Krueger.
The story reveals that Freddy Krueger has finally succeeded in killing all the children of his hometown by invading their dreams and slaughtering them while they sleep. By tracking down his estranged daughter Maggie (Lisa Zane), a tough youth councillor, he plans to escape the confines of Springwood to claim fresh victims. When she discovers who he is, and his demonic past, she vows to put a stop to his reign of terror with the help of tough teen, Tracey (Lezlie Deane). While the screenplay delves into the past of the titular killer, exploring his childhood and gradual transformation into a monster, the plot is as draped around bombastic set pieces as its predecessors.
Opening with a bravura scene that plays on the fear of heights, the tone – cartoonish and over-the-top - is immediately established as an Acrophobic teen finds himself falling out of an aeroplane (accompanied by Mussorgsky’s A Night On Bald Mountain) and down into his bedroom, only for his house to be swept back up into the air in a twister, with Krueger flying around it on a broomstick as the witch from The Wizard of Oz. Other pop-culture references ensue, as when the teens arrive in Springfield – here presented as a childless and carnivalesque town, a far cry from the suburban ‘any town’ feel of Craven’s original - and one of them quips, ‘We’re in Twin Peaks!’
The ongoing themes of generational conflict, familial dysfunction and the depiction of parents as weak and ineffectual takes on a much more grotesque emphasis in this film, with the teenaged characters revealed to be from abusive homes. The most disturbing scene unfolds as Tracy has a nightmarish encounter with her abusive father who morphs into Krueger; the underlying issues of domestic abuse, rape and incest are genuinely unsettling. Whereas the dreamscapes of prior entries were increasingly fantastical, here they play out in the boiler room from the early films, adding to the grimy urban feel, which itself is totally at odds with the overblown comedic violence.
At the climax, Maggie enters Krueger’s memories and sees the origins of the ‘Bastard son of a hundred maniacs’, his troubled childhood, abusive father (Alice Cooper!) and the Elm Street parents burning him alive in his boiler room hideout. Bombarding the audience with 3D demons and all manner of slap-stick violence, the film simply can’t manage to build any suspense, and again the jokey tone destroys any real tension.Reviewed on: 30 Oct 2014