Halloween may have passed, but the spirit continues on, as do the number of movies in the ‘Nightmare’ franchise, and I couldn’t in all good conscious leave the reviews where they were. Strap yourselves in gravediggers and undertakers, the Elm Street ride continues, and the next stop is Dream Child…
Is that supposed to be an intimidating subtitle? I mean Dream Warriors? Cool, it has ‘warrior’ in it. Dream Master? sounds masterful. Dream Child? I hope this isn’t foretelling of the movie’s quality.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Starring: Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, and Kelly Jo Minter
With the bar set so low with the previous film, Nightmare 5 had an easy mission of besting the fourth installment. So, how did it fare? Well to start things off, they gave the movie the unimposing subtitle of Dream Child, but I’ve already addressed that. More importantly, they brought back the inventive death scenes that can only be had in a Freddy movie. One guy is turned into a motorcycle/human hybrid and killed in a crash, a teen model is over fed until she dies from it, a comic nerd is turned to paper and shredded by Freddy’s iconic glove claws, and… and then there was… hmm. Seems that this teen slasher movie only had three victims. That can’t be right, can it?
Let’s start from the beginning: roughly a year after the fourth installment, we catch up with previous survivors Alice and Dan who have made new friends, and have just graduated high school. The two are now lovers, and Dan plans on taking Alice on an overseas vacation for the summer. Of course we know Alice can’t leave Elm Street, or the movie’s title would be a lie.
Having gone the majority of the year without any nightmares, Alice is justifiably startled when she dreams that she’s trapped in a criminal insane ward. If that sounds familiar, that’s because that was Freddy’s mother’s story, and the origin of Freddy himself. Alice tells Dan of her nightmare, and he comforts her by saying that she’s in control of her dreams, and already defeated Freddy.
On her way to work, Alice has another nightmare, where she’s back at the insane asylum and watches as Amanda Kruger gives birth to baby-Freddy. The baby escapes the room to the church from the previous movie where Alice defeated Freddy before. It crawls into his clothes and grows to adult size, fully dressed claw, hat, and all.
Alice once again tells Dan about her nightmare, who leaves a party to go to her, but when he falls asleep behind the wheel of his truck, Freddy sends him back to the party. Leaving once again, Dan steals a motorcycle and rides to Alice. While riding, Freddy possesses the bike, fuses it to Dan, and forces him to crash to his death. The visual was striking, and cool in its own right, but completely misplaced in a Nightmare movie. I’d love a figure/statue of motor-Dan, but a Freddy kill this is not.
At the hospital, Alice is informed of Dan’s death, and that she’s currently pregnant with his child. It doesn’t take a PhD to see where this is going, but let’s play along. That night she’s visited in her hospital room by a young boy named Jacob, and wouldn’t you know she likes that name.
Alice tells her friends about Freddy, who of course don’t believe her. These friends consist of the afore-mentioned model, Greta, and comic geek, Mark, as well as Yvonne, a swimmer/candy striper.
Greta is force fed to death when she falls asleep at the table of a dinner party her mother has thrown to get Greta an audience with famous agents. Her death hits Mark the hardest, who had a not-so-secret crush on her. Freddy almost gets Mark when he falls asleep, but Alice is able to save him. In Mark’s dream, Alice is again visited by Jacob, and it’s strongly hinted at that he’s her daughter to the surprise of no one watching.
Alice convinces Yvonne to get a doctor to perform an ultrasound on her, and she learns that Freddy is feeding his victims to Jacob, in utero, so Jacob can become Freddy, and Alice will give birth to him in the flesh.
After way too much evidence is provided, Yvonne finally believes Alice and Mark after she herself is attacked by Freddy when she falls asleep in a jacuzzi (which is dangerous in its own right). Having learned that Amanda Krueger, also known as Nun Mary Helena, is trying to help them stop Freddy, Alice plans to confront Freddy while Yvonne finds Amanda’s resting place and sets her free allowing Amanda to join the fight against her son.
The power that Freddy was feeding Jacob proves to be his undoing as Jacob is able to defeat Krueger, reverting him to the baby form that Alice saw being born in the beginning of the movie. This Freddy is absorbed into Amanda, who locks herself away within the dreamscape, allowing Yvonne and Alice to escape.
We’re shown Alice with baby Jacob and her father months later, living a happy life, and there’s no last minute tease of Freddy’s impending return. Amanda has successfully locked him away.
If the fourth installment of the franchise was the first misstep, Dream Child was a leap backwards.
In a series where the methods of the kills are nearly as important as the story, it’s beyond disappointing to have a ‘slasher’ movie with only three deaths, and the only effective use of Freddy’s claw glove was on a paper cutout.
Dan and Greta’s deaths were visually striking, but neither of them felt like ‘Nightmare’ kills, and that’s a crucial mistake. I’ll once again point out that motor-Dan was a striking visual that I think looks great, but it has no place in a Freddy Krueger movie.
Everything else, from the subtitle, to sub-par acting, nonsensical plot, and limited death toll, really hurts the franchise as a whole.
I’m all for movies having an added meaning or agenda, as long as it jives with the movie, and overall franchise. Teen pregnancy, drinking and driving, can be seen as being in line with the Nightmare series, but bulimia/anorexia are as out of place as the homophobic undertones of Nightmare 2. Unfortunately for Dream Child, of all of the hot button topics it addresses, teen pregnancy and abortion are the worst handled, and drastically detract from a movie that sorely needed the help wherever it could get it.
Hopefully Nightmare 6 redeems some of this.
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