Let’s look back 27 years ago, and giggle at the fact that they told us that Freddy Krueger was dead. Hopefully, it’s just that fact that you’re giggling at, and not at the actual film. Sure, there were moments that elicited laughs. Freddy was pretty darn goofy. Could it have been that he knew that New Line was trying to end his maniacal run, but he knew that they would never rid of him? But wait, let’s step away from metaphorical silliness, and step into the blurry reality that was 1991’s Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.
Springwood, Illinois is now Freddy‘s realm. In the years between Alice supposedly defeating him and when Freddy’s Dead begins, Freddy has successfully rid the town of all of its children, except for one. Freddy sends this remaining teen beyond city limits to bring him back more souls. This kid, deemed John Doe as he’s lost his memory, is found wandering the streets by a couple of cops. After being mistaken as a junkie, they drop him off at a halfway house for troubled teens. Here, we meet Freddy‘s new dream fodder, as well as Maggie, a facility employee, and the facility’s psychologist, Doc. Eventually, the new teens (Carlos, Spencer, and Tracy), Maggie, and John end up back in Springwood. John Doe succeeded. Freddy‘s going to get his new souls. The group discovers that Springwood has wacky adults. Freddy does his thing and murders two of the teens thus he gets enough power to leave Springwood’s city limits. We find out that Freddy has a kid.
Wait, say what? Yep. Here’s the part where we start talking about the tad bit of crazy that occurs in Freddy’s Dead. The general consensus of the film is that it’s bad. Really bad. Look at the majority of fan’s rankings of the series, and Freddy’s Dead is at the bottom (not the very bottom as that normally belongs to the 2010 remake). But why does it seem to always sit low in the ranks? Does the bad really outweigh the good in this sixth sequel? The Nightmare franchise is my favorite of all of the horror franchises so I will always find the good in any of them, even in the remake. Allow me to take some of the negatives that fans find within Freddy’s Dead, and dream them into a beautiful dream.
A Silly Freddy
Freddy is a joke, they say. Within the film’s 105 minute running time (Really?), Freddy impersonates the Wicked Witch of the West, a bus driver, dances idiotically, and plays a gaming system in which he is one of the 8-bit characters. They say that Dream Master and Dream Child are when his evil credibility dropped, but it goes over the edge with Freddy’s Dead. But here’s a “what if?”Within the world of Nightmare, what if he was just this silly because he is basically made up of the souls of children and teenagers? The Wizard of Oz is one of the most popular children’s films of all time. It was the early 90’s, and Nintendo was what every kid wanted. There’s even a bit with a Q-tip straight from hell, and I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hated having my ears cleaned out as a kid. Come at me with a foot long Q-tip, and I’m running.
Tracy Kicks Butt
So yeah, he was a little silly, but that’s just the surface of Freddy. There is a lot of dark material in this film under that layer of goofiness. Let’s look at the character of Tracy. She’s tough. She does not take shit from anyone.
Why is that? Because she was sexually abused as a child by her father. When it comes time for her nightmare set piece, we are introduced to her childhood abode along with her childhood predator, her father. That nightmare is a bit more real than Freddy could ever be. It’s a scene that made my skin crawl, even as a child, and to this day, it continues to make my skin crawl. It’s actually a pretty jarring scene after the almost comedic nightmare sequences for the previous teenagers. Tracy eventually takes charge, and a kickass fight between her and Freddy – as her father, and eventually as himself – takes place. She survives this nightmare, and she eventually survives the film. I like that she does as it represents being able to come out of her literal childhood hell as a survivor.
The Kill Count
How many teens does Freddy gain? Three. The kill count for the “final” Freddy film is 3. The previous entry’s kill count was the same. The first entry in the franchise only had a kill count of 4. But still, this was the “last” time that we’d possibly ever seen Freddy do his slash and dice thing, and he only gets to off 3 teenagers?! Add on top of that, he doesn’t even kill anyone with his glove.
But what a way for each of those 3 teenagers to go!
The dream sequences here go along with the aforementioned goofiness being just the top layer with the nastiness being underneath. Carlos‘ nightmare deals with the physical abuse from his mother that he experienced. It is because of his mother that Carlos is now deaf, thanks to what we can assume was the result of a Q-tip. This is where that Q-tip from hell comes into play as Freddy uses that in the dream to torture him. Freddy turns Carlos’ hearing device into a mutated replica of itself which attaches to his head via creature like stems, and increases any sound by 1,000 or so decibels. Freddy taunts him with dripping water, pins dropping, and eventually … nails on a chalkboard. Sure, Freddy is goofy as hell while doing his chalkboard bit, but he uses Carlos‘ handicap from an abusive past against him. Although it’s done in a playful manner, it’s incredibly cruel. Carlos’ head eventually explodes from the pressure cause by the sounds of the chalkboard. Poor guy.
Spencer‘s past isn’t one of abuse like Carlos‘ or Tracy‘s. His trauma from his father comes in the form of acceptance, or lack thereof. Not really having any deep trauma to play off of, this one is a little more lighthearted, or as lighthearted as killing a teenager can be. After being pulled into a TV via acid tripping visuals, Spencer is now a part of a video game where he must defeat his father and Freddy. We get 8-bit visuals. We get old school video game sound effects. The whole scenario is incredibly fun to watch, even if it is a little outdated, now. And how does Freddy deliver the final blow to Spencer? Via a power “glove”. John Doe‘s death has no relevance to it other than it furthers the story along by replacing him – who we thought as our final guy – with the actual final girl, Maggie.
Freddy gets a kid. This sort of became the go to for any long running franchise during the 80’s through the 90’s. Freddy got a kid. Jason got a sister, a niece, and a great-niece. Chucky got an ex-girlfriend which resulted in a kid. Hell, even in 2013, Leatherface got a cousin. There shouldn’t be too much of an uprising with Freddy getting a kid, but it completely changes the story of the entire franchise.
Instead of Freddy‘s motive being just of a revenge for his own death, it now becomes revenge for the parents of Springwood taking his only child away. Ya see, Freddy killed his wife when she discovered his shed of monstrosities which was in their own house. His daughter, “Catherine”, witnessed the death of her mother at the hands of her father. This somehow led to Catherine being taken away from him, blocking out her childhood from that moment and before, and becoming Maggie in the foster system. Maggie‘s rediscovery of her past leads to her being able to to rise above it, and defeat Freddy. This, as with Tracy, showcases a strong character overcoming what could have been detrimental and led to her demise actually empower her enough to be able to defeat the man turned creature that ruined her life.
Everyone will have their opinion on the topic of these few things, and more, when they talk about Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. I just happen to be one of those that will try to showcase the good that can be seen in the film. After all, the film had a caring hand in creating the story and bringing that story to life. Rachel Talalay, who started as an assistant production manager with the first Elm Street, and was involved with every single film following, was given the reigns for the “final” one. Even when asked during an interview if Freddy would ever be back, she gave a resounding “No, no, no. No!” But, yanno, “Every town has an Elm Street.” And so far, every decade has had an Elm Street.