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This review originally appeared in issue 11 of THE CINEMA LASER.


WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE ($40) is certainly the most interesting and genuinely creepy entry in the entire A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series. While the other films in the series were a kind of dopey/scary fun intended for the teenage marketplace, WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE is a mature horror film that is truly disturbing.

The plot of WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE jumps into the reality of film making, and into the lives of the people responsible for the original NIGHTMARE film. Cast and crew members from the original film portray themselves, which strips away the safety net that separates movies from real life­ making the plight of all those concerned too real for comfort. Within the film's reality, the director of the original NIGHTMARE, Wes Craven, has begun having nightmares that are taking shape as the screenplay for a new "Freddy Kruger" movie. In Craven's new screenplay, the fictional character of Freddy Kruger wants to cross over from the nightmares of his creator into reality. Life imitating art becomes a horrifying prospect as the "screenplay in progress" plays out for real. Craven's nightmares are erupting into the film's reality, with the tragic events of his dreams actually taking place. Craven's nightmares are also linked to the nightmares of actress Heather Langenkamp, who was the heroine in the original NIGHTMARE film, and to the nightmares of other members of the original production. Actors Robert Englund, John Saxon and New Line head, Robert Shaye also portray themselves.

WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE is a film pervaded with a true sense of evil, as the distinction between the film's reality and the dream plane becomes increasingly blurred. Some of the films most frightening moments occur as Heather Langenkamp's son (Miko Hughes, who gives an unsettling performance) becomes Freddy Kruger's link with the real world, and as Kruger tries to take possession of the child. Another of the film's more disturbing moments occurs during a meeting between Langenkamp and director Wes Craven. It is at this seemingly benign meeting, that the viewer gets to see just how close to reality Craven's "screenplay in progress" has become.

WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE is also disturbing on another level as it looks at the mass merchandising of the entire A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series, and Freddy Kruger. During a publicity stunt, Robert Englund makes an appearance in full Freddy regalia, with Freddy presented as the hero of all the children in the audience. Many of the children are even dressed up like Freddy. The scene plays as a sick joke, but is in reality an indictment of the values sorely lacking in modern society.

Image Entertainment and New Line Home Video have given WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE an excellent Letterbox transfer (it's doubtful THX could have done a much better job). The presentation closely approximates the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The image is sharp, richly detailed and the colors are nicely saturated without bleeding.

The digitally encoded surround soundtrack is also excellent. The soundtrack has a wonderful sense of atmosphere, good channel separation, and deep full bass for those with sub­woofers. If you turn up your sound system enough, the earthquake sequences are sure to shake you up a bit. The Japanese pressing contained very little speckling.

As a bonus, the disc contains an audio commentary by director Wes Craven. The commentary is entertaining; it will also give a good deal of insight into what went into the making of WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE, plus many of Craven's own motivations. Additionally, a number of theatrical and television trailers have also been included.

Since WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE has been priced at $40.00 and gives you a great deal of value for that amount, the disc gets a very high recommendation. This disc is so good that it makes me wish that sometime in the future, Image and New Line will release a Letterboxed edition of the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET film with a commentary by Wes Craven.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright © 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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