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Elm Vengeance On Fur Street

My first title was “Elm Vengeance On Nightmare Street,” due to the Nightmare theme of this week’s roundup, but I couldn’t resist a tree-tastic homonym.  On one ghoulish hand we have a modern remake of horror icon Freddy Krueger and on the other we have a family comedy starring Brendan Fraser and a bunch of computer-animated forest creatures.  Depending on your outlook, both options could be considered nightmares.  We begin with the film least likely to torment your dreams: Furry Vengeance (Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic).
Normally, I would begin with a reviewer that summarizes or provides consensus reaction, however for this potential frightmare of saccharine, I will let the film’s promotional material speak for itself.

“For Mother Nature, revenge is a dish best served furry! In this hilarious family comedy with a message, greedy developers try to pave over paradise and unwittingly launch a side-splitting battle between man and nature. And anyone who doesn’t learn that green isn’t just the color of money might just end up as roadkill!”

Aside from threatening slow-learners with vehicular homicide, the plot of this film is as clear as its message, which is to say transparent.  I am also fairly certain that crotch and butt humor will consist of at least 50% of the jokes.

“Forever positioning himself as Hollywood’s jester, Fraser pads up for another odyssey of slapstick and genital trauma in Furry Vengeance, an odious, chintzy, and soul-flattening promenade into sadistic wackiness.” Brian Orndorf BrianOrndorf.com

Since the rest of this roundup focuses on horror movies, it’s a good thing that genital trauma only occurred in the comedy.

Do we know which side is nature on?

“Maybe your kids will insist that you see Furry Vengeance. Then again, wouldn’t this be the perfect time to let them test their independence and sit through it alone? Otherwise, good luck. You have my condolences.” Arizona Republic Bill Goodykoontz

Uh-oh.  He makes it sound pretty scary.  But does it sound scarier than a modern-day bogeyman who haunts dreams?  And if you are attracted to premise rather than the release date, then you should imagine all 7 incarnations competing for their right to entertain you.  Some may view the horror franchise as the Saw of its day, but it has been a creative nexus for actors and directors.  Consider these people who helped create the Freddy mythology: Wes Craven, Robert Englund, Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne, Renny Harlin, Breckin Meyer, Tom Arnold, Roseanne, and Johnny Depp. If you’d like to test your knowledge of who was in what, here is a 4-question quiz.

I excluded Freddy Vs. Jason from this retrospective roundup because Freddy was only eligible for best supporting actor.   Before you question that logic, let’s begin at the beginning with the 1983 original: A Nightmare on Elm Street (Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic).

“Turning slumberland into a twisted murderer’s den is a masterstroke by Craven, who has brought new blood to a genre that seemed as if it might choke on it’s own excesses.” Empire Gavin Bainbridge

The Slasher genre was really known for other kinds of choking.

“What’s so clever about Craven’s variation on teen-horror is what now seems so obvious about it: A Nightmare on Elm Street takes all of this fear of unmanageable desires and makes it explicitly, even bluntly Freudian.” Leo Goldsmith Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Death by Freudian desires.  Most teen-age boys would call that a nightmare, but if you doubt that observation, consider this:

“There has never been a movie like it, and there never will be.” David Keyes Cinemaphile.org

Until…1985 and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 – Freddy’s Revenge (RT).

“Freddy’s nails are a little blunt here.” Clint Morris Moviehole

Already?  Oh well, it was a memory by 1987 and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 – Dream Warriors (1987 – RT)

“Easily the best of the sequels till A New Nightmare, but still nowhere near the original.” Ken Hanke Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Represented visually:

Original ——–New Nightmare——————————————best sequel

Represented Ebertly:

“This is filmmaking by the numbers, without soul.” Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times

Maybe, but Slasher movie monsters don’t need souls to come back to life over and over.  It’s worth pointing out in the final junkyard battle at the end of the part 3 Freddy disappeared into white light when his remains were destroyed with holy water.  Perhaps the next title is a clue to how he keeps coming back: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 – The Dream Master (1988 – RT)

“Bottomless grab-bag from the 80s TV subconscious, riffing on Jaws, Karate Kid, and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, with a palette that would make Joel Schumacher queasy.” Leo Goldsmith Not Coming to a Theater Near You

If there was a lesson to be learned, it’s to limit current events jokes in decade-spanning horror franchises, which means the film doesn’t offer much to the under-30 crowd.  Except?

“Not much to see here except for the occasional ’80s big hairdo and some decent gore shots.” Christopher Null Filmcritic.com

That’s it?  At the mid way point in the series, what keeps this fountain of blood flowing?

“Robert Englund, receiving star billing for the first time, is delightful in his frequent incarnations as Freddy, delivering his gag lines with relish and making the grisly proceedings funny.” Variety Staff Variety

And that review sums up the appeal of Freddy.  Just as Brendan Fraser is the jester of family frightmares, Freddy is the slasher movie show-off who tries to make the audience laugh.  Considering Jason Voorhees had fewer lines than actors who played the part, Freddy’s gift of gab is a welcome counter-point.  But then again, the idea was starting to get stale by the time they brought in a baby: A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 – The Dream Child (1989 – RT).

“Because nothing says giggly slasher escapism quite like child endangerment and abortion discussions. Please pass the popcorn.” Brian Orndorf BrianOrndorf.com

Thank goodness that review was sarcastic (he gave the film a D), as in please Die already.

“Despite an impressive bag of special effects tricks, old Fred is starting to resemble one of those dead horses that studio execs insist on flogging.” David Hughes Empire Magazine

Poor Fred.  Too bad there are (to date) three more floggings to go, even though the next one was called: Freddy’s Dead – The Final Nightmare (1991 – RT).

“Sixth and final edition in the Nightmare on Elm Street feature series delivers enough violence, black humor and even a final reel in 3-D to hit paydirt with horror-starved audiences.” Variety Staff Variety

Wow, 3-D is a time-honored gimmick, especially for horror movies.

“So long, Freddy, it’s been good to know you.” Richard Harrington Washington Post

And just as you’re smacking Freddy’s dream ass on the way out, it’s time for: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994 – RT).

“Craven takes us into one of the most bizarro horror setups ever put to film, as he reveals, yeah, those other six films were all just movies, but now it’s for real. He’s not kidding.” Christopher Null Filmcritic.com

Yep, Freddy goes meta and starts terrorizing the actors who’ve starred in the movies.  Take it one step further and he could be appearing in your dreams…tonight.

This will be tonight's soundtrack

“This film gives us all the terror of the original without any of the sarcasm of the rest of the series. Wes Craven’s return is impressive and rivals the original in terms of quality.” Wesley Lovell Oscar Guy

“I haven’t been exactly a fan of the Nightmare series, but I found this movie, with its unsettling questions about the effect of horror on those who create it, strangely intriguing.” Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times

“Wes Craven’s best film. A tour-def-force in filmmaking and a fine tribute to a horror icon.” Clint Morris Moviehole

It sounds like a fitting swan song for a guy who probably would have strangled the swan.  They killed Freddy once and for all, which lasted sixteen years, because Hollywood just rebooted A Nightmare on Elm Street (Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic).

“In a way, Freddy finally makes sense in this version of Elm Street, but Robert Englund’s original Freddy is still preferable to Haley’s pervy Groundskeeper Willy.” Ed Gonzalez Slant Magazine

In terms of Simpson’s characters, I prefer to think of Freddy as a younger, more weapon-savvy version of Mr. Burns.

“There hasn’t been this unnecessary of a back story since Ron Howard felt the need to dramatize the childhood of one Mr. Grinch.” Josh Larsen LarsenOnFilm

"I could grow up to haunt kid's nightmares. You don't know."

“Too many more remakes as dull and bland as A Nightmare on Elm Street could kill off horror movies for good.” Rene Rodriguez Miami Herald

King Sheep wonders if that would be Freddy's ultimate triumph

5 Responses

  1. Wow. That’s too many sequels. Good thing I don’t remember any of them.

  2. The “you don’t know” under the Grinch picture is very funny to me, but I can’t figure out why. Entertaining as always!

  3. NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Great work, sir. I haven’t seen one minute of any of the Freddy films and that’s not going to change anytime soon. The same can be said about Fraser’s ouvre.

    Have a great end of week and weekend.

  5. So, Ebertly-speaking, we should watch “A New Nightmare”?

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