Horror
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
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Dir: Stephen Hopkins
Star: Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Danny Hassel, Kelly Jo Minter
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1989
Format: DVD R1
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Not quite defeated by Alice (Lisa Wilcox) in The Dream Master but not strong enough to directly face her again for another onslaught Freddy hides in the subconcious of Alice's unborn baby. After using his dead mother to fuel his spirit and regain strength Freddy and as an unborn child spends around 70% of it's time asleep he uses the virtually complete dream state of the child as a launch pad to extend his influence and strike at Alice and her friends. After a series of nightmares which even the "Dream Master" cannot control or influence Alice discovers that Freddy has returned once again but she is virtually powerless to prevent him from claiming the souls of those she holds dear. As her friends are methodically picked off in more ingenious ways Alice learns more of the origin of the "bastard son of a hundred maniacs" as she begins putting the pieces of the puzzle together and fearing for the safety of her unborn child Alice knows that she must confront the dream demon once more.

This is almost as insufferable as Freddy's Revenge and nearly as tedious as The Dream Master in fact there is little to differentiate between them. The concept of Freddy hiding in the dreams of an unborn baby is clever and inevitable but isn't used anywhere near to it's full potential. What you get is on the whole very poor and becomes monotenous throughout the film, combined with the inclusion of a subsidiary story that Freddy has managed to use his dead mother Amanda to fuel his resurrection. Although the film does take a little time to relate something of the harrowing ordeal suffered by Amanda as she is raped by the inmates of the asylum. Which quickly leads to the dreadful Freddy baby birth which has little real impact to the story as such and serves to be rather pointless overrall and appears quite tacky and out of place. There is also a misplaced attempt to incorporate a light hearted and fun tone to the film which obviously doesn't work at all as this is neither what you expect or want from a horror movie.

The direction of Stephen Hopkins isn't entirely bad but there is a general lack of imagination and nothing particuarly outstanding to grab the viewer. Once again, more attention is given to the increasing populous of special effects as virtually all of the real horror and suspense is shamelessly sacrificed in order to showcase the "talents" of SFX artists. I will admit that a couple of the special effects look impressive whereas others look decidedly sub-standard and ropey but being honest, they are not the motivation to see a horror film and should not be permitted to take precedence over the story and characters. Hopkins also manages to include an intangible staircase scene to indulge his "artistic license" and form a backdrop to the film's finale. This kind of effect has been done before and better in the case of Labyrinth but appears quirky and cheesy in an alleged horror film. Hopkins later went on to direct some reasonible movies Predator 2 and Lost in Space included and has more recently directed the cult American tv show 24. But upon watching The Dream Child it is difficult to see a modicum of the talent which he later displayed.

The character of Freddy Kreuger is now about as far from the original villain created by Wes Craven as you could get and is about as scary as a sponge cake. Despite a typically sterling performance by the man behind the mask Robert Englund there is very little to contribute to the horrific persona of Freddy this villainous cinematic anti-hero which we have come to fear, hate and love. The reasonible performance of Lisa Wilcox which was almost pretty good in The Dream Master is dragged down to generally poor in this film as her physicality has more shapes than Freddy has victims. For very little reason she is frequently substituted with body doubles for no apparent reason other than "because they can" before she is forced to deliver the pitiful dialogue of an altogether horrendous script. The character of Alice was pretty wooden in the previous film but Wilcox seemed to do a good job of a bad part but not this time around as she fumbles her way precariously through the role. One or two brief performances are quite good but get lost in the desolate wilderness that is the "story" which frequently spins off on as many incoherent tangents as staircases in the finale. The film appears to be merely a series of altogether poor special effects that are tenuously held together by the fragmented memory of the Freddy Kreuger/Elm Street story. Danny Hassel provids a brief but good performance as he reprises his role of Dan before he succumbs to his "need for speed" (nothing to do with Top Gun!)

The biomechanoid motorcycle transformation sequence near the beginning is like a sublime hybrid homage to David Cronenberg and H.R Giger but is a brief imaginative use of effects but is essentially someone elses work. The "comic book" battle is interesting but eventually fruitless as the real potential of the scene is unfortunately overlooked as the monochromatic end product is terribly unfulfilled. A major component to the Elm Street films is of course the degree of surrealism and horror, but the film lacks any significant prescence of either of those characteristics and generally stumbles it's way through it's running time which is a pity as there was some good potential. Some of the gothic elements expected in a horror movie which were sadly lacking in the last film manage to find their back into this film, but are ridiculously used to a minimalistic level as more iconic and symbollic imagery is hap-hazardly inserted to the film's visual spectrum. After watching this film I would imagine that Wes Craven would be quite infuriated by the total bastardisation of his creation which is evident in The Dream Child. What the series really needed at this point was undoubtibly Wes Craven's imagination and experience in order to maintain the degree of terror and horror which enabled the series to break from the standardised horror genre in the first place and made it so renowned. As with The Dream Master this film is neither here nor there and doesn't appear to know exactly what it is and as a horror movie it straddles a razors edge between being pretty poor to terrible.

Quote

Bon Apetit Bitch!

Faster than a bastard maniac, more powerful than a local madman.....it's Super Freddy!

Rating: 1 out of 5

DVD
Picture 1.85:1 Great digitally remastered transfer
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 & Original Stereo soundtrack Excellent mix.
Cast & Crew Biographies.
"Jump to a Nightmare" scene selection.
Cool interactive menu
Verdict As this disc is part of The Nightmare on Elm Street "Platinum Series" boxed set the disc is different to the standard release and the minimal extra's on this disc are reflected by a seperate disc within the collection which contains the bulk of the extras for this and the other films.

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home