Hops and Box Office Flops: ‘WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE – The Master Returns’
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare came only a decade after the original, yet somehow—in that short span—it missed the height of the character’s popularity.
Freddy Krueger, for a time, transcended the screen. Toys, a TV show, and halloween costumes flooded the marketplace. Yes, Freddy Krueger, the burned, sadistic child molester, was even on a children’s bubble gum.
So, quite unfortunately, by the time New Nightmare arrived, the franchise had declined both critically and commercially. The horror icon—like many other properties we’ve covered on the pod—had been squeezed of all his juice.
Thus, New Nightmare was facing an uphill battle. After all, Freddy was literally dead. Hence the title of this movie’s predecessor. And The Final Nightmare wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of the franchise either. Rather, it was a continuation of the downward trend that began with The Dream Master (Part 4).
All that said, New Nightmare did have one ace up its sleeve—Wes Craven. Freddy’s creator—the writer and director of the original—returned for one final journey into the dream world. Who better to helm the true sendoff of the character?
The answer, as one may guess, is no one. Craven built the nightmarish landscape that Freddy haunted. This intimacy allowed him a clear eye on the issues that had plagued the franchise since his departure. He knew he could not possibly do another sequel in the vein of those that came before.
Instead, he gave us New Nightmare, a meta exploration of the terror the gloved man had perpetrated for so many years on the big screen. This film is an ode to Freddy, the actors who faced him, and the logical continuation of their onscreen personas battle against his unspeakable evil. And, it is quite brilliant.
As mentioned, though, the quality of this film was lost in the disinterest of Freddy’s former fans. New Nightmare is the lowest grossing entry in the franchise, earning a sub-par $19.8 million on a budget rumored to be anywhere from $8 to $13 million.
Do not let that deter you. Unlike most horror sequels—those of this franchise included—New Nightmare truly brings something new to the table. Sure it treads on nostalgia, but it also provides closure for the character in a why that had never been done before.
Most important, it made Freddy scary again. For too long, he’d been the wisecracking killer that audiences were meant to root for, instead of fear. Craven understood that the powerlessness one feel’s in their dreams was never meant for goofy kills and one-liners. It was meant to paralyze us, make us think twice before turning out the lights at night.
Sure, we can all enjoy the more approachable Freddy, but he was never the one who haunted any of our nightmares. So sit back, slash open a Nite Owl Pumpkin Ale from Elysian Brewing Company, and brew a fresh pot of coffee! I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt. Cash, and Chumpzilla are assembling the Dream Warriors to take on Freddy one last time!
This Week’s Segments:
- Introduction/Plot Breakdown – In what may have served as a litmus test for Scream, Craven put a meta spin on his classic creation. (00:00)
- The “Skin the Cat” Elm Street Trivia Challenge – I challenge Chumpzilla and Capt. Cash to trivia centered mostly around this movie. (1:11:18)
- Recommendations – We offer our picks for the week, and next up: the second entry in our “Flops that Go Bump in the Night” series, Dreamcatcher! (1:23:39)