Review by J.T. Johnson
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: August 11, 1989
DIRECTOR: Stephen Hopkins
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Peter Levy
WRITER: Leslie Bohem
MUSIC: Jay Ferguson
There comes a moment in every horror series where the studio realizes that they may actually need to put their series to rest for a minute. For the “Nightmare” series, that came about with “A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child”. Despite a strong leading character returning and some pretty great gothic visuals, the movie is admittedly a weird entry even for the “Nightmare” series.
The movie was rushed into production. When director Stephen Hopkins was hired to direct the movie, he only had four weeks to shoot the film and another four weeks to get it edited. They had to deal with censors on just about every death sequence in order to avoid an X rating. Thankfully for the studio, though, Hopkins was able to get the film in on time and this actually led to 20th Century Fox hiring the director to helm “Predator 2” later on.
As far as the story is concerned for this particular entry, Alice (Lisa Wilcox) has been able to keep things in the dream world under control over the past year with no signs of Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). Suddenly and seemingly without warning, Freddy is reborn and it’s no coincidence that he is shown literally being born. As it turns out, Alice is pregnant and somehow Freddy has discovered a way to infiltrate the dreams of Alice’s unborn child.
Since the child is in a dream state 70% of the time, this means that Freddy is a more constant threat, but the other teenagers still have to fall asleep in order for Freddy to get to them. The most impressive thing in the film, as always, are the impressive dreamscapes that the teenagers find themselves in yet even they are not as good as the past films.
The best one is also one of its more hokier sequences. A character gets trapped in a black-and-white version of the warehouse he is in and he is also a comic book fan and aspiring artist. When Freddy attacks, the teenager takes on the form of a superhero he’s been developing, but Freddy suddenly becomes Super Freddy and the way he kills the teenager is by turning him into a comic book page and shredding him to pieces.
The ending of the film also has some impressive visuals but it all comes to a rather anticlimactic conclusion, especially when compared to Alice and Freddy’s ultimate battle in “The Dream Master”. However, I must admit that I did enjoy the fact that they revisited the idea of Freddy’s origin and his mother, an element that had been missing since “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors”.
Another point of contention for me is Freddy’s makeup for the film. In every “Nightmare” film, Freddy has looked different due to different makeup artists bringing the character to life. In the other films, the makeup has always been pretty good. Here, though, the makeup is meant to be more babylike than before considering how the character comes back from the dead, but ultimately the makeup looks faker than previous attempts and I just didn’t care for it.
Ultimately, this sequel doesn’t work. It is nowhere near as bad as “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge”, but is definitely the point where the series started its decline. Despite some interesting visuals, the movie is a weaker entry into the series.