Review by J.T. Johnson
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: September 13, 1991
DIRECTOR: Rachel Talalay
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Declan Quinn
WRITER: Michael DeLuca
MUSIC: Brian May
“Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare” is nothing more than a ridiculous cartoon of a movie. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, I absolutely fucking love this movie. It’s a fun ride as New Line pretty much decided to parody their own property. After the disappointing box-office returns and critical reception of “A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child”, New Line Cinema decided that it was finally time to end the series (at the time) and make one last film in order to deal with Freddy Krueger once and for all.
The movie follows Maggie Burroughs (Lisa Zane), a social service employee who assists troubled teens and runaways. After a John Doe (Shon Greenblatt) shows up, he ends up taking Maggie and a group of stowaway teens back to Springwood, Ohio. Sure enough, Freddy is there waiting and Maggie soon learns that she has a lost history with everyone’s favorite dream stalker.
The movie leans into the humor at this point because the studio knew that Freddy was no longer all that scary and had become a bonafide pop culture icon. This humor is surprisingly what saves the film for me. There are once again imaginative dream sequences that the series had become known for, this time including a sequence where a kid is sucked into a television and forced to play inside a video game.
Another sequences that’s actually a little gut-wrenching is when Freddy terrorizes one of the kids who has a hearing aid. In the nightmare, he transforms the hearing aid into an ultra effective device and even hearing a needle drop is excruciating. Then, Freddy ups the ante with a chalkboard and his claws and even I get unnerved by this scene.
The other element that makes this film work is the addition of a deeper backstory to who Freddy was before he actually became a master of nightmares. We eventually get brief glimpses into his childhood and why he became Freddy as well as learning what Maggie’s connection is to Freddy. It was also fun to see that Freddy’s antics have also impacted Springwood as well after all these years.
The John Doe is apparently the last teenager left alive in the community and all of the adults left in the town seem to have lost their minds. A history teacher is now teaching history as though Freddy has always been around and a crazy couple (played by a then married Roseanne and Tom Arnold) just wants to have children in the community again. After years of not believing their kids, it would seem that the adults of Springwood are finally paying for their sins.
The performances are pretty great all around. Zane does a good job as Maggie and dealing with her deeper connection to Freddy. Veteran actor Yaphet Kotto as Doc, a well-meaning therapist that actually knows more about dreams and thinks that by analyzing dreams, he can help his patients. Then, of course, there is also the always dependable Englund as Freddy Krueger. No matter the film, he always gives everything he’s got to bring the character to life and you can tell that he had a fun time playing this demented character.
The film does have one major flaw. At the time of the movie’s release, there was a very brief attempt at bring 3D back into films. Unfortunately, the filmmakers didn’t really know how to generate good effects, so the final battle between Maggie and Freddy is brought down by terrible 3D effects and a rather abrupt ending.
After five films, leaning in on the humor and exploring Freddy’s beginnings was really the only thing that the filmmakers could do. If the film wasn’t negatively impacted by the 3D ending, I could actually give the film a higher score. Still, if you want a fun ride with a character that had already solidified his place in pop culture and you can look past the film’s flaws, you might find that you will actually have a fun time with “Freddy’s Dead”.