Saturday, 17 November 2018

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child may be subject to the amnesiac, free-association plotting that drives the other Krueger sequels but screenwriter Leslie Bohem does remember to build his phantoms around experiences that are both recognisably part of teenage life and ripe for horrified embellishment. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master survivors Alice and Dan are now high school sweethearts, surrounded by a fresh crop of pals and expecting their first child. Naturally Freddy sees this pre-college pregnancy as an opportunity to really turn the screws on Alice.

The expectant mother finds herself rapid-eyeing her way into the shit-stained asylum where Freddy was conceived. She experiences the child murderer's violent, repulsive conception in the first-person, trapped inside Sister Krueger's body as dozens of rabid criminals, including Robert Englund out of his third-degree burns make up, fall on her. Later she floats around on the periphery of Freddy's birth, witnessing a bizarre reconfiguring of history in which the unkillable child murderer dreams himself back into being as a flayed goblin. This new version of events is so startling that an attending Nun takes it upon herself to body slam this Dream Child into the nearest bin. Baby Freddy promptly escapes, demonstrating the wits and ambulatory expertise of a newly chest-burst Alien.

Unlike say The Dream Master, Elm Street 5 keeps its characters defiantly one-dimensional. Alice's new friendship group are nothing more than a collection of bodies, ripe for the slaughter. Their thoughts and feelings are background radiation, filling in just enough detail to provide context for their deaths. Freddy's kills, when they arrive, frequently feel like the best possible use of these characters. This essential ambivalence allows the film's more morbid notes to sing. Funny book fan Mark is shredded in a dream sequence that mixes superstar comic aesthetics and A-ha's Take on Me music video. Dan's demise, in which he is forcibly transformed into a biomechanical carbuncle growing on the hide of a speeding motorbike, has the deranged, diesel power energy of Japanese cyberpunk.

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