Movie Retrospective: “A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5: The Dream Child”




   Before I continue my journey through the Elm Street movies, I was reminded of a very salient point while watching this fifth entry in the series. (Spoilers abound.)

   The more we like something, the more forgiving we are of its faults and, of course, the opposite applies. I am aware therefore of the hypocrisy that may be on display within this retrospective that proves this point.

   Following the runaway success of Part 4: The Dream Master, this film was rushed into production and given a very short time to be completed so it could be released in 1989, less than a full calendar year after its predecessor. It became the lowest grossing entry in the series and isn’t high up on the list of many fans favourites amongst the sequels. Is that deserved?

   Mmmmmmmm……..let’s see.

   Stephen Hopkins directs from a story by John Skipp and Craig Spector. Hopkins would go on directly from this movie to direct Predator 2 (another divisive sequel) and I actually recognised the names of the writers as they had co-written a vampire novel in 1986 called “The Light At The End” which I’d enjoyed,as well as the novelisation of the 1985 vampire classic “Fright Night“.

   Robert Englund returns, of course, as Freddy and is as good as ever in this film. He was the main reason to watch the later entries and, though I feel the makeup job done on him wasn’t as good or detailed as earlier films, he continues here to remind people why no-one else can ever truly play Freddy Krueger.

   Also returning are Lisa Wilcox and Danny Hassel as Alice and Dan respectively as well as Nicholas Mele as Alice’s father, Dennis Johnson and it’s nice that this film continues the trend since Part 3 of continuing the story of characters from the previous film.

   We open with a soft focus sex scene (a rarity in this franchise but nothing to offend any puritans) between Alice and Dan’s body doubles before Alice goes to take a shower. As is prerequisite for the Elm Street films, we’re taken into our first dream sequence as Alice drops from a flooded shower into an asylum full of crazed maniacs where she ends up dressed as a nun bearing the name tag “Amanda Krueger”. She is set upon by the inmates and one of them is played by Robert Englund but she wakes before the worst can happen though not before we get fake waking moment which is a rare jump scare in the series.

   We move on as it’s graduation day for Alice, Dan and their new friends. The victims-in-waiting this time around are Yvonne (Kelly Jo Minter) an aspiring Olympic diver who also works at a local medical facility, Greta (Erika Anderson) who may want to be a supermodel, though you feel it’s as much a wish of her domineering mother as it is hers and Mark (Joe Seely) the comic book nerd with an unrequited love for Greta who he openly admits this to.

   Dennis Johnson watches from a distance as his daughter graduates not wishing to embarrass her with his reputation as a known drunk. He is now going to AA meetings and isn’t as unlikable a character as he was in Part 4 and Alice persuades him to take part in a group family and friends photo which turns out to be the last time all of these people will be together.

  While her friends leave to attend a pool party, Alice takes a walk through the park to work (she’s still working as a waitress at the diner) and is perplexed to see the little girls performing the Freddy jump-rope song. This is a strange to see while awake as is the gigantic asylum Alice finds herself outside when she follows the girls who have changed the last line of the rhyme to “Nine..ten..he’s back again”. Westin Hills this is not!!

   Alice enters and soon comes across a room where a young woman we find out is Amanda Krueger (Beatrice Boepple) is about to give birth. Despite being told to remain calm, she is, understandably, far from. The baby is born and we get our first appearance of the “baby Freddy” which looks exactly as described and slithers off like the facehugger from “Alien” as Alice follows. The trail leads to the empty church where Alice defeated Krueger in Part 4 and the little monstrosity crawls into Freddy’s clothes and the now full grown Freddy announces his arrival with a cry of “It’s a boy!”

   Before he can attack Alice, Amanda Krueger appears which scares Freddy who back away as Amanda tells Alice that she must be released from her earthly prison.

   Back to reality and Alice arrives at the diner four hours late but before she can question how she arrived in the dream world while  awake she rings Dan at the pool party to tell him that Freddy is back and he dutifully leaves to meet up with his girlfriend.

   Inexplicably tired despite what I don’t imagine is an especially long drive, Dan falls asleep and Freddy appears in his truck and causes him to crash through the windscreen. Dan picks himself up and hops onto a motorbike which someone has thoughtfully left running and makes a second attempt to get to Alice.

   The effects in this film, overall are pretty decent for the time and as Freddy causes Dan and the motorbike to fuse into one we get the best kill of the film.

   Witnessing her dead boyfriend, Alice faints and wakes up in hospital where she finds out that she is pregnant and this fact, combined with the shock of losing Dan to Freddy is seen as the reason for her strange outbursts regarding how Dan really died.

   That night, still in hospital, she is visited by a young boy with the saddest eyes in film history. He introduces himself as Jacob (Whitby Hertford, who would later appear in Jurassic Park as the boy who told Alan Grant that velociraptors weren’t scary) and says he just wanted to see if she was alright because she looked sad. He wanders off and, later, Alice asks Yvonne about him but her friend informs her that they have no children’s ward on the hospital.

   Aware of what danger her new friends are now in, Alice goes into exposition mode regarding Freddy and they are, of course, skeptical at best; Yvonne especially.

   It’s not long before Freddy claims his next victim. While at a dinner party hosted by her mother Greta, who is always being monitored re her food intake, falls asleep and Freddy turns up in chef clothes to force feed her parts of herself as her cheeks bloat to the size of a puffer fish and, back in reality the poor girl chokes to death in front of her mother and the other guests.

   While Yvonne continues to disbelieve, Mark is less skeptical and is targeted next turning into an extra from the “Take On Me” video before finding himself in the Elm Street house. Alice manages to rescue him before Freddy takes his soul and meets up again with Jacob who confirms that he is her son…….okay…..I’ll run with that.

   Realising that unborn babies dream and that that is how Freddy is doing his thing, Alice must take action quickly before Freddy can claim his soul and take up permanent residence in the boy. She goes to sleep under Marks watch but Freddy decides there’s plenty of room in the dream world for her friends as well.

   Yvonne survives an assault from a diving board that turns into giant Freddy fingers. Alice, who is looking for the soul of Amanda Krueger finds her friend in what looks like a Jacuzzi designed by Pinhead and both escape as Freddy backs away, seeming to sense his mothers presence.

   Mark is not as lucky. Returning to A-Ha land he enters a black and white, comic book inspired dream where he is assailed by a skateboarding Freddy. This is where my earlier point stands out for me. Mark turns into his comic book alter-ego “The Phantom Prowler” (sounds less like a hero than a reason for women to avoid walking the streets at night) while Freddy becomes “Super Freddy”, a roided out version of himself with bulging muscles and a cape who takes all the shots fired at him from the Phantoms dual-wielded guns. This is a rare occurrence of another actor save for stuntmen to play Freddy as it’s actor Michael Bailey Smith under the makeup here and he was also the body double for Dan in the opening scene.

   With a swish of his knifed glove, Freddy dispatches Mark who is now made of paper and the colour drains from him to the floor like blood as he is reduced to black and white tatters. It’s a good idea and the effects are okay but I still found myself shaking my head thinking “Really? That’s a bit silly.” The only other time I really thought that was when Rick fought invisible Freddy in Part 4 yet didn’t have the same reaction when Freddy turned into a TV set or when Will became the “Wizard Master” in Part 3.

   Was I losing interest in the franchise? Maybe a little bit or maybe I was just not enjoying this film quite as much as previous entries and was looking for faults to justify that.

   With Mark gone, Alice sends Yvonne to locate the remains/soul of Amanda Krueger whose spirit is restless as she took her own life after her evil progeny walked away free from his murder trial.

   Alice herself enters the dream realm one last time to rescue her son and finds him close to becoming her replacement as the vessel for Freddys powers. In a scene that appears to borrow heavily from the film “Labyrinth” Alice, Jacob and Freddy move around an MC Escher maze of upside down stairways.

   Yvonne finds the body of Amanda Krueger in the tower we saw in Part 3 and with a whispered “Thankyou” the body disappears to reunite with her “bastard son of a hundred maniacs”.

   Alice, realising that Krueger resides within her, manages to bring him out in a decent enough moment where the two bodies separate. Jacob distracts Freddy by appearing to give in and turn into a mini-Freddy himself. Amanda shows up and tells Jacob to unleash the power given to him by Freddy. Similar…ish to how the souls of his victims tore him apart in Part 4, bobble-head versions of Danny, Greta and Mark burst out of Freddy and both he and Jacob regress to their baby states. Both infants are absorbed back into their respective mothers and Alice is free to wake up as Amanda appears to be having to keep Freddy within herself for an eternity in Limbo.

   We jump forward to a baby Jacob being doted on by his grandfather, his mother and her friend but a familiar laugh plays over the remaining seconds of the film to tell us that this is probably not over.

   It certainly was over for Alice though as the next film would not only be set away from the town of Springwood but also feature none of the characters from any of the previous instalments with one obvious exception.

   This was a shame but Alice was able to survive two films in a row which is rare for a protagonist in a horror franchise (Laurie Strode, also take a bow) so has probably earned the right to live happily ever after.

   It’s fair to say that while I don’t outright hate any of the films where Robert Englund played Freddy Krueger; this entry ties for last place if I was to make a list. Most of the acting is as good as you’ll see in any other Elm Street film and there are a few decent moments within. The tone and theme of the film are somewhat darker than other entries but this is still the film that featured “Super Freddy” which, you may be able to gather, isn’t a highlight for me.

   In Part 3, Freddy’s remains needed to be put to rest and now it was his mothers remains that needed the same thing. I was getting tired of these contrivances and couldn’t forgive them as much as I had before. Overall I actually found the film a little boring but, maybe, as I’ve said before, I was getting a little tired of the franchise and was ready to see the character put to rest permanently

   It would appear that I was to get this wish granted in the next film which told us through it’s title that it was to be game over for Freddy Krueger.

   We’ll see how that all turns out next time so until then……


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