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Film / Wes Craven's New Nightmare

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"Miss me?"

Wes Craven: I think the only way to stop him is to make another movie. Now I swear to you I'm gonna stay by this computer and keep writing until I finish the script, but... when the time comes, you're gonna have to make a choice.
Heather Langenkamp: Choice? What kind of choice?
Wes Craven: Whether or not you will be willing to play Nancy one last time.

Wes Craven's New Nightmare is the seventh A Nightmare on Elm Street film, released in 1994, ten years after the original. It is the only film in the franchise besides the first to be directed by series creator and horror maestro Wes Craven.

In the real world, people behind the Elm Street films are preparing for a new installment. As this goes on, it becomes apparent that Freddy Krueger has seemingly come over the wall separating reality and fiction, and is now haunting the actress Heather Langenkamp, who played Nancy in the films.

Despite being one of the better-received Elm Street films, the film wasn't as big at the box office, garnering 16 million dollars with its 8 million budget. It's self-aware tone and deconstruction of the horror genre is considered a precursor to Scream (1996), which Craven directed two years later, though while Scream went onto become a blockbuster film and genre touchstone, New Nightmare settled for more of a cult following.


This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Averted, but implied by the hospital staff that Heather is this to Dylan.
  • Adult Fear: Although Heather's troubles are being caused by Freddy, they're based on real-world fears that don't actually require a supernatural presence. The doctors can't tell what's wrong with her son, her son wanders off into traffic, she loses her husband in a car accident, she's got a stalker and an earthquake damages her house. Your young son climbing to the very top of a jungle gym will give any parent palpitations, much less him falling off.
  • Artistic Licence: Heather's TV interview. The presenter asks her questions and then cuts her off before she's had a chance to say more than a couple of sentences. Any presenter with proper training would know that cutting the subject off while they're answering a question is a big no-no.
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  • As Himself: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, John Saxon, Robert Shaye and Wes Craven all appear as themselves. To keep with the "real world" theme, Freddy Krueger is also credited "as himself".
  • Badass Longcoat: Freddy is wearing one.
  • Based on a Dream: Invoked. Wes Craven explains to Heather Langenkamp that he is plagued by horrible nightmares of the Entity trying to break into the real world as Freddy Krueger. He writes the script for the movie, which somehow gives shape to reality itself, based on these dreams.
  • Becoming the Mask: The Entity that was sealed as Freddy Krueger has been stuck as him for so long that he thinks he is Freddy, and by extension, that Heather is Nancy.
  • Big Bad: The Freddy Krueger in this film is one even moreso than the Freddy Krueger in the mainstream continuity. It is an ancient entity of evil, which according to Wes Craven has existed in various forms throughout history. It is therefore behind many other monsters, and has spread more misery and destruction than Freddy ever did, who's mostly confined to Elm Street.
  • Big Good: Wes Craven himself, of all people. He believes in what is happening and can stop it, but only if Heather literally plays her part.
  • Call-Back: Many to the first film and to the sequels. This includes the Freddy and Alice morphing head from The Dream Child appearing as a prop at the beginning and Robert Englund quoting the "You are all my children now!" line from Freddy's Revenge.
    • Nancy removing Freddy's power through belief is a call back to the climax of the first film. It could be argued that Craven was doing a Take That! to the Executive Meddling that changed the ending of the first film.
  • The Cameo: Jsu Garcia (who played Rod in the original film) and Tuesday Knight (who played Kristen in The Dream Master) appear in the funeral scene. Johnny Depp almost appeared as well, but Wes Craven didn't ask him.
  • Character as Himself: "Freddy Krueger as Himself", to suit the Real World Episode plot. Of course Robert Englund (who played Freddy in the movies, including this one, and figures into the plot), was also credited with playing himself.
  • Child Eater: Freddy tries to eat Heather's son Dylan alive before she stops him.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: A real supernatural entity tries to use the belief in and popularity of Freddy Krueger to manifest in the real world, adopting Freddy's identity. Wes Craven (playing himself) explains that stories, and people's belief in them, have always been the bridge between the real world and the supernatural.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: When the archetype behind Freddy is defeated—in the humiliating way it had already been once before as the witch in the story of Hansel and Gretel — as it burns away, it briefly turns into its demonic-looking true form, and a fat load of good that does it.
  • Collapsing Lair: The ruins where the climax takes its place start exploding when "Freddy" is defeated.
  • Credits Gag: Due to the metafictional nature of this film, Freddy Krueger is credited "As Himself".
  • Creepy Child: Dylan becomes one as the movie progresses.
  • Darker and Edgier: The film was a very conscious shift away from the camp of the later Nightmare sequels, and was probably the least humorous film in the series outside of the original.
  • Deconstruction: The theme of the film is the fact that, as one character says, “Every kid knows who Freddy is. He’s like Santa Claus, or King Kong," and that people have a hard time judging reality from fiction, such as Heather being asked if she would trust her son around Robert Englund, just because he's an actor who happens to play Freddy. Of course, the concept goes meta when it works in not only Heather's real-life experiences with a stalker, but also the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which happened during filming. In the end, Craven considers Freddy just a fairy-tale (as seen with the tie-in to Hansel and Gretel, and Heather reading the script as if it were a storybook to her son).
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Much of why this Ancient Evil is going after Heather is because he was mode-locked into being Freddy for ten years and believes himself to be Freddy. Because Heather played Nancy, Freddy's enemy, in the first and third movie, he believes that Heather is Nancy and that he has to kill her in order to cross over into the real world for good. Wes Craven himself lampshades this.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Wes Craven bases the new Elm Street script on prophetic dreams.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Shortly after Julie's death and Dylan escaping from the hospital to get away from Freddy, Heather is desperately searching the hospital for him. When Dr. Heffner tells her that Dylan had been sedated, she explains that Dylan is prone to sleepwalking, and is perfectly capable of getting out of the hospital, only to realize that he had probably done just that.
    Heather Langenkamp: [Dylan] doesn't need to be awake to be on his feet!
    Dr. Heffner: What?
    Heather Langenkamp: He sleepwalks, you idiot! He's fully capable of walking out of this hospital! (beat) ...Oh, shit!
  • Famous Last Words: Julie's "help me" right before Freddy snaps her neck. The palpable fear in her eyes and the sheer desperateness of the request, considering she's asking this to a five-year-old kid, are quite obvious.
  • Faux Shadow: Wes Craven said on the commentary track that he had deliberately made two characters seem, very subtly, to be possible villains in disguise. He did this by introducing them with "was it really a false alarm or just foreshadowing?" moments, and by making their performances seem suspicious. One is a babysitter (who in the original draft of the screenplay was in league with Uber Freddy) and the other is a slimy chauffeur. Neither of them turns out to be either a villain or a threat: the babysitter ends up dying to save Dylan and the chauffeur is never seen again after his one introductory scene.
  • Final Girl: Heather Langenkamp.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: This movie involved Freddy escaping into the "real world", so that a new movie had to be made to imprison him again. Which is the movie you're troping now.
  • Groin Attack: While "Freddy" is trying to attack Dylan, Heather stabs him in the balls.
  • Harassing Phone Call: Heather has received several, presumably from "Freddy".
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: "Freddy" wears a pair of leather pants.
  • Helping Hands: The opening nightmare has the new Freddy glove starting to move by itself and attacking two technicians.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Wes Craven attached his name to the title to announce his return to the franchise.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: At the end, the Ultimate Evil has been defeated and Resealed away now that Wes has finished the screenplay portraying it. Heather Langenkamp and her son read from the screenplay, which depicts the first scenes of the movie.
  • It Won't Turn Off: Heather's son keeps watching the original ´A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), even after Heather pulls the plug on the TV.
  • Jack the Ripoff: The entity masquerading as Freddy.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Freddy's new design resembles Orlok quite a bit, as he doesn't wear his hat as often, wears a long coat and has more curved and organic looking claws. At one point he mirrors the pose from the trope image, immediately before the Shout-Out mentioned below.
  • Mama Bear: Heather, this time for her own kid.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Robert Englund's fictional counterpart in this film is much like the real-life guy; talkative and jovial, and genuinely enjoys the villainous role he's playing.
  • Me's a Crowd: When Dylan is crossing the freeway, he sees a group of Freddys at the other side.
  • Mr. Exposition: Wes Craven serves to explain the entire plot to Heather Langenkamp (and by extension the audience). He tells her about the Entity that has taken on the form of Freddy Krueger, that it has been released due to the end of the movie series and is trying to cross over into reality, and that Heather is the only one who can stop him.
  • Murder by Cremation: How The Entity is beaten: being shoved into a lit furnace in its lair like the Witch from Hansel and Gretel.
  • Neck Snap: Freddy kills Julie by breaking her neck after dragging her up to the ceiling and disemboweling her.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: At one point in the story, Robert Englund's character simply disappears. Freddy physically manifests shortly after, but it's never explained if it's a Grand Theft Me possession, if Freddy kills Robert, or even if Englund decided to turn off his phone and ignore the crazy people.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted; there are two Roberts, Robert Englund and Robert Shaye, although Shaye is addressed as "Bob". Justified, since they're both real people playing themselves.
  • Overly Long Tongue: "Freddy" attacks Heather with it.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: There was nothing about an earthquake in the script - until one hit during filming.
  • Real World Episode: New Nightmare, is about the making of a new "Elm Street" film, which is (unknowingly) done in order to keep the real Freddy demon from coming into the real world.
  • Recursive Canon: The film is about the actors from the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie being targeted by the "real world" Freddy Krueger. The film ends with Heather Lagenkamp reading the ending of the script for New Nightmare, which describes how she's reading the ending of the script for New Nightmare.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: The climax takes place in there.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Robert Englund and his wife's apparent course of action.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Freddy Krueger himself, but he's not really "Freddy" so much as Evil Itself taking on the form of Freddy, and there needs to be a script made in order to contain it. In fact, it could be said Freddy was the can for the entity, as it was his story and form it's been imprisoned in.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: When a new Nightmare movie is plagued by a mysterious series of deaths, it's revealed that an ancient shapeshifting evil that has existed in various forms throughout time but which can be contained by stories has been impersonating Freddy Krueger for the past 10 years. After being stuck as Freddy for so long, the spirit started to believe that it actually was Freddy and tries to target Heather Langenkamp, the actress who played the first Final Girl to face him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Freddy's shadow going by the wall is similar to the stair ascending scene from Nosferatu.
    • Freddy's defeat evokes "Hansel and Gretel".
  • Skunk Stripe: Heather Langenkamp gets one, much like her character Nancy.
  • Stock Sound Effects: "Breaking vase" sound can be heard during the onscreen earthquakes.
  • Show Within a Show: New Nightmare is the film designed to keep the Ancient Evil in.
  • This Was His True Form: When the entity is seemingly destroyed at the end, it goes from looking like Freddy to a stereotypical demon.
  • Vertigo Effect: Used when the police visit Heather and inform her about Chase's death.
  • Villain Decay: Invoked in-universe and averted in the film itself. In-universe, Freddy—who started out as a sadistic child killer—runs into a studio audience giving high fives, while the actual demon is a return to the original monster.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Heather vomits when she sees the claw marks on Chase's body.
  • Wham Line: Heather knows something is seriously wrong when John Saxon calls her "Nancy" and acts like he's really her father.
    Heather: John, why do you keep calling me "Nancy?"
    John: Nancy, why do you keep calling me "John?"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The movie leaves what happens to Robert Englund ambiguous. The last we see of him he seems to have become possessed by the Freddy Entity. It's unclear if Freddy ultimately took over his body to fight Nancy or not, and if he did, whether that means that Heather killed Robert.


Example of: