A Nightmare from Friday to Halloween - Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
The three most prominent American horror franchises (Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street) have influenced American cinema even beyond the horror genre. As of 2021, there are exactly 31 movies across all three franchises, and I am going to attempt to watch all of them, for this Halloween, one per day.
I kind of knew that I would like New Nightmare because I had heard about the meta element and how this was a favorite even among non-franchise fans. What I wasn’t anticipating was just how involved the meta-commentary was. Of course, there are the obvious things such as Robert Englund appearing as himself and as Freddy. But I also appreciated some of the deeper themes that Craven manages to draw out such as how the plot of the Nightmare movies, about Freddy taking revenge on the children, is mirrored in Heather Langenkamp’s own story with her son. It’s as if the legacy of her involvement in the Nightmare franchise will haunt and potentially cannibalize her child who is forced to live in the shadow of this cultural landmark. I also think this is probably Langenkamp’s better performance as she balances playing genuine terror and self-awareness and how she intelligently negotiates the bizarre situation that she finds herself in. Craven also manages to comment on his own career about how Nightmare has come to define him and that he has to accept that, no matter how far he tries to break away from the horror genre. There are a lot of layers to this story, and not one that I don’t think I can appreciate on a single viewing, but I was definitely impressed with Craven’s sophisticated take and inventive storytelling.