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Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1990)

  • Review: ** (out of ****)
  • Starring: Robert Englund, Lisa Zane, Shon Greenblatt, Lezlie Deane, Ricky Dean Logan, Breckin Meyer, Yaphet Kotto, Roseanne, Tom Arnold, Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper
  • Director: Rachel Talalay
  • Screenplay: Michael De Lucas
  • Length: 105 min.
  • MPAA Rating: R (For horror violence, and for language and drug content)

Titles that suggest the end of a long-running series aren't always to be believed, but with Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, the truth wasn't far behind.

Returning to Springwood many years after the grisly murders that plagued the city, new teenagers are brought to the slaughterhouse by Freddy's only child. This child was taken away from him shortly after he murdered his wife and just before he was arrested and released, on a technicality, for the murder of several children.

Shon Greenblatt plays John Doe, a kid who "falls" from an airplane to land on the outskirts of the old Krueger stomping ground. When he's picked up and delivered to a troubled youth shelter, the counselor decides she needs to help him find out who he is, a fact he can't seem to recall. Maggie Burroughs (Lisa Zane) takes the shelter's van back to Springwood, the only place John can remember, but finds out she's inadvertently brought teens Tracy, Carlos and Spencer (Lezlie Deane, Ricky Dean Logan and Breckin Meyer) with her.

The stowaways find themselves trapped in a kind of ghost town where the parents are now childless and the presence of youngsters makes them go gaga as evinced by the cameos of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Arnold (Roseanne as the Mrs. barely a year after their marriage). The cameos don't stop there as we later find Freddy's father is being played in flashback by an uncredited Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp (from the original film) uncredited as an egg-skillet "brain on crack" commercial rep.

The murder and mayhem begins again as Freddy's trademark wisecracks and inventive killings make a renewed, if tiring, appearance. Robert Englund's career has hardly been the same since the film series launched his notoriety in the mid-1980s. Barely finding work that doesn't involve him playing a crazy person or villain, Englund seemed to be growing tired of the series himself.

Talalay worked on the third and fourth films as a line producer and regular producer respectively. While she could have followed the winning formulas of those films, she decided to try something a little different. The pseudo-futuristic vision of Springwood remaining after years of dead teens is interesting, if not a bit creepy. It only adds to the style that oozes from the picture. The problem is the story doesn't quite stack up. By now, we've seen numerous different ways teens can be killed in five gruesome versions of the franchise, and now we've got more deaths that seem far less inventive and far more tedious than previous outings.

The series has never shied away from strange or handicapped teens ending up on the chopping block. From the comic-book nut and asthmatic in Elm Street 5 to the deaf Hispanic in this film, the series tries to act as an equal opportunity annihilator. Carlos' death revolves around his hearing problem and is relatively painful to watch (and not because you feel bad for the kid).

Director Rachel Talalay (Ghost in the Machine, Tank Girl) crafted the screenplay for the film with screenwriter Michael De Luca (The Lawnmower Man, In the Mouth of Madness, Judge Dredd). Their work amounts to a more surreal examination of the theme, but one that hardly touches the depths into which the film could have or has been taken.

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare was indeed the final sequential A Nightmare on Elm Street film. Both Wes Craven's New Nightmare and Freddy vs. Jason departed from the series significantly despite featuring the same character. And perhaps it was for the best. Whereas the latter two productions were phenomenally entertaining, this one was only moderately so and only for someone who enjoys the slasher genre in all its bloody g(l)ory.