A Nightmare on Elm Street 1-4

Rating: N/A

Dir: Wes Craven, Jack Sholder, Chuck Russell and Renny Harlin
Star: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Patricia Arquette, Lisa Wilcox

[2] I’ve never been a great fan of the Nightmare films (any series with a child killer as a hero is on dodgy ground – a Freddy fanclub for chrissake?) but when Wimbledon Odeon put on all four for a fiver, it was too cheap to miss and I have to say I was surprised how well-made at least three of them were. The plot is the same in all four: Freddy comes back from the dead and slaughters a few teens before getting destroyed, though within this framework, each director has a style all his own. The first one is a straight horror story, done well, though Wes Craven has the easier task of not having earlier films to live up/down to. Tense and effective stuff.

NoES 2 has come in for some flak, mostly for the Freddy-by-the-pool scene – fair comment and a shame, as up to then it had been better than NoES 1, with more believable heroes and the border between dreams and reality less explicit. NoES 3 was, for me, the worst, and a real turkey – what’s all this “in my dreams, I can be a wizard” crap? No mention of this in the first two films! Schmaltzy and cute, more like a kiddies’ TV series than a horror flick. Finally, the new one – NoES 4. It’s a little cracker. Renny Harlin, who gave us Prison, one of 88’s best, has given us one of 89’s best too. Anyone can die at any time – I was onto my third choice heroine by the end.

Although a couple of the dream sequences don’t quite work perfectly, this scarcely matters and we have the first horror pic of the year that even makes an attempt to kick ass. I, for one, can’t wait to see the result when Renny Harlin directs a William Gibson script for Aliens 3 [STOP PRESS – Harlin’s dropped out]. What odds it’ll be one of 1990’s best? Oh, keep an eye out for the name of the cafe, where much of the action takes place…