Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

One of the neater tricks in recent memory was Wes Craven’s reappearance in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, once again holding Freddy Krueger’s puppet strings. The directorial possessive is deserved here, since the filmmaker has made a movie about the making of one of his movies. I can’t think of another film that casts its own director and studio executives — let alone its own actors — playing themselves in addition to their characters.

You follow? The concept is that once New Line stopped releasing movies in the Nightmare series (remember, the previous entry was titled Freddy’s Dead), the very real evil that was embodied in Freddy’s character has been stripped of its outlet in the movies. As a result, it’s crossing over from the world of fiction into the real world, apparently giving creator Craven some very bad dreams. To stop it, he has to make another movie in the series, with the original star — a reluctant Heather Langenkamp. If the film’s execution lacks the stuff it struts in conception, it’s still quite a concept, and a unique, cerebral horror film.

On laserdisc, the concept goes one step further, with a movie-length commentary from Craven himself on one of the supplementary audio tracks. Quite a treat.

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