Monday, September 28, 2009

A Fanboy Nightmare

In 1984, my mom took me to see A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. I was nine years old. Whether or not she was acting responsibly is open for debate, but one thing is certain: I became obsessed with Wes Craven's scarred dream stalker.

A make-up effects aficionado, I spent the first year or so of my unhealthy obsession wanting to get a good look at Freddy--he was always in shadows, and I hadn't discovered the joys of FANGORIA! The obsession died somewhere around '89, at roughly the same time as the interesting yet disappointingly awful DREAM CHILD, and by that point my favorite burned child-killer had been over-exposed to the point of being little more than a cartoonish joke.

Twenty five years after the fact, I've grown up a little. Yeah, so, I did buy a Freddy sweater from Hot Topic just last week, but I haven't watched any of the movies in years. I still hold the original film in high esteem, and consider the third film, DREAM WARRIORS, to be the quintessential '80s horror films, but overall, well... despite the R rating, these are movies best enjoyed by kids aged 12 & up.

My point? This trailer gave me chills, of course.

I've gone on record multiple times: remakes don't bother me. By their very nature, stories are meant to be retold and reinterpreted. Bad remakes are the problem. Good remakes give us things like THE THING, THE FLY, THE MALTESE FALCON, and THE WIZARD OF OZ.

It's easy enough for thirty-something film geeks to turn up their noses in condemnation. The original is perfectly fine the way it is, right? I agree, sure, to a point--but these are stories for young people, and young people need to be spoken to in the language of their day. They may still dig on Depp, but they're probably not all that interested in Heather Langencamp's voluminous mane.

Warm and fuzzy nostalgia be damned, the original NIGHTMARE films can be improved upon. The freshness of DREAM WARRIORS in 1987 will never be duplicated, and the sight of Freddy on the big screen --a face-peelin, arm-stretchin', belly-slicin', finger-choppin' revelation of sorts in 1984-- is merely an echo. But, technically, this new iteration of the franchise has every right to be the most well-made film of the lot.

But Englund is the only man for the job, you say? Yes, well, have you heard: a UK-based company called Hammer is producing a Dracula movie without Bela Lugosi! Some lanky loser named Christopher Lee is stepping into the cape. I hope he has a day job.

Shut up. You're being silly.

Haley is an excellent choice to fill the most iconic sweater in movie history, and the film certainly looks nice (even if it does have Bay's wretched fingerprints all over each and every digitally-manipulated music-video-lookin' frame). The script--the draft I've read, anyhow--is mostly good, until it cheats and then causes the whole damned thing to collapse. My fingers are crossed that they've ironed out these problems.

Despite the fact that the NIGHTMARE remake is not being made for me, and despite the fact that I have grown up somewhat since 1984, I will be there on opening day.

I just have to decide whether or not to wear my sweater...


Bill said...

I saw NIGHTMARE & NIGHTMARE 2 at nine on HBO, in a double feature hosted by Freddy. Mom took me to see DREAM WARRIORS that winter when it came out. Basically, I've been a fan, like you, since I was a kid.

I'm not a fan of remakes but, also like you, I'm not always against them. Everything you wrote about the trailer of the new version is dead-on. I'm sad that the familiar Freddy won't be back, but they have certainly captured the trademark image and this movie promises to bring the story back where it belongs: In the dark and scary reaches of the mind.

Yeah, I'll be there opening day as well.

Bill said...

Let me clear one thing up, too, in case it wasn't well-written in my reply: I'm NOT against Jackie Earle Hailey as Freddy. If anything, I'm somewhat looking forward to it. He has proven himself a pretty good actor (I just saw LITTLE CHILDREN over the weekend), and while Robert Englund brought a lot of soul to and creepiness to Freddy...well...he also certainly did a lot to cheese him up, too. I think Hailey's rendition of Krueger will be good.