April 22, 2010

No new Nightmares

Looks like they're going to take a stab at a reboot of the original Nightmare on Elm Street. Like I said about the upcoming sequel to Predator, don't make any new scary movies or cop movies until the crime rate shoots up again, so that the audience will actually be afraid of things out there and the actors will be able to easily tap into the fearful mindset when on camera. Here are several clues that the movie will stink, aside from being a horror movie made during safe times:

- The cast is not young enough. ("God, I look 20 years old...") Only the parents are the same age as before, but they're not important. Freddy Krueger is now 47 instead of 37, which would work if he were only supposed to be psychopathic, but not if he's supposed to be strong and quick enough to chase down his victims. Nancy is now 24 vs. 19 in the original, although her boyfriend is 22 vs. 21 in the original. The other two young people in the original were 20 and 23; in the new one they are 21, 22, and 24. The cast of the original were the age of college students, which is close enough to teenagers that we could believe they were seniors. The new cast are all the age of people who've graduated college and are just on the cusp of establishing their career, finding a husband or wife, bla bla bla.

Much of the suspense in the original comes from sympathizing with the plight of teenagers who still live at home and are still dependent on their parents, who don't believe or are just blind to what's going on. That sympathy won't be possible with people old enough to be out on their own. Those 5 years separating 18 from 23 see a hell of a change in personality and behavior, since by the latter point they're almost out the door of their wild years of 15 - 24. They aren't so easily spooked by that point, so they won't be as convincing on camera as a 17 or 18 year-old would be.

- Two of the characters aside from Nancy and her bf are described as "a jock on the swim team" and "a well-liked, well-off high school jock." Um, jealous much? Sounds pretty exaggerated and unsympathetic to me, unlike the believable characters in the original -- but then what do you expect from a director mostly known for music videos such as "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "No Rain," and "Bullet with Butterfly Wings"?

- Freddy Krueger is being downgraded from a monster to a mere sociopath like Hannibal Lecter, according to the director:

We've gone in a slightly different direction with our take on Freddy and I like that. We delve a little deeper into him as a person. How he became the thing he was. That's certainly attracted me to this character. He's not a mindless guy with an axe. He's a thinking, talking, psychologically disturbed character.

I can feel myself getting drowsy already. Seriously, how much more clueless do you get? The entire folklore genre of "monster terrorizes people and gets slain" doesn't bother at all with a deep backstory that the audience delves into. There's some scary motherfucker out there waiting to get you, your friends, and your family -- you don't care how it came to be. You only care about escaping its terror or standing up to it and cutting off its head. Those are the feelings the audience wants to identify with, not with those of some psychiatrist who chronicles and dissects the monster's personality development. That belongs to stories like Frankenstein or First Blood, whereas the director here claims to be making a terrifying horror movie.

- Last, the soundtrack is large and orchestral rather than minimal and synth-based like the original. There's something inherently spooky about synthesizers because their sounds are just close enough to organic instruments for us to perceive these sounds as music (as opposed to sound effects), but they're inorganic enough to make us uncertain. Even in pop music the more haunting songs typically rely on a synthesizer, like in "Billie Jean" and "Dirty Diana," and the same goes for TV, as with the soundtrack for Twin Peaks.

Instead of releasing these remake / reboot failures based on classic scary movies, they should just re-release the originals in theaters. Maybe at the second-run theaters -- so what if the first run was 26 years ago? I'd pay full price to see Nightmare on Elm Street, Beverly Hills Cop, or Ghostbusters in the theater today. Good and old will always beat dumb and new. That seemed to work for the 1997 re-release of the Star Wars trilogy. Unlike a bad new movie, re-releasing the original wouldn't involve the huge production cost -- it's already sitting there waiting to be distributed and projected.

Till then, you'd do best to just buy the DVD. It has one of the greatest commentary tracks if only because Heather Langenkamp sounded just as delightfully girly at 31 as she did at 19. I worry that commentary tracks made long after the movie itself will adulterate my memory of the movie by featuring people who are so far away from who they were when it was first made. Not with this one, though. (The only other case I remember where a 30-something female still sounds like a teenager is Kerri Green in the commentary for Goonies, when she was 34.)


  1. Good early 80s nostalgia, if you remember the time. Pure American coolness going on here. Like a long-gone world that the cursed 90s replaced:

  2. Ugh, synths!

    I've never seen any of the Nightmare movies, despite renting the original something like three times.

  3. I'd pay to watch the original star wars movies and casablanca among others at the cinema.


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