A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

“Freddy delivers” the poster says. Pizza, or babies? It’s the latter here, as evil as obstetrician Cosby turned out to be in real life.

Freddy’s not dead in this fifth installment, so you can forget the Curtis Mayfield song. In A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child he’s sprightly and revivified.

The Springwood Slasher’s worst quipping excesses are tempered, and what you get is leaner and decidedly meaner than the predecessor, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. A welcome sign.

The opener’s gangbusters. There’s a woman in a shower, and she sees a gurgling in the drain. Instead of snaking it or calling in a reputable plumber, she reaches into the brown goo, which gurgles to the surface as a geyser. Next thing she knows, the shower is full of water and she’s gasping. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 immediately plays with the twin fears of closed spaces and drowning.  It’s a terrific updating of The Master’s Psycho scene, and sets a tone for a film that while somewhat uneven, is better than it’s been given credit for.

Alice (Lisa Wilcox) is pregnant. And having sleep issues. And the bogeyman with the striped sweater is haunting not her dreams, but those of the child she’s carrying.

Call ’em what you will…a baby…a fetus…NOES 5 asks a question that’s a bit like Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, with “do unborn babies dream?” They certainly do. Science tells us that after seven months in the womb, the rest of the time is spent in dreamland. This is by brain wave inference.

That’s as explosive and interesting a conceit as the Nightmare on Elm St series has seen, and if you’re on board with this baby, you’ll have a helluva good time.

Sure, some of the secondary characters have tertiary personalities, but that’s often par for the course for slashers.

While not reaching the transcendent heights of Dream Warriors or the first flick, this one is a surprisingly solid effort. Don’t let the 5.1 on IMDb sway you.

*** (out of 5)

[Listen to our take on The Dream Child on the Really Awful Movies Podcast]

Halloween 2018

Faulkner wrote, “Memory believes before knowing remembers,” and many of us believed when we first saw Halloween. And even if it was before our time, its shadows continue to flicker.

We know that Carpenter’s Halloween is one of the all-time great horror films. It’s a starter on any classic horror roster, and whether it laces up with Martyrs, Maniac, Suspiria, Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Night of the Living Dead is up for debate, its inclusion on the team NEVER is.

Our pal Jonathan at Daily Dead says in his Halloween review that studio releases often cater to those who “haven’t built up their horror IQ,” and while that may sound dismissive, it’s true.  We’re beating metaphors with a lead pipe here, but Halloween is to Joseph Conrad, what The Purge is to E.L. James. It’s Beethoven to Annabelle’s Cardi B.

So yeah, it goes without saying that Michael Myers’ work boots are tough to fill.

Enter Blumhouse and director David Gordon Green.

Halloween 2018 wipes the sequel slate clean and gives us Laurie Strode in PTSD survivalist mode. In the interceding four decades that MM’s been confined to an insane asylum, it seems like the hulking killer has gotten more intensive therapy than his victims.

Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is now a wigged out granny (here, referred to oddly and formally as “Grandmother,” …but not all of us were lucky enough to nave a nona or an oma).

She’s a reclusive drunk who’s hunkered down in a home that doubles as a fortress and bomb shelter, with a sliding escape hatch buried under a kitchen counter (daughter Karen ruefully quips, “welcome to my childhood”).

It’s rare (and ballsy) to explore Laurie’s psyche (and the impact its had on her immediate family), to this great an extent. She’s estranged from the rest of the Strodes, save for granddaughter Allyson (the sweetly compelling and headstrong Andi Matichak).

Michael is confined to a state facility, and shown from behind, looks like a grizzled Brett Favre. The inmates are given yard time on a square grid that looks like Myers will move from Knight to F3. A true crime podcast duo a la Serial, has received security clearance to get a visit with the mute psychopath. Like a rough Tinder date, they don’t get much in the way out banter out of The Shape even after goading him with a replica mask. They move on to see if Laurie Strode will give them good radio.

Cue the inevitable prison facility transfer. We know from watching hundreds of action films, that it’s virtually impossible for officials to handle these. They really need a police escort. When will these folks EVER learn? Soon, The Shape is on the loose and when two unlucky Illinois locals happen upon the upturned bus, that’s when things really come alive and we get to see one of the film’s many (too many?) callback kills. It’s chilling and brutal, catering to a modern audience while keeping with MM’s MO.

To the extent the rest of Halloween 2018 maintains the momentum is up for debate. The audience for this screening didn’t do the gasp + laugh combo, the surefire sign that things are going swimmingly. And while that shouldn’t factor in, theater audiences enhance rather than detract from the proceedings. Not sure what to make of this, and Halloween 2018 will require a repeat viewing at home for the definitive statement.

A lot of good came from this production though: Toby Huss brings the dad jokes as Allyson’s pop; Laurie’s son-in-law, Jibrail Nantambu is terrifically funny as one of the local kids; and Drew Scheid makes for a perfectly pathetic incel.  And of course, Jamie Lee Curtis sprays a big can of foaming whoop-ass in the lead.

Tentatively, *** (out of 5) until further notice…

[Check out our discussion of Halloween 2018 on the Really Awful Movies Podcast!]