Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
Studio Line: New Line Cinema - Evil has finally met its match.

Just when you thought it was safe to go to sleep, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is back to haunt your dreams and freeze your blood!

Lisa Zane (Bad Influence) is a child psychologist tormented by recurring nightmares. But not until she meets a new patient with the same horrific dreams does her quest for answers lead to a certain house on Elm Street - where an evil that defies the grave is about to be unleashed on the world.

With Yaphet Kotto (TV’s Homicide, Alien) and cameos by Roseanne, Tom Arnold, Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp, this chapter in the world’s most terrifying dream saga is a fantastic voyage.

Director: Rachel Talalay
Cast: Robert Englund, Lisa Zane, Shon Greenblatt, Yaphet Kotto, Roseanne, Tom Arnold, Johnny Depp
DVD: Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9, standard 1.33:1; audio English DD 5.1 & Digital Mono; subtitles English; closed-captioned; single sided - dual layered; 23 chapters; rated R; 96 min.; $24.98; street date 8/22/00.
Supplements: "Jump To A Nightmare" Scene Navigation; Original Theatrical Trailer. DVD-ROM Features: Read The Screenplay While You Watch The Film!; New Dream World Trivia Game -- Test Your Nightmare Knowledge!; Up-to-the-Minute Cast, Crew, Trivia Info and More!
Purchase: DVD | The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection | Freddy's Favorites: Best of A Nightmare on Elm Street - Soundtrack

Picture/Sound/Extras: A-/B+/D-

Some people never learn.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 is often considered the series' worst offering, and that partly stems from the way it ignores the "rules" of the Nightmare universe. It also does a terrible job of maintaining continuity, and it generally appears to be from a different run of films than the others.

The same holds true for 1991's Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. An uncompelling mix of freak-show strangeness and cartoony horror, it provides one of the series' worst releases. It does little right and seems generally poor; it appears pretty clear this one existed just to collect one more Freddy-related payday.

As with the second movie in the series, FD eliminates any character consistency. Nightmare 3 carried along some participants from the first film, and both Nightmare 4 and Nightmare 5 continued this trend. (This rule excludes Freddy Krueger, of course; I refer to the continuation of the other characters, not of Fred, who's a given in all seven films.)

Although the ideas got looser as the series progressed, all the sequels other than N2 made some sense in regard to Krueger's motive. Originally he tried to get revenge on the Elm Street parents who killed him by stalking their children. That rule went out the window in N2, where Freddy cared about geography but not involvement. It came back in N3 and made a partial return in N4, but at least when his slaughter branched out to others, it made some sense; his choices seemed more logical than in N2.

Unfortunately, Freddy's Dead returns to the geographical destiny found in N2. Although all of the nasty events depicted took place in one town, they didn't have to be this restricted; Freddy's power had no connection to location. FD seems to feel that it did, however, as it presents Springwood as a shell-shocked burg that can't escape the shadow of the monster.

The idea actually had some potential, since so few movies examine the after-effects of trauma. Springwood sure went through an awful lot of dead teens, yet we saw no resonance from this during the first four sequels. You'd think this would seriously mess with folks' minds, and FD attempts to portray that reality.

However, it does so in a silly, cartoony manner that takes away from any potentially scary consequences. In fact, this shows one of the main failing of some of the Nightmare films; the way they went away from terror and made Freddy more of a cartoon character. He lost much of the fearsome and chilling qualities he displayed in the first couple of movies and became a hip, catch-phrase uttering dude.

FD exemplifies this pattern, as so much of it's played for cheap laughs. The film really did show promise, and not just from the examination of the impact the murders had on the town. It also introduces a Krueger child, an element that could also have added psychological resonance. Unfortunately, it doesn't; the matter is treated like a simple plot twist and never gets explored very well. I could have excused the fact that we never heard of Krueger's family prior to the sixth movie; one would think the concept would have materialized before this time.

It didn't, and I'd guess it shows up here just because the filmmakers ran out of other ideas. Sign they became desperate: FD actually features a 3-D segment. Was there any good reason for this portion of the film to be 3-D? Nope, other than as a gimmick to drag people into theaters. It didn't work, either as a fun treat or as an inducement to potential movie-goers. (For the record, purchasers of this DVD will not see the appropriate segments in 3-D; more about that later.)

Freddy's Dead isn't a complete disaster, but it's pretty lame. The film is a morass of lame thrills and flat characters; it has no reason to exist other than as a reason to make money. Add to that some of the most annoying cameos in recent memory and you have a fairly bad movie.

The DVD:

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare appears in both its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen edition on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the letterboxed image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the widescreen side was rated for this review. New Line continue the good work they did with Nightmare 5 here; the image of FD is almost as terrific as that previous effort.

Sharpness seems largely very strong, with only a few mild instances of slight softness. Moiré effects and jagged edges pose no concerns, and artifacts from the anamorphic downconversion on my 4X3 TV are slight. The print itself looked very clean, with virtually no grain or instances of scratches, nicks, hairs, speckles or grit.

Colors are quite bold and bright, with very well-saturated hues from start to finish; they don't quite match up to the often-stunning tones of Nightmare 5 but they're extremely strong in their own right. Black levels are deep and rich, and shadow detail looks clear but appropriately opaque. All in all, it's an excellent transfer.

One difference exists between the image on this DVD and that found on the one included in the Nightmare Series boxed set: the latter allowed you to watch the appropriate section in 3-D with glasses included in the package. I don't think it worked very well, though I admit I have trouble with 3-D films; I don't know if it's related to my glasses or I'm just a funky mofo, but I never witness much depth and realism from these effects. The 3-D scenes in FD seemed especially lame and worked even less well for me than usual.

However, it was nice to have the option to watch them in 3-D or not, but that choice doesn't exist on this DVD. You're stuck with the 2-D version of the 3-D scenes, and though the quality of them matches the excellent image of the rest of the movie, the segments look a little silly just because of how they're staged. Anyway, whether you regard this change as good, bad, or neither, be aware that it exists; if you want to see Freddy's Dead in all of its 3-D glory (?), you'll have to buy the boxed set.

In regard to the audio, it marks yet another baby step ahead in the quality department. The remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 track of FD offers the strongest aural experience of the first six films as it takes most of the positive qualities of the previous mixes and combines them into one track. For the most part, the quality is very good; as usual, effects tend to come across as somewhat harsh, but music and dialogue seem fairly natural and clean.

The film's soundfield appears nicely broad and spacious. The front speakers seem appropriately active as they present a realistic and involving presence. The surround channels also receive a pretty good workout; there's not a lot in the way of directional effects, but it's clear that the rear speakers are stereo and they kick in some useful atmosphere. All in all, it's a nice effort.

For the record, the DVD also includes what the producers state is the original stereo presentation of the soundtrack. I'm sorry, but this time, I'm not buying it. I had a hard enough time accepting that movies one through three were all mono, and that four and five were just stereo; I really can't believe that FD, a film from 1991 - the year before Dolby Digital officially hit theaters, for God's sake! - played with only a stereo soundtrack. IMDB says it had a Dolby surround track, and this time I'm taking their word for it. (Of course, IMDB state that the Pope's Jewish, so I take their info with a grain of salt.) Well, whatever the nature of the theatrical mix, the stereo track on the DVD does not seem to offer a surround channel; although my receiver indicated it was playing Dolby Pro Logic on the occasions when I switched to it, I detected absolutely no evidence of any rear channel activity from that track.

The supplements for Freddy's Dead are virtually identical to those of the previous four DVDs. They offer some press kit talent files (ten cast, six crew); while these biographies come from the press kit that accompanied the theatrical release of the movie, the filmographies have been updated, however. The DVD also provides a "Jump to a Nightmare" feature, which allows you to skip ahead to any of the various Freddy scenes.

FD includes some DVD-ROM content as well. It features the screenplay - which can display corresponding scenes as you read - and gives us part six of the "Dream World Trivia Game". The latter provides 20 questions about the movie; if you correctly answer at least 13 of them, you get a congratulatory message but nothing special. (The games found on the boxed set's discs provide a code that you can use to access a final contest on the eighth DVD, but that feature disappears here, for logical reasons.). I found these questions to be pretty tough, but not impossible. They vary from try to try, so while you'll probably encounter some of the same queries each time through, the roster of posers isn't set in stone.

Finally, the DVD contains web links to New Line's Nightmare On Elm Street home page and to "up to the minute" details on the film's cast and crew. That means if you click the link, it'll send you to IMDB's facts.

As long as N2 exists, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare won't be the worst ANOES movie, but it comes close. I like the series, so I didn't find this film intolerable, but it seems fairly crummy across the board. The DVD itself provides excellent picture and sound, although it skimps on extras. Freddy's Dead is best left to the most ardent Nightmare fans.

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