Picks and Pans Review: Wes Craven's New Nightmare

updated 10/31/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/31/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp

It's not all that new, actually. Even though the last installment in the Nightmare on Elm Street series was titled Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, Freddy Krueger, the cadaverous fiend with the murderous manicure, is back to his old haunts in this reprise directed by Craven, who originated the Nightmares in 1984, then begged off the five sequels.

Craven also wrote the relatively original script, which has Englund and Langenkamp (Freddy's main victim in the first film) playing themselves as they prepare to make a new Nightmare film. Craven appears as himself too, as does poor John Saxon, whose once-glamorous career has diminished to his running spot as Langenkamp's father.

The highlight performance, though, is by Miko Hughes who plays Langenkamp's young son and, inevitably, Freddy's new target. Ingratiating but not cloying, he is poised enough to stand up to the fright scenes yet still seem comfortable hugging his stuffed tyrannosaurus.

Craven sticks basically to the blood-and-vomit premises of the previous Nightmares and goes easy on the Jungian and Freudian aspects of dream invasion. (The idea, remember, is that Freddy can infiltrate Langenkamp's dreams.)

There's little in the way of comic relief, and it's grueling to have a child constantly threatened. But nobody turns to Craven for sweetness and light. And when it comes to horror-fantasy, Freddy delivers the bads. (R)

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