Picks and Pans Review: Freddy's Dead

updated 09/30/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/30/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Robert Englund, Lisa Zane

The series has been moribund for quite a while anyway, so this is really a formality. But it's nice to see the old boy go out with a bit of style.

Not since Wes Craven's original Nightmare on Elm Street lo these six years ago has the cadaverous, dream-haunting fiend played by Englund been joined by this competent (and relatively restrained) a support troupe.

There's still enough gore to satisfy the sadism-deprived. But director Rachel Talalay and screenwriter Michael De Luca keep things as light as can be expected in a movie in which people's heads are skewered. One character, wandering in a zombie-strewn town, mutters, "I feel like we're in Twin Peaks." Roseanne and Tom Arnold show up for a pointless but not unfunny cameo. And Freddy himself unleashes the ultimate weapon in his demonic arsenal: skittering his steel fingernails across a chalkboard.

Zane (Bad Influence) is a steadying presence as a psychiatrist working with homeless teenagers, into whose nightmares Freddy must fall. There's a foolish 3-D sequence, but the effects are less excessive than those in the series' other films, while the plot has to do with Freddy stalking his long-lost child in a Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker finale.

Alongside the closing credits, Talalay runs a montage of scenes from the Elm Street oeuvre, which is waxing a bit sentimental. The sequence does, however, give us all a chance to bid Freddy good riddance, so long, it's been bad to know you, hasta la non vista, and if you come back again it had better only be as Edward Scissor-hands' long lost uncle. (R)

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