Written by: Lou Zammichieli, Special to CC2K
In this SPOILER-FILLED review, CC2K looks at the script for the propsed remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Remakes: a legitimate form of artistic expression through reinterpretation, or an indication of ultimate stagnation? A chance for some of your favorite actors/directors to let you see a beloved piece from an alternate viewpoint, or a cynical cash-grab by studios too chickenshit to try anything new?
Most of us reading/writing for this board would lean toward the latter two options. But sometimes certain stories need an update. It’s not a slight on the originals; a lot of them are great because they are “of their time” (i.e. Gone With the Wind, the Godfather movies, etc.). They offer us a snapshot of the time in which they were created, a window into the zeitgeist (good SAT word, no?), if you will.
Case in point: maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but I did enjoy the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, but that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the original. They were/are both products of our time: Cold War paranoia vs. Big Business paranoia. The main debate now is which was/is the more realistic fear.
And then there are the WTF? Remakes. Perfect example: Psycho. Maybe it would have worked if Gus Van Sant had tried something a bit different rather than recreating the whole thing shot-for-shot. And then trying to justify that choice by claiming he was making a “statement against remakes”. In other words, fuck-you to the studios and (more importantly) the movie-going audience. The latter, to its (rare) credit, shouted back an even bigger “fuck you” by making it one of the biggest bombs ever.
Which brings us to A Nightmare on Elm Street, the latest and (not-so) greatest. Fresh from the artistic ass-rapings known as Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hollywood has made this update with only a few re-interpretations worth mentioning. Set in the contemporaneous computer age (one death is even seen via web-cam), the movie flirts with an interesting premise: what if iconic boogeyman Freddy Krueger was innocent of the crimes attributed to him? I got a look at Wesley Strick’s script for the Platinum Dunes/New Line Cinema remake. Eric Heisserer’s name was also credited on the draft I read.
In the late 80s-early 90s, the controversial psychiatric practice known as “recovered memory” was sweeping the nation. More often than not, the findings were baseless, a product of false memories implanted by over-eager and hysterical parents and head-shrinkers. The American public, always known for their level-headed thinking and contemplative natures, reacted predictably: by starting a witch-hunt and ruining many lives and reputations in the process.
Nightmare flirts briefly with this concept before discarding it like a two-dollar whore. I’m giving nothing away with the “big reveal”: Crispy Critter Krueger is guilty of being a child molester. How fucking boring and cowardly, not exploring thoroughly the possibility that Freddy might have a legitimate beef with those who served as judge, jury and executioner.
One other facet of interest is the report that former-child star/Rorschach Jack Earle Haley will be continuing his career upswing by playing the deep-fried monster. It would be interesting to see him play the part as written, as this Freddy Krueger is not the (ahem) beloved wise-cracker so superbly portrayed by Robert Englund. This incarnation wastes no time and takes no sadistic glee from his killings, just a grim satisfaction.
But never fear, oh beloved movie-going lemmings: there’s still plenty that’s the same. Freddy still wears the same well-known costume: battered fedora, stripped sweater and razor glove (the script practically trumpets their arrival on-screen). And you get the jump-roping girls with the infamous chant: (One Two, Freddy’s coming for you . . .) And, of course, the requisite amounts of blood and gore, though no Johnny Depp-character disappearing into a gusher of blood (admittedly an aspect of the original I enjoy all the more in subsequent years as “Mr. Quirky” gets more and more on my nerves). And a set-up for sequel? You bet yer sweet bippy! The other rule of Hollywood: milk that bitch until you hear a death-rattle.
Sorry, gang. The only thing that’d be worse is if they decided to remake Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Oh . . .wait . . .