Wes Craven's New Nightmare

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Wes Craven's New Nightmare
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Wes Craven
Produced by Marianne Maddalena
Written by Wes Craven
Based on Characters
by Wes Craven
Music by J. Peter Robinson
Cinematography Mark Irwin
Edited by Patrick Lussier
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date
  • October 14, 1994 (1994-10-14)
Running time
112 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million[2]
Box office $19.7 million[3]

Wes Craven's New Nightmare is a 1994 American slasher film written and directed by original Nightmare on Elm Street creator Wes Craven. Although it is the seventh film in the franchise, it is not part of the series continuity, instead portraying Freddy Krueger as a fictional movie villain who invades the real world and haunts the cast and crew responsible for his films. In this film, Freddy is depicted as closer to what Craven originally intended, being more menacing and less comical, with an updated attire and appearance.

The film features various people involved in the motion picture industry playing themselves, including actress Heather Langenkamp, who is compelled by events in the narrative to reprise her role as Nancy Thompson. New Nightmare features several homages to the original film such as quotes and recreations of the most famous scenes.


Heather Langenkamp lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband Chase and their young son Dylan. Heather has become quite popular due to her role as Nancy Thompson from the Nightmare on Elm Street film series. One night, she has a nightmare, in which she, Dylan and Chase are attacked by a set of animated Krueger claws of an upcoming Nightmare film, in which two of the workers are brutally murdered on set. Waking up to an earthquake, she spies a cut on Chase's finger exactly like one he had received in her dream, but they quickly dismiss the notion.

Heather receives a call from an obsessed fan who quotes Freddy's nursery rhyme in an eerie Freddy-like voice. This coincides with a meeting she has with New Line Cinema in which she is pitched an idea to reprise her role as Nancy in a new Nightmare film, which Chase had been working on, unknown to her at the time. When she returns home, she sees Dylan watch her original film. When she interrupts him, he has a severely traumatizing episode where he screams at her. The frequent calls and Dylan's strange behavior cause her to call Chase, who agrees to rush home from his work site, as the two men from the opening dream did not report in for work. But Chase falls asleep while driving and is slashed by Freddy's claw, which results in his death. His death seems to affect Dylan even further, which causes concern for Heather's long-time friend and former costar John Saxon. He suggests she seek medical attention for both him and for her after Heather has a nightmare at Chase's funeral in which Freddy tries to take Dylan away.

Dylan's health continues to destabilize, as he becomes increasingly paranoid about going to sleep and fears Freddy Krueger even though Heather has never shown him her films. She visits Wes Craven, who suggests that Freddy is a supernatural entity drawn to his films, released after the series completed, and now focuses on Heather, as Nancy, as its primary foe. Robert Englund also has a strange knowledge of it, describing the new Freddy to Heather, only shortly after disappearing from all contact. After another earthquake, Heather takes a traumatized Dylan to the hospital, where the head nurse, suspecting abuse, suggests Dylan stay for observation. Heather returns home for Dylan's stuffed dinosaur while his babysitter Julie tries to keep the nurses from sedating the sleep-deprived boy. Dylan falls asleep after the nurses sedate him, and Freddy brutally kills Julie in Dylan's dream. Capable of sleepwalking, Dylan leaves the hospital of his own accord while Heather chases him home across the interstate as Freddy taunts him and dangles him before traffic. Upon returning home, Heather realizes that John has established his persona as Don Thompson. Upon Heather's compliance in embracing Nancy's role, Freddy emerges completely into reality and takes Dylan to his world. Heather finds a trail of his sleeping pills and follows him to a dark underworld. Freddy fights off Heather and chases Dylan into an oven. Dylan escapes the oven, doubles back to Heather, and together they push Freddy into the oven and light it. This destroys the monster and his reality altogether.

Dylan and Heather emerge from under his blankets, and Heather finds a copy of the film's events as a screenplay at the foot of the bed; inside is thanks from Wes for defeating Freddy and playing Nancy one last time; her victory helps to imprison the entity to the film franchise's fictitious world once more. Dylan asks if it is a story, and Heather agrees that it is just a story before opening the script and reading from its pages to her son.



Freddy Krueger's appearance in New Nightmare was the original concept Wes Craven had for the character in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

Written under the working title of A Nightmare on Elm Street 7: The Ascension, Wes Craven set out to make a deliberately more cerebral film than recent entries to the franchise—which he regarded as cartoonish and not faithful to his original themes. The basic premise originated when Craven first signed on to co-write Dream Warriors, but New Line Cinema rejected it then.[4]

In New Nightmare, Krueger was portrayed closer to what Craven had imagined: darker and less comical.[5] To correspond with this, the make-up and outfit of the character was different, with one of the most prominent differences being that he now wears a long blue/black trenchcoat. In addition, the signature glove was redesigned for a more organic look, with the fingers resembling bones and having muscle textures in between.[6] While Robert Englund again plays the character, "Freddy Krueger" is credited as "Himself" in the end credits.

Craven had intended to ask Johnny Depp, whose feature film debut was in the first film, to make an appearance as himself, but Craven was too timid to ask him. Upon running into each other after the film's release, Depp said he would have been happy to do it.[4]


On Rotten Tomatoes, 78% of 36 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 6.5/10.[7] Several critics have subsequently said that New Nightmare could be regarded as a prelude to the Scream series[8]—both sets of films deal with the idea of bringing horror films to "real life".

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave New Nightmare three stars out of four and said, "I haven't been exactly a fan of the Nightmare series, but I found this movie, with its unsettling questions about the effect of horror on those who create it, strangely intriguing."[9] Kevin Sommerfield from the horror website Slasher Studios gave it four out of four stars and said, "New Nightmare is that rare horror film in which everything works. The performances are pitch perfect, led by a tour-de-force performance by the amazing Langenkamp. The script has many twists and turns and the movie is quite possibly the best looking of the entire series."[10]

Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman however gave New Nightmare a negative review, stating, "After a good, gory opening, in which Freddy's glove—newly designed with sinews and muscles—slashes the throat of the special-effects guy who's been working on it, the movie succumbs to a kind of sterile inertia. Wes Craven's New Nightmare isn't about Freddy haunting a film set, which actually might have been fun. It's about Heather Langenkamp, star of the original Nightmare on Elm Street, being menaced for two long, slow hours by earthquakes, cracks in the wall, and other weary portents of doom." Gleiberman described the film as "just an empty hall of mirrors" that "lacks the trancelike dread of the original" and the "ingeniously demented special effects" of Dream Warriors.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE (15)". British Board of Film Classification. September 19, 1994. Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  2. ^ "New Nightmare budget". The-Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved June 9, 2009. 
  3. ^ Wes Craven's New Nightmare at Box Office Mojo; last accessed August 31, 2015.
  4. ^ a b New Nightmare DVD commentary with Wes Craven
  5. ^ A Nightmare On Elm Street : Interviews – Wes Craven And A Nightmare Of Sequels
  6. ^ Schoell, William. "The Glove". Nightmareonelmstreetfilms.com. Archived from the original on 2009-01-31. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  7. ^ "Wes Craven's New Nightmare". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2016-06-05. 
  8. ^ "Scream 2". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  9. ^ "Wes Craven's New Nightmare". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  10. ^ "Meta Movie Magic: "Wes Craven’s New Nightmare" Review |". Slasherstudios.com. 2011-05-11. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  11. ^ "Movie Review: Movie Review: 'Wes Craven's New Nightmare'". Entertainment Weekly. October 28, 1994. 

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