A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989)


USA. 1989.


Director – Stephen Hopkins, Screenplay – Leslie Bohem, Story – Leslie Bohem, John Skipp & Craig Spector, Producers – Rupert Harvey & Robert Shaye, Photography – Peter Levy, Music – Jay Ferguson, Visual Effects – Philip Downey, Peter Kuran & Alan Monroe, Makeup Effects – Chris Biggs, Rick Lazzarini, Todd Masters, David Miller, Greg Nicotero & Mick Strawn, Production Design – C.J. Strawn. Production Company – New Line/Heron Communications/Smart Egg Pictures


Lisa Wilcox (Alice Johnson), Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), Joel Seely (Mark), Kelly Jo Minter (Yvonne), Danny Hassel (Dan), Burr de Benning (Mr Johnson), Whitby Hertford (Jacob), Erika Anderson (Greta Gibson)


Alice Johnson is about to graduate from high school but finds herself being haunted by dreams of Freddy Krueger. Freddy then emerges and starts killing her friends. Alice does not understand how Freddy can still alive after she killed him. She then discovers that she is pregnant and realises that Freddy is attempting to return to life in the body of her unborn child.

The Dream Child was the fifth entry in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series. After the pretentious, entirely confused second film A Nightmare on Elm Street Part II: Freddy’s Revenge (1985), the grandstanding special effects of the third film A Nightmare on Elm Street III: The Dream Warriors (1987) and the laughably silly fourth film A Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master (1988), A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child is finally a return to some of what Wes Craven originally created in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), even if it is still a film primarily driven by effects set-pieces and campy one-liners.

Though the script promisingly comes from Splatterpunk authors John Skipp and Craig Spector, as well as Leslie Bohem, the creator of Taken (2002), it is fairly much only the same old thing. However, Aussie director Stephen Hopkins, who had previously only directed the obscure killer crocodile film Dangerous Game (1988), enters at an inspired level. He whips the film about with such an energy that what could well be silliness in anybody else’s hands is transformed into a genuine weirdness – a motorcycle melds with its rider and transforms into a demonic H.R. Giger-esque biomechanoid vision or an incarnation of the Ghost Rider comic-book, charging down a highway billowing smoke; another victim is whisked into the world of a black-and-white comic book where he is turned into a two-dimensional cutout and all the colour drained from him into a puddle at his feet. The climax takes a leaf from the climax of Labyrinth (1986) and is set amid a world of topsy-turvy M.C. Escher sets where, in a venturesome swagger of imagery, Freddy physically emerges from the heroine’s body only to then to be ripped apart by faces tearing their way out of his own body. There is some silliness – Erika Anderson’s death by bulimia is not convincing. However, it is hard to hate a film that can offer the extraordinary image of seeing souls being dragged down an umbilical cord to where the villain is hiding in the pregnant heroine’s gestating foetus.

Director Stephen Hopkins subsequently went onto direct the likes of Predator 2 (1990), Blown Away (1994), The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), Lost in Space (1998), The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004) and The Reaping (2007).

The other A Nightmare on Elm Street films are: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), A Nightmare on Elm Street Part II: Freddy’s Revenge (1985), A Nightmare on Elm Street III: The Dream Warriors (1987), A Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master (1988), Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991), Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) and Freddy vs. Jason (2003). A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) was a remake of the original.

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