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New Line Home Cinema presents
"Hahahahaaa! See any family resemblance? Feeding time! Soul food for my boy!"
DVD ReviewThe continuing success of Freddy Krueger (as portrayed by Robert Englund) spawned A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, New Line's 1989 release in the ongoing saga of the clawed, behatted supernatural villain. This time around, young Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox), the fourth film's Dream Master, has become pregnant. Her dreams are again haunted by Krueger's scarred visage, and as her friends start dying off she realizes that his power has returned to full strength and learns that he intends to reincarnate himself through Alice's baby. With the very soul of her unborn child at stake, Alice must find a way to banish Freddy yet again, aided by manifestations of her son-to-be, Jacob (Whitby Hertford), and the soul of Freddy's mother, Amanda Krueger (Beatrice Boepple).
This was the fifth Nightmare film in six years, and the creative juices were clearly running dry. The character of Freddy suffers most—he's reduced to a flippant, clownish bogeyman, spouting lines ripe with catchphrase ambitions ("Bon Appetit, Bitch!") that inevitably fall flat. His power in this film seems limitless, which makes him a singularly uninteresting villain—his teenage victims are clay pigeons, lined up for the slaughter as Freddy does more or less what he pleases. The script spends far too much time explaining itself, and poor Mr. Krueger's ability to scare is sadly diluted; he seems more like a wisecracking color commentator than a driving force of evil. Even his makeup seems artificial in this installment.
The film introduces some interesting ideas to the Krueger mythos but fails to capitalize on them. The film's plot is built on strong themes of maternity that are never explored; Alice seems to have no emotional connection to her impending motherhood, and the spirit of Freddy's late mother Amanda, summoned to help send him back to hell, betrays no feeling whatsoever. The characterizations are uniformly cardboard, with stereotypically pushy, uncaring adults and the usual selection of All-American teenagers; the audience doesn't identify with any of the characters enough to care what happens to them. The movie plays as a loosely-connected series of colorful, gory showpiece death scenes that often seem contrived. One character's fatal dream forces him out of his truck and onto a motorcycle, only to return him to his truck just before he dies, strictly to allow for a cool-looking motorcycle sequence.
Stephen Hopkins directs with a colorful, MTV-ish eye—the opening credits sequence impresses with abstract, stylized lovemaking, and Escher-esque sets and visuals enhance the climactic sequence. Hopkins overuses the fisheye lens a bit, but his lighting and camerawork are dramatic and appropriately Nightmare-ish, aided by thoroughly creepy production design. Some of the stop-motion effects look cheesy, and the others borrow a little too obviously from David Cronenberg, but the visuals are one of the film's stronger points. Unfortunately, there isn't much else to look at here and very little to enjoy. At least we can thank the Freddy franchise for keeping New Line afloat during the late 1980's.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: D+
Image Transfer Review: New Line presents Nightmare 5 in its original 1.85:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio, as well as an open-matte 1.33:1 full-frame presentation, both on one side of a dual-layered disc. The anamorphic OAR transfer looks just great, taken from an extremely clean source print with no distracting compression artifacts; black level and detail are solid, and the film's frequent use of stylized red lighting is well-preserved on DVD. The full-frame transfer commits the usual sins—though no information is lost, it shows some image area that was never meant to be seen, turning one "nude" scene into a visibly "toweled" scene. As always, the widescreen presentation is preferred.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: Nightmare 5 features the original stereo track in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, as well as a DD 5.1 remix created for this DVD release. The 5.1 mix features very active surrounds, with lots of atmospheric effects and nicely executed back-to-front pans. The original stereo track sounds anemic in comparison; this is one of those rare cases where a spooky, enveloping remix (presumably from the original elements) enhances the film quite a bit. Bass is stronger in the 5.1 mix than the 2.0, but dialogue is clear and Jay Ferguson's score comes through nicely in both tracks. No complaints in this department.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
The film's short trailer is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and a fine anamorphic transfer taken from a clean source print. Much of the footage was shot specifically for the trailer, focusing on a moldy-looking baby carriage, and it's nice to have this bit of Freddy-ana included.
Cast and Crew:
Biographies of 12 cast members and 3 production staff members, drawn from the original press kit written to promote the film for a nice historical touch (most of the actors remain unknown today, so the information circa 1989 still seems fairly current!) Accompanying Filmographies are more up-to-date, circa mid-1999 when the disc was mastered.
DVD Production Credits:
A text screen (in the style of the other menus) crediting the production companies involved in the DVD release.
I don't have a PC with a DVD-ROM drive and was unable to access these features, but they appear to be substantial:
Screenplay: Print the screenplay out or read it while watching the film
Dreamworld Trivia Game
Cast and Crew Weblinks: Links to up-to-date Cast & Crew info
Freddy Portal: Links to a cyber-Krueger site
Load Enhanced Experience: installable plug-ins to enhance the DVD-ROM presentation
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsA Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child is one of the weaker entries in the popular series, though it retains enough of the trappings to be recognizable as a member of the family. New Line's DVD features excellent audio and video quality, though many of the supplements are only available to PC DVD-ROM users. Fans of the series will want to own this one; the uninitiated are advised to check out the original Nightmare first.
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