October 13th, 2009


Dan (Danny Hassel) gets Alice (Lisa Wilcox) knocked up which allows Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) to return in the dreams of her unborn son.  Freddy murders Dan as well as some of Alice’s friends in their dreams and finally comes after Alice herself.  Alice has to sharpen up her Dream Mastering skills in order to protect her and her baby from Freddy’s reign of terror.


Director Stephen (Predator 2) Hopkins tries to keep Freddy in the shadows and bring the series back to its darker roots.  He’s somewhat successful at it.  Yes, Freddy still makes some awful wisecracks (“Fuel injection!”) but he seems a lot meaner in The Dream Child than in previous installments.  (Mostly because he’s coming after a little unborn brat.)


The Dream Child has a much more adult approach, which is appropriate given the fact that the film revolves around the fears and anxieties surrounding an expectant mother.  Even though Alice is still a teenager, she seems a lot more mature in this one and is wrestling with some serious issues.  When the topic of Freddy invading her baby’s dreams comes up, someone mentions aborting it.  It makes sense.  Kill the kid.  Stop the dreams.  Alice is a pro-lifer though and decides to battle Krueger for the baby’s soul.  The Dream Child is by far the heaviest of the Elm Street films and I appreciated that more as an adult than when I was a kid.  The movie had a lot more resonance to me now since my wife is nine months pregnant.  (Particularly the sonogram scene.)


Alice has a smaller circle of friends this time out, which means a slimmer body count.  That’s alright because it gives you a bit more opportunity to get to know the kids.  Characterization has never been the series’ strong suit so it’s somewhat of a relief to actually have a handful of multi-dimensional teens for a change.  The body count may be extremely low but it’s highly imaginative.  There’s a Cronenberg-ian man-into-a-motorcycle transformation (“Pedal to the metal!”), a gory sequence where Freddy feeds a bulimic model her own guts (“You are what you eat!”), and a cool scene where a comic book fan who dreams in black and white (technology from A-Ha’s “Take on Me” music video is used) fights “Super Freddy”.  


Englund’s Freddy as previously mentioned is a bit meaner in this one.  I liked that.  Even though he made some bad puns, he still had an undeniable sense of menace about him.  Too bad his Freddy make-up is godawful.  (He looks like a pudgy grandmother or something.)


Wilcox gives another great performance as Alice and handles the baby-ccentric scenes extremely well.  She really got a chance to mature into her role and it’s a shame she didn’t star in any more Elm Street films.  Nick Mele also does some fine work as Alice’s ex-alcoholic dad.  He has matured a lot too since the last film and even gets a good scene where he talks about how nice it would be to have a little boy in the house again.


That said; there’s a lot in this movie that just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Like Freddy’s rebirth.  In the beginning, Freddy gets reborn after Alice dreams that his nun mother gets raped.  (That’s right; we’ve got to deal with more Bastard Son of 100 Maniacs shit again.)  No attempt is made to make the baby look anywhere near human.  The baby looks utterly stupid and the greasy, bobble-headed Freddy Baby puppet is some of the worst effects in the entire series. 


I could deal with that.  The scene that got the biggest HUH?!?! from me though came during the part in the church when Freddy has almost fully grown to adult size.  Freddy’s kinda just standing there and for some reason, there’s a giant explosion from a stained glass window that propels him forward.  What the Hell was that about?  Where did that explosion come from?  You’d think that dream demon Freddy would be powerful enough to be reborn on his own accord and not have to worry about getting hit by random ass exploding windows.  (The filmmakers were trying to say that birth can be unexpected and painful, I guess.)  Then to top it all off, when Freddy says, “It’s a boy!”, one of his arms is all stretched out like Mr. Fantastic.  What’s up with that?


Where’s the flaming dog piss when you need it?


The climax is a bit of a letdown too and isn’t a patch on the stellar conclusion to Part 4.  The effects for Freddy’s demise also pale in comparison to the previous flick and the lame M.C. Esher chase in the end was ripped off big time from Labyrinth.  The beginning and end may be weak; but The Dream Child still has enough cool shit in it to make it worthwhile.


<Tomorrow’s Horror Franchise Movie:  Freddy’s Dead:  The Final Nightmare>

DEADGIRL (2008) **

Two guys skip school and sneak into an abandoned mental institution where they party it up and break shit.  Bored, they mosey into the basement where they find a zombified girl (Jenny Spain) tied to a bed.  They proceed to repeatedly rape her.  Nobody’s going to care right?  She’s a zombie after all.  When more guys find out about their little undead fuck slut, things slowly start to get out of hand; especially when the chick gets loose.


There’s a great horror movie lurking somewhere in Deadgirl but the filmmakers kinda dropped the ball.  It’s easy to shock the audience with lots of graphic scenes of zombie rape.  The directors (Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel) do that really well.  Had they made the characters three-dimensional people that we could relate to, the film could have been really powerful.  Instead what we’re left with is a bunch of nihilism for nihilism’s sake.


I think the theme of the movie was supposed to be something along the lines of How Men See Women.  You know, they want a gal who will put out but is basically brain dead.  I think if this theme had been better fleshed out by screenwriter Trent (Citizen Toxie:  The Toxic Avenger 4) Haaga, Deadgirl may have actually had something important to say.  As it is, the flick is just too muddled, mean-spirited, and long-winded (over 100 minutes) to be effective.


I did like the bizarro scene where the one guy literally shit his guts out though.

SURROGATES (2009) *** ½

The screenwriters and director of Terminator 3:  Rise of the Machines have re-teamed to give us another underrated Sci-Fi robot action movie.  Surrogates isn’t doing so hot at the box office but I caught it this afternoon in a nearly empty theater and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Do yourself a favor and check it out on the big screen before it disappears completely.  It’s a lot better than Terminator:  Salvation that’s for damn sure.


“Surrogates” are lifelike robots that humans control via a computer hook-up (it looks like a cross between Neo’s Matrix portal and the virtual reality set-up from Lawnmower Man).  The Surrogates go to work, get groceries, and go out dancing while the human just sits at home in the chair doing nothing.  After a prominent scientist’s son is murdered, Agent Greer (Bruce Willis) is called in to investigate.  He quickly uncovers a plot by “The Prophet” (Ving Rhames), a stanch anti-Surrogate agitator to kill every person hooked into a Surrogate computer.  When Greer’s Surrogate gets blown to shit by The Prophet’s men, Greer has to go out into society for the first time in years to get his man.


Like most good science fiction, Surrogates gives us some subtle political commentary (The Prophet’s “Live” posters are almost exactly like Obama’s “Hope” posters) and makes an important statement on the times we live in (the people in the movie that are constantly plugged into their Surrogate are clearly meant to represent those idiots who sit around on their ass all day playing World of Warcraft).  It also delivers on the action side of things.  There are only two or three big action sequences, but they work extremely well because of your emotional investment in Willis’ character.


Bruce does a great job in this flick; both at playing his plasticy faced Surrogate (with a full head of hair) as well as the world-weary cop.  He is particularly awesome in the scenes where he has to get acclimated to walking around the city for the first time without a Surrogate.  Bruce also gets to do a neat little Snake Plissken thing there at the end that I liked (no I won’t spoil it for you).


Surrogates does suffer from a tad bit of déjà vu though.  It’s almost as if someone put Terminator, I Robot, and The Matrix in a blender and hit Puree.  That’s fine by me though because it was never boring and it made all of its points without being overly obvious.  Surrogates also happens to be a great Bruce Willis action flick and the world always needs more of those.


Surrogates lands on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of the Year list for 2009 at the Number 10 spot; placing it just below X-Men Origins:  Wolverine.