Freddy's Nightmares
Volume 1

Starring: Robert Englund
Warner Home Video
RRP 12.99
Certificate: 18
Available now

For anybody who was hibernating during the eighties and early nineties, the A Nightmare on Elm Street scenario follows a dead child killer who lives through peoples dreams. This is a Twilight Zone-type anthology series, with Robert Englund reprising his role from the films as Freddy Krueger to announce and occasionally pop-up in each tale. What Rod Serling did with aplomb, Englund handles satirically. Black humour is the order of the day for the introductions, but the stories are generally told straight.

No More Mr Nice Guy is a prequel of the original feature film, with Freddy Krueger in court accused of the killing of countless children in and around Springfield. It seems like a cut-and-dried case, until the defence discovers that Freddy wasn't read his rights by the arresting officer. The case is thrown out and Freddy, his features cleverly concealed by darkness or shadow, returns to his refuge of the old school boilerhouse where he was once employed. However, a group of angry parents decide to take the law into their own hands. The original arresting officer tracks the mob to the boilerhouse, intent on putting a stop to the illegal actions, but he is taunted into violence himself by Freddy. Freddy welcomes the flames as he is burned alive, and vows to return. After a deal with a demon, which isn't explained here, pizza-faced Freddy begins attacking the parents through their dreams. What takes place is devastating enough to affect those people in the waking world.

In It's a Miserable Life a high school graduate finds himself trapped in the nightshift at a burger bar owned by his father. He longs to leave Springfield and start a new life, but when he is shot in the head by a drive-by killer he expects it to end. Nothing seems quite the same afterward, with his mother acting like a 1950s American sitcom star, complete with canned laughter, and his abrupt appearance in different locations with no continuity. Suddenly we switch to his girlfriend who was injured in the same shooting. She is inundated with increasingly surreal images and situations; dreams within dreams within dreams, so that she, and indeed we, have no idea what is the true reality anymore. One moment the story emphasises drama, the next humour, the next gore. The idea here is to induce madness, and it succeeds but is rather overlong.

Killer instinct is a more conventional tale. The daughter of a track star loses the will to win, until her trainer passes on a crystal owned by her deceased mother. By looking into it she can visualise the race and her victory before it happens. Now she is competitive again, but the crystal begins focussing on her opponents, causing injury when they cross her. Her biggest opponent steals the crystal and uses it on her, resulting in her collapse and death. The opponent girl is then sent mad by the regular appearance of her dead nemesis out for revenge. It's nice to see here a female high school lead who isn't your stereotypical dull blonde cheerleader.

Each story runs to forty-six minutes, which is probably a tad too long for the content, but there are false endings also where Freddy makes an appearance just long enough to drool some sarcasm and earn his money. This is average stuff; there's no doubt the entire format could be lifted by stronger scripts. Freddy doesn't have the same effect as Michael Myers. There's too much chat. Has no one told him less is more? Here's a good question to leave you with. What does this DVD have in common with The Italian Job? Answer: They both have a Camp Freddy!

Ty Power

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