In Stephen Hopkins’ A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, the Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) story takes a rather unexpected turn. Alice (Lisa Wilcox) is back, and the gloved one uses her unborn baby’s dreams to claim new victims! Yes, that’s the main crux of the film, which is at least a little different, right? To fit in with the craziness, a good chunk of the dream sequences occur in an insane asylum. This story is strange, but we get plenty of creative kills at least. Also, along the way we get stronger glimpses into Freddy’s backstory, seeing just how much he hates and fears his mom, Amanda Krueger (Beatrice Boepple).
In fact, a fair amount of time is spent examining Amanda’s death, which was apparently due to suicide. There’s even a slight implication that — in some vague, spiritual sense — her death may somehow figure into Freddy’s overarching evil (though Freddy himself can’t even be fairly blamed for it. While it’s hard to put a finger on that exactly, we know Amanda has considerable power to contain Freddy, and Alice seems to share a psycho-spiritual bond with her, much as she does with her unborn child. Frankly, the whole thing gets more complicated, especially to anyone who truly tries to map out these dynamics. We’ll first deal with the complex story, then get more specifically into Freddy’s powers as depicted in the movie.
Freddy’s Dad? Freddy as a Baby?
Because it deals with parenting and pregnancy, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child even offers a glimpse of what is most certainly Freddy Krueger’s father — an unknown lunatic played by Robert Englund without makeup. Much like Freddy himself, this creep scares Alice in her dream near the film’s opening. If you’ve watched A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, you’ll recall the “Son of a hundred maniacs thing.” Well, this is undoubtedly the maniac who raped the nun that spawned Freddy (and all of his sequels).
Let’s face it, a more polarizing aspect of the movie might be the Freddy baby. The question is: Why was Freddy reborn like this? It certainly fits the theme of the movie, but why hadn’t baby Freddy appeared before? Well, there’s really no explanation other than, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Still, some of us have grown to respect the Freddy baby for what it is (whatever it is).
How Having a Dream Child Increases the Stakes
In a way, Freddy utilizing an unborn child is both a sign of his weakness and cleverness. Having been defeated by Alice before, infecting the dreams of poor baby Jacob (Whit Hertford) is one way for the Fredster to work his evil magic. It also allows Freddy to basically freak Alice out while she’s awake, which he seems to enjoy (and why wouldn’t he?). Granted, those Freddy attacks must still be asleep, but Alice must still grapple with defeating Freddy without jeopardizing her child. She also must do so while keeping sanity intact.
On that note, another subplot here is that Freddy’s making everyone else think she’s insane. So, in a roundabout way, Freddy may be doing what kids nowadays call “gaslighting,” and he seems to take advantage of this. The issues of abortion and adoption also emerge a few times. Dan’s parents (Valorie Armstrong and Burr DeBenning) think her sanity is slipping, and therefore threatens legal means to adopt the child as their own. Also, Alice’s pal, Mark (Joe Seely), suggests abortion as a possible option of averting Freddy’s mayhem.
One has to admit, a dream demon infecting one’s baby’s mind might have someone exploring their options more. In any case, Alice is determined to have the baby, and not let Freddy be the daddy. For better or worse, the issue of Freddy as a father gets revisited yet again in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, which was supposed to be the final, well, nightmare.
This certainly isn’t everyone’s favorite “Nightmare” (just look at Freddy’s weird arm at the beginning), but it does have memorable scenes featuring Freddy Krueger and his crazy powers. One of the most significant and memorable deaths is that of Dan (Danny Hassel), Alice’s love interest from Part 4 and the father of her unborn kid. When he gets wrecked by Freddy, it really demonstrates Krueger’s taste for the macabre. Poor Danny gets tortured on that motorcycle!
Other key moments are the food torture death of Greta (Erika Anderson), featuring a twisted variation on his razor glove. Still, the most over-the-top death has to be that of Mark. By the time Freddy’s done, Mark is literally a cartoon, slashed and shredded at by Freddy’s menacing claws. While it’s a ridiculous scene, it’s also a reminder that Freddy’s major M.O. was slashing people up when he was alive. Freddy’s antics also have links to the real world. Dan gets in a car accident, Greta chokes to death and Mark gets crushed. Does Freddy need these deaths to be linked to the outside world? Well, that hasn’t always been the case, but maybe when Freddy’s weakened it’s different.
Another interesting moment is when Freddy goes swimming with Yvonne (Kelly Jo Minter) to distract Alice from her greater mission. This shows, of course, that Freddy is tactical, not just some randomly invading maniac. He also has some creativity in the dream scenery this time, taking advantage of some labyrinthine settings and dreamlike physics. For example, when Freddy becomes “Super Freddy” (Michael Bailey Smith), one can’t deny his ingenuity. Why doesn’t he act as Super Freddy all the time? It’s probably because of Mark’s belief in Krueger’s strength. Then, like a savage cat, Freddy also uses his claws to play with his food (and one wonders if a Freddy kitty’s ball of yarn would be red and green…okay, that’s a lame thing to type, but there it is).
As far as Freddy’s weaknesses go, he seems to be considerably weaker in this film, constantly threatened by his mother and seemingly fearful of Alice. Oddly enough, that’s almost a good thing, because it demonstrates that Alice is a force to be reckoned with. It also shows that, at least to this film’s writers (John Skipp, Craig Spector, Leslie Bohem), the previous film’s story mattered. This was not a Leprechaun movie, where the appearance by the villain is independent of any previous film… (though one of the Leprechaun movies doesn’t do that, finally!)
Despite all the fighting, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child does basically end at a draw. Sure, Jacob vomits Freddy’s soul power back at him, but the madman is not totally destroyed. Krueger is basically contained back in his mother, as some sort of cursed component of her still-tortured soul. In fact, it is strongly implied that Freddy wouldn’t stay locked away for long, either in dreams or in reality. Sure enough, Freddy will be reborn again, so long as people are willing to pay for the procedure.
What are your thoughts on Freddy Krueger as depicted in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child? Let us know in the comments!