The sixth Nightmare On Elm Street entry Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare originally boasted both the Dream Warriors and a Peter Jackson script.
The sixth A Nightmare On Elm Street installment Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare may be the franchise’s least-loved movie, but what changed to turn the sequel’s impressive original plans into a disaster? When helmer Wes Craven came up with the concept for A Nightmare On Elm Street, it would have been impossible for the director to forecast just how much the arrival of Freddy Krueger would reshape the slasher sub-genre in coming years. Since John Carpenter’s Halloween had proven an unexpected sleeper hit in 1978, countless clones had cropped up in the years that followed.
Some were well-liked, like the Friday the 13th franchise that introduced viewers to Freddy Krueger’s future foe, Jason Voorhees. However, many of the slashers hitting cineplexes in the early ’80s were drab copycats that stole elements of Halloween’s formula but lacked its suspense, scare factor or originality. That all changed when Craven came up with Freddy – a more talkative and supernaturally powered slasher who killed teens in the comparative safety of slumberland. Murdering scores of victims in their dreams made Freddy a far more formidable foe than another identikit Michael Myers knock off, and A Nightmare On Elm Street was a runaway success, earning millions and a string of sequels.
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That is where things took a turn, for as much as the Friday the 13th movies forgot how to be scary in favor of goofy comic relief, many of the later A Nightmare On Elm Street sequels neutered Freddy’s once-terrifying persona. The worst offender in this regard was the sixth (and final, at least in the original continuity) film Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. This fifth sequel arrived in cinemas to abominable reviews in 1991. However, what may surprise fans is that arguably the most critically hated movie in the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise could have been the best since the original, had the creators stuck with their ambitious original plans.
Freddy’s Dead Originally Killed Off Alice
Freddy’s Dead, like many of the later slasher sequels, lacked the impactful scare factor of the earlier movies and mostly relied on gimmicky kills or cheap puns in its vain attempts to amuse audiences. However, the first draft of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare stayed true to the brutal tone of the original Nightmare On Elm Street and started its story by killing off the last movie’s resilient heroine in front of her child as he watches helplessly inside a dream Freddy is controlling. Rather than ignoring the earlier installment as the finished Freddy’s Dead did, the sequel almost opened by continuing the story of the last movie’s hero Alice as she tried to save her young son from Freddy and lost her life in the process. This scene not only linked the fourth and fifth films to the sixth but also introduced viewers to the original, more fitting hero of The Final Nightmare.
Jacob Johnson: Freddy’s Dead’s Missing Hero
Originally, Alice’s 15-year-old son Jacob Johnson was the movie’s hero, in what would inarguably have a more fitting protagonist for a teen horror movie than the thirtysomething therapist, Maggie (Liza Zane), that Freddy’s Dead viewers got instead. Granted, the critically-acclaimed subsequent sequel Wes Craven’s New Nightmare would go on to cast a thirtysomething Heather Langenkamp as its heroine, but it is worth remembering Craven regretted casting the main characters of that movie as older actors, and New Nightmare’s plot does revolve around Langekamp attempting to save her young son from Freddy’s clutches. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, on the other hand, gives a largely teenage audience a much older hero to root for and dropped the character of Jacob despite his links to the franchise continuity. Jacob’s mother being the last movie’s heroine Alice and Freddy’s murder of her connected the potential protagonist to Krueger and by extension the earlier movies. Series newcomer Maggie’s only link to Freddy is the tossed-off third act reveal that he is secretly her father.
Peter Jackson’s Unused Nightmare 6 Script
The Nightmare On Elm Street franchise missed out on many impressive collaborations, with Stephen King originally being set to take over on the fifth outing. One of the more unfortunate missed opportunities that the series fell afoul of was opting not to use the Nightmare On Elm Street 6 script penned by none other than future blockbuster legend Peter Jackson. Then best-known for his Kiwi horror-comedies like Bad Taste, future Lord of the Rings helmer Jackson penned an unused screenplay for the sequel that would have explored previously untouched elements of Elm Street lore. Some thrill-seeking teens intentionally entered Freddy’s realm via sleeping pills, Flatliners-style, and a cop who was in a coma and patrolling the dream world in the treatment that sounds ambitious, offbeat, and interesting – three things the finished Freddy’s Dead was far from.
The Return of the Dream Warriors
However, in fairness to the franchise producers, they may have turned down Jackson’s script because they wanted this supposedly final sequel to bring back what viewers loved about earlier installments like the best Nightmare On Elm Street sequel, 1986’s Dream Warriors. This third Elm Street movie set up a much-loved band of teen heroes in the eponymous Dream Warriors, a sort of slumberland X-Men who used their dream powers to defeat Freddy. The group had great chemistry and the premise that anyone could alter reality in their dreams and use this skill to escape Freddy’s clutches or turn the tables was one that had almost endless potential.
And then the survivors were swiftly killed off in the fourth movie, and the series never revisited the concept. However, as the final film in the franchise, The Final Nightmare’s early plans originally included the group returning to save the movie’s hero Jacob from Freddy’s clutches, a missing full-circle surprise that would have tied together with the earlier outings. It’s just one of many story strands the sequel did not explore which could have made for a more immersive and inventive end to the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise, instead of the embarrassing misfire that was Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.
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