Wes Craven’s new nightmare brought the horror genre to a meta crossroads


In “New Nightmare”, Craven speaks of Freddy as an ancient entity, “a nightmare in progress … captured by storytellers”. Freddy is never creepier than in the hospital, where he appears in a black trench coat, reenacting his first onscreen murder by dragging the babysitter along the wall and onto the ceiling.

Craven contemporary John Carpenter provided his own meta-response to “New Nightmare” in 1995 with “In the Mouth of Madness”. Although this happened fifteen years later, the Cry Queen reused James Wan’s “Insidious”, Lin Shaye. The entirety of his third act dive into the Astral Plane further owes Langenkamp’s rescue mission to save his son in the Realm of Dreams at the end of “New Nightmare.” Speaking of Wan, in “Scream”, Ghostface says, “I want to play a game,” which would become Jigsaw’s catchphrase in the “Saw” franchise.

After “New Nightmare,” there wasn’t a place to go, really, for the Freddy Krueger film series, except for the crossover gadget (“Freddy vs. Jason”) and reboots (the 2010 “A Nightmare on Elm Street” with Jackie Earle Haley). A better epilogue for Englund would be his Dr. Loomis-like role in “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon”, which dictated his own set of narrative rules, similar to Randy, the Tarantinoesque video salesman in “Scream” – only for him to ingeniously subvert these rules in his last act.

“Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” ended a decade of Freddy’s with the quintessential meta-horror deconstruction of an existing franchise. Yet even as he put one slasher icon to bed, Craven prepared to create another and launch a new franchise, “Scream,” which would bring horror shots and, well, screams into the 21st century. . Together, they mapped out the meta-horror landscape for years to come.

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