In the 1980’s, one of the most popular horror bad guys was Freddy Kruger of the A Nightmare on Elm Street film series fame, and no other horror baddie could come close to his appeal to the young and old alike who enjoyed a good fright. This update will take a look at Innovation Comics 3 issue adaptation of the 6th film in the series, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare that was released in 1991 the same year as the film. Now before we take a look at Freddy’s Dead, let’s take a look Freddy Kruger himself, a modern day horror film icon like Dracula, The Frankenstein Monster and The Wolf Man were for the past generation. Frederick “Freddy” Kruger was born to Amanda Kruger, a nun who was raped by a room full of wackos at an insane asylum, after she is accidentally locked in with them. Freddy grew up an odd boy who found he had no friends and enjoyed killing small animals. When Freddy was a teen he found himself enjoying pain as his stepfather used to beat him with leather belts. As Freddy got older he worked for a factory and began killing, 20 children total. When Freddy got away with the crime due to a technicality, the parents of the town of Springwood took justice into their own hands and burned Freddy alive! While ablaze, Freddy sells his soul to some dream demons who in turn give him power to kill the town’s youth in their dreams. Freddy enters dreams, burnt all over, and kills with a razor figured glove and can transform and use your worst fears against you. Freddy cannot be killed. Many have tried to stop him from Nancy to Alice, and none have fully stopped his killer rampage. Freddy started out very evil and terrifying, and as he got more use to his powers, he became a one liner spewing killer. Freddy has even gone toe to toe with Jason Voorhees, the hockey mask killer from the Friday The 13th series. Freddy was played by Robert Englund in the older films, and in the reboot series he is played by Jackie Earle Haley. Love him or hate him, no one can dispute the impact Kruger has had on the world of horror.
So now that you’ve gotten a super quick bio of Freddy Kruger, let’s talk about the 6th film in the series and my memories of it. This film was the amazingly silly film that also included a 3-D sequence known as Freddy’s Dead!
In 1991 after five films in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, New Line Cinema, the makers of the series claimed that they were going to end Freddy Kruger once and for all in the film Freddy’s Dead The Final Nightmare. Hype went around this “final” film as I remember Fangoria Magazine covering it and even MTV pushed it with a special called “Slash & Burn: The Freddy Kruger Story,” all preparing the fans for Freddy’s last stand. I was way too young to see the film in theaters as was my brother so we were left out in the cold when it came to the theater experience. I remember cutting out the poster ad for this film out of the newspaper and feeding Freddy’s image to our cockatoo Roxanne. In my mind she was fighting Freddy to the bitter end as she would chew on the paper Freddy. I remember asking my brother Bryan if he thought this really was the end of Freddy, and he stood by the fact he thought he would be back. I still had my doubts and thought wow this really is the end, why would New Line lie to me? It would be awhile before I got to see the film. Thanks to VHS rental we were finally able to see the film and all its glory, but before I tell you my thoughts, let me tell you about the film itself. Oh yeah, and the write up has spoilers of the film so you have been warned.
Springwood, Ohio has had its youth population wiped out, and the last kid from Elm Street named John Doe (because he does’t know who he is) is the key for Freddy to move on into a new town and seek more souls for his greedy needs. After an accident leaves John knocked out and outside the Springwood district, he is taken to a home for troubled kids and runaways headed up by Dr. Maggie Burroughs and Doc. John also meets Spencer (a rich gamer kid), Carlos (a near deaf abused teen) and Tracy (a sexually abused teen). All of the teens want out of the home and to go on with their lives. While trying to help the kids Maggie is also having a recurring nightmare that involves her as a child and her father and mother. John has a nightmare and shares it with Maggie. The two are actually having the dreams with the same elements (a little girl, water tower), and this leads to a field trip to Springwood where Maggie and John are joined by runaways Carlos, Tracy and Spencer. They find out that the town is filled with wackos and no kids! Maggie and John stay in town as the others are ordered back to the home, but get lost and stay in an abandoned house for the night. Carlos is the first new soul taken by Freddy. Stoned Spencer falls victim next as Freddy plays him like a video game. Maggie and John learn that Freddy had a kid that was taken from him, and John thinks that he is that kid. When Tracy finds them, she takes him back to the house too late as Spencer is a dead, and John himself falls victim to the razor gloved fiend and is shown not to be Freddy’s child. When they return, no one in the home remembers the dead teens, besides Doc who has control over his own dreams. Maggie finds out that night that she in fact is the long lost daughter of Freddy, who at this point is going after Doc and Tracy to get more souls and to please the Dream Demons who have given him that power. They escape, and Maggie armed with 3-D glasses goes inside Freddy’s mind to see what makes this madman tick. Along the way she meets the Dream Demons and gets to view some of Freddy’s worst memories. She grabs him and brings him to the real world where daughter kills her father with knives, ball bats, his own razor glove and a pipe bomb to end Freddy’s Nightmares once and for all with the help of Doc and Tracy.
While not living up to the hype I made in my own head at the time, this film was still a fun goofy Freddy movie filled with dumb one liners, over the top cartoon style kills and a laughable story line that had Freddy as a loving father when he was a human and not the slave of the dream demons. I remember when the VHS tape ended and the film was over, I was like that was okay and my brother was not having that and talked about how horrible it was and not pleased with the film he witnessed. He hated the dream demons and despised the fact they made Freddy a loving dad who all of a sudden had a wife and child. Looking back, I can see why these additions would piss off fans of the series. In my opinion while it’s a weak entry in the series, it still was better then part 5 the Dream Child which is the one I consider the worst. Younger me was not satisfied with Freddy’s death and was hoping for a better blow out than a pipe bomb and some sharp items thrown by his daughter, but I learned to accept it and though it was the end of the series. But then Wes Craven, the director of the original and 3rd in the series, returned in 1994 with “New Nightmare” but that’s a whole other story. Besides the fact that Freddy’s Dead was supposed to be the final nightmare, it also was the first and only film in the series thus far to use 3-D effects, and we are talking the classic red and blue glasses. The effects were only used during the part when Maggie enters the dream world via the poster and enters Freddy’s mind. While a cool idea, this seemed wasted when it was only used for a very short amount of time. If New Line and parent company Warner Brothers would ever get on the ball, they should make a new Nightmare on Elm Street film, get Robert Englund back and make a full IMAX 3-D film and wipe the reboot series off the map, because you horror fans out there tell me that you dont wanna see a new film with Englund in it!
Now I am sure some of you want to know what I thought about the whole Dream Demon thing this film added to the folklore of the series and I will give you my honest opinion. Up to this film Freddy Kruger really had no back story on how he was able to come back and kill kids in their dreams. This added a sinister element to him, making me as a viewer wonder how he could. Did he seal his soul to satan? Was black magic involved or was he just that pure evil? The idea of the mystery worked for me and made him more of a slasher to fear and made you think of how he really came to be. Now in this film we are shown The Dream Demons who swim through the air like skull faced seaman and cackle and offer Freddy his powers. While I am sure this sounded like a good idea on paper, it just took away a level of fear from the character. While they did add an explanation of why Freddy is the way he is, it’s clear that their main function in this film is to be the 3-D parts, and I must say for this fact I am not a fan.
Freddy’s Dead also had a few really cool cameos from some top actors of the time as well as a Shock Rock icon. The first stars we see in the film are Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold who were A-List TV stars at the time with the # 1 sitcom Roseanne. They play some local yokels, Ethel and her husband, who argue over the teens being back in Springwood as Ethel misses kids and her husband knows they bring “him” back. Nice cameo and the two act as cheesy and hammy as possible. Next up Johnny Depp plays himself who is on TV doing a just say no to drugs ad and his attacked by Freddy as Spencer watches on stoned out of his mind. Johnny could also be said to be playing Glen again, the same character he played in the first film who is stuck in a nightmare and being used as a puppet to get Spencer’s attention. Again well done and adds the touch of the original to this 6th film. The final cameo goes to Alice Cooper, the shock rocker of the 1960’s and beyond, who plays Freddy’s stepdad Mr. Underwood who is an evil child abuser who gets his by a teenage Freddy. Cooper always steals scenes when he is in a movie. Look at Wayne’s World, Monster Dog and Dark Shadows for examples. With this much star cameo power one like myself really did think that this film could have been the last.
When the film came out on VHS I didn’t buy it. Not until years later did I pick it up when it was being sold used at a video store, and it was mainly bought to complete my Nightmare collection on my overly huge VHS collection that took over my bedroom. When the film came out originally on DVD, it was in a terrible snap case. You know, those terrible cardboard cases with the flap that holds them together and was also in the Nightmare on Elm Street box set. It later got a keep case release and has now been on many DVD Nightmare collection releases as well. It also has been released on Blu-Ray and Laserdisc.
Freddy’s Dead also had cassette,vinyl and CD soundtracks come out. One was music used and inspired by the film, and the other was the score composed by Brian May of rock band Queen fame. The soundtrack, with band and performers like Iggy Pop, Goo Goo Dolls and Johnny Law, is an alright musical journey that really is nothing special but is a good listen. The Brian May score is also well done but does not pack the punch of the original score piece done by Charles Bernstein. With that said, the May soundtrack is the one I own and even play from time to time on Alpha Rhythms, a radio show I help with that airs on WYSO out of Yellow Springs.
This film also flooded the market for that last final cash in on the Freddy legacy and had magazines dedicated to this “last” film, a 1-900 phone line game that offered prizes to the winners for killing Freddy that only cost $1.95 for the first minute and $1.45 for each additional. T-Shirts were made to immortalize the slasher’s last film. Innovation Comics not only released a 3 issue run based on the film, but they also had a graphic novel and a 3-D comic showing that everyone wanted a piece of the Freddy pie! And I really don’t blame them because Freddy was huge at this time.
So there is the quick look at all that was Freddy’s Dead that I can remember from my youth. I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. I would like to think Bell Book and Comic that had these issues in stock while they and I were at Horrorhound Weekend.
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare # 1 **1/2
Released in 1991 Cover Price $2.50 Innovation Comics #1 of 3
A young man is having nightmares, and the razor clawed killer Freddy Kruger is tormenting him. The young man is the last teen alive in Springwood. Freddy knocks the young man out of the city limits knocking his head against a rock, giving him amnesia and sending him to the bigger city with the hopes of him bringing him more teen souls. In the big city Maggie has just turned 28 years old and is working a job where she helps teens that are runaways and have other behavioral problems. She also has a recurring nightmare about a young girl that is playing in a backyard near a water tower with her dad who later in the dream hurts the mother. Her co-worker Doc is a therapist who is trying to help the kids and her with her dreams and wants to do so with dream therapy. The young man with amnesia is brought in and is now called John Doe. He meets fellow troubled teens Spencer, a pot smoking, video game playing trouble maker, Tracy, a tough as nails girl who don’t like to be touched and can kick some major ass and Carlos, a teen who is deaf caused by his moms own hands. Maggie decides to take John Doe back to his home town and when entering the town she finds that Tracy, Spencer and Carlos has hitched a ride in the hopes to runaway.
In the first issue we are treated to Freddy Kruger who is toying with “John Doe” and trying to force him out of town in order to spread his nightmare infestation. Freddy is the same as he is in the film, full of cheesy one liners with most of his truly scary elements eliminated. While he makes appearances throughout the issue, this is clearly the issue to build up Maggie and the kids. In this issue Maggie seems like she is a loving daughter and a hard worker but is plagued with the nightmares of Freddy’s home town. So far Maggie doesn’t have the presence of a hero to be. The kids all seem like your normal generic throw aways who all fit stereotypes, and none of them really stand out. So far it’s following the movie pretty well and only has a few minor changes that don’t effect the storyline at all. This issue’s art is pretty good and fits for the time of the film’s release and has that early 90’s comic look. The cover is okay. Freddy looks good, while the rest is kind of bland. So with this let’s take a look at issue two.
Freddy’s Dead:The Final Nightmare # 2 **1/2
Released in 1991 Cover Price $2.50 Innovation Comics #2 of 3
Maggie is mad at the teens who were trying to escape, and when they stop at the town’s fair they see that the town has no kids and that all the adults act afraid of them and some mumble that they bring him! Maggie tells Tracy, Spencer and Carlos to take the van and go back as she and John try to find answers of who he is. As the teens drive around, get lost and finally stop at a house on Elm Street to rest, Maggie and John find out that whole town’s adults are crazy and the only thing they learn is that Freddy had a child. Carlos is the first to go to sleep and has his head explode when Freddy gives him a twisted version of a hearing aid. Tracy leaves to find Maggie once Carlos goes missing as Spencer is next as he gets high and Freddy sucks him into the broken TV and plays him like a video game and when killed in the game he dies in real life right in front of Maggie and the remaining teens. Tracy and John go into Spencer’s dream to try and save him with Tracy using meditation and John by being knocked out but they are too late. Maggie and Tracy gather up the knocked out John and head out of town via the van but Freddy is not done and kills John before he can leave town and then jumps into the mind of Maggie as we end issue 2.
This is the issue where teens start dropping off like flies and finally the blood and gore comes into play. Freddy once more is the same cheesy, one liner spewing dream killer who gets teen souls, making him more powerful and bringing him closer to his “daughter”. John Doe bites the dust with a wicked fall onto spikes and finds out he is not special and was just a pawn for Freddy’s twisted game. Carlos and Spencer are clear fillers and are around just to be used as characters to get over the top deaths. Tracy is used to almost bridge the Nightmare on Elm Street film gaps and almost has a dream master kind of power where she can enter someone else’s dreams. Maggie is confused and seems almost lost in this issue as she pieces together that she must have lived in Springwood and that she is watching teens die from unknown reasons in horrific ways. The film strolls away from following the film to a T and the deaths of both Spencer and Carlos while similar have large sections missing in the jump from film to comic. Over all the art work is good. The cover is better than last issue and this is a solid issue to add the meat to the story. Let’s get ready for issue 3, the final issue in the film adaptation of Freddy’s Dead.
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare # 3 **1/2
Released in 1991 Cover Price $2.50 Innovation Comics #3 of 3
Maggie and Tracy return to the youth home and find that no one remembers Carlos, Spencer or John besides Doc. It’s as if they all never existed. Maggie’s nightmares get worse, and she finds out that she is adopted, and that she is in fact the daughter of Freddy Kruger. Freddy meanwhile attacks Tracy in her dreams and acts as her abusive father, but she survives the attack and warns the others of Freddy’s powers. Doc teaches Maggie how to go into her dreams and enter the mind of Freddy who has gained his power off three dream demons by using 3-D movie glasses. She goes into the deep dark secrets of Freddy as she sees the death of her own mother, the abuse he took at the hands of his step dad and even his sick and bullied days at school. Maggie is able to pull Freddy out of her dream and into the real world where she battles her dad to the death and uses a pipe bomb to end his terror once and for all.
In this final issue Maggie gets tough and knows that she alone must try and stop her father Freddy’s bloody rampage once and for all and does so with the help of Doc, Tracy, 3-D Glasses and a heck of a lot of weapons. Maggie was an okay character and is likeable for the most part in comic form, but I feel she is not fully fleshed out as a character. Freddy is the same throughout the 3 issues and seems less threatening on these comic pages than he did in the film. For the most part his murders seem rushed and not as overblown as they are on film. Doc and Tracy are after thoughts in this issue and are nothing more then bit players who fill background space and plot holes. The artwork in this issue is the same as the past two and while very 90’s looking, it holds the charm of that independent horror comic look and feel giving it brownie points, and ye,s some of it looks bad. The cover for this issue is Freddy playing a video game with Carlos on the bottom with his ears bleeding. While a cool cover, everything on it happened in the last issue. Over all this is a a fun comic mini series based on the last Nightmare on Elm Street film….well that is until 1994 when Wes Craven made New Nightmare.
I grew up like most horror kids of the 80’s loving and being terrified by Freddy Kruger and nothing can erase the memory of watching the original A Nightmare on Elm Street at a young age and being chilled to the bone and loving every minute of it. Freddy Kruger, much like Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th), Michael Myers (Halloween), Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Pinhead (Hellraiser) and a few more, are modern day versions of the old bogeyman stories or even this generation’s versions of monsters from the past like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and The Wolf Man. By this I mean they are timeless now and will live forever in the world of horror. The original films based on these characters will always be considered classics and will spawn re-makes, re-imagines and sequels for decades to come. While Freddy’s Dead didn’t keep its promise and the film itself is a mediocre sequel, the build up to the film makes it more special in my eyes, and I will forever remember the question I would ask my brother “Is Freddy really dead?”.
Next update I think we will go to the world of Marvel Comics as they brought us film adaptions of classic films of the 80’s that I will be calling “Marvel At The Movies.” So make sure to get your ticket early, and get in line quick to get a good seat because that update might be a sell out! Until then, read a comic or two and enjoy your read.