Norman Bates The Original Psycho Slasher

I write a blog on here, and you’d be more than welcome to read it if you want f.o.c. of course..free of charge! This update before our big Halloween day update is all about the one and only Norman Bates and Innovation Comics’ three issue adaptation of the film that came out in 1992. If you remember last year I had a tough time choosing what to review between Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and Psycho, and Leatherface ended up winning.  Well this year I decided that it’s for sure Psycho’s time in the jack-o-lantern candle spotlight. So while we wait for our room at the Bates Motel, we should talk about the 1959 novel Psycho written by Robert Bloch that was adapted into the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name. The novel was about a son and mother that run a motel called the Bates Motel that’s off a stretch of highway.  When a young lady goes missing and we know she has been murdered, a plot of why and who killed her comes into play as her sister and a private detective come looking for answers. The novel was a hit and was loosely based off the killer Ed Gein who just two years before had been arrested for murder and grave robbing.  It’s said that Bloch didn’t do any research into Gein’s crimes and was shocked to see just how much the Norman Bates character and the real life killer Gein had in common. The novel proved to be such a hit that it was licensed to become a film directed by the master of thrills Alfred Hitchcock, and it also sparked two novel sequels called Psycho II in 1982 and Psycho House in 1990. For those wondering, Robert Bloch wrote 30 novels and hundreds of short stories.  Some of his novels include Night of The Ripper, The Dead Beat, The Jekyll Legacy and Twilight Zone: The Movie to name a few. In the 60’s Bloch also worked on Hollywood scripts that included 10 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well as William Castle directed films Straight Jacket and The Night Walker as well as British made horror film The Skull that starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Bloch was a protege and friend of writer H.P. Lovecraft the latter who even dedicated a story to marking the first and only time the writer dedicated one of his stories to someone else. Sadly Robert Bloch is no longer with us as he passed away in 1994 at the age of 77 from cancer. But if you enjoy a good horror chiller novel then check out some of Bloch’s work. I’m sure you will get a shiver or two from them.

psycho bookNow at this point I should get onto breaking down the films in the Psycho movie series as well as talk briefly about the TV inspired programs, and I guess about the awful and unwanted remake. So as always I am going to take the films descriptions from IMDB so that you can get a little taste of what these films are about.  Warning: I am sure these write ups will have spoilers I will also at the end of each give them a 1-4 star rating just for the fun of it! So with that let’s sit down have some peanut butter sandwiches and milk and learn all about Norman Bates and his Mother Norma. I should also say that Anthony Perkins will always be Norman Bates.  The way the actor brought the character to life will never be matched. Perkins played the character in the first 4 films and sadly passed away in 1992 at the age of 60 from AIDS-related pneumonia. But let’s get to those film write ups, shall we?

Psycho – Phoenix officeworker Marion Crane is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony. One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam’s California store. Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into The Bates Motel. The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother. 4 stars for sure, a true classic in cinema as well as truly one of the first slasher films.

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Psycho II – Now declared legally sane, Norman Bates is released from a mental institution after spending 22 years in confinement over the protests of Marion Crane’s sister Lila Loomis, who insists that he’s still a killer and that the court’s indifference to his victims by releasing him is a gross miscarriage of justice. Norman returns to his motel and the old Victorian mansion where his troubles started, and history predictably begins to repeat itself. A solid 3 1/2 stars and a film I can remember watching a lot when I was younger!

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Psycho III – Norman Bates is still running his little motel, and he has kept the dressed skeleton he calls mother. One of his guests is a young girl who has left the convent where she lived. To get some help he employs a young man. One day a nosy journalist comes to see him to ask questions about his past. I really like this third film and while it’s more of a slasher film than a suspense one, I still would give this 3 stars!

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Psycho IV: The Beginning – Norman Bates returns for this “prequel”, once more having mommy trouble. This time around he is invited to share memories of mom with a radio talk show host, but the PYSCHO fears that he may kill again for his beloved is impregnated with his child and Norman cannot let another PYSCHO loose in the civilized world. This made for Showtime movie is pretty good and sadly marked the last time Anthony Perkins played Norman Bates. I would give this one as well 3 Stars.

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Bates Motel (1987) – This film is based on, but not in sequence with, the Psycho films. After the death of Norman Bates, a man who befriended him in the institution inherits the motel. In keeping with Norman’s wishes, he tries to fix up the place and make it a respectable motel. Made for TV film that was made to try and kick start a TV series.

Psycho (1998) – Marion Crane steals a lot of cash from a man whom her boss is in business with. On the way to see her boyfriend, she stops off by an old motel, run by the odd Norman Bates. She is murdered in the shower. Her sister, boyfriend, and a private investigator try to find out where she is, while we learn more about Norman Bates. This film is a waste and has Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates. Zero stars.

Bates Motel (2013) – “Bates Motel” is a contemporary prequel to the genre-defining film “Psycho,” and gives a portrayal of how Norman Bates’ (Freddie Highmore) psyche unravels through his teenage years. Fans discover the dark, twisted backstory of Norman Bates and how deeply intricate his relationship with his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), truly is. Airs on A&E and is on it’s second season.

The Bates Haunting (2012) – One year ago, Agnes Rickover attended opening night at the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride to see her best friend Lily’s dramatic debut. A horrific accident resulted in Agnes witnessing Lily’s fiery death in a spectacle gone wrong. After a year of obsessing over a murder investigation everyone else thinks is open and shut, Agnes goes to work at the Haunt in an attempt confront her trauma. Horrific events begin to claim the lives of her coworkers and Agnes must figure out what is behind all of the “accidents” before more people die. Generic cash in on the Bates Motel name, has nothing to do with Norman Bates or hell even the Bates Motel!

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While Psycho started as a book, it was the films that made it a household name and allowed it to be marketed and even the original motel and house set to become a mainstay tourist attraction for all those who go to Universal Studios Hollywood. Psycho as well as Norman Bates and Mother have been turned into all types of products from t-shirts, dolls, night lights, posters, comics, toys, shower curtains, video games and Halloween costumes. One of my favorite piece of merchandise is the McFarlane Toys Movie Maniac Norman Bates action figure that is Norman in dress with removable wig…classic! I should also note that I would love for a 3 3/4” ReAction Figure line based on Psycho to come out complete with Norman and Mother. So if you’re a Psycho fan, there is plenty of great stuff out there for you to collect.

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In 1988, Box Office Games made a game for the Commodore 64 based on Psycho that was a cheesy 8-bit horror themed game. The game is about a curator with a bad heart and some priceless jewels that have been stolen from a museum.  All clues point that they are both at the infamous Bates Motel! No one will take the case besides you, a detective that decides to enter the famed house and Motel late at night. In the house is Norman Bates dressed up as his mother as well as skeletons, ghosts and bats all wanting to stop you from saving the day. It’s a race against time as you must find them before daybreak and must also fight off sleep! Find the clues, keys, gun, ammo, the curator and jewels before Norman Bates finds you! Do you have the nerves of steel to search the Bates House and Motel? Can you stand up to Norman Bates? The game is okay but the lack of Norman and Mother make it feel like an updated version of the Atari 2600 game Haunted House.The graphics are your standard Commodore style so while not ground breaking, they are very charming. But over all if you’re a fan of the film and still own a Commodore 64, then this is one you might want to check out.

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One thing that makes the Psycho films work is the score music that accompanies so many of the films’ iconic scenes. The first film’s score is done by Bernard Herrmann and is a very powerful and each bit of music fits the scene it accompanies.  Who can forget the the the shower scene music cue? The second film’s music is done by Jerry Goldsmith and once more is a very solid piece of work, filled with just enough touches of Herrmann’s score style but truly Godlsmith’s own. The third film has Carter Burwell doing the score, and the fourth film is Graeme Revell and both do outstanding jobs and like the composers before them, capture the mood and feel of the Psycho world. Each of these soundtracks are worth a listen with part four’s being the hardest to get your hands on. One thing that I love to do on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO is play some of the score done by Herrmann from time to time, and it’s always a must-play on the Halloween show.

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Janet Leigh was born Jeanette Helen Morrison on July 6th 1927, and by 1945 thanks to actress Norma Shearer, she became a signed on actress to MGM even though she had no acting experience.  She got the contract just simply by her smile. By 1947 she made her major big budget film debut in The Romance Of Rosy Ridge, and after this many roles would come her way like If Winter Comes, The Stratton Story, Hills Of Home, Little Women and Touch Of Evil to name a few. Her most popular role came in 1960 when she was casted as Marion Crane in Psycho. With the success of Psycho, she landed more major roles in such films as The Manchurian Candidate and Bye Bye Birdie. During this time she also took some roles on TV shows like Tales Of The Unexpected, Columbo, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and even an episode of the 1989 Twilight Zone. She also took roles alongside her actress daughter Jamie Lee Curtis in the films The Fog and Halloween H20. Leigh has been married a total of 4 times with her third husband being Tony Curtis with whom she had Jamie Lee. Leigh sadly died in 2004 at the age of 77 from vasculitis leaving behind a husband and two daughters. To me Janet Leigh could be one of the original Scream Queens of horror and only could be matched for the “original” title by Carolyn Jones of 1959’s House on Haunted Hill and of course Fay Wray from 1933’s King Kong. But what is for sure is Janet Leigh was a fantastic actress who starred in some great films and made her mark on the world of horror.

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Growing up I watched Psycho and its sequels a lot, and one fun past time I can remember doing in my teens was talking to my mom as if she was Mother.  She hated when I did this but I always got a good laugh acting as if she was crazy and such about girls I was dating or even dinner she had cooked for us. Fun times indeed and still to this day from time to time I still bust out the “Yes Mother” just to keep the joke alive. But I just got word that our room is ready and just our luck we got room # 1, the room right next door to the office so we are really lucky! But before we enter, I just want to remind you all that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Bell Book and Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock. So let’s go ahead and get comfy and enjoy our stay at the Bates Motel!

Psycho Comic 1

Psycho # 1   ***1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $2.50    Innovation   #1 of 3

At a hotel room Sam and Marion have just finished up a lunch break filled with making love, and the two talk of a “future” that they might have together once Sam can get back on his feet. Marion returns to work where she is a secretary for a real estate agent, and when a load mouth cowboy comes in with forty thousand dollar cash and she is asked to put it in the companies safety deposit box at the bank, she makes the decision to steal the money and go on the run. On her way out of town she catches the eye of a cop who follows her as she trades in her car and buys a new one.  She then makes her way to a motel called The Bates Motel during a rain storm and meets the owner Norman Bates, who invites her to dinner and while he goes to his home on the hill near the motel Marion can hear him arguing with his mother before returning with some sandwiches and milk. Marion eats in the office parlor as she and Norman talk about his Mother and running away from mistakes.  The talk makes her want to return home and return the money before things get way out of hand, and as she returns to her room Norman removes a picture in his office to show a peephole into her cabin next door!

Marion is a lovely woman who is just down and out in her love life as well are in her professional life. She decides to try and change her luck and commits a terrible crime to secure that new life, and while now she is on the path to make everything better she still feels rotten about what she has done. This sad and desperate situation she finds herself in is what draws you as a reader into really liking her character and hoping that she can make things right and find happiness another way. Norman Bates is an odd and awkward yet likeable man who really seems to care for his Mother even though she treats him poorly and rules every aspect of his life, plus his hobby is taxidermy, he likes to drink milk, he runs a motel with no guests and he’s a peeping tom…so he has to be a good guy right? Mother Bates, while we have not seen her, sounds very strong willed and not very friendly at all. It’s clear that Mother hates other women and thinks that they are all whores who want to corrupt Norman. The mood of the comic captures the mood of the film really well and for those of us who have seen the classic film, we know what awaits us but still the build up here is really well done. The art inside the comic is that painted style and is done by Felipe Echevarria who does a fantastic job with making Marion look like actress Janet Lee, but I will say his Norman Bates, while good, looks nothing like Anthony Perkins and that’s kind of a let down. The cover is fantastic and captures that noir and horror feel of the film perfect. Over all this is a perfect comic film adaptation and really sparks the mood of this Halloween season! So let’s get onto issue # 2 and see what Norman is up to.

Psycho Comic 2

Psycho # 2  ***
Released in 1992   Cover Price $2.50   Innovation   #2 of 3

Norman spies on Marion as she gets undressed and writes a letter she rips up and flushes.  As she gets into the shower Norman, walks back up to his house. As Marion’s in the shower, a shadowy figure with a dress on and white hair slings open the shower curtain and stabs the young woman to death. We cut back to the house as Norman yells at mother about all the blood and rushes to the room and cleans up the blood, and dumps Marion’s body in her car into a near by lake. Meanwhile the murdered woman’s sister Lila is visiting Sam to try and find her missing sister and the money, and they become aware that a private investigator named Arbogast has been hired to find her and get the money back. Arbogast travels the highways and stops at all the motels to see if anyone has seen Marion and when entering The Bates Motel, he and Norman exchange some words when he finds that Norman has lied about the woman being at his Motel after he finds her name on the guest registry. After questioning Norman and being refused to speak to Mother, Arbogast calls Lila and Sam to tell them that Marion was at The Bates Motel and that he plans on sneaking into the house to speak to Mother, and he will call them back in an hour. Arbogast sneaks into the house and becomes another victim to Mother and her knife, and when three hours pass Sam leaves Lila to go to Bates Motel and check on what’s going on.

The second issue is still very solid, but I will say it slips a little as many of the pages are filled with overly large art with no dialogue, and then other parts are filled with overly long dialogue! Marion in this issue is killed off and her character comes to an end, sad ’cause much like in the film you find yourself hoping she does the right thing for her own life. Norman Bates is shown to be spineless when it comes to standing up to mother as well as others who are come looking for those that mother’s actions affected. Arbogast tries his best to be Dick Tracy but falls short when he becomes too nosey and pays the price of entering another person’s house uninvited with his life. Sam and Lila are gearing up to be more of the focus of the final issue as they really want to know where their loved one is! The story in this issue is more noir than horror but this works for the middle issue and is really the set up for the big surprise and blow out of the end of the story. The cover is great and captures the horror of Marion’s shower death, and the art in this issue while good seems a slight more sloppy than issue # 1 and is done by Felipe Echevarria once more in the paint style. I must also say that while in the film the shower scene is the most iconic part, in the comic it don’t hold up as well and comes off solid but not great. The murder that does work is that of Arbogast, due to the dark shadows used and the perfect way the darkness hides Mother. Very good issue that once more holds the feel and mood of the film it’s based on showing that adaptations can be done right.  So with no more wait let’s move onto the conclusion of Psycho!

Psycho Comic 3

Psycho # 3   ***1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $2.50   Innovation   #3 of 3

Sam and Lila regroup after he went to the Bates Motel and never saw Norman, only Mother via her bedroom window. The pair visit the town sheriff and tell them about Marion, the money and Arbogast and that all these things tie into The Bates Motel! They tell him of the phone call from the now missing private detective about speaking with Mother as well as Sam’s eye witness of the old woman sitting in the window and watching him. The Sheriff informs them that Norman’s mother has been dead for over 10 years and that he thinks that Arbogast has left town on a lead of Marion so that he himself could steal the money from her. Norman in fear that they will be coming for Mother makes her hide in the fruit cellar and the next morning is able to pass that everything is okay when the Sheriff came to the motel looking for answers. Sam and Lila still don’t think things are right at Bates Motel and head there to stay under the fake guise that they are husband and wife looking for a good night’s rest. They are taken to cabin # 6, and when Norman goes back to his hous,e they sneak into cabin # 1 and find evidence that Marion was there at some point for sure. Sam distracts Norman while Lila sneaks inside and this leads to Norman knocking out Sam when he finds that his questions are about Mother and rushes to the house as Lila hides in the fruit cellar and finds Mother who is in fact a corpse as Norman busts in wearing a wig and dress! Norman is stopped by Sam and is arrested for the murders. In the end it’s shown that Norman Bates has been crazy his whole life and killed his own mother and her lover 10 years back and has took on a split personality that has him switch from Norman Bates to Mother Bates!

Norman Bates is mentally unstable, and this makes him a great bad guy in the comic world as he has layers to his craziness, making him super dangerous as he has this way about him that while you are creeped out you see him as no danger…the key thing to most serial killers is to make everyone believe they are normal. In this final issue we get to see multiple sides of Norman from worried and loyal son to cross dressing mama’s boy with murder on his mind. Norman Bates, while defeated by the end of the comic, lives to fight another day as it’s clear he will spend his days in an asylum. Lila and Sam are good characters who won’t give up on their missing loved one and put themselves into danger to try and find the truth, and are the ones who crack these missing person cases wide open by solving the mystery of the Bates Motel. The Sheriff is just a numbskull who half asses his look into what Norman knows and offers really no help to Lila and Sam for their quest for the truth. Mother….poor decomposed Mother.  While her body is a rotting shell, her spirit is alive and well in Norman. The Mother side of his personality is the domineering and evil side that makes him lash out at pretty women and any man who gets in the way. This final issue holds the shock of Mother being dead and Norman being crazy really well, and both these aspects work really well in this comic mini series. Felipe Echevarria does the art again, and the paint style looks great still but his Norman Bates is still a little off. I wish it would have looked more like Anthony Perkins! The cover is well done but is by far the weaker of the three issues. Over all I really enjoyed this comic series, and this was a perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit even more. If you’re a fan of the film, the novel and comics then check this one out for sure.

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Well it’s time to check out of the Bates Motel and wrap this update up. This was a very well done comic series that helped capture the thrills of suspense of the film it was based on, and makes me wish Innovation would have made a full comic series based on Norman Bates and the Motel he runs. So I am sure you’re wondering what is the next update, the one that will be going up on October 31st 2014 Halloween Day.  Well I am proud to say that it will be based on Universal’s Frankenstein Monster and special comics made on the films! So until then share some ghost stories with friends, watch a horror movie and read a horror comic and what ever you do, don’t stay at the Bates Motel!

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Was Freddy Really Dead?

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.

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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!

Freddys Dead Poster

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.

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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!

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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. 

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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.

Tom and RoseaneJohnny DeppAlice Cooper

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. 

Freddys Dead VHSFreddys Dead DVD 1Freddys Dead DVD 2

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. 

Freddy CD 2Freddy CD 1

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.

FREDDYS DEAD MAGFreddy HotlineFreddys Dead 3DFeeddys Dead Graphic NovelFreddy shirt

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. 

Freddys Dead 1

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. 

Freddys Dead 2

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.

Freddys Dead 3

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. 

Freddy KickFreddys Glove.Freddy plays a Game

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?”. 

Freddys Dead Logo

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.  

Marvel at the movies