In 1994, Wes Craven returned with a new Nightmare on Elm Street movie, but it was unlike anything that came before with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.
The film received positive reviews from critics, who saw what Craven was doing with the movie, but fans were not ready yet for meta-horror movies, and they ranked it lower.
It was also a commercial flop, making only $18 million worldwide, which killed any chance of future Freddy movies until it was rebooted years later.
With the scary movie now 16 years old, it might be time for fans to reevaluate Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and here are some things you should know about the film.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare was ahead of its time
It seems that there are some filmmakers who were ahead of their time when they released movies and saw their careers stall because of it.
A perfect example is Kevin Smith.
In 1995, Kevin Smith directed the teen raunchy comedy Mallrats. While Smith’s hardcore fans bought into it and loved it, the film was a flop. The movie only made $2 million at the box office in 1995 with a 56-percent rotten rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Four years later, American Pie came out, and while critics were still not super favorable of it (61 percent), the movie made $234 million at the box office and had several sequels.
This is what happened with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.
Released in 1994, the movie was a meta-horror movie that lived in a world where characters knew about horror movies and had to survive when that fictional world came to life.
Fans were not ready and didn’t get it. A few years later, this was the hottest subgenre in horror with movies like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend, and more.
This was Wes Craven’s tuneup for Scream
The good news is that this didn’t stop Wes Craven.
Instead, Craven rebounded quickly and made Scream just one year later and did the same thing he did in this movie over again, but in a more realistic setting.
Since Craven was no longer using the iconic Freddy Krueger, he was able to shake the stink that Wes Craven’s New Nightmare left behind and had a fresh new franchise to build.
Scream had a group of kids who knew about slasher horror movies and found themselves stalked and killed by someone who knew about horror tropes as well.
It all started with what Craven did in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.
This was only Craven’s second time to direct a Freddy movie
It seems almost crazy, but the man who created Freddy Krueger only directed two of the eight movies starring the horror icon.
Wes Craven directed the original A Nightmare on Elm Street movie and then didn’t direct a single one of the sequels until Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.
He did pitch this idea back in 1987, but it was passed on, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors was made instead, based on Craven’s original script. The script was re0written by Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption), so honestly, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare was one of only two movies that Craven actually made in the long-running series.
Craven’s original script for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors was about Freddy impacting people in the real work, which is what he did for this movie.
Robert Englund’s favorite movie of the series
There is a fantastic documentary about making the franchise called Never Sleep Again that deals with every single movie in the franchise.
It is hours and hours of fantastic behind-the-scenes information that all fans should see.
In the documentary, Robert Englund, who plays Freddy Krueger, called Wes Craven’s New Nightmare his favorite movie in the entire franchise.
He said that he often rewatches it and finds something different that Craven put into the movie. It also had to be a nice change of pace for Englund, as he was able to play himself and the serial killing demon in a very different manner.
Miko Hughes was tortured in the movie
Miko Hughes played Heather Langenkamp’s son in the movie (Heather played Nancy in the original movies and played herself in this film).
It was little Dylan who Freddy tried to get into the real world through the nightmares of.
While Miko played Gage Creed in Pet Semetary before this, In the Never Sleep Again documentary, they go into what they did to help Miko deliver the fear and torment in the scenes, and it was horrific.
During one scene where they needed to get Miko to cry, his own father told him that his mother died in real life. The boy broke down, and they filmed it, and then his dad said it wasn’t true and bought him a Happy Meal from McDonald’s.
This is also Heather Langenkamp’s favorite Nightmare film
Heather Langenkamp, who plays Nancy in the movies, also called Wes Craven’s New Nightmare her favorite of the series.
In an interview with PopHorror, she said she was able to deliver a more layered character as a wife and mother that is more like a real woman rather than playing a teenage girl in danger.
“Wes Craven’s New Nightmare might be my favorite in terms of presenting just such a cool story about a woman that’s more like me in a lot of ways, rather than Nancy,” Langenkamp said.
“I’m looking back, and I think I like Nightmare 7 because it shows me as a woman and mother and wife. There’s a lot of layers to that character that I didn’t get to play as Nancy, a sixteen-year-old girl. So, in that way, I think the part was a lot more interesting.”
Heather hated the long tongue scene
There were two moments in the Nightmare series that Heather Langenkamp had to deal with Freddy Krueger’s tongue. The first came in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street movie, and the second was in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.
The first one, Heather thought it was stupid originally.
“I really believe that the only day that I might have rolled my eyes a little bit was with the tongue coming out of the telephone,” Langenkamp said. “I was just like, ‘This is not going to work.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, God, this is so dumb-looking.’ I just thought it was obscene.”
She said she never liked it due to the offensive quality of the scene.
Then, it happened again in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, but with a very long tongue.
She hated it this time around too.
“There’s several scenes where, in New Nightmare, when Freddy wraps his tongue around my head,” Heather said. “I just really didn’t like that either, because I felt Nancy was succumbing to a sexual … not violence. I mean, it’s not violent, but it was just yucky.”
However, the scenes made it to the final cut, and Langenkamp said that they surprisingly worked.
The Earthquake was real
There was a scene in the movie with an earthquake and damage.
However, what no one expected that it would be life imitating fantasy. They shot the scenes where Heather Langenkamp and her family suffered through the earthquake, and then an earthquake really happened.
That real-world earthquake was dangerous and killed 57 people, injuring thousands.
The production crew sent out a b-team to film footage of the destruction from the earthquake to use in the movie itself.
Heather Langenkamp actually had a real stalker
The entire premise of the movie was that Freddy was trying to come back to the real world.
However, Wes Craven added another bit to the movie that was pulled from Heather Langenkamp’s real life. There was a stalker in the movie that was stalking her due to her role in A Nightmare on Elm Street.
In real life, Nancy had a real stalker, torturing her because the show The Tne of Us was taken off the air.
In the Never Sleep Again documentary, Langenkamp said that she had to move to London for five months to escape the stalker.
Wes Craven changed his original role
In the Never Sleep Again documentary, it was revealed that Wes Craven was going to play a very different role in this movie.
As the final movie showed, Craven was living in his mansion and writing the new A Nightmare on Elm Street movie while being haunted by his own nightmares caused by Freddy Krueger.
However, in the original script, Craven was a mess.
He was completely destroyed by his realization that Freddy Krueger was real and was going crazy due to refusing to sleep. Not only that, but he wasn’t in his mansion anymore and was living in a van.
The best part is that the man who drove him around in the van was none other than actor Michael Berryman, the star of Craven’s other ’70s horror classic, The Hills Have Eyes.
Wes Craven even cut off his own eyelids to keep from sleeping (the same thing happened in the third movie with a teenager traumatized by Freddy Krueger).