I just don’t get the decisions behind the making of ‘Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare’.
Following the Box Office failure of 1989’s ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child’, the powers that be at New Line Cinema decided that it was time to put an end to Freddy Krueger once at for all, and as such the sixth film would be the final film in the series. However, instead of giving us a final film that wraps up the series and brings a conclusion to the storyline that has spanned through the first, third, fourth, and fifth films — we’re given a strange, one-shot entry that plays out like a live-action cartoon.
Rachel Talalay, who worked her way up to the directing gig for the sixth film, had a specific vision in mind. She had written an outline for the sixth film and hired screenwriter Michael Almereyda to pen the script. Almereyda wrote the first draft and handed it in to Talalay, who hated it. Michael De Luca was then brought in to do a page one re-write, although a few elements of Almereyda’s script were cannibalized and brought into De Luca’s script. Talalay has claimed that “De Luca saved the day”.
It seems that she didn’t want to bring a natural conclusion to the series as much as she wanted to tell a Twin Peaks inspired version of the series. I’m not knocking Talalay – she was given the job and did the story that she wanted – but a part of me wishes that someone had let her do a Twin Peaks movie or something before doing this so she could have gotten it out of her system.
The choices made for ‘Freddy’s Dead’ are just odd choices to make for the final film of a franchise; Freddy is back without any explanation; Freddy is somehow so powerful that he killed every teen in Springwood within ten years; and then there’s questions left unanswered like what happened to Alice Johnson and her son Jacob? What happened with the spirit of Amanda Krueger? Instead, Freddy’s back and ultra-powerful for no reason, and what happened before doesn’t matter anymore. Surprise! Freddy had a kid! It’s never been brought up before, but we’ll explore it now in this final film instead of wrapping up everything else established.
But what if I told you that Michael Almereyda’s first draft that Talalay hated so much originally sought to carry on from the previous films’ storylines?
Well, lets explore that original script for ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 6’:
Similarly to ‘Freddy’s Dead’, the script opens up on a teenage boy awakening onboard an airplane, but instead of John Doe, this young man is Jacob Johnson, the Dream Child himself. Jacob becomes alarmed by a noise that continuously gets louder. He asks another passenger onboard the plane if he can hear the noise, but the passenger claims that he cannot. Jacob then asks the Stewardess and she claims that it’s just the engine, but he doesn’t believe her. It’s something else. As Jacob looks out the window, he becomes startled to see a 747 as it crashes into Jacob’s plane. There’s an explosion as the cabin’s hull peels back, revealing stripes of red and green, and suddenly the wing of the 747 rips through, decapitating the passenger Jacob had previously talked to before slamming into the Stewardess, sending her flying.
Jacob’s seat then drops from the airplane as the two emerge and entangle before they both explode in the sky. As Jacob falls while still strapped to his seat, a down pour of corpses rain past him; the Stewardess and the Decapitated Passenger, among many others – along with them are three children who are all dressed in white, alive, and singing that familiar rhyme that has been notorious in this franchise. The children’s clothes and flesh are ripped off from their feet upward until only their skeletons remain. They still sing as they grow wings, flying along with Jacob. He unbuckles the belt securing him to the seat and it suddenly turns into a parachute. As Jacob continues to fall, the winged skeleton children catch up, but now they are carrying scissors. He desperately tries to maneuver away from them, but they easily catch up and move closer to the strings with their scissors. They cut the strings and Jacob plummets downward until crashing through the roof of his house and landing on his bed.
Jacob snaps awake, realizing that he’s in his bedroom and that it must have all been a dream. Alice appears in the doorway and asks him if everything’s okay. After telling her that he is fine, she tells him to get ready for school. He gets up off of his bed and walks towards the bedroom window, but when he lifts the shade, he realizes that the nightmare isn’t over yet; the house is falling at rapid speed from the sky. The winged skeleton children reappear as the house begins to fall apart. It crashes hard onto the surface below and is completely destroyed. Jacob rises from the debris and climbs out of the crater left by the house. Suddenly a darkness emerges from the crater and Jacob sprints into a run down the street as fast as he can. Jacob tries to warn a woman about the approaching darkness, but she can’t see what he does, and he watches as she becomes engulfed in the darkness – mutating her into a hideous creature.
As Jacob continues to run from the approaching darkness, Freddy’s voice booms from off-screen, taunting Jacob; teasing that he’s too old to run away from him now. As Jacob approaches the outskirts of Springwood, the population number on the “Welcome to Springwood” sign begins to count down until it finally stops at 1. The sign is suddenly pulled into the ground and a crack emerges from the edge of the road, moving inward towards the center.
Freddy rises from the asphalt.
In front of Jacob, Freddy looks back at Springwood and then begins to inhale, sucking in the entire town until there is nothing left but a vacant lot where the town used to be. Not a house, car, or tree left in sight. Freddy then exposes his stomach to Jacob revealing everything from Springwood is inside of him. Jacob confidently threatens to defeat Freddy just as him and his mother have done before; Freddy counters Jacob’s threat by plucking Alice out from the asphalt below and kills her in front of him.
Angrily, Jacob charges at Freddy. Freddy continues to taunt Jacob and tells him that Springwood is only the beginning, and that all he needs from him is a ride. Suddenly bright lights appear and three figure materialize; they’re the Dream Police: Power Cop, Sound Cop, and Blade Cop – all three are dressed in metallic black uniforms with helmets and visors concealing their identities. Freddy seems to know who they are and quickly leaves while promising Jacob that he’ll see him later. Sound Cop approaches Jacob and with his booming voice tells him to wake up. Jacob clutches at his ears and then wakes up on the road in the middle of the highway.
Jacob looks around at the vast emptiness of where Springwood used to be. All that’s left of the town is him and gold bracelet with his mother’s name printed on it. Jacob begins to move, walking down the highway, and is almost struck by a van. He eventually hitches a ride to the nearest town, Rosedale, which greets outsiders with a sign that reads: “Drug Addicts not welcome”. Although the town appears pleasant and not too unlike Springwood, Jacob enters to a conflict within; outside of the Rosedale Foster Home is a crowd of angry residents who are protesting against the home. They don’t want Halfway Houses here and they fear that such an institution would lower their property values. As Jacob watches the scene from a distance, he meets a teenage girl named Karen, who is also watching the protest near the bushes. She explains to Jacob that this is a home for kids that no one wants. It’s her home. She walks towards the house and through the crowd who begin to heckle her. She speaks up to the angry, accusing mob, and as she does so, she trips over a sprinkler.
Jacob intervenes and helps Karen to her feet, and talks back to the heckler in the process. She thanks Jacob and brings him inside to feed him. He then meets David and Mary Ross, the Foster Parents in charge of the home. David is stern with Jacob, agreeing to take him in until they can find a good placement for him, but there are strict rules and guidelines to follow, including a work program that he must participate in. David is suspicious of Jacob and his backstory because he knows that State like the back of his hand, and there has never been a town named Springwood in existence. David instructs Karen to bring Jacob up to meet the other teenagers who reside in the home: Wesley, Gina, and Scott. Jacob gets to know each kid and we learn of their troubled pasts: Wesley hates cigarettes because of some form of punishment inflicted upon him by his father; Gina can’t be touched because her mother was a prostitute who forced her young daughter into the business; Scott shot and killed his abusive father in self-defense. The only one not ready to open up about her past is Karen. Wesley and Gina are welcoming to Jacob, but there is a bit of tension between Jacob and Scott in regards to Karen’s affections.
Jacob refuses to sleep as he is noticeably running on fumes; he eventually attempts to sleep in short bursts, but as he dozes off, he enters into the dark Nightmare Springwood, now fully populated by mutants and monsters from within Freddy. Freddy once again taunts Jacob and teases that he won’t be able to stay awake forever. Jacob awakes, screaming, which startles Wesley. Jacob orders Wesley to round up the others because he has something to tell them.
Jacob tries to warn the other teenagers about Freddy, but no one believes him. Scott pulls out a map and asks Jacob to point out Springwood, but it’s not there. Freddy had wiped Springwood out of existence, and Jacob is the only person left who can remember it because he’s from there and is the sole survivor. While Jacob’s story begins to frighten Wesley and Gina, Scott tries to sympathetically rationalize the situation, and the others are quickly convinced that what Jacob is saying isn’t real. A defeated Jacob sits down on his bed as everyone except Karen leaves the room. Karen doesn’t quite believe him either, but she is concerned about him and agrees to stay with him. He asks her to not let him fall asleep. Later, as she sleeps, Jacob attempts to sneak out of the house, to put as much distance between him and the others as possible because he fears for their lives. Just as he exits the house, Karen appears behind him. He tells her of his plan to go somewhere, perhaps the desert, so that he can lay down and get some sleep without putting anyone in harms way, but she pleads for him to stay, He caves in and agrees.
Just after she goes back inside to make him some coffee, he experiences an episode and begins to lose his grip on reality; suddenly he’s plunged back to the Nightmare Springwood, and witnesses a bloody replay of Alice’s death; back in the real-world Jacob collapses to the ground and has what appears to be an epileptic seizure. From across the street, the bitter protester witnesses this and believes that it’s an overdose. He pats himself on the back for being right and then calls the paramedics. Jacob is strapped to a stretcher and begs the paramedics to not put him asleep, but he’s unsuccessful. Once asleep, he finds himself yet again back in Nightmare Springwood. Jacob confronts Freddy, but once Freddy begins to make a move towards Jacob the three Dream Police arrive. The Dream Police and Freddy briefly entangle, and Freddy escapes from their clutches once again.
Jacob confronts the Dream Police asking who they are, and they finally raise their visors, revealing their true identities: Power Cop is Kincaid, Sound Cop is Joey, and Blade Cop is Taryn – the Dream Warriors – who were mysteriously recruited with amplified powers once Freddy became even more powerful following his victory over Springwood. They say that they need Jacob’s help to defeat Freddy once and for all, but before Jacob can get more answers, he is awoken in the hospital. He is greeted by a doctor who informs him that they found no evidence of drugs or alcohol in his system, and that he had suffered a major anxiety attack caused by fatigue and stress, which led to the seizure. Jacob tries to get up to leave, telling the Doctor that the whole town is in danger, but the Doctor informs him that he is to be admitted over-night and that he doesn’t have a choice.
Back at the foster home, Wesley falls asleep while watching a black and white movie from the 40’s and he becomes Freddy’s first victim. The blanket is he wrapped up in while watching the movie tightens itself around him as the characters in the movie begin to speak to Wesley, asking him if he wants a cigarette. Wesley struggles to free himself from the blanket, but can’t manage to get out. The walls begin to close in and Wesley soon finds himself inside of a cigarette pack in Freddy’s hands. Freddy plucks the Wesley-Cigarette out of the pack and lights him up with a match that resembles Wesley’s father; Wesley’s head is the butt of the cigarette, and with the match his wrapped feet are ignited with flame – and with each puff from the taunting Freddy, the flame makes its way upward, until only the head is left. Wesley is dead.
The following morning Jacob is dropped off at the foster home as Wesley’s body is being hauled away. The Coroner and his Assistant initially speak of spontaneous human combustion, but the Fire Marshall and Police believe that Wesley died after falling asleep while smoking. The remaining foster kids, particularly Scott, don’t buy it. It’s impossible. Wesley hated cigarettes due to his childhood trauma and would never touch one. Jacob once again calls a meeting between the group of teenagers to warn them about Freddy, and informs them of his encounters with the Dream Police, but once again runs into resistance; they need to see it to believe it.
Jacob and Karen eventually get some alone time, in which Karen finally opens up about her troubled past, and how her abusive, controlling father killed her mother and then himself one night when she was thirteen. He expresses his sympathies and the two then get into a conversation about Alice and how she taught him a lot of things, including how to use his Dream Powers, in which he can link up with anyone in their sleep. Karen is still skeptical of all of this until he finally proves it to her by revealing that they are both currently dreaming at this very moment. They explore the jungle of the dream world together, but he warns her to not venture too far. Here she reveals her Dream Power: the ability to become anyone in her dreams. After a couple of demonstrations, Jacob convinces her to return to her true form. Karen notices a random door floating in the wilderness and stupidly runs for it. Jacob chases after her but doesn’t get to her in time before the door is slammed in his face.
Karen finds herself wandering around her old childhood home, moving towards the thumping sounds of violence coming from upstairs. As she makes her way up, she comes face to face with Freddy, who is beating on a blow-up doll that looks like her dead mother. Freddy deflates the mother-doll, and Jacob arrives just in time to pull her out of the room. As Freddy pounds on the door, Jacob slaps Karen a couple of times hoping to wake her up. Freddy breaks through the door and as he moves towards Jacob and Karen, the Dream Police show up. Karen says she understands and then disappears from the scene as she wakes in the real-world. The Dream Police and Freddy fight again, and Freddy once again escapes them.
Karen wakes up Jacob, and after a brief discussion about what just happened, the two decide to part ways for the night before someone gets the wrong idea. Just before Jacob leaves her room, he demonstrates another trick that his mom taught him. He reaches under her pillow and pulls out a framed photograph that he took from the dream world – a lost photo of her at a young age. As Jacob leaves her room, Scott watches, not too pleased.
The following morning, David Ross listens on as the teens argue in the kitchen. Jacob and Karen desperately try to convince Scott and Gina of the truth, but Scott becomes difficult and is too consumed with his jealous rage, trying to change the subject to the fact that Jacob was in Karen’s room for an extended period of time, and makes accusations towards them. As things become heated between Jacob and Scott, David decides that he’s heard enough and breaks it up. He orders everyone except Jacob away, and as soon as they leave David gives a stern warning, telling him that his days are numbered at this house and that Karen is to be off-limits to him. He’s very suspicious of Jacob since he hasn’t been able to find anything on him – no records of any kind – and he thinks he may be trouble. David gives his final warning to Jacob, and Jacob shuts his mouth.
Later that night, the Ross’ leave for some sort of council meeting, and Karen decides to visit Jacob. She asks Jacob what he’s going to do, and he reveals that he is going to go to sleep so that he can find the Dream Police. He points out that they only show up when he’s around, and that he believes he is their link. He also tells Karen that he believes Gina will be Freddy’s next target, and he vows to protect her. As Karen leaves his room, he warns her to not go to sleep.
As suspected, Gina becomes Freddy’s next target. As she plays a card game on her bed, she pulls a card with Freddy’s face on it. Suddenly a barrage of arms emerges from her bed, grabbing at her. She resists, fights backs, and squirms her way out of their grips. She manages to get off the bed, but the arms appear from everything near her; her dresser drawers, the walls, etc. She fights away from the invading arms and makes her way to the door, and as she exits the room, she finds herself trapped in an elevator with Freddy. As the doors close, Freddy takes her up, torturing her with close-contact from a crowded elevator, and then finally down, bringing her to the room that is the source of her pain: a honeymoon suite with a heart-shaped bed. Gina is strapped to the bed wearing nothing but skimpy lingerie as a big fat man approaches. She squirms around on the bed as he gets closer, and then suddenly Freddy’s blades punch through the fat man’s stomach, tearing a hole; Freddy emerges from within ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 2’ style. Just as Freddy makes his way for the finishing blow on Gina, Jacob shows up – and the Dream Police follow.
Jacob gets Gina out of the room as the Dream Police engage in battle with the bastard son; from the hallway, the commotion of violence from the honeymoon suite can be heard, and Gina struggles with Jacob, still freaking out and not wanting to be touched. He convinces her that he’s only there to help and she comes to her senses, agreeing to leave with him. Meanwhile, back in the honeymoon suite, the violence comes to an end, and as the dust settles, the Dream Police realize that Freddy got away from them … again. In the hallways, Jacob and Gina look to find a way out, but Freddy suddenly appears through a door and grabs Gina. The door slams. The Dream Police catch-up to Jacob, but as they break down the door, they only find an empty room.
Jacob becomes frustrated with the Dream Police for letting Freddy get away, and the Dream Police simply state that Freddy has been at this longer than they have and that there are rules for their involvement. The Dream Police tell Jacob that they need the remaining teenagers to come together, and that he needs to link up with them and bring them to the Nightmare Springwood. Elsewhere, Freddy and Gina get some alone time. Freddy’s arms expand and become snake-like as they wrap around her body, squeezing her to death.
Once he wakes up, Jacob rushes to Gina’s room to find her dead. The following morning, the three surviving teens learn that they are being removed from the Ross’ home by social services, and that the couple are being declared as unfit foster parents. Jacob feels guilty and responsible for this. To make matters worse, they later learn that they’re all going to be separated, placed in different homes. Jacob feels defeated and is ready to give up, already declaring Freddy the victor of this battle, but he snaps out of it after Karen gives him a pep-talk.
With only one last night together, now is the time to act. Jacob and Karen make one last attempt to get Scott on their side, and he reluctantly does so after taking a small bet with Jacob. That night the three go to sleep and enter into the dream world – more specifically to Nightmare Springwood – each at arriving at different points in town, but they quickly find each other. The Dream Police show up and a plan is set in motion: the three teenagers are to be bait to draw Freddy out. Suddenly a big brick wall shoots up from the ground, separating the teens from the Dream Police. Holes then open up in the ground beneath the teens and they fall through, and then shoot upwards – once again separated and brought to three different points in town; Karen ends up on Elm Street; Jacob ends up outside of his mom’s house on a different street; and Scott ends up outside of Springwood Tavern.
Scott wanders inside the Tavern and has a brief engagement with the mutated patrons. He receives a beer “compliments of the man at the bar”, and Scott looks to see Freddy sitting at the bar. Scott gets up and moves towards Freddy, unafraid, and sits next to him. Freddy wants to cut a deal, offering Scott the position of Mayor, and even Karen, if he brings Jacob to him. Scott agrees to this – or at least pretends to agree – and as he leaves the tavern, Scott mocks Freddy before calling to the Dream Police to let them know he found Freddy. Freddy appears behind Scott and stabs him for being a snitch.
The Dream Police arrive just after Scott is killed and a big battle ensues. Jacob, hearing the commotion from his house, races out the door and towards the action. Freddy ultimately gets the upper hand on the Dream Police; he plummets Kincaid deep into the ground, and then throws a brick which lands in Joey’s mouth, causing it to expand before catapulting a boulder toward him, taking Joey’s head clean off. Jacob arrives at the scene just as Taryn and Freddy engage in an epic blade fight in which the two literally cut each other into pieces. Once Freddy appears dead, Jacob walks over to Scott’s body and says sorry. The Dream Police then return; Kincaid punches his way upwards and out of the ground; Joey’s headless body reattaches his severed head; and Taryn reforms T-1000 style. Jacob says that he is impressed, but the party is cut short as Taryn points out that Freddy is gone. It turns out that Freddy is a unique being and the Dream Police seemingly can’t kill Freddy because they’re already dead. Jacob needs to be the one to do it, and to do so he needs to find the source of Freddy’s rage and use it against him. At first this confuses Jacob, but then he has an epiphany and begins to run back down the street, shouting for the Dream Police to find Karen.
Karen, meanwhile, is outside of the infamous house at 1428 Elm. She finds herself drawn to the name plates on the mailbox at the edge of the lawn. The name plates keep falling off, reading the names of the previous owners, finally coming down to Thompson, and then Krueger, and stopping at Underwood. Determined, Karen enters the house and begins to search it, looking for something she’s not quite sure of yet, but she knows to look for something. She makes her way up the stairs and finds a room that appears to have belonged to young Freddy. She finds a stack of drawings and looks through them, noting that they are signed Freddy Underwood, but as she goes deeper through the stack of drawings the name Underwood is crossed out and replaced with Krueger. Karen suddenly hears a noise coming from within the house, and quickly grabs a baseball bat as she hides beside the door, ready to strike. But the source of the noise turns out to be Jacob.
Karen shows Jacob the drawings and points out that Freddy was a foster child too, and that this is the place where it must have all began. They know there must be a way to use all of this against Freddy, but they’re not sure how as of yet. Jacob decides that he doesn’t want to stand around in this house until they figure it all out and attempts to hurry the both of them out. They run into Taryn, and something isn’t quite right – her uniform is not cut up as it was the last time he saw her – but they’re too late as it’s revealed to be Freddy. Freddy stabs Jacob in the gut and drops him to the ground. As Freddy makes his way towards Karen, Jacob tries to remind her of her Dream Powers. Freddy gets to Karen and starts to throw her around the room, while tormenting her with memories of her parents. Freddy continues to thrash her around, and just as things are starting to look bleak for Karen, Jacob springs into action, leaping at Freddy long enough for Karen to get free. Freddy stabs Jacob in the gut once again, this time impaling him against the wall. Before he dies, Jacob warns Freddy that he’ll be back, to which Freddy replies that he’ll be waiting.
Freddy then goes on the search for Karen, but suddenly becomes horrified at the sight of his former foster father, Mr. Underwood. Freddy’s demeaner shifts from confident to terrified as he begins to cower away. Underwood approaches angrily, lashing out with fists against the frightened Freddy. The Dream Police show up and each block Freddy from escaping, pushing him back to the violent hands of Underwood. Freddy, at his weakest, whimpers on the floor as Underwood gets closer. Underwood then punches through Freddy’s chest and removes each soul he recently took. As Freddy’s body begins to melt, Underwood then transforms, reverting back to Karen’s true form. His body dissolves to gunk before beginning to grow a black cloud that continues to expand. Kincaid tells everyone that they need to get out, and the four of them flee the house just before it explodes. The growing black cloud punches through as the debris rains down. The dark cloud then turns white.
The nightmare is over. Freddy is dead.
Karen falls to her knees and cries. Taryn comes to her and thanks her before saying goodbye. As the Dream Police leave, they are suddenly joined by a fourth member, and then they disappear. Karen then wakes up on a park bench in Springwood, and after finding Jacob’s bracelet, now with his name on it, she wanders into the fully restored town.
While I wouldn’t say that this is an excellent script or that it would have been a good movie, I can say that I would have been much more enthusiastic for this version of the story instead of what we got. I feel like it would have been a more fitting end for the series, as it at least attempts to bring closure to the storyline which has carried over from the first, third, fourth and fifth movies. Sure, the ending is about as definite as any other sequel’s ending, but it’s still more satisfying than how ‘Freddy’s Dead’ ended.
This script does have it problems, though. The supporting cast of teens, while having some emotional scar attached to them for Freddy to exploit, are not all that interesting. With the right casting, they probably could have been more likeable than they are on paper, but the characters themselves and their deaths are about as weak as the characters in ‘The Dream Child’.
The big problem for me is the Dream Police. It’s really cool that Kincaid, Joey, and Taryn were brought back into the fold, but there’s something about the Dream Police aspect that would have felt out of place for this franchise. That, and the fact that they’re largely made to seem incompetent as Freddy escapes them easily for the majority of the script.
Freddy and the nightmares themselves were okay at best. There was nothing really memorable here with the exception of the blade fight between Freddy and Taryn, which would have been cool to see.
Overall, though, I had a good time reading this script and I would have preferred this as the final film in the franchise over ‘Freddy’s Dead’. I think screenwriter Michael Almereyda showed an understanding of the material and tried to end things naturally as the next progression of the story. I think it’s clear here as well that he is a fan of ‘Dream Warriors’, with the foster kids having a similar dynamic. But, Rachel Talalay had her vision, and that’s what we got.
So what do you think? Would you have preferred this script or what we got with ‘Freddy’s Dead’? Would you have hate it either way? Jump over to our Facebook page and let us know!
You can read Michael Almereyda’s original draft as well as Mike De Luca’s shooting draft for ‘Freddy’s Dead’ at the link below:
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