2017.05.14 // Filed under: Screen
The third entry in the Freddy franchise trades the inventive gore and straight-up weirdness of the original, and the sexuality allegory of the unfairly maligned second effort, for a more fantastic scenario that nevertheless has its queasy moments (the ‘string puppet’ scene near the start, especially). It’s not as well paced as you might remember it (Freddy’s barely in it; I doubt Robert Englund had to wear the makeup for more than a week) and pretty much runs out of steam in the final act, where it’s more a showcase for the technical skills of the special effects artists than a story worth following. Indeed, I forgot about the Harryhausen tribute at the end; I burst out laughing, but not in a bad way.
Still the second-best film Renny Harlin ever made.
Freddy’s got daddy issues in the series’ fifth instalment, which manages to be both more cartoonish and more supremely messed-up than its predecessor. Any film that references (well, rips off) both Tetsuo and the Escher scene from Labyrinth is worth a watch.
By this stage in the series, they just said ‘fuck it’ and made a comedy — albeit a cruel one, more or less a live-action Warner Bros cartoon — with Freddy as the star of the show, playing to the audience as his accomplice. Still, it deserves more credit for its aggressive weirdness, even if it had strayed far from the existential terror of Wes Craven’s creation. It was definitely time for Freddy to die.
There are two films going on here in this adaptation of Bill Bryson’s charming travelogue. One captures at least some of the spirit of that story, pitting two very ill-prepared elderly men (in the book, Bryson and his friend Katz are middle-aged) against nature in all its fullness — the world and their own alike. The other, which starts to show itself when the first runs out of steam, is just the crotchety musings of two annoyed, and annoying, old geezers trying to mould the world to their own designs.
The point where it crosses from one to the other is hard to discern, but you’ll know when you’ve crossed it, when the quick wit of the first half gives way to the lazy misogyny and self-satisfied ‘humour’ of the latter. By then, Robert Redford is clearly sleepwalking through proceedings; Nick Nolte at least keeps up his end as the recovering alcoholic who looks like he might have spent more than a few nights under the stars before this Appalachian Trail misadventure.
Almost 30 years on, the landmark anime feature for western audiences retains all of its power.