Oct 10, 2022

Nine, Ten, Never Sleep Again

Last year's Freddy Fest III was one of the best events of the year, with screenings of A Nightmare On Elm Street parts 1, 3 and 5, along with other classic horror flicks which included Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, Deadly Friend, House III, and a screening of a bizarre film from India called Mahakaal, which was Bollywood's interpretation of A Nightmare On Elm Street, complete with singing and dancing scenes.

The folks in charge of the Mahoning Drive-In Theater have decided that this year's Freddy Fest will be the final chapter in the series, at least for a few years.  For as much fun as Freddy Fest is, I absolutely understand and support this decision.  The movies shown during Freddy Fest are very similar in genre to the ones shown during Camp Blood, which takes place just a month earlier.  When you consider that they also show a lot of other classic horror flicks in double features and Tunnel Vision Tuesday nights throughout the year, I'm sure it can become challenging to fill out a full weekend for Freddy Fest without repeating a film that was shown at the drive-in not too long ago.  Putting Freddy Fest on hiatus after this season will also open up a weekend next season for other events... possibly even the Kevin Smith weekend coming back.

Freddy Fest IV has closed out this series with a bang by screening A Nightmare On Elm Street 1 - 6 on Friday and Saturday night, with a Wes Craven double feature of Swamp Thing and The Serpent And The Rainbow to wrap things up on Sunday.  In addition to the films, there are seven special guests on the lot who worked on movies that we got to see this weekend.

The poster and t-shirt for Freddy Fest IV was designed by Jason Cortez of Sons Of Thunder Studios.  This is the same person who created the artwork for Freddy Fest III last year and the artwork for ZombieFest VIII this past May.

The special food at the concession stand throughout the weekend is the same as last year's Freddy Fest III - The Boiler Room Burger.  The combination of coffee and barbecue sauce gives this cheeseburger a smoky flavor that is truly outstanding.  Even if you can't make it out to the drive-in during Freddy Fest, it's a combination that is well worth experimenting with in the kitchen.

There were quite a few special guests on the lot for Freddy Fest IV.

When the list of special guests were announced for Freddy Fest IV, the first thing I did was to visit IMDB to see which movies each guest worked on and what role they played.  I happened to be on the phone with my dad at the time, so I was telling him what I found as I found it.  The first name I looked up was Allison Barron, who is credited in A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge as "girl on bus".  As soon as I read that, my dad began to roar with laughter.  I get it... they're not handing out monuments on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame for playing "girl on bus" in a horror movie sequel, but hell, she got to be one of Freddy Krueger's victims.  That's pretty damn cool if you ask me!

Ms. Barron appeared in at least two other movies that were shown at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater since we started going.  She played Helen in the 1988 horror classic Night Of The Demons, which was shown last year on Saturday, July 17th at Joe Bob's Drive-In Jamboree.  In 1989, she played Cherry Pop in the iconic cable tv comedy, Vice Academy, which was shown earlier this year at VHS Fest.  We had concert tickets for the weekend of VHS Fest and I was especially bummed to miss out on the opportunity to see Vice Academy on the big screen at the Mahoning.  I think I was 12 years old the first time I saw Vice Academy on USA Up All Night and let me tell you, it made an impression!  I had no clue that the actress who played Cherry had appeared in one of the Nightmare On Elm Street films, but I did know that as soon as I saw her at the end of the movie in a pink ruffled skirt that I was in love!  I can imagine that I wasn't the only teen or tween in the early 90's who had a crush on her as a result of that role.

Beatrice Boepple

Beatrice Boepple may not have been a childhood crush of mine, but she was unforgettable in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child which I saw for the first time at roughly the same age when I first saw Vice AcademyMs. Boepple played Freddy Krueger's mother, Amanda Krueger (aka: Sister Mary Helena).  This character suffers from one of the most disturbing attacks in horror history.  The attack itself isn't shown in the movie, but even the implication of it is enough to make even the most hardened of horror fans shudder.

Erika Anderson

Erika Anderson has one of the most iconic death scenes in the entire Nightmare On Elm Street franchise.  She plays Greta Gibson, an aspiring model and daughter of a wealthy and domineering mother.  Her character falls asleep at one of her mother's dinner parties, and Freddy shows up to force feed Greta in her dreams.  After a few seconds, it is revealed that Greta is being forced to cannibalize herself from pieces that Freddy has cut from her torso, which prompts the villain to tell her "you are what you eat".

Ms. Anderson also appears in one of my favorite television series of all time, Twin Peaks and starred alongside Nicolas Cage and Judge Reinhold in the 1991 film Zandalee.  In September 2020, she got married to Richard Butler who is the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, The Psychedelic Furs.  We got to see them in concert in 2018 and 2019 and they were incredible both times.

Danny Hassel

Danny Hassel plays Dan Jordan in A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and 5: The Dream Child.  He is the friend, and eventual boyfriend, of Alice Johnson (the Dream Master) and the father of her baby, Jacob Johnson (the Dream Child).  I think that he has the most screen time in the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise out of all of the guests at Freddy Fest IV.

I'm not too familiar with the other movies listed in his IMDB, but he was in an episode of Murder She Wrote and Columbo, both of which I've watched lots of times, so I'm sure that I've seen him on there as well.

Jack Sholder

Jack Sholder is the only one of the guests who didn't act in any of the Nightmare On Elm Street movies, but he was the director of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge.  He also wrote and directed Alone In The Dark, Wishmaster 2, 12:01 and The Hidden, the latter of which was screened at the Mahoning on Thursday.

Joe Seely

Joe Seely hasn't been in anything that I'm familiar with other than A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, however his character has one of the most memorable death scenes of any horror flick that I've ever seen.  He plays comic book fanatic Mark Gray, who gets sucked into one of his stories and sliced to pieces by Freddy Krueger.

Whit Hertford

Last, but certainly not least, Whit Hertford was on the lot.  The pictures above are from A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child in which he plays the future version of Jacob Johnson who comes to his mother in a dream several times while she is still pregnant with him.  Mr. Hertford has a lot of acting credits, including roles in Poltergeist II, Beaches, the 80's Twilight Zone series, and a ton of voice acting credits in animated movies and series.  However, I suspect that you will know him best from the same role that I do.  Click play and see if I'm right:

Yup... he's the bratty little kid who Dr. Grant scares the shit out of at the beginning of Jurassic Park!

I love the first Jurassic Park movie, but my fandom pales in comparison to Angie.  Jurassic Park is one of her favorite movies ever made.  It was one of her favorite nights at the drive-in when it was screened last year, and she was super excited for the opportunity to meet someone that was in the cast at Freddy Fest IV.

We had the opportunity to meet Mr. Hertford, who took a photo with us, signed one of his photos from Jurassic Park, and was a very funny and kind dude.

We also got to speak with Nightmare On Elm Street 2 director Jack Sholder before the movies began, but that was just dumb luck.  He was parked right next to us on the lot.  He had to either pick something up or drop something off at his car while Angie and I were camped out in our camping chairs in front of our car and he stopped to chat with us for a few minutes.

There was also an awesome photo op set up near the concession building with J.T. cosplaying as Freddy Krueger.  They always knock it out of the park with these staging areas, and it's one of the parts of the Mahoning Drive-In Theater that makes this place truly special.

We saw A Nightmare On Elm Street on the big screen for the first time at Freddy Fest III.  It's a movie that I've watched countless times when I was growing up, especially this time of year.  We bundled up and watched the first movie from our camping chairs outside, but it was getting pretty brisk by the time the credits rolled, so we enjoyed the second and third films from the warmth of the car.

This is the most straight-forward and truly scary horror movie in the series.  It stars Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson, who watches as her friends and her boyfriend get killed one at a time while they are sleeping by Freddy Krueger.  She learns that her parents and her friend's parents are responsible for burning Freddy to death when a technicality allowed him to walk free after he was arrested and put on trial for murdering children.  He has come back as a dream demon to take vengeance on the children of the families on Elm Street who killed him.

One of the scenes that drives home the nostalgia for me is Johnny Depp in his bedroom watching a portable television that he has sitting next to him on his bed.  From my experience this is the most realistic depiction of a teenager's bedroom in the 80's that I've ever seen on film, even when compared to other movies that were filmed and released during the decade.

The second movie of Friday night was A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, which was directed by Jack Sholder.  I've got to say, it's a pretty surreal experience to watch the opening credits of a movie at the drive-in when you're parked right next to the car of the person who directed it.

Mr. Shoulder gave a brief introduction to the film before it began.  He mentioned that it's the oddball of the series, and he's absolutely right.  I've always thought of it in the same way that I think of Halloween III: Season Of The Witch.  It's an enjoyable movie on its own, and it was years ahead of its time in its depiction of the LGBTQ community, but if you're going to have a marathon of movies form the franchise, the overall story flows much better if you leave this one out and go straight from the first movie to the third movie in your playlist.

Freddy's Revenge takes the Freddy Krueger story in a completely different direction than the previous film.  Instead of attacking teenagers through their dreams, Freddy possesses the body of a teenager named Jesse Walsh whose family had moved into the house on 1428 Elm Street where Nancy Thompson lived in the first film.  It's not a bad movie, but it completely changes the rules of the Freddy mythology that was established in the first movie, and it stands out even more in hindsight because the sequels that came after Freddy's Revenge went back to the concepts from the original film and largely disregarded what took place in the second.

The final movie from Night One was A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.  In many ways, this is a direct sequel to the first film, with Heather Langenkamp reprising her role as Nancy Thompson, who is now a young adult who has been conducting dream research.  She begins an internship at the Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital where the last remaining children of Elm Street reside and are being hunted by Freddy Krueger.  One of them is a teenage girl named Kristen Parker who has been able to pull other sleeping people into her dreams since she was a child, which inspires Nancy to rally everyone together to fight back against Freddy.

It is also in this film that we learn that Freddy was conceived in 1941.  His mother, Amanda Krueger, was a nun who was working in the psychiatric ward of Westin Hills hospital.  She was accidentally left behind by the other staff and locked in with the patients, and she was impregnated after being raped over a period of days before she was rescued.  Her ghost comes back to tell Dr. Neil Gordon from the institute that Freddy can only be killed if his bones are discovered and buried in consecrated grounds.  He and Nancy's father succeed in doing this, but not before Freddy finally succeeds in killing both Nancy and her father.

With the exception of the first film, Dream Warriors is my favorite movie in the Nightmare On Elm Street series.  It has an incredibly creepy vibe and tells an amazing story that sets the tone for the remaining three films that were released prior to New Nightmare.

This is the other Freddy Krueger movie that we saw last year at Freddy Fest III, but I was happy to have had the opportunity to see it on the big screen again - especially as part of a larger marathon of all six original films.  The second half of this marathon took place Night Two, which was three films that I've never seen on the big screen before this weekend.

It was about 38 degrees after the sun went down on Saturday night, so it was definitely going to be a night where the camping chairs stayed in the trunk.  Unless we get an unseasonably warm weekend in October, I'm thinking that we'll probably be staying in the car at the drive-in for the rest of the season.

Danny Hassel came on the radio to give an introduction to the first film of Saturday night, which was A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream MasterMr. Hassel is Dan Jordan in this film, who is the love interest and eventual boyfriend of its main character, Alice Johnson.

This story includes Kristen Parker, who was the final girl from the previous film.  In Dream Warriors, she's played by Patricia Arquette, but in The Dream Master, the role has been taken over by Tuesday Knight.  She is dating Alice Johnson's brother, Rick, and she's joined by the two other surviving kids from Dream Warriors - Joey Crusel and Roland KincaidKristenCrusel and Kincaid are the last remaining children that come from the families of the people who killed Freddy Krueger in the boiler room and set the events of the first film in motion.

Kristen unintentionally pulls CruselKincaid, and Kincaid's dog Jason into her dreams.  Jason urinates fire onto Freddy's burial site in the dream version of the junkyard where his bones were buried in the previous film, and this brings Freddy back to life in the dream world.  I don't' know exactly how many drugs you have to take to come up with that idea, but I'm thinking that the scriptwriters can answer that question.

You're led to believe that Kristen Parker is going to be the main character in this film just as she was in Dream Warriors.  Freddy uses her to gain access to Crusel and Kincaid, both of whom he kills.  He kills Kristen too, but not before she brings Alice into her dream.  When Freddy collects Kristen's soul, her dream powers get absorbed by Alice.

From this point, it is clear that Alice Johnson is our protagonist.  Freddy has succeeded in his mission to take vengeance out on all of the children of Elm Street whose parents murdered him before the events of the first movie, but since Alice was called over into the Kristen's dream and has absorbed her powers, Freddy now has a connection to Alice through her dreams.  So, I guess Freddy figures "what the hell, I'm not doing anything, so I might as well kill off her friends too", so he uses Alice as the bridge to get to each of her friends and kills them off one by one.  However, as her friends get killed, Alice absorbs their abilities both in the dream world and in the real world.  This is how she goes from a shy and nervous teenage girl to a brainiac who knows kung fu and can pump iron like a beast in the gym.

Alice is unable to save most of her friends, but she does manage to save the boy that she has a crush on (Dan Jordan), and she defeats Freddy by showing him his reflection in the dream world, which causes the souls of the victims that he has absorbed to come tearing out of his body.  By the end of the film, Alice and Dan are a couple, and we see Freddy's reflection in a park fountain which suggests that she hasn't seen the last of him.

Danny Hassel returned to the radio prior to the start of Saturday night's second film, but he was joined this time by his co-stars from A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream ChildBeatrice Boepple (Amanda Krueger), Erika Anderson (Greta Gibson), Joe Seely (Mark Gray), and Whit Hertford (Jacob Johnson) to give a nice introduction to the movie.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child catches up with Alice and Dan as they graduate from high school.  After the two have sex, Alice begins to have nightmares in which she is in the body of Amanda Krueger.  I'm not really clear on how Alice and Amanda become linked in the dream world, but we soon find out that Alice is pregnant with Dan's child, and Freddy is able to attack people even though that Alice is awake by using the dreams of the fetus as the bridge.  Dan is Freddy's first victim in this film, but he's definitely not the last.

Alice meets a young boy named Jacob in her dreams who we soon learn is her unborn son.  Freddy is feeding Jacob the souls of his victims and trying to bond with him in the dream world, but Jacob turns on him and opens the door for his grandmother, Amanda, to defeat Freddy once and for all (or until the next sequel).

The sixth and final Nightmare On Elm Street movie from Freddy Fest IV was Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.  I've always found it to be the most bizarre of the original six films in the series, but also one of the most enjoyable.  The story takes place ten years in the future.  By this point, Freddy has finally succeeded in killing all of the children and teenagers in Springwood, Ohio (except one) and leaving all of the remaining adults in town completely insane.

The last surviving teenager gets very close to being able to escape the town before he is caught in a dream by Freddy.  However, instead of killing him, Freddy allows him to leave town (with amnesia) so that he can lure more victims back to him.  He ends up at a homeless shelter that just so happens to be run by a counselor named Maggie Burroughs who is really Freddy's daughter, Katherine Krueger.  There's a lot of backstory about Freddy's life and how he became a dream demon after he was killed, and it's more unusual and disturbing than any other chapter in the Nightmare On Elm Street saga.

Another thing that makes Freddy's Dead stand out from the pack is that most of the final reel of the film is presented in Anaglyph 3D.  Harry from Exhumed Films had a bunch of new old stock 3D glasses that were given away during the original theatrical run of the film.  The inside of the earpieces have a promo for House Party 2 and Deep Cover, both of which were on the upcoming lineup from New Line Films when Freddy's Dead was released in 1991.

The glasses are actually a part of the story.  Maggie decides to use Nancy's trick from the first film by trying to grab hold of Freddy while she's dreaming to drag him into the real world.  She puts on the 3D glasses before she is put to sleep for reasons that I'm not super clear on, but that's the audience's cue to put on their own glasses to see the 3D effects.

The 3D effects in Freddy's Dead are never going to be mistaken for Avatar, but they were pretty cool back in the early 90's, and they're still pretty cool today.  The dream demons and other things from the third reel really did look like they were popping off of the screen.  Sure, there's much better 3D technology out there than this, but it's still a hell of a lot of fun!

And that's a wrap on Freddy Fest IV.  The event technically ended last night with a Sunday night Wes Craven double feature of Swamp Thing and The Serpent And The Rainbow, but I need a night to relax at home.  We'll be back at the drive-in soon though.  They're definitely finishing the season strong in October.