I figured I'd close off Wes Craven month with what I consider a bit of an underrated treat - even though this was my first time seeing it. I admit, I consider it underrated for all the wrong reasons, though. Chalk this one up to a new guilty pleasure. It's all sorts of silly, but there are certain things about it that harken back to Craven's 'Elm Street' days. You sort of recognize that he develops a style of doing things, and the villain here may as bloody well be an early Freddy (he was much more sinister in the first film).
The villain in question is the vile Horace Pinker (Mitch Pileggi - a lot of fun to watch as a horror villain) who is wreaking havoc in an LA suburb. Having killed 30 people, and being on the loose, everyone in town is considerably scared. But when detective Don Parker (Peter Berg) gets too close to Pinker, it results in the tragic murder of his wife and two foster children. It starts to get weird when it turns out that Parker's surviving foster son, Jonathan (Peter Berg) has some connection to Pinker, as he can see when and where he's going to strike next through his precognitive dreams.
Without spoiling much, eventually these dreams do lead to Pinker's capture and execution, but at the cost of innocent lives. The horrific fun comes into play when we learn that Pinker has made a deal with the Devil that when he fries, he doesn't die, but absorbs and becomes electricity. Yes, you read that right, but it gets better. He's also able to carry on his body count by possessing other people. Does Jonathan have what it takes to stop him, which includes having more imagination than you could... imagine? Once the film gets into its climax, it doesn't just toss reality out the window, it drops it from a 50-story building with weights tied around its ankles. It gets so stupid but so fun all at once.
I'm such an 'Elm Street' fan and there are tastes of it throughout this movie. It's fun to view this as though Craven's hinting at the directors who took the property over on how Freddy ought to be (he became a real wise-cracker). This was 1989, and 'Elm Street 5' had just come out a couple of months prior, so it would make sense. Pinker has so many similarities to Freddy, you almost wonder if they were once partners in crime. Upon everything else that brings up the original 'Elm Street', Heather Langenkamp cameos here as a murder victim. I think I see this as Wes Craven having fun with the genre, as was the style at the time.
This film is all sorts of ridiculous, but I'm so happy I chose it to end this month with. On a bit of a more serious note, Craven left behind a legacy of horror when he passed most unfortunately and suddenly in 2015. He covered just about everything, going from the uncomfortable snuff film that was 'Last House on the Left' all the way up to making fun of the slasher genre he helped create with 'Scream' (although he only directed those). Fans of the franchise, including myself, will say that the best Freddy films were the original, 'Dream Warriors' and 'New Nightmare' - the ones Craven was involved with, and there are more titles on his resume to cover.
Having seen some of them, I can recommend a few from his directorial resume. 'The Serpent and the Rainbow' is quite scary, and based on a true story of Haitian Voodoo; 'The People Under the Stairs' is perhaps his most underrated film, according to some sources; and 'Red Eye' as a great bottle thriller on a plane. I'm glad I sat through all of these, but it's a little sad that I could only ever "break even" with them. But even if they come out as average to me, I think I'd still recommend horror fans going through his work. Wes Craven is a name synonymous with horror, covering a lot of different sub-horror genres, and these movies deserve a good look. Five years later, rest in peace, Wes Craven. Thank you for providing us horror fans with some great material that would often haunt our dreams, and succeed in the scare.
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