Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Police!

It’s the Freddy Krueger movie that never got made … primarily, because it would've sucked big time


Among hardcore “Elm Street” fans, the series’ sixth entry, “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare,” isn’t necessarily held in the highest esteem. Most fans I’ve talked to rank it in the series’ bottom three, with quite a few mentioning it as their least favorite of the films. Personally, I thought it was pretty disappointing, but to be fair, I thought the series had been on a downward trajectory since part 4, anyway.

By 1991, it was clear that Mr. Krueger was no longer the box office draw New Line Cinema so direly wanted him to be. After the bitter critical and financial failure of part 5 (which I think is actually the most underrated film in the entire series), Bob Shaye and pals decided to finally yank the plug on the once-mighty franchise. Of course, before “Freddy’s Dead” got green lit, multiple proposals for a sixth “Elm Street” film were submitted, including one inked by none other than Peter freaking Jackson.

Rachel Talalay, a long-time “Elm Street” producer and the eventual director of “Freddy’s Dead,” originally turned in a script for a hypothetical “Elm Street 6” which was WAY different from what was ultimately filmed. Co-written by Michael Almereyda, the screenplay hardly resembled “Freddy’s Dead” at all, tied directly into the end of “The Dream Child” and even had a VERY strong link to “The Dream Warriors” and “The Dream Master” -- alas, had the script actually got the cinematic treatment, there’s no denying it would’ve ended up the Freddy clusterfuck to end all Freddy clusterfucks. Believe you me, “The Dream Police” (not the script’s official title, but more than likely what would have been its subheading) made “Freddy’s Dead” seem as staid as early ‘50s Italian neorealism.

The script begins with Jacob -- the son of Alice from the last two films, and now a teenager himself -- on a plane. He complains about a whirring engine sound, and an old man and a flight attendant tell him it’s nothing to worry about (indeed, this scene very closely resembles the opening of “Freddy’s Dead.) Of course, the plane then gets sawed in half by a RED AND GREEN jet, with the stewardess and old geezer getting splattered in the collision.

Still in his chair, Jacob falls out of the wreckage. Showered with corpse chunks, a couple of grinning (and living) children start floating beside him, who slowly dissolve away into skeletons…who then proceed to attack him with scissors, before cutting him out of his parachute-like seat.

He crashes through the roof of a house. He wakes up in his bed, and says hi to his mom. He opens his bedroom window, and sure enough, the skeleton cherubs are back, indicating he’s still not awake yet. The house than starts plummeting again, and it eventually slams into a neighborhood, where a nondescript darkness emerges from the crater left by the falling home.

Jacob runs for dear life, as the black funk washes over an old lady and her dog, transforming them into mutant beings that, apparently, couldn’t care less about being turned into mutants.

Eventually, he runs to the city limits, where he encounters Freddy…who literally sucks the entire town into his stomach! Freddy reaches into his gut and yanks out Alice, whom he slices up in front of her own child. Right before Jacob can strike back, three android-like beings -- one described as bulky, another as feminine and one with an exposed mouth -- come rushing to his aid, with one of the Power Ranger-like characters screaming at Jacob to “Wake up!”

And so, Jacob wakes up in the middle of freaking nowhere, holding a bracelet with the name “Alice” etched on it.

So, he wanders around town, until he encounters a bunch of townsfolk protesting a halfway home. There, Jacob meets Karen, a 16-year-old, and she invites him inside. There, he meets the operators of the foster home, Mr. and Mrs. Ross.

Then, we’re introduced to the rest of the cannon fodder … I mean, central characters … Gina, Wesley and Scott. Scott’s is apparently a major league asshole, we deduce from the get-go. All of them live within the foster home, and all of them experienced horrific abuses as little kids.

While working at a lumber yard, Jacob starts having visions of the same mutant neighborhood from earlier. Later, Jacob has a nightmare Freddy buries him alive in roaches, and he wakes up holding a giant bug. Of course, it’s all a dream, and everybody looks at him funny because he’s thrashing all over the place. Jacob tries to tell the other kids who Freddy is, but they don’t believe him. Later, Jacob has another daymare, in which a mutant bush sprouts arms and legs, turns into his mama, and gets killed by Freddy all over again because, man, is Freddy such a dick.

Jacob has a seizure, and he’s wheeled off in an ambulance. Of course, he has a Freddy dream while in the ambulance, which results in our heroic Dream Police making the save once more. Eventually, Freddy spins out of his red and green sweater into stereotypical convict regalia, simply for the sake of making a stupid jailbreak pun.

So, these Dream Police people. One is called Sound Cop, the other Blade Cop and the other Power Cop. They attack Freddy using precisely the things their name implies. And if you haven’t deduced just who the fuck these people are supposed to be, clearly, you need to catch “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3” ASAP.

Meanwhile, back at the halfway house, Freddy decides to kill Wesley by literally turning him into a cigarette and smoking him to death. You see, its because his dad used to burn him with cigarettes and shit. So, Jacob returns, and all of a sudden, all the foster kids kinda’ start taking his chatter about Fred K a bit more serious now.

Karen tells Jacob about how her dad killed himself after breaking her mama’s neck, and then Jacob tells her about the special dream powers he inherited from his mom, and he takes her to a magical dream forest to prove it. Then, Karen takes a detour into a Freddy portal, where Freddy beats the crap out of her mom -- who is literally in punching bag form. The Dream Police make the save again, this time by battling a gigantic Freddy (now in punching bag form himself) to the death.

Gina becomes Freddy’s next prey. He sucks her into an elevator filled with zombies, finally dropping her off in a scummy motel room in hooker apparel with a morbidly obese john. Jacob and the Dream Police momentarily stall Freddy, but he winds up kidnapping Gina anyway. He kills her by choking the life out of her with his Stretch Armstrong hands.

Mr. Silverman from Protective Services shows up after Gina dies, and takes all of the foster children away to a youth detention center. Using his dream powers, Jacob takes Scott and Karen into the mutant dream world -- which from the script’s description, would probably have garnered a copyright infringement suit from Tim Burton -- and the Dream Police show up to help track down Freddy. Scott wanders off into a mutant tavern, where Freddy agrees to give him Karen, the longtime object of his affection, in exchange for royally fucking up Jacob’s shit.

Freddy guts Scott for his efforts, and the Dream Police engage him in a live-action Tom and Jerry bar room brawl, with Blade Cop and Freddy literally liquefying each other in a sword fight. Freddy’s down, but not out, the Dream Police tell us -- they only way Freddy can be killed for good, they tell Jacob, is if he does in Mr. Krueger himself.

Karen decides to take the initiative and explores the old Krueger house by her lonesome. Rummaging through Freddy’s childhood bedroom, she finds something very interesting … a bunch of old papers with the name “Freddy Underwood” scrawled on them. Then she finds a photo of a very, very young Freddy with some mysterious older man. Hey, what do you know, Freddy was a foster care kid all along!

Blade Cop shows up, and … SWERVE! She’s actually Freddy, and she stabs Jacob to death. Freddy then proceeds to threaten Karen with RAPE, even going as far as to transform into her father before he gets going. Thankfully (and without any real explanation), Karen’s real mom just shows up out of nowhere and has a kung-fu fight with Freddy in her husband’s form. This allows Karen some time to flee, but eventually, Freddy pursues her again.

Ingeniously,  Karen decides to best Freddy at his own mind-fuck game by transforming herself into his hitherto unmentioned STEPFATHER and beating the living hell out of him. With the Dream Police cheering her own, she frees all of the souls he’s eaten, pummeling him until he’s nothing but a pile of black goop on the carpet.

Blade Cop said it took someone knowing Freddy’s “nightmare” to finally vanquish him. Jacob joins the Dream Police is an honorary fourth member, and Karen awakes in a beautiful, non-mutant-hellscape version of Springwood, holding a bracelet with Jake’s name on it.

And … fin.

Needless to say, that script was something else all right. And by “something else,” I meant “an absolute goddamn train wreck,” and I for one am glad it never got realized.

As goofy as “Freddy’s Dead” was, it at least tried to keep things within the horror genre. “The Dream Police” was just an outright cornball parody, really closer to “The Mask” than “The Silence of the Lambs.” Yeah, it was cool bringing back the Dream Warriors and all, but to turn them into miniature Robocops was just … well, yeah. Also, the kills in this one were just ridiculous, and the whole “Freddy was a victim, too!” subplot just wasn’t working for me.

There were some decent ideas in there, but there’s no way that muddle of a screenplay could’ve translated into anything other than sheer shit onscreen. I don’t think it would have been as bad as the 2010 remake, but it definitely would’ve been a big, fat, Ray Rice-sized black eye for the series as a whole.

Still, there may be even weirder “Elm Street” scripts out there. Did you know there was one “Freddy vs. Jason” treatment floating around where Jason gets put on trial for 2,000 counts of murder and its revealed that Freddy tried to drown him way back when and the two end up battling each other to death in a shopping mall before getting turned into two-headed freaks and killed, “Bride of Frankenstein” collapsing roof style?

Holy shit, I would have paid good money to have seen that one. Good money, indeed

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