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‘Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare’ (R)

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
September 14, 1991

Fred Krueger, a resident of Elm Street, Springwood, U.S.A., has passed away after innumerable encounters with teenagers in the back alleys of their dreams. Mr. Krueger, an accused serial killer of children, was acquitted on a technicality and then burned to death by understandably angry parents. Mr. Krueger vowed to return, which he did in a series of films titled "Nightmare on Elm Street."

Unfortunately for Mr. Krueger, the latest installment looks to be the last, since it's called "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare." For good luck it opened on Friday the 13th.

So long, Freddy, it's been good to know you. Your nocturnal mission is at an end.

And you're going out with a touch of class: a slam-bang finale in 3-D -- make that Freddyvision; a gaggle of one-liners directed at the final crop of victims and a few in-jokes; some wonderfully bizarre dream sequences; and the possibility that while Freddy may be gone, some of his progeny may live on (we can say no more).

"Freddy's Dead" kicks off with John (Shon Greenblatt), the last surviving Springwood teen, having -- what else -- a nightmare, this one involving planes, houses and heights, the cumulative result of which is amnesia (movies being the one place where people suffer from this plot-facilitating disease). As a result, John catches a bus -- actually it catches him -- and ends up in another town's shelter for disturbed teens, where therapists Doc (Yaphet Kotto) and Maggie (Lisa Zane) are typically reluctant to believe in the concept of a dream-stalker -- even though Maggie's been having recurring dreams about a little girl and a big faceless daddy; the girl's been in John's dreams too.

There are other troubled teens at the facility: Tracy (Lezlie Deane), a martial arts fanatic; Spencer (Breckin Meyer), a video games addict; and Carlos (Ricky Dean Logan), who is deaf. Are they in trouble or what? Especially when the whole crew makes the trip back to Springwood, where they find no kids but do find Roseanne and Tom Arnold as somebody's parents: HAAAAAAAAAA! Scary! Actually, it's just a cameo.

Soon enough, troubles begin for the teens, and Freddy (Robert Englund) proves his reliable self in the sick twist department (one tip: Q -- we can say no more). Freddy proves to be an adept video gamesman in his own right, particularly when he makes use of his customized power-glove (we can say no more). He also gets a kick out of Tracy (we can say no more).

To the end, moviegoers are being given clues about Freddy's origins and insights into his behavior, and so what if they sometimes contradict previous mythology. Logic has only a foothold here, particularly as the film winds to its 3-D conclusion inside Freddy's head -- talk about a fantastic voyage! By that time, we know who Freddy's child is and everything takes on the hue and cry of convoluted intra-family mayhem that has always informed the series. It's an explosive ending, to say the least, but, um, we can say no more.

"I am forever," Freddy says at one point. "Too bad you're not."

Actually, too bad he's not.

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