A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)

a nightmare on elm street 5 the dream child

“Is she delicious… or am I CRAZY?”

The Scoop: 1989 R, directed by Stephen Hopkins and starring Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox and Beatrice Boepple

Tagline: It’s a Boy!

Summary Capsule: Freddy is reborn… or something… and kills again (duh)

Justin’s rating: HA ha!

Justin’s review: I’ll give this fourth Nightmare sequel it’s due. At least it begins with the most interesting intro of any of the movies thus far: chalk credits and a blue-lit love scene. Following is Alice (you remember her, she’s the dream master who mooches her powers off her dead friends) having a nightmare about Amanda Krueger’s attack in the mental institution.

Dream Child is about as formulaic and clichéd as they get. Alice’s boyfriend gets killed, leaving her to be the only one who Knows The Truth (akin to Fox Mulder). Her family and friends, of course, don’t believe her when she states that Freddy is returning (one friend in particular, a girl who says “bull” like “boooool”, is EXTREMELY annoying in her repeated denials of the supernatural bad guy). As this goes on, Freddy comes back through a very confusing storyline (it’s something to do with Freddy’s birth and Alice’s impending birth).

The deaths are much more elaborate, the characters even more bland, Freddy more full of one-liners than Terminator with a thesaurus. But in the middle of trying to outdo the last Nightmare, the filmmakers forgot a very vital element: fright. There is no conceivable way to find anything in this movie scary. The nightmares, such as they are, are more elaborate than freaky. They seem to beg you too marvel at the FX it took to create instead of anything else. I mean, who would actually be frightened by a guy being sucked into his comic books?

Part 5 does get pretty ridiculous at times, and also over-the-top, as far as hokey horror goes. But it’s mostly consistent with the tone it starts out at, and the bits with the chapel and insane asylum at least approach true horror. Although I could have done without the M.C. Escher part at the end.

Kyle’s rating: I like that cartoonist guy’s vest. I hope that doesn’t mean I belong in NOES2…

Kyle’s review: Even though I’m watching these films in chronological order (skipping Part 2, which I’ve already seen and clowned upon), I’m reviewing them out of order. Possibly due to my jaunt to Hawaii, or maybe my poor reviewing skills in general. Who can say?

So my first Nightmare review of this F13/Elm Street Mutant extravaganza was Part 4. I clowned on that one somewhat harshly, since it was cheesy to begin with and followed an arguable horror classic in Part 3: The Dream Warriors. Plus, as stylish as it looked, it had absolutely no dramatic tension or true horror to offer. What might have served as adequate horror in the ’80s just doesn’t hold up anymore, unless you’re a series completist or simply shellshocked.

But now that I’m getting into writing all these reviews, I’m feeling slightly guilty. I mean, I’m applying advanced techniques of literary criticism to these things, and they weren’t intended for that. It’s one thing to overanalyze films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and Tron. These are films of greatness, either designed to be great or achieving greatness in the creative process.

The Nightmare movies, Freddy vs. Jason and the Wes Craven films are designed to be horror trash appealing to big audiences full of teenagers. No problems there; I like plenty of films like that. But it does mean I have to keep all that in mind, at least more than I was, when I’m reviewing these. No problem!

So what am I looking for from these Elm Street movies? Well, to paraphrase one of my most cherished mentors, I want to sit down and watch Freddy Krueger jump around and slash people with his sweet razor glove within the confines of inventive and bizarre nightmares until the cast has been whittled down to a disposable friend (disbelieving or otherwise) and a heroine who was stereotypically “weak” but has become “strong” due to her experiences with Freddy and living through all of her friends dying off around her. Freddy jokes are perfectly acceptable, as is gratuitous nudity and Geiger-esque warpings of human flesh. Injokes pertaining to other horror films (Freddy’s “You shouldn’t have buried me; I’m not dead!” referencing Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow; the dog in Part 4 being named Jason) are not necessary, but are certainly encouraged.

By these lesser standards, Dream Child still sucks. Like Dream Master, it’s very polished and nice to look at, but in an odd way. It’s a lot like an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 (oh, like you never watched it!) where 20-somethings are portraying high school seniors and there is seldom a cloud in the sky, even when funerals are taking place nonstop. The whole mortuary business must be booming in Springwood, don’t you think?

That sitcom feel invades the fabric of the story and irrevocably turns the whole thing into a farce, at least for someone like me who is watching these movies back-to-back. Maybe it was different in ’89, but you’d think for someone like Alice (who already lived through the deaths of her brother and most of her friends in Part 4) it would be difficult to simply graduate high school, let alone do so with a new group of best friends and a loving, caring boyfriend. Wouldn’t she have gone totally goth, gotten her GED, and found a job at the local smoke shop? Or maybe things were more innocent back then. There must have been more psychiatrists around, so everything got solved that much faster. Lucky ’80s kids!

That fake cheesiness just bogs everything down, and Freddy doesn’t help out. His make-up looks awful, and at this point nothing about him seems too inspired. Robert Englund is clearly the best thing about this movie in particular and the series in general, but at this point it isn’t enough to make each successful sequel anything more than vaguely watchable. Clearly, Freddy is meant to be an anti-hero of the second degree, where we bizarrely root him on until the heroine we like slightly more has to climatically take him on and we want her to win instead. But it just can’t work properly when we don’t care a whit about any character in the slightest. Toss in boring “after-school special” nonsense about teenage pregnancy and way too much talking among characters that takes away from Freddy slashing time, and Part 5 is a real waste of time.

Iron Chef: Ironic slasher reference edition!


  • The “Freddybike” has a license plate that can be seen for a few seconds and says “FREDDY”. It’s a California tag.
  • Virtually nothing of the screenplay by John Skipp and Craig Spector made it into the film (according to Skipp, only the phrase “It’s a boy” was retained), while only around half of Leslie Bohem’s screenplay was kept. William Wisher Jr. and David J. Schow did further rewrites, and the final screenplay was put together just days before shooting by Michael De Luca.
  • All death sequences were cut down significantly in order to avoid an X-rating.

Groovy Quotes

Freddy Krueger: It’s a boy-oy.

[seconds after fuel pump stabs into Dan’s leg]
Freddy Krueger: Fuel injection!

Freddy Krueger: If I were you, lady, I’d kill the ungrateful piggy.

Freddy: Is she delicious… or am I CRAZY?

Freddy Krueger: Hey, Danny. Better not dream and drive.

Super Freddy: Faster than a bastard maniac. More powerful than a loco-madman. It’s… Super Freddy. [changes back to normal] Told you comic books was bad for ya.

Freddy Krueger: Filet de Barbie!

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street part 2: Freddy’s Revenge
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

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