Monday, October 26, 2009

Nightmare on Elm Street

dddI don't hide that the Nightmare On Elm Street Franchise is my favorite horror movie series. So, as I've spent this weekend catching up on my old favorites, I've decided to rate them for your pleasure...
So here it is, in my favorite order (although I always watch from 1 to 8, this is my favorites).

Starting at the Bottom of the List at Number 8!

8. A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge. Let's first start with what I thought of this movie as a child. I LOVED IT! It has not so subtle homo-erotic undertones as Jesse comes to terms with his inability to please his parents and his girlfriend so he goes running to his only male friend to tell the truth about the demon within him!

How did this movie drop spots to be at the bottom of the list many years later? Well when I was 7 (yes, I've been watching R rated horror movies since 7), I didn't care about the meta-story of the franchise. But in my more sophisticated tastes of adult hood, I need my sequels to be just one chapter of the whole story.

Although Jesse moves into Nancy's house and uses her diaries to help understand what is happening, this story is unconnected to any other movie. It also broke a lot of the rules. Jesse wasn't a child of someone who killed Freddy, so why haunt him? How did Jesse turn into Freddy in the real world? Why kill the coach and all those random people at the pool party?  What is Freddy even doing at a pool party anyway?

Oh, and of course, how can I forget the staggering body count of 2 major characters (and about a dozen pool party guests that I couldn't care less about).

7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child had a cool concept, but bad follow through. What gives it the leg up over Freddy's Revenge is that it is directly connected to the previous movie and added more to the mytho's of Freddy's beginnings, by correlating Alice's pregnancy to that of Sister Amanda Kruger's (Freddy's mom) - who was locked in an Insane Aslyum over a holiday weekend and raped hundreds of times.

Alice and Dan, after surviving the events of Dream Master, make a new group of friends and apparently a baby. For the plot of Dream Child revolves around Freddy trying to take control of Jacob's (Alice and Dan's child) dreams and turn him against his mother. After being held at bay for a few years by Alice (the Guardian of the good dream gate), Freddy has discovered that she can control her own dreams but not her unborn child's!

A plus for this movie is that all the returning characters were played by the same actors from Dream Master.

What keeps this movie from the higher spots? Well Jacob is annoying! I honestly just can't stand the child playing him. And if I were an 18 year old high school graduate, pregnant with a child that an evil dream monster was trying to turn against me so the monster could kill again... do you know how fast I would have a abortion?

And again, a low body count. 3! (Although the deaths are more elaborate!) Aren't sequels supposed to have more deaths that then original.

6. Freddy vs. Jason, I hesitate to include this in the list because it is technically not part of the Nightmare franchise, nor the Friday franchise but a bastardization of both. But I did include it because it does have my favorite horror villain, Freddy.

Except for disregarding the fact that Freddy's Dead is supposed to be the end of the series, FvJ does a good job adding to the mytho's and being directly connected to the previous movies. Hypnosill and all! But this movie lacked a certain "Nightmare" aspect and felt much more like a random slasher flick like Friday where you almost didn't care for any of the characters and just wanted to see Freddy kill Jason (or the other way if you are a Jason fan).

This movie did fail though in offering a reasonable explanation for what happened to Alice (Dream Child) or Maggie (Freddy's Dead). Actually it didn't offer any explanation.

Now it did have a high body count (I can't remember how many though, but I think it's one of the highest for a Nightmare movie, but pretty average for a Friday movie.

5. Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (A Nightmare on Elm Street 6) is when the list starts a more positive spin. This movie jumps to "10 years from now" and the town of Springwood has quite literally gone insane because of the homicides committed by Freddy. There are no children at all.

Well, when a boy is returned to a boarding house with no memory except a need to go to Springwood he brings along 3 teens and a psycologist (who just happens to be Freddy's long lost daughter - I know a bit cheesy, but Fred Kruger was a man before becoming a monster). More elaborate deaths but a small number (if I recall correctly only 3 - which seems to be the magic number for a Nightmare movie).

Here though are the four biggest problems with the movie.
1. Some of it takes place in 3D and it's not enjoyable for me.
2. Maggie (not a Gate Keeper) is able to manipulate her dreams (this was something that was unique for Alice).
3. They recycled the finale from Nightmare 1, by bringing Freddy into the real world to kill him.
4. It is never explained what happens to Alice and Jacob from Dream Child. I personally like to think that the John Doe in this story is Jacob and that his mother (Alice) died right before the events of this movie in her constant pursuit to keep Freddy at bay.

4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: Dream Master picks up right where Dream Warriors left off. Kristin believes that Freddy is returning, and instead of believing her, the survivors from Dream Warriors are killed (this connection was a little more sloppy as the actress who played Kristin, the ingenue in Dream Warriors, didn't return for Dream Child, but the rest of the actors did.) Kristin retains the power to call people into her dreams and as a last ditch effort to once and for all trap Freddy in her dream (because she is the last of the children of the parents who killed him) she accidentally calls in Alice. Alice, who learns she is the guardian of the good gates of dreams (dream master), gains a special talent from each of Freddy's victims (starting with the ability to call people into her dreams from Kristin). This has a larger body count (3 survivors from Dream Warriors and 3 new characters = 6!)

Has everything a sequel needs: It continues the plot through from the previous movie onto the next movie; has a higher body count; doesn't change the mythos' but adds a new twist (dream powers being transferred to the Dream Master). The coolest part of the power transfer is how Kristin uses each power to transform from the meek girl at the first part of the movie into a power house that can believably take on Freddy!

3. Wes Craven's New Nightmare (Nightmare on Elm Street 7) is another film in the franchise that I'm hesitant to compare to the rest, but again my favorite serial killer is in it, so here goes.

Heather Langenkamp (Nancy Thompson in the meta-series) returns for a 2nd time (3rd movie), but this time she isn't playing Nancy, but herself. This whole movie takes place outside the reality of the movies and in our own reality, where Heather is an actress who played Nancy and has lunch with Wes Craven. But as Heather is leading her life some strange events start happening and her son is going insane over the course of the movie.

Freddy returns with a new look as fear itself. And Wes says it's chosen the form of Freddy because it is a familiar form! Throughout the movie, Heather and her son are haunted by Freddy until he forces Heather to return to Nancy so he can finally defeat her in their original battle.

What makes this movie stand out the most is, that although it completely disregards the previous movies, it adds a whole new depth to the series. There are also dozens of throw-backs to the previous movies.

Body count = 4 (3 credited to accidents and 1 out right slasher/Freddy style murder).

2.A Nightmare on Elm Street (1), marks the first appears of all my "friends" including Heather Langenkamp as Nancy and Jonny Depp as her boyfriend Glen.

Nancy and her friends are being haunted in their dreams by some nightmare villain. About half way through the story, Nancy finds out that Freddy was a child molester from several years ago that her parents (and a bunch of other parents) burned because he was found innocent (someone didn't sign the arrest warrant in the right place). So to enact his revenge he haunts their children's dreams; and if you die in a dream, you die in real life.

How scary this movie must have been? I've seen it too much to be frightened by it now, but at age 7 I was scared shitless. Freddy was a silent killer in this movie (no one liners about death like in the sequels) which made his even more scary. And although the effects were simplistic, they really got their point across.

Death count is 3 teens and 1 adult = 4! Much fewer than any of the Friday films of the time, but because of dream aspect of these killing, it made it all the more frightening.

And number 1!

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is closely linked plot wise to Nightmare 1. This story picks up 6 years after the first and marks the return of Nancy. She's now a dream psychologist and wants to help a bunch of teens survive their nightmares, despite being locked away at Westin Hills Mental Institute. With the help of a fellow psychologist, Nancy and the teens try their best to take down Freddy. Kristin (who returns for Dream Child) begins to learn how to use her dream power of pulling people into her dreams. And the other teens also begin to realize that in their dreams, they do have some control. But all this is for naught as they are ill prepared to use it.

How could I possibly pick a sequel as the best? Well, it was just the one I had the most exposure to as a child (again I was 7) and the idea that these teens could finally fight back in their dreams seemed to offer me a little hope (although their efforts were futile). This movie also adds to the mythos of the meta-story and directly connects to Nightmare 1 and Dream Warrior. Also this movie has a higher body count (6 - - 4 teens, Nancy's Father and Nancy!) What more could you want in a movie? BTW this is actually my favorite movie of all time and I LOVE watching it!

That's it, that's the list of the

Friday, October 23, 2009

What is Culture?

Today I had a Professional Development workshop and we were asked to define the culture of our school...

Well in order to define the culture of a school, we first have to define what culture is: I wrote down the following notes:

"What is culture?
  • people
  • holidays
  • places
  • moral values (beliefs)
  • celebrations
  • rituals
  • handling crisis 
  • family? or just a connection or oppression? 
And of course I couldn't think of anything else for about 20 minutes. What is culture? (Wikipedia had several definitions if you'd like to check it out.) Is it a group of people who have shared beliefs? The easy answer is yes, one is part of a culture because of how one thinks, or what one thinks is right and moral. Then I started thinking about the "gay culture." And first I had to decide what is the gay culture. And there are very few things that link us together. Unlike a Native American tribe we have no ritualistic dance (although dancing is a stereotype in the "gay culture"). Unlike Jewish people, we have no linking religion that we all share (although Diva's again are that stereotype). We don't have holidays (Maybe a pride march is the closest we get). We don't have a location that we all come from (for instance Lesbos Island). So what keeps us together.

Sex. Oppression. Crisis. That's what I came down to.

The gay culture is a counter culture, while it can easily be found in any other group of people, we are all connected by our lack of fitting into the norm of heterosexual acts (although Bisexual people and Str8, men on the DL and other exceptions are the rule). As a gay man, I have an automatic familial connection to some one who is gay! I route for them in movies (hell if there's a gay character in a bad movie, it automatically makes is a good movie). We are connected by our sex and that's it.

Because that is our strongest connection to our culture, we unite under times of oppression and crisis when our rights to express our culture are denied. When Mathew Sheppard died because he liked to have sex with men, we united. This crisis took great story telling and helped create a stronger awareness of the crisis the gay culture faces all the time.

These crises are because of oppression! We are oppressed because we are gay. Because we are "counter" the heteronormative  culture we are deemed less. We have our rights stripped away and are looked upon as second class citizens because of who we have sex with!

When discussing culture today, my colleagues talked about shared values and a history of likeness and traditions and foods and dance and stories. Not once did they mention sex. Not once did they mention oppression. They looked at the positive aspects of culture, and I can't seem to stop thinking that culture is just one of those social constructs put into place by the old, rich, white men to help give them a sense of superiority and reasons to oppress those who are different.

What is culture? Culture is a social construct used to connect people. So they will be able to check off a little box on some survey. (Photo credit is actually me!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Theatre Ketchup

So this weekend I saw a lot of theatre! And it's time to play "catch-up"

Thursday 10/8: A Flea In Her Ear presented at Source Theatre. This French farce was hilarious! All because of a pair of suspenders, one household in France is thrown upside down as one spouse thinks the other is cheating! The show was great, I saw a Pay What You Can. The space is awkwardly long, so some of the action was far from me, but because of the intimate seating, I could deal with it. The acting was great too!

Friday 10/9: The Alchemist by Ben Jonson at Shakespeare Theatre Company. I have a subscription to the Shakespeare Theatre Company this season, and so far, I'm enjoying it. The Alchemist is about two swindlers who's plans unravel as the play draws to an end. This was my first show by Jonson (A Shakespearean contemporary) and was very enjoyable! The acting was superb and I really enjoyed the show (other than sitting next to a woman who thought the show was WAY more laugh out loud than it really was).

Saturday 10/10: Mike Birbiglia at Warner. This man is so funny! I love him, he quickly became my favorite comedian! But I did have some problems with the show as a "Show." I see a lot of theatre. But I've never seen a show start 20 minutes late! That was crazy. Then there was a crappy singing comedian who performed for 20mins! I expected some sort of warm up act, but this guy just never made me laugh. Then there was a 15 min intermission! (Which seemed like a waste of time. )

Monday 10/12: Laramie Project Epilogue presented locally by Arena Stage. Is a look back at what Laramie is like now. This play was presented in 150 cities across the world last night (free). The actors/actresses were amazing as was the script. It still asks the tough questions of what is life like after a hate crime; what can we do to make life easier for GLBT people all over the world. I was in complete tears the entire first act!

Sunday, October 4, 2009


If anyone wants to breed this dog in a miniature version, and then give it to me, I'd happily accept.