That all changed, though, when, in 2003 when I had really gotten into the franchise, I bought the DVD of New Nightmare and watched it from beginning to end. I liked it the first time but the second time I watched it, which was one evening when I was by myself, I absolutely fell in love with it... so much so that it became my favorite Nightmare on Elm Street movie. I still think that this is the best this series has to offer. Other than some aforementioned dumb moments at the end, everything about this movie works for me, from the cast, the story, the concept, the music, etc. Listening to Craven's great audio commentary on the film (which I highly recommend), as well as learning more about him and how philosophical he was, made me appreciate it even more and realize what a truly great and intelligent flick it is. For that matter, not only is this my favorite Nightmare movie but I think this is the best movie that Wes Craven ever made. He made some good movies before and after New Nightmare but I feel that this was his greatest accomplishment and one he was never able to top.
Actor Heather Langenkamp dreams about working on a new Nightmare on Elm Street movie involving her husband, Chase, an effects artist, and their young son, Dylan. Suddenly, an animatronic, metal, clawed glove, meant to be Freddy's new weapon in the film, suddenly comes to life, killing two of the effects artists and almost kills Chase when Heather wakes up. She awakens in the middle of a violent earthquake at her home in Los Angeles and she and Chase protect their terrified son until the quake settles down. Dylan and Heather then notice that Chase's fingers are cut... in a manner that they had been in Heather's dream. Heather prepares for an interview on a talk show about the upcoming tenth anniversary of the Nightmare series, which she's not enthused about since she's been stalked lately by a man who speaks to her over the phone in Freddy's voice, as well as because of the nightmares. After Chase leaves for a job, more strange things happen, like the walls in the bedroom cracking to look like they'd been clawed, Dylan watching the original Nightmare on Elm Street on TV and screaming after she turns it off, the phone calls starting up again, and another, brief earthquake. Heather reluctantly leaves Dylan with his babysitter, Julie, for the talk show and there, is reunited with Robert Englund, who enters the set in full Freddy Krueger makeup and costume and plays to the crowd, although Heather finds the sight disturbing. Afterward, Heather is called over to the main offices of New Line Cinema and meets with Bob Shaye, who tells her that Wes Craven is writing a script for a new Nightmare movie and that she's the star. Although flattered, Heather turns down the offer, with Bob seeming quite anxious to get her onboard and hints that he's been experiencing strange happenings as well. When she gets back home, she finds Dylan having an episode where it's as if someone is after him in his sleep. He sings one of the verses from the Freddy nursery rhyme, although Julie says that she didn't let him watch the movie on TV. Heather calls Chase and tells him what happened, prompting him to decide to come home. However, on the way, he falls asleep at the wheel and is gutted by the new Freddy glove he'd been secretly working on. When Heather is told what happened and looks at Chase's body at the morgue, she sees that he looks like he'd been clawed rather than having died in an accident like they said. Another earthquake happens at Chase's funeral and Heather is knocked unconscious, hallucinating Freddy dragging Dylan down into his father's coffin as well as the corpse coming to life. More strange things happen, with Dylan eventually entering into something of a catatonic state and being taken to the hospital, where the doctors begin to suspect child abuse. Eventually, Heather meets with Craven, who tells her that his nightmares, which he has been writing into the script, are about an ancient, evil entity that can be capture in its purest forms by storytellers and that it's been held captive as Freddy in the Nightmare movies... but now that the series has ended, the entity is free and has decided to cross over into the real world. The only way to stop him is to make another movie and Heather will soon have to make a choice about whether or not she's willing to play Nancy again in order to put evil back in its place.
Not only is this both my favorite Nightmare on Elm Street movie and my favorite film by Wes Craven, I would say that the music score by J. Peter Robinson is my favorite of the series as well. It fits the movie to a T, effortlessly swinging from atmospheric and chilling to bombastic and adrenaline-pumping, as well as from scary to both warm and heroic. I like that it's almost a purely orchestral score, with little of it sounding electronic, and I also think it was a good decision not to put any songs on the soundtrack (save for a very brief spot of Losing My Religion on the radio in Chase's truck), making this the only film where it's just score playing over the ending credits. There are three themes in particular that come to mind when I think of this film. One is this very eerie, frightening one which you hear when Heather calls Chase after his little episode in his sleep. It's a very foreboding piece, with what sounds like distant horns playing against a melodic, violin sound in the foreground that builds in intesity as the piece progresses, giving you the feeling that something bad is out there, waiting for them. The second one is the theme that plays during the sequence on the freeway, which is my favorite of the whole score. It starts out rather heroic-sounding when Heather drives away from the hospital, with these magnificent horns playing as she calls John over the phone while looking for Dylan, but when he reahes the freeway and sees Freddy appear in the sky behind him, it turns very sinister but still keeps an exciting, fast rhythm to it, as Freddy grabs Dylan and dangles him in front of the vehicles on the freeway. My favorite part of this theme is what you hear after the frantic piano bit in the middle, when Heather has to duck to avoid the sliding tank. It has an absolutely nightmarish sound to it, with a loud horn that I thought was that of the tanker truck in the sequence and a haunting, screeching sound that you're bound to hear in your dreams late at night! If this series was ever a pure mixture of action and horror, this is the kind of stuff you'd hear all the time because it fits both genres perfectly. And finally, you have the music that plays when Heather accepts her role as Nancy, allowing Freddy to enter reality completely. As you see him rising up through Dylan's bed, the music is soft but, at the same time, it's building, then stops for a beat of silence before going into a full-blown, bombastic sound, with these loud, chanting voices and this string/piano sound accompanying that both get louder and louder until they climax and go on from there. There's something of a reprise of this theme during the first part of the ending credits but it doesn't as cool to me.
As I said, besides purely scary music, there's some warm, loving music, like this soft, piano theme for the scenes between Heather and her family and this very hopeful, triumphant piece you hear at the end when the entity has been destroyed and its world is coming apart. Robinson also makes good use of the original Nightmare melody, creating a very creepy, slow and distant version of it that you hear several times, such as during the first phone call and when Freddy calls Heather Nancy during their struggle in the bedroom, as well as a newer, plucking version of it when Heather sees that her house has become the one from the movies. He even effectively turns it into a cheesy, talkshow version when Robert Englund emerges in makeup and costume and plays to the crowd, before segueing into an ominous version of it when Heather becomes disturbed by the image of him. If I have one complaint about the score, it's that it reuses the same, frantic piece for when Freddy attacks one too many times for my taste but that's a minor nitpick. To end on a positive note, the last part of the end credits uses that warm piece I mentioned earlier but then goes into this very creepy, soft piano version of the melody that becomes more ethereal and airy as it goes on before ending with a hollow sort of sound... and then, the last thing you hear are the echoing sounds of kids singing the nursery rhyme. Listen to that late at night when the house is completely silent: you'll be thoroughly creeped out.