Lucy Emerson (Dianne Wiest) is a divorced mother of two teenage sons, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Coey Haim), who relocates to the strange oceanside California town of Santa Carla, which is filled with a mix of punk and hippie cultures. The residents of Santa Carla have taken to calling it the “murder capital of the world”, with deaths and disappearances occurring on an increasingly frequent basis. Kiefer Sutherland plays David, the leader of a motorcycle gang that has been terrorizing the community, and one of the members, a sexy female named Star (Jami Gertz), has taken a mutual liking to Michael. Michael wants to get closer to Star, but this proves to be a risk, as David makes him a member of the gang through a blood ritual that ends up turning Michael into a half-vampire (not full until he makes his first kill). With Star’s help, along with his brother Sam and a couple of comic book geeks with vampire knowledge named Edgar and Allen, aka the Frog Brothers, Michael has to find a way to reverse the curse. Joel Schumacher directs this 80s horror-comedy vampire favorite.
The simple premise: A killer android (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent back to 1984 to assassinate the mother (Linda Hamilton) of a resistance leader of the future. A soldier of that resistance (Michael Biehn) is also sent back to protect her from harm, but the killer android is virtually unstoppable in its mission. This classic science fiction/action/horror/thriller represents the best in all of those genres that the 1980s has to offer. James Cameron put his name on the map with this action masterpiece.
The sixth and final in the original Freddy Krueger arc finds us ten years in the future, where the psycho demon has killed off all but one of the original Elm Street children. Needing new souls to maintain his power, Freddy plans to use the last teen to get him out of Springwood to new towns and new teens to murder. However, his past comes back to haunt him in a big way, leading Freddy to have to battle for his life beyond the dream realm. Rachel Talalay takes over the directorial chores in this lighter entry in the series.
The fifth entry in the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series sees the return of Lisa Wilcox as the heroine, Alice, taking on Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) yet again, who has come back to haunt her nightmares through her unborn child. Freddy wants to be reincarnated by feeding the fetus the soul of Alice’s friends, and with the baby asleep most of the time, the terrifying dreams seem non-stop. Stephen Hopkins directs this darker and gloomier installment.
Future action movie maestro Renny Harlin came to Hollywood from Finland to take over the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise for one entry with THE DREAM MASTER, in which Freddy Krueger gets resurrected in order to get revenge on those who put him in his grave, and to hopefully take a few more teenage souls along the way. Brian Helgeland co-scripts this effort that brings together Robert Englund, Tuesday Knight, Lisa Wilcox, Rodney Eastman, Ken Sagoes, and Danny Hassel. The result would prove to be the biggest box-office success for the series to that point, and a killer soundtrack to boot.
The third time was certainly the charm in the Nightmare on Elm Street” series with DREAM WARRIORS, which put together a team of adept but troubled teenagers in taking on the fiercely powerful (and growing more so by the day, Freddy Krueger, who is out to kill these kids in their nightmares. Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is back to show them how to defeat the evil rascal, but they need to work as a team to do it. The debut role for Patricia Arquette, plus an early appearance from Laurence Fishburne, make it a highlight, along with, of course, Robert Englund in his most iconic of roles. Chuck Russell directs from a screenplay whose talent includes Frank Darabont and Wes Craven himself.
A very speedy follow-up to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET replaces Wes Craven as the creative force, taking the series in a new and unexpected direction under the guiding influence of Jack Sholder. Screenwriter David Chaskin supplies the subversive screenplay that caused it to become a cult hit in the gay horror-loving community for its homoerotic subtext that adds one more layer to this story of a confused teenage boy struggling to control his impulses driving him to commit heinous acts, with only the love of his gal pal to perhaps curb him from doing Freddy’s bidding. While derided at the time of its release, the film has its champions, even if it deviates the most from Craven’s vision among the sequels. Mark Patton, Kim Myers and Robert Englund star.
Wes Craven refreshed the struggling slasher film genre with this more surreal and intense take, saving New Line Cinema with one of the big surprise hits of 1984: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Heather Langenkamp stars as Nancy Thompson, who finds out that she is not alone in having a recurring dream about a badly burnt and scarred man named Freddy Krueger who terrorizes her with horrific acts of terror (Craven says that the character’s name was based on a school mate who bullied him as a child). What’s even more scary is that her friends are starting to die mysteriously, and Nancy is sure that if she were to fall asleep and dream, she will be next in line to be a victim. Her parents think here is something wrong with her, and the local police can’t believe a word of it, so she must fend for herself. But surely she can’t stay awake forever! John Saxon, Johnny Depp and Robert Englund also co-star in this first of many films in the long-running and beloved horror series.
Wes Craven wrote and directed this adaptation of the DC Comics superhero, once a scientist trying to help humanity, who turns superhuman when he is doused with his own experimental formula to use plants to help humans while in the nearby Louisiana swamp. Adrienne Barbeau stars as the government agent sent to oversee the lab, with Ray Wise playing the scientist side, and Dick Durock as the hulking alter-ego, Swamp Thing. Louis Jourdan is the bad guy out to get the formula to use for his own nefarious purposes.
Note: I neglected to mention that next week’s show will be on the follow-up, RETURN OF SWAMP THING (1989)
Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s off-Broadway darkly comical stage musical came to life in 1986, directed by Muppet-alum Frank Oz, featuring Rick Moranis, and small roles for Steve Martin, Bill Murray and John Candy. Ellen Greene co-stars in this story about a 1960s loser who finds success with an exotic plant that makes all his dreams come true, if only he finds a way to keep it fed — with human blood! Production design and the catchy tunes makes this a favorite musical from the 80s.