I have a confession to make. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD made me cry. And not for the reasons you might think.
By the time the 4th sequel in the NIGHTMARE franchise was about to shoot, I was already a full blown Freddy fanatic. Whereas I got to see the first 3 NIGHTMARE movies on cable and VHS, NIGHTMARE 4 was the first one I’d seen in theaters, so any potential follow-up, I was beyond excited for.
I still have a vague memory of Robert Englund doing a Q & A at a Fangoria Weekend of Horrors convention in New York City and repeatedly referring to the impending movie as “FREDDY 5,” and he kept making reference to Freddy Jr during the onstage chat. The basic template for “The Dream Child” was in place, but as uncovered in the epic documentary NEVER SLEEP AGAIN, there were a lot of versions discussed regarding what NIGHTMARE 5 would be before the cameras rolled.
The movie finally came out in theaters in 1989 and well…. it wasn’t very good. At least compared to its predecessors. However, as a devoted Freddy fan, I still bought everything that came out tied into the movie, including the official Fangoria Presents souvenir magazine. I’d read in great detail about the elaborate death sequences and FX perpetrated by David Miller, the great Howard Berger from KNB and R. Chris Briggs, who did the incredible “Freddy cycle” sequence. But this being the late ’80s, the MPAA was particularly harsh on horror movies and there were cuts made.
When A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD was announced for VHS release, it suddenly promised “the full length uncensored version! Containing material not seen in the theatrical release!” I had seen this box art ad a few weeks in advance and I was counting down the days! I mean, the theatrical version of NIGHTMARE 5 was 90 minutes. This new UNCUT version was 91 minutes! That’s one whole minute! What could it possibly be?! I waited and waited and as soon as school let out that fateful Friday, I rushed to my local mom & pop shop to rent the UNCUT NIGHTMARE 5 and was heartbroken when the clerk said, “sorry little dude. We only got one copy in and someone rented it.” So, I cried. Hey, give me a break. I was 13 years old at the time and this was important!
Point being, there was really nothing worth crying about. That whopping minute of additional footage is actually a few shots missing from each of the kill sequences. And now thanks to this magical place known as You Tube, you can watch them separate from the movie! Have a peek.
If you want a full breakdown of exactly what the additional shots are, there’s a good report you can find right here.
The interesting thing is that the only way to see this “uncut” version of the movie is via this VHS release. None of the subsequent DVD or Blu-Ray releases have ever had that additional minute of gore footage and I’m not sure why. In the same way that it was a marketing gimmick for the VHS, you could totally sell a whole chunk of these if they released it as a “collector’s edition.” Are the elements lost? Is there just not a demand? Freddy-mania is still prominent as we probably post once or twice every week about him and the NIGHTMARE franchise and there hasn’t been a new Freddy movie in 6 years?
Whatever the case, if you happen to have this VHS version of NIGHTMARE 5, hang onto it! It’s still the only way to watch the movie with all the FX gags in tact! The movie itself? Has it aged well? About 6 years ago, prior to the remake’s release, my FEARnet colleague Lawrence Raffel and I got up early one morning and decided to marathon the entire franchise in one day to get pumped and ready for the new movie. Our energy level was pretty high up until about Part 4. Once Part 5 started, there was a point where he turned to me and said, “I don’t mean to alarm you, but we’re only 15 minutes into this movie.”
I haven’t tried to watch it since, but maybe I’m due to give it another look! Let me break out the VCR!
UPDATE: Some savvy readers got in touch to inform us that there is one other format that the uncut version of NIGHTMARE 5 was available in. That’d be the laserdisc release! Odds are probably better for the VHS, but if you want a slightly better quality version, you can always hunt down the laserdisc and a laserdisc player!