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23. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Miko Hughes, Tracy Middendorf, David Newsom

We’ve been hard on Wes Craven as of late, calling out his 10 worst movies earlier this year and downplaying Scream 4, but that’s only because we’re aware of just how great the man can be when he takes chances. Look no further than 1994’s New Nightmare, the franchise’s seventh entry, and its most ambitious.

Craven plays himself, a director working on a Nightmare On Elm Street sequel, while original heroine Heather Langenkamp also joins in on the meta storytelling as, that’s right, herself. But then Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger shows up as, indeed, himself and starts killing Langenkamp’s friends off and possesses her young son.

The beauty of New Nightmare is how well Craven handles the self-reflective plot, giving the movie-within-a-movie premise its much-needed scares by minimizing Krueger’s funny one-liners used so overindulgently in the previous Nightmare sequels. If we ever see a Scream 5, perhaps Craven should co-star in it.

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