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A postmodern horror classic too far ahead of its time breaks the fourth wall of fresh reverence

At least the world finally managed to catch on.

via New Line Cinema

Wes Craven turned horror on its head and relaunched the stagnating slasher in spectacular fashion when Scream arrived in 1996, with the postmodern and self-aware classic breathing new life into an increasingly-stale genre. Of course, he’d already accomplished much the same feat two years earlier in New Nightmare, but it appeared as though audiences weren’t quite ready for it then.

It endures as not only the second highest-rated entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise on Rotten Tomatoes behind the original with a 79 percent score, but it’s also rated higher than Scream on the aggregator. However, the seventh installment in the long-running misadventures of Freddy Krueger couldn’t even crack $20 million at the box office, making it the lowest-earning chapter – an unwanted distinction it still holds.

via New Line Cinema

The instant cult favorite blended reality with fantasy in audacious fashion, with actors Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund playing themselves. The OG scream queen from the seminal 1984 opener is debating whether or not to make another Elm Street with director Craven, only for her son to fall under Freddy’s spell, forcing the two enemies to collide perilously close to the fourth wall.

Bold, brave, and utterly fantastic, New Nightmare winking at the camera proved a lot more polarizing in 1994 than it does now, with plenty of spiritual successors working from the blueprint established to embrace and subvert the most famous tropes in all of horror. It continues to sink its claws into new converts to this day, too, with a first-time viewer on Reddit revealing that it instantly made it onto their all-time horror Top 10.

Everyone else is in almost unanimous agreement on the joys of New Nightmare, but it admittedly took the bloodthirsty masses a while to get there.

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Scott Campbell

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