As New Line Sees It
By: Philip Nutman
Published in Fangoria #88.
“I think it’s valuable for horror films in general to avoid narrative complexity because it’s hard for people to be scared when they’re confused,” opines Michael De Luca, New Line Cinema’s Vice President of Creative Development, one of the key people responsible for shaping Freddy’s cinematic life. “If you’re sitting there trying to work out what’s going on, it takes your attention away from the atmosphere.”
Even though New Line was initially excited by Skipp & Spector’s first draft, the material was judged by the above criteria. “We dropped the dream pool angle because it made the story too complex. We felt explaining the dream child was a complex task in itself, and if we introduced the dream pool and Freddy’s origins, the whole movie became back story, expositional,” he states. “The dream pool is a great concept and it should be there in some subtextural way, but the minute you literally explain what it is, it eats up a lot of screen time. It’s a concept that at best would work for a fraction of the audience; we felt it would be like trying to work in a Stanley Kubrick element to the series,” De Luca maintains.
Despite these decisions, De Luca, who is also a writer—he penned episodes of Freddy’s Nightmares and In the Mouth of Madness, a feature script slated to be Tony (Hellbound) Randel’s next picture—has nothing but praise for Skipp & Spector’s work. “We really liked their ideas about Amanda Krueger, the way they tied it into the dream child angle,” he enthuses. “We read their rewrite of Class of 1999, which was good, and were impressed with their script of their novel Deadlines, which we’re now developing.”
Aside from complexities, the reason New Line did not continue to employ Skipp & Spector was one of geographical and time constraints. “The problem with developing a Nightmare script is because of the pictures’ frequency. The schedule is crushing to any writer,” De Luca continues. “It requires very short turnaround time between drafts. That, combined with the logistical problems of their not being in LA and the fact they were working on Deadlines, made it potentially counterproductive. We had no time to wait, and we needed material turned in immediately.”
As for Leslie Bohem’s simultaneously written first draft, this is standard movie business practice for sequels. “A lot of sequels have multiple drafts,” De Luca argues. “Although Les went off in a different direction in his first draft, he was here in LA and could do what he wanted, which was for him to refine the Skipp & Spector story. It was a good fusion of their ideas and ours.”
Other writers originally approached concerning the project included Dennis Etchison, Richard Christian Matheson, George R.R. Martin (author of the highly regarded vampire novel Fever Dream), Frank Darabont and Fred Dekker. At one point, New Line was even considering offering the project to Stephen King as a writing/directing package. “We didn’t pursue it,” De Luca shrugs. “We learned Stephen’s no longer interested in directing.” The producers also approached comic book artist/writer Frank (The Dark Knight Returns) Miller. “He was too busy with RoboCop II, but we’re going to be talking with him concerning Nightmare 6,” De Luca reveals.
David Schow is another scribe likely to have some involvement with the next sequel. “Poor timing was the only factor that stopped us from using more of Dave’s dialogue,” De Luca admits. “Schow basically reinvented the characters through his dialogue polish, but those characters had already been established by the actors and wouldn’t have said the lines Dave wrote. We took what was applicable from his version and combined it with the material Bill Wisher wrote. But since Dave did such a great job on the script of Leatherface, we’d like him to work on Nightmare 6.
“I think Nightmare 5 reflects what is best about the series, and what’s lacking,” De Luca concludes candidly. “We always try to do better next time out. I’m still enthused by the fact that we always attempt to come up with stories that offer more than people expect of this kind of series, and Nightmare 6 will aim high.”