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Why Freddy's Dead Bothers Longtime Nightmare On Elm Street Fans

Among fans of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, no entry is quite so puzzling as 1991's Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. Arriving between one of the darkest installments in the series (1989's A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child) and the most ingeniously meta (1994's Wes Craven's New Nightmare), Freddy's Dead simply has the distinction of being the most gimmicky: it featured the iconic Freddy Krueger at his most hammy, giving him more one-liners than kills; its last ten minutes were presented in 3-D, an unnecessary device that was nevertheless an integral part of the film's marketing campaign; and, like most horror movies with the word "final" in the title, it promised to bring a smashing close to a hallowed series, instead giving us an anticlimactic "ending" that was, of course, not actually an ending at all.

Still, for all its inessential cheesiness (as opposed to the later crossover film Freddy vs. Jason, which was absolutely essential cheese), the flick has its merits; its heroine, Maggie Burroughs (Lisa Zane) is an appropriately determined and badass nemesis for Freddy, and the great Robert Englund is always a pleasure to watch in the role of the disfigured dream stalker, even when we're wishing the screenwriters would let him lay off the quips. It may not have been the "conclusion" that fans wanted, but recently, the Nightmare fandom has gotten vocal about a different issue they have with the movie. See, every previous flick had at least given a modicum of narrative continuity, regarding the events of the previous films, and taken a stab (no pun intended) at explaining how Freddy returned after being vanquished. Freddy's Dead, though, simply skipped right over that narrative beat, leaving fans to wonder: after what seemed like his permanent demise at the end of The Dream Child, how the heck did Freddy come back?

How did Freddy return after Nightmare on Elm Street 5?

In case you need a little refresher, The Dream Child opened like most Nightmare flicks do, with a weakened Freddy finding a way to return to stalk the dreams of Elm Street's children. This time, after being soundly defeated by Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox) at the conclusion of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Freddy keys in on Alice's unborn child, using its dreams to gain enough power to once again begin stalking Alice and her friends. With the help of her buddy Mark (Joe Seely), Alice discovers that the nun she's been seeing in her dreams is Amanda Krueger, Freddy's mother (first seen in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors), who is determined to stop her son; in an admittedly convoluted series of events, Freddy is defeated by a manifestation of Alice's son Jacob, then seemingly banished forever by the ghost of Amanda.

In the flick's final scene, we see Alice playing with her new son in the park — with nary a hint of an appearance by Freddy (sure, there does happen to be a group of creepy, jump-roping kids nearby, but the dude himself is nowhere to be seen). Given that uncharacteristic finality, fans could be forgiven for going into Freddy's Dead expecting a lengthy, enjoyably ridiculous explanation for how Freddy returned, but instead, they got... no explanation at all. The flick opens years after the events of The Dream Child, and Freddy is back, having killed pretty much every child on Elm Street. How is he back? Good question! He just... is, and the means by which it happened is such a glaring omission that some fans were left wondering if they somehow missed an entire movie.

Fans on Reddit agree that Freddy's return makes no sense

Over on Reddit's horror subreddit, user Nightscape got a discussion rolling around this point. "I have been on a Nightmare on Elm Street binge this last week and just finished Freddy's Dead," they wrote. "In the previous movies they gave some sort of reason on how he came back but the last one doesn't seem to give any details on how he is back. Did I miss something in the movie?"

By and large, most users agreed that the filmmakers, indeed, hadn't provided any kind of answer. "It's never actually explained, because Freddy's Dead doesn't really bother to acknowledge the events of Part 5," wrote user skilledgiallocop. "Yup, no sense. They legit did not think about this stuff." User rabbitacolypse attempted to offer an explanation, opining that the film's amnesiac main character John, the last of the Elm Street kids, helps to bring Freddy back by jogging the memory of the doctors at the institution where he ends up: "Freddy comes back any time people start to fear him or acknowledge his existence whatsoever," they wrote. "When the doctors start bringing his memory back he basically infects the other kids with the fear of Freddy and causes him to come back." User cameraspeeding, though, didn't buy this take. "Freddy is already back before he meets the doctors," they wrote. "In Freddy's Dead, he's just back. There is no explanation."

While some users posited that the "dream demons" seen in the flick's 3-D sequence must have had something to do with Freddy's comeback, this — heck, the very existence of the "dream demons" — doesn't exactly square with the previous films' internal logic. In the end, user Twokindsofpeople offered up what seems to be the most plausible explanation: "Studio executives wanted more money." Well, that's... tough to disagree with.