A Haunted Childhood Courtesy of Wes Craven – A List of Nightmares

wesNine, Ten, never sleep again.

Walking to King Soopers at eight-years-old with a friend, having zero trouble from the clerk renting a copy of A Nightmare on Elmstreet and watching (through my fingers) Tina in a bloody t-shirt as she was dragged across the bedroom ceiling.

Johnny Depp not doing a funny accent or being weird and just acting, without pretense then being good enough to get murdered in a very bloody and wet way in a water bed with headphones on!

The appropriated and haunting nursery rhyme, “One two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four better lock your door. Five, six, grab your crucifix…” was repeated, mantra-like at the playground on the four square court to fuck with and or intimidate opponents into foul or error.

Seven, eight, better stay up late.

Dressing up like a child-murdering psychopath who was burned alive by a vigilante group of grieving parents and returning as a nightmare-controlling demon in a dirty red and green sweater seemed totally appropriate in 1985, for Halloween or just for fun.

With a little bit of effort and some resourcefulness, an old garden glove, four popsicle sticks, red magic markers and scotch tape made for a quick and dirty way to make a semi-decent Freddy glove or pair of “fingerknives…something he’d made himself. They made a horrible sound.” Extra points for using Grandpa’s dusty fedora.

Add some Mr. Pibb, handfuls of dime store candy and easily frightened siblings at a sleepover and the screams would wake the neighborhood at 3am.

Five, six, grab your crucifix.

Of all the well established global franchise cults, Catholicism has a corner on the market for being the most frightening, steeped in violence and blood rituals. Catholic school was constantly infiltrated by dark powers. Most of these forces manifested as whispered fart jokes, dick jokes or vile new curse words used to battle bullies on the monkey bars. After being kicked painfully in the tail bone by a knucklehead bully who, today, is likely a successful dentist, big game trophy hunter and card carrying asshat for life, I was asked not to return to Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School for calling him a “retarded bastard shit mouth.” They took issue with the “bastard” part as they have fairly rigid strictures about sex out of wedlock. I also attribute my expulsion to my constant crude drawings of skeletons, demons and, yep, Freddy Krueger slicing and dicing through teenagers in skimpy outfits and the school’s Nuns in a rain of Crayola red blood and gore.

Three, four, better lock your door.

In the basement of my friend’s house we devoured Dream Warriors through multiple screenings. It was gritty. Punk rock. A world that still had Psychiatric Hospitals. Misfit suicidal kids from broken homes and estranged families were locked in a mental ward and terrorized by Krueger. Dream Warriors was the first Go Team-style film that really worked well. Each teen had a special skill they brought to the table to battle the master of nightmares.

Lagenkamp reprised her role as Nancy Thompson and had to follow through with some weird ritual burial of Krueger per her alcoholic father, played with aplomb by John Saxon. It was a return to form for the franchise after a fairly unsatisfying Nancy Drew/possession trope of the second film of the franchise, Freddy’s Revenge. Craven had story and screenwriting credit for Dream Warriors. It stared a young and volatile Patricia Arquette as Kristen Parker (and it seems fitting to add that by the time she played Alabama in True Romance she had her siren scream nailed down). Patricia’s angst and anger were palpable. Believable even if it was a little over-wrought.

Freddy was hilarious. Three had the best one-liners like Robert Englund’s famously ad-libbed Freddy line, “Welcome to Prime Time Bitch” as he shoves the head of teen speed lover into the television screen. Zsa Zsa Gabor and Dick Cavett made cameos! Laurence Fishburn. Naked boobies were visible in the scene with Joey, which turned out not so good for Joey.

We wore out the tape rewinding that bit, one of us checking the stairs for curious parents while the other hit pause at just the right moment [nipple framing]. Along with director Chuck Russell, Frank Darabont (Walking Dead) was involved in the rewrite and according to some shit I just googled, most of the original script by Craven was deemed too dark. Craven based the setting of Dream Warriors on a prison-like “tough love” institution that were common in the late 80’s and into the 90’s and run with fervor by religious zealots and unqualified “counselors.”

It’s hard enough being a teenager without worrying about getting shot for wearing a hooded sweatshirt while strolling through the neighborhood, but add abduction, idiot bureaucrats and Nurse Ratchet-like wardens and you’ve got a stellar recipe for nightmare juice.

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.

Wes Craven was a pioneer in the genre. Ahead of his time. Say what you will about franchises and the inherent cheesiness of the slasher genre. Craven created worlds (Nightmare, Scream) and tapped primal fears. Freddy’s Nightmares, an American Horror Anthology series that had two new stories per episode starring the how sweet, fresh meat of Brad Pitt and punk rock babe/Tank Girl, Lori Petty. Oh Lori Petty you were the bee’s knees in my adolescent fantasy.

Nightmare is being asleep and killed by your dreams. Strange to think about Craven’s body of work with the benefit of hindsight but those films seem much tamer by today’s standards.

You could turn on the news and have nightmares for weeks. Years if you’ve been paying attention since the Bush administration.

Craven was a brilliant creative force and he will be missed.

Thanks for the nightmares!

Rest in Peace.

You can check out the original script for Dream Warriors by Craven at http://nightmareonelmstreetfilms.com/site/films/a-nightmare-on-elm-street-3-dream-warriors/a-nightmare-on-elm-street-3-dream-warriors-scripts

Empress Of “Me” to be relased Sept. 11 2015

Had this plodding, noisy gem of counter-pop in my head the past few days. I’d love to have Song Exploder’s Hrishikesh Hirway explode this track.

Check out “Kitty Kat” from the forthcoming Empress Of “Me” LP due from XL in Sept.

Pre-order LP at http://shopusa.xlrecordings.com/me

Nightmare Fortress “No Exit” on Purple Trans Vinyl

Sometimes I’m late to the party. Most of the time. Actually. The river is deep and the valley is low in music. The internet, for music, is the cool older brother most music dorks wish they’d had.

Mi compadre and No Bad Songs alum, Eddie Tesla, turned me on to the exquisite dark wave beauty for Pac North Westers Nightmare Fortress  who released their debut The Wanting earlier this summer on translucent vinyl, no less. I impulse bought the LP without considering I might want the t-shirt too. Fuck. It was a steal. That and the Mr. Tube and the Flying objects record today. I’m almost glad I inadvertently forgot about the release of Chelsea Wolfe’s Abyss record (nice write up in the latest issue of High Times for the Wolfe).

Nightmare Fortress exists in that Dark Wave realm but it’s really just Goth/new wave revisited. They could easily share a bill with Cold Cave or Chelsea Wolfe. Sweet spot between Siouxsie and the Banshees Join Hands and Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration, two perennial favorites in the No Bad Songs oeuvre – plus I’m partial to the nostalgia b&w weirdness of the “A Question of Time” music video, having danced the smurf shuffle to the tune at Ground Zero in Boulder in the long-time-agos.

So. The party started and I was there when I got the invitation but I was distracted by something else, some other pretty thing in the hallowed screen, and missed the introduction to Nightmare Fortresses when I got the link to the KEXP performance…But, timing man, it has a funny way of penetrating the noise. Like when a song hits you and you’re like, “How the fuck haven’t I always heard this song – looking at you Ryan Adams “Give Me Something Good” and QOTSA “The Vampyre of Time and Memory.” Is there a theme here?

No Exit is a play by Jean Paul Sartre about three souls in the waiting room in hell attended by a functionary. They suffer in mediocrity. Banality. Bored by one another’s company. Unable to feel pleasure. Unable to escape the stupidity of themselves or their companions or their confinement. Perceived confinement.

“No Exit” by Nightmare Fortress is a song about possession. Control. A struggle between everything and nothing and reconciling those experiences. Existential ennui. Of course. A dysmorphic reaction to the externality of the self. This KEXP performance is pretty spot on to the recording. No fidelity loss and the studio version is note for note except for a pop of breath on the mic windscreen.

The LP is great. Got a purple trans version on the way. Gonna do the smurf-toe dance late at night and dream about clove cigarettes and crunchy energy drinks.

L.A. Witch “Kill My Baby Tonight”

Psych punk/rock and roll outfit L.A. Witch’s new single, “Kill My Baby Tonight” is on repeat today.

It’s dark and driving and full of moody quips, like the Ronettes on acid with a healthy dose of EM Cioran.

Their full length is due later this summer from Lollipop Records, also home to dream rock outfit, Sunshine Mind, among other excellent artists and bands.