Great Moments Of Censored Grue:
A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
Jack Valenti is in some ways still public enemy #1 if you are a rabid fan of the genre. Ex-president of America's film ratings and classification board, the MPAA, from 1968-2004, Valenti was a colossal pain in the ass to many a horror film maker for years, not to mention fans who have had to endure watered down versions of films for decades. Sometimes his influence was felt directly, other times indirectly, Mr. Valenti more often than naught proved to be the horror genre's greatest adversary, not to speak of the many talented special effects technicians, writers, directors, actors and fans that continuously felt the wrath of his moral cherry picking. Hundreds upon hundreds of horror films have yet to receive proper, unrated, uncensored releases dating back to the days when Mr. Valenti oversaw the content of what was to be deemed "appropriate" for adults in the USA. So we here at The October Country think that it's high time to begin celebrating some of these "lost" moments of cinematic slaughter. If not for their outright outrageous gore, then for the teams of hardworking special effects technicians and make-up men who undoubtedly worked so very hard, only to have their artistry eliminated from the public landscape.
For our maiden voyage into the world of truncated and censored scenes from horror films, we present to you A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (yeah, I still haven't shaken off the series since viewing Never Sleep Again a few weeks ago).
First up, the gruesome death of Springwood beefcake Dan Jordan (Danny Hassel, aka "one major league hunk"). The surviving male lead in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Danny Hassel reprises his role in the 5th Nightmare installment only to be the first to go rather memorably when he falls asleep at the wheel of his truck while racing to the aid of his girlfriend Alice (Nightmare 4 & 5's heroine, Lisa Wilcox). In his dream sequence, the young heartthrob (and subject of many a adolescent, uhhh, "private time" fantasies for yours truly) climbs aboard a motorcycle only to be burned, ripped, stabbed, steamed, sucked and generally torn asunder by the machine when much to his nasty surprise, Freddy Krueger reveals himself to be the very bike that unlucky Dan is riding (hmmmmm, Dan riding Robert Englund....never mind, this isn't "private time"). It's certainly one of the most torturous, drawn out and downright unpleasant demises ever concocted for one of Krueger's hapless victims. Wait. Well, no, it's not actually, it would have been had the MPAA not gotten their scissors out. Before you could say "snip, snip" the majority of Dan's death scene lay on the cutting room floor lest the film be slapped with the dreaded "X" rating. In the space of several minutes, Dan goes from handsome golden boy to a bio-mechanical nightmare (inspired by the works of legendary painter H.R. Giger) courtesy of the hard work of makeup artists Howard Berger and Robert Kurtzman (proving undoubtedly just how bottomlessly putrid Mr. Krueger is, only a creature of pure evil would mar such a beautiful face). In the R-rated theatrical version, gears and tubes and and all manner of pointy, stabby metal thingamajigs are about to penetrate Dan's body, before the MPAA enforced censorship has the film cut away to the aftermath. Dan screams and screams and comes apart bit by bit, but due to the excised carnage, we the viewer are never really clear on just what the hell is happening to him. Thankfully, the deleted footage was restored to the laserdisc release, and the unrated Media Home Video 1989 VHS release of The Dream Child (one of the only unrated releases of a Nightmare film to this day), allowing fans to get a better idea of just what poor Dan endured before waking up to the oncoming headlights of a speeding semi. Though tame by today's standards, Dan's unrated death remains a horrendous exercise in prolonged suffering (one of the MPAA's cardinal sins) and superlative makeup effects, reaching it's harrowing apex when his face is literally steamed off, the flesh flying away as the motorcycle races forward, revealing the burnt skull beneath, now run through with tubes and wires. Unfortunately (as of this writing), this was to be the last time that this footage was to be released in any official capacity. Every subsequent release of Dream Child has been the truncated R-rated theatrical cut, pissing off many a fan who wondered why this footage was not included as part of the many DVD releases (and now Blu-Ray), not to mention the "definitive" box set. Sadly, it's been confirmed that The Dream Child's master was damaged, and that New Line had to rely on the cut version for the DVD transfer. It is not known at this time, if Dan's ghastly death scene will ever again be restored and enjoyed by millions of Fred Heads the world over. Gore hounds and appreciative admirers of well crafted make-up effects, should cross thier fingers that this is not the case for very much longer.
Dan's uncut death scene: