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Baltimore-born Rachel Talalay's 'Nightmare' is a dream come true


We have assurance from Rachel Talalay that "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare" will be the last in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series. It is the sixth, says the film's writer/director, and as far as she knows, it will be the last.

"I've heard no conversation about there being another," she said. "Everything I have heard indicates that this will finish the series."

We'll take her word for it. She has good credentials. She lived in Baltimore before she went to Hollywood.

"I was born in Chicago and moved to Baltimore when I was four years old," she said.

Her mother and father teach at Johns Hopkins University, but Talalay didn't go there. First she went to Friends School, then she graduated from Yale where she majored in mathematics.

So how does a girl, who earns a Yale degree in mathematics, get into film?

"Well, I was home for a visit in 1980, and I saw an ad in the newspaper, one saying that John Waters was holding auditions for his 'Polyester,' " she said. "I called him and said I would love to work for him and that I make great coffee, which was a lie. They said fine, that I had the job if I would work for free. They also said they would want the use of my car.

"Of course, I agreed to both conditions, and I went to work as a production assistant," she said.

Later, she would act as producer for both "Hairspray' and "Cry-Baby," the next two Waters movies, but she was paid to work for those, and they paid off in other ways, too. It was her association with Waters that led to her introduction to the people New Line, the studio that released "Hairspray" and the "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies.

"I met the New Line people through John, and they believed in me," said Talalay, who is 33 years old. "They gave me a lot of opportunity," she said.

She did the script for "Freddy's Dead." That was really how she got to direct the film. She told the company executives that she had this idea, an idea for the last of the "Nightmare" movies and that she would give it to them if they would allow her to direct.

"It was my first time as a director," she said. "It was a great experience. I loved doing it."

She is sensitive to the criticism that has come her way. There are those who look down on the slasher school of film. There are those who think they have done the American society no real good.

She admits this is a major problem, but she does not think that "Freddy's Dead" fits into the slasher category.

"It is not a slasher picture," she said. "People just assume that, and it isn't true. 'Freddy's Dead' is an interesting psychological thriller. It is beyond the slasher genre. It is Freddy getting into your deepest dreams.

"I am not a horror fan, and I have no desire to do a slasher movie," she said. "This one is about kids facing their deepest fears. It also addresses the theme of teen-age rebellion, and the emphasis in the new film is on humor, not horror."

Mention that Freddy, in a previous "Nightmare" film, wore a vest that was decorated with raised images of his victims, kiddies he had killed, and Talalay does not back down. She sees that as "an interesting visual representation of what he did."

She does not think that the "Nightmare" films have much effect on our society. "But I don't want to get into a discussion about that," she said. "I have seen these films with young audiences, and it's my impression that the kids do not identify with Freddy. They identify with the kids in the film. They support them."

Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold, Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp are some of the performers who do cameos in the film. Barr was hoping she could play one of the victims in the movie, but she was told she was the wrong age, that Freddy's victims are much younger than she.

The first three "Nightmare" films did very well. The fourth did best of all, but the fifth was a disappointment.

"I think the fifth failed because it followed the fourth too closely," said Talalay. "The fifth was released only one year after the fourth, and I think this, plus the TV series, one that was based on the film, amounted to Freddy overkill.

"It has been two years since the last 'Freddy' film was released," said Talalay.

Today, Talalay lives in Los Angeles, but she keeps in touch with Waters, who, she said, is working on a new project.

She doesn't know what she will be doing next. "I'm reading a lot," she said. "I'm up for a lot. We'll see."

"Freddy's Dead: The final Nightmare" opens here Friday. The studio has not allowed the press to view it beforehand.

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