A Nightmare on Elm Street
Release date: November 16, 1984
Director: Wes Craven
Joseph Whipp and
Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street brings me back to one of my first memories of the excitement and chill that most newbie's to the horror genre get when faced with a movie that all your school friends have been pretending to have seen. A Nightmare on Elm Street definitely caused some recess talk among the X Generation (or is "Baby Busters" more in the context of a film about a child murderer) and, although it kind of went in the same direction of other slashers hitting the mainstream, Wes Craven managed to tap into the common widespread fear of nightmares and created an anti-hero, by the name of Freddy Krueger, bringing some really unique concepts to the genre while still maintaining the slasher theme.
Freddy Krueger is a created villain formed from a number of inspirations from Craven's life experiences, a bully with a similar name (the same bully that also created the name of Krug from The Last House on the Left), a number of creepy hobo experiences, plastic man and Brugada syndrome. Krueger's marketing potential was increased by making him a serial killer of children as a bit of controversy and touchy subjects (no pun there... he was a murderer not a molester) never fails to get the fingers of certain hysterical over-protective parents wagging at the local gun club. Freddy's power to murder people through their dreams is another unique invention, that is masterfully used to blur the lines between reality and the supernatural allowing the fantasy aspect of the movie to become more entertaining and to allow this burnt-faced Domino's advert to do whatever he finds exciting at the time. Then there’s the claw, Freddy's weapon of choice is a glove of knives allowing him to nimbly slash his victims. Combine Mr. Krueger with some very creepy crooned skip-rope songs sung by equally creepy kids, a few stereotypically promiscuous school goers being creatively killed in nice splattery ways, a nice back-story revealed in informative chucks and, of course, John Saxon, and you have the ingredients of one of the best slasher movie of the 80's.
Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is being haunted by nightmares featuring a horribly burnt "person" wearing a dirty green and red striped jumper (a colour combination voted as "most clashing" by arty types that have an eye for that kind of thing), and a glove with knives for fingers. It turns out that she is not the only one dreaming of the demon as this burnt bad ass is haunting the dreams of other all the other kids on Elm Street too. Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss), also plagued by the nightmares, invites her fellow dreamers (including young Johnny Depp) for a sleepover due to her parents being away and her not wanting to be alone because of her dream stalker and this is where the dream team discover that Freddy is able to kill them in spectacularly creative styles. Tina experiences what has to be the best death in the enire film as she has her belly sliced and is wiped all around the room... awesome!
It comes to be known that the parents of Elm Street have a dark secret and took the law, torches and probably pitchforks into their own hands and burnt the local child killer to death when the "care in the community" failed again! This seems to have gotten Mr. Krueger a bit angry and proceeds to get his revenge by killing the children of his murderers but Nancy discovers that she can bring things out of her dreams and hatches a brilliant plan to bring Freddy into the real world and stop his kiddie killing antics once and for all.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is an great addition to the world of slashers and also an influential addition to the horror genre as a whole, the fact that most of the action takes place in dreams has allowed Wes Craven to be very imaginative in his landscape and skilfully flips the viewer back and forth between these two worlds to create a level of uncertainty as to when the next brutal death will occur or if the scene being watched is taking place in the real world or dream world. Freddy (played by Robert Englund) makes a perfect villian and the terrorized teens have enough character about them to make you sort of care when they eventually meet their end. The story is well thought through and is executed masterfully as to create a decent layer of suspense and shocks at the right times plus it is along side a very catchy tune that will stick in your head in a way that only Reno Miller's drill can compete with. The ending is classic slasher twistiness with a final abundance of quick shocks leaving it open for a sequel... and more sequels... and a TV show... and guest appearances from Freddy... and Robot Chicken parodies.
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