A Nightmare on Elm Street
Director: Wes Craven
Written by: Wes Craven
Weapon of Choice: Finger Knives
Other movies in this series:
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Freddy vs. Jason
Rish Outfield's reviews
As a kid, this movie scared the hell out of me. I convinced my mother to rent it (this was back when the film was new-ish, without a laundry list of sequels, imitators, and spinoffs), and also my boyhood friend Steven, who didn't like horror films, to watch it with me. We were camped out in my childhood living room and started the tape. About twenty minutes into it, Steven demanded I turn the lights on. It didn't help. I remember being so scared that I slunk down in my sleeping bag with only my eyes sticking out. Finally, we were both so scared that we turned it off, vowing to conclude the film once the sun came up.
Throughout this experience, I was still having fun. There was a joy--an adrenaline-soaked reminder that I was indeed alive--within me, the whole time I watched Tina and Rod and Glen and Nancy tormented by the vicious Fred Krueger. My friend Steven didn't share that feeling--to him, there was never any pleasure in being scared. In fact, except for a failed attempt with Creepshow 2, I never got Steven to watch a horror film with me again. Sigh.
Well, the years have passed, and Elm Street doesn't scare me like that anymore, but it's still great fun to watch and lurks near the top of my list of favourite horror films ever. Coming out in 1984, amid legions of cheap, inferior genre flicks, this was the ground-breaking film that made New Line Cinema the studio it is today. It's not quite a classic (since there are lapses of logic and unsatisfying moments), but it sits easily toward the top of the slasher pyramid.
Writer/Director Wes Craven should be congratulated for this, easily his best movie (until 1996's Scream came along, that is). It took the old wives' tale of if-you-die-in-your-dreams, you-die-in-real-life and ran with it. The whole idea of Freddy Krueger, a razor-handed murderer's ghost who seeks vengeance through dreams, was inspired and well-executed. Nice, spooky music, great make-up effects, and the right bit of humour ("My god, I look twenty years old."), really make this worth watching again and again.
The cast (including an impossibly young-looking Johnny Depp, and you gotta love John Saxon) is likable, and though the acting can be less than perfect, it doesn't detract from the story. Robert Englund is great as the horribly burnt and malevolent Krueger, but those looking for the charismatic, wise-cracking Freddy, will have to look later in the series. And though I loved the Freddy-as-hero movement in the sequels that followed, none of them ever lived up to this one in quality, scares, or overall entertainment. A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of Wes Craven's greatest films, and one of the two or three he'll be remembered for when he's gone. But the weird-as-hell ending never really works for me and is possibly its weakest element. In a film that set up certain rules, and painstakingly did so, it disregards them with surprising abandon in the last two minutes. Perhaps it was intended to leave the audience with a feeling of disorientation and discomfort, but it really only served to confound and confuse. Too bad, for it was apparently forced on Craven by studio head Robert Shaye.
Line To Remember: Chief: "What's the coroner got to say?"
Deputy: "I don't know, he's been in the bathroom puking since he saw it."
Best Scare: The remains of Tina, in a bodybag, visiting Nancy at school. Creepy. And the "One, two, Freddy's coming for you . . ." rhyme had me up nights.
I'd Recommend It To: Movie fans, especially Horror devotees.
Note to careful viewers: keep an eye out for an early appearance of Roger Rabbit as the sleep therapist.
The tyranist's thoughts
I remember having to walk home alone very late at night after watching this movie for the first time. I think I ran. I never found Freddy particularly frightening, and I always thought everyone but Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) was pretty one-dimensional. What really scared me about this movie was the premise and the setting. It kind of makes you not want to sleep. At the same time I hate pseudo industrial maintenance tunnels to this day. I worked for four years at a job that had a large maintenance tunnel area under the building that I had to go into at least once a week. I always took a flashlight and I always left as quickly as humanly possible.
Total Skulls: 27
|Rips off earlier film|
|Horror film showing on TV/in theater in movie||Evil Dead|
|Future celebrity appears||Johnny Depp|
|Former celebrity appears|
|Girl unnecessarily gets naked|
|Death associated with sex|
|Unfulfilled promise of nudity|
|Characters forget about threat|
|Power is cut|
|Phone lines are cut|
|Someone investigates a strange noise|
|Someone runs up stairs instead of going out front door|
|Camera is the killer|
|Victims cower in front of a window/door|
|Victim locks self in with killer|
|Victim running from killer inexplicably falls|
|Toilet stall scene|
|Car stalls or won't start|
|Cat jumps out|
|Stupid discovery of corpse|
|No one believes only witness|
|Crazy, drunk, old man knows the truth|
|Music detracts from scene|
|Death in first five minutes|
|What the hell?|
|x years ago . . .|
|Dark and stormy night|
|Killer doesn't stay dead|
|Killer wears a mask|
|Killer is in closet|
|Killer is in car with victim|
|Villain is more sympathetic than heroes|
|Blood hits camera|
|Poor death effect|
|No one dies at all|
|Little kid lamely survives|
|Dog/Pet miraculously survives|
|"It was all a dream" ending|
|Unbelievably happy ending|
|Unbelievably crappy ending|