A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

A group of teenagers are hunted in their dreams by a dream demon known as Fred Kruger (Robert Englund).

Director: Wes Craven

Cast: John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund

MPAA Rating: R for adult situations, language, nudity, violence

Fun Fact: Robert Englund cut himself the first time he tried on the glove.

New Line Cinema was in dire straits during the 80’s. Due to it being a smaller studio, it just couldn’t compete with the march larger studios that were the competition. Things looked so bleak that the studio was about to file for bankruptcy and go under. It wasn’t until things started to look up when Wes Craven came along with A Nightmare On Elm Street. This idea came from Craven’s extensive research on people being afraid of falling asleep. Some of these people died in their sleep and one even had a coffee maker hidden in the closet.

A Nightmare On Elm Street is a landmark in horror and one of the greatest in the genre. The idea was so unique and original that it was never seen before. Sure, we had silent slasher’s in the likes of Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees but, never was there a killer that taunted their prey. The slashers that came out at that point took place in real time. A killer in your dreams that could end up in death was something completely new. Freddy Kruger is a cultural icon in horror and media in general. Robert Englund was the perfect choice for the role. He’s menacing, terrifying, and sarcastic all at once. He wants to kill these teenagers and has joy in hunting them down. Wes Craven had always said the worst thing ever was someone that hurt children in any way. His creation is what true horror is about, something that is evil and wrong in any way shape or form.

For an 80’s horror film the effects are decent and in a way still hold up today. The effect where Freddy is coming through the wall is shot nicely in the dark so it gives us a menacing look. The make up on Robert Englund is creepy and I could only imagine what audiences at the time felt about it. When Glen gets sucked into the bed is one of my favorite moments in horror. Five hundred gallons of blood was used for the film and you can tell most of it went to this moment.   The best effect of the film is the scene where the character Tina is getting tossed around the room. I remember seeing a special on it and being amazed on how it was filmed. This was also before CGI has been a major part of film. This was the era where practical effects in film, especially horror, relied on those effects to deliver a satisfying experience.

While Englund was the best choice for Freddy, the acting and characterizations are both a blessing and a flaw. Heather Langenkamp was just starting out and her performance is satisfying. While she would grow and improve on later films, she plays Nancy as a fighter, a tough and brave girl who wants to stop Freddy because he has been killing all her friends. Johnny Depp gets the job done as Glen, someone who doesn’t really believe in Freddy but, will go with the flow on things. The biggest flaw on the acting is the performance from Ronee Blakley as Nancy’s mother. She plays the whole mommy is doing this to protect her daughter off as bad. She doesn’t seem to be that invested in the performance or the role. It’s the only thing that brings down the film and it’s just a minor thing.

Overall A Nightmare On Elm Street is a landmark in horror. It’s a unique and original idea and brought us one of the greatest and most iconic characters of all time in Freddy Krueger. The film has great practical effects and moments that still hold up today in a way. While some might find them corny or out of date, at least it’s practical effects and made before CGI took over. This film is on my favorite horror films list and whenever I watch it, I enjoy it more and more.

Verdict: Hit

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