“A Nightmare on Elm Street” was directed by Wes Craven and first hit theaters in 1984. The running time is 91 minutes and naturally it is rated R. The movie managed to revive the horror genre completely- most horror films made up until that point were laughable. (Exceptions like The Exorcist exist of course.) The popularity of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” skyrocketed (I remember my babysitter telling me about the movie and how it scared her more than anything she’d ever seen), it became a horror classic and spawned six sequels- which progressively worsened with each re-hashed storyline. And it’s no longer horrific when Freddy dolls are available at your nearest toy store.

The original film stars Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, John Saxon and Johnny Depp. Basic plot: Some scorched guy with “knives for fingers” begins showing up in Nancy’s (Langenkamp’s) dreams, which bothers her to some degree. It bothers her a lot more when her friend Tina gets slashed up in the middle of the night by an unknown assailant during a sleepover. Tina’s murder scene is brutal and excellently done- the vision of Tina crawling on the floor and walls as blood gushes from her body is hard to forget. Well, her boyfriend Rod gets the blame and Nancy tries to prove his innocence and fight Freddy in her dreams, with little help from anyone else since, well, the idea is preposterous.

Another great scene comes when Nancy, after staying up to avoid Freddy night after night, falls asleep in English class. Tina’s bloody figure shows up at the door in a body bag, being dragged down the hall by an invisible someone. Nancy follows her unfortunate friend (of course) down to the boiler room, Freddy’s favorite hideout. The incredibly eerie music combined with the hideous images during this part of the film are superbly done.

"Oh I could bound myself in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space-- were it not that I have bad dreams." -- Hamlet

Perhaps the popularity of this film, which is still relatively strong today, comes out of the fact that Craven managed to bring one of the greatest fears for most people at least once in their life- the bogeyman- to the screen in such a terrifyingly wonderful way. This bogeyman is inescapable since he shows up in dreams, and you can’t stay awake without winding up loony. He’s a symbol of something no one can control, one that can strike anywhere, on any street, and chooses to do so on Elm Street. And as it is said in a sequal, “Every town has an Elm Street.”

I will not say how the movie ends, since there may be many who have yet to watch the movie. Suffice to say it is a classic and anyone who can stomach it should. As a child I was always terrified of the idea of horror films- I refused to watch them until I saw “Poltergeist” at a party. Watching this, I discovered the thrill of such films and quickly became obsessed with horror movies from age 11 to 14. “A Nightmare On Elm Street” became my favorite by far, and I watched it and the sequals so many times my mother grew more than a little worried. She confiscated all of my horror books and movies for several years.

Many may remember the lovely little song the children jump rope to:

One, two Freddy’s coming for you
Three, four better lock the door
Five, six grab your crucifix
Seven, eight better stay up late
Nine, ten never sleep again.

Here’s a quick run-down of the sequals:

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: In the grand tradition of movie sequals, this one reeks. I never liked it and it is more than forgettable.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, The Dream Warriors: This one was decent, though here the campiness of Kreuger began to grow. It stars Patricia Arquette, which helps. The bastard son of a hundred maniacs pillages a mental institution holding lots of suicidal teenagers. After the movie, check out the “Dream Warrior” video by Dokken if you really want to scream.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, The Dream Master: Besides the first, this one was my favorite in my youth. Although the campiness had risen to an unbearable degree, with lines such as “How sweet, fresh meat,” and “I love soul food,” the plot involved lucid dreaming and what such an idea entails. I began to practice lucid dreaming in my sleep. Also the soundtrack contains a good song by Sinead O'Connor called "I Want Your Hands On Me." Heh.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5, The Dream Child: “Don’t dream and drive!” (Please) Well of course Kreuger had to have a son. Alice, the main character from #4, becomes the vessel for the man’s kid, and disaster ensues. In every possible way.

Two more follow, but I can’t offer much criticism because that was the point where I ended my interest in the sequals. Thank goodness.

When Wes Craven was just a young boy in elementary school he was routinely harassed by an older bully. The bully was a classic "movie bully" case reveling in extorting lunches and milk money from poor little Wes.

Guess what the bully's name was? You guessed it... Freddy Kruger!

Apparently, Wes was terrorized so much by this bastard that he remembered him all the way through his adult life. Young children can be especially impressionable and carry lasting childhood scars into adulthood. Now it was Wes Craven's turn to face up to the nightmare that was firmly embedded in the deepest recesses of his consciousness. And he did it in style too.

As you might have gathered from above post, Wes Craven has eternally equated the bully's name with the most horrid of all villains. Obviously, the real Freddy Kruger could not foresee such an ironic turn of events and is probably still suffering from consequences of Wes' truly devious and original comeback.

The moral of the story is: Don't piss people off or they just might turn around make your name an insult.

I first review the Nightmare on Elm Street series as a whole, and later in this write-up I get into the movie of the same name (the first in the series). As I watch the others in the series, I will node them. If you have any fun facts or comments, let me know.
Since I recently watched the Friday the 13th series for the first time, it seemed a logical step for me to watch the Nightmare on Elm Street movies as well. After all, they both go hand-in-hand as genre-defining horror movies and are two of the most influential series in horror history.

Freddy Kreuger is the name of a bully that once tormented Wes Craven in high-school. Wes Craven got him back real good by making his name feared everywhere. I'll bet ol' F.K. never got a job as babysitter.

The 7 movies in the Freddy series are as follows:
  1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
    • Body count: 4
  2. A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
    • Body count: 10
  3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
    • Body count: 5
  4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
    • Body count: 6
  5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
    • Body count: ?
  6. Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (In 3D!) (1991)
    • Body count: 4
  7. New Nightmare (1994) (noded by isogolem)
    • Body count: 4

There was even a 2 year run on the TV networks inspired by the whole Nightmare plot. Freddy hosts "Freddy's Nightmares" over 44 episodes, each night detailing a gruesome death of some poor fool on Elm Street - a prequel, if you will, to the popular "Tales from the Crypt" series.

Now, for the first movie in the series:

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) - Weasello Rating: {>>>>} (Whoop! There it is!) {{ Sequel }}
Please note that this review is laden with spoilers.

Freddy Injury Count: As Freddy is a supernatural being only existing in the dream world, some of his injuries are self-inflicted and of no consequence. For instance, Freddy cuts off his own finger, has his face ripped off, and cut open his own chest. After being brought into the real world, he is struck on the head with a vase, sledge-hammered in the chest, fell down some stairs, was set alight and in the midst of an explosion, burned a bit more, had a door slammed in his face, fell down more stairs, and hit with a chair. He was finally done in because the girl he was tormenting stopped beleiving in him, and he faded out in a dazzle of special effects.

Body count: Suprsingly, a mere 4. Freddy did, however, kill 20 children before the movie took place.

Plot Outline: A bunch of kids on Elm Street start sharing a recurring nightmare, and end up being hunted in their sleep! Only one person can figure out how to defeat freddy, and does.

Freddy, long ago when he was alive, was a brutal serial-child-killer, and killed 20 kids before he was caught by police. But on a paperwork error, there was a mistrial, and Freddy was set free. The disgruntled parents of Elm Street banded together and tracked Mr. Kreuger down to his school-boiler-room hideout, and burned him alive in the boiler.

Now, 10 years later, Freddy is back on his anniversary of death and is haunting the kids of Elm street once again.

The special effects are pretty amazing considering the 1984 timeframe, and the acting isn't half bad. After all, this does star Johnny Depp! I would say everyone should watch this if they are a fan of the genre, just to pay homage to one of the founding fathers of modern horror.

Interesting Notes:
  • "Fred Kreuger" is never referred to as "Freddy" in this movie! I was much-so shocked.

    I am corrected! In the song "one, two, Freddy's coming for you," the word "Freddy" does indeed appear! But that's the only time, I swear. (Thanks, Stealth Munchkin)
  • There is a torn poster of The Evil Dead in this movie, and it is also the movie that the main character watches to try to stay awake.
  • Jason's mask can be seen in this movie.
  • The inept police officer in this film goes on to later stardom in Wes Craven's Scream as the boss of inept Deputy Dewey.
  • Hot on the heels of Friday the 13th (1980), Wes Craven had Nightmare's script ready in 1981. It wasn't picked up until 1984 by New Line Cinema - Their first real movie. Before this time, New Line was simply a movie distributor for college campuses.
  • Freddy's glove was used in Evil Dead II (1986).
  • Wes Craven wrote Freddy's part to be a "silent serial killer" type, much like Jason is. It isn't until the later movies that he gets his great lines.
  • Freddy's famous red-and-green sweater had (only in this movie) solid-red sleeves.
  • Oddly enough, there is a payphone in the "STUDENTS NOT ALLOWED" boiler-room area of the school. Oh.... kaaaay....
Fun Quotes! Lead roles: Directed by: Wes Craven

Writing credits: Wes Craven

Tagline: If Nancy Doesn't Wake Up Screaming She Won't Wake Up At All...
Sources: The oh-so-wonderful IMDB, my head, and the box. Special thanks to r3ason and O-Swirl's writeups.

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