“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
ed 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.