In 1984 a franchise was born that would change horror forever, a franchise that would take the slasher genre to new heights & remind audiences exactly why they should be afraid.
In 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street was released. It introduced a legion of horror movie fans to one of the most iconic characters to ever grace the screen. Freddy Kruger was in your dreams & there was nothing you could do about it.
Now it is far too easy to reflect on what a parody Kruger & the Nightmare franchise has become. It’s far too easy to dwell upon many of the awful sequels that followed or the diabolical remake that hurt the franchise even more. It’s far too easy to forget just how terrifying Kruger & the first movie were…
A Nightmare on Elm Street opens with an unknown man in a boiler room making a glove with knives on the 4 fingers. This is Freddy Kruger who begins stalking Tina, a high school student, in her dreams. After another encounter with Freddy, Tina wakes to find her nightgown cut in a similar way to Freddy’s glove.
Confiding in her friends, Nancy & her boyfriend, Glen they realise they’ve all had similar dreams. At a sleepover the trio are joined by Tina’s boyfriend, Rod, He & Tina have sex then fall asleep. Tina once again dreams of Freddy who taunts & attacks her.
Her struggles in her dream are reflected in bed with Rod who is woken up by her. He tries to calm her but is knocked to the side & can only watch as she is dragged up the wall by an unseen force, then slashed by unseen knives before dropping to the bed, dead.
Rod panics & leaves via the window as Nancy & Glen break into the room. Rod running off implicates him in the murder & Nancy’s father, the police officer in charge, disbelieves that Tina was attacked in her dreams.
Hurt & upset Nancy tries to continue on with her life but begins to have more dreams of Freddy with a vivid one at school convincing her of his threat…it seems that she is his next target & no kid is safe in the town. A mention of his name to her father or mother invokes a reaction…they know who he is but claim he is dead.
Just who is Freddy Kruger & what is the secret the adults of the town are keeping?
So what should I gush about first?
Let’s start with the acting…Heather Langenkamp as Nancy, Robert Englund as Freddy, John Saxon as Nancy’s father, Johnny Depp as Glen…the list goes on. You won’t find a sub-par actor in this movie. Nancy & Freddy are the stars of the show & their relationship is one that is impossible to not enjoy. Freddy’s arrogance is understandable…as far as he can see, he is unbeatable. Being afraid of him is a no-brainer & he needs that to sustain himself. As the movie goes on & you realise Nancy can stand up to him you really get behind her. She is a heroine that stops being afraid & is one that you can easily support.
This is the movie that introduced the iconic Freddy Kruger, nowadays he is a joke character & about as scary as a field mouse but here he is everything a nightmare should be. Robert Englund plays him wonderfully & he never stops being a creepy & sinister git. The sense of make-believe that you could only in dreams makes him so much threatening as you can see how he takes advantage of it. The excellent make-up job, looking all juicy & gross, is what often sticks in people’s minds. Freddy was in a fire, he looked like he had been in a fire…it is perfect.
The same can be said for many of the effects used elsewhere…this is a gory movie & a realistic one at that. You’ll be convinced by what you see & impressed by some of the more elaborate sequences (have you heard about the blood geyser?).
If all of this wasn’t enough to make this one of the best horror movies to be released then the intense & incredibly effective music does. Like many of the franchises that it shares its position with, Nightmare has an instantly recognisable tune that sticks with you long after its notes have played out. Creepy as hell…
So what does Nightmare get wrong? Not much at all. The ending leaves a little to be desired & it doesn’t quite sit right. It’s a final scare that just doesn’t have the same effect on the movie as a whole.
A horror movie that stands the test of time, still as un-settling as it was the first time I saw it. Freddy Kruger is an icon but often its forgotten why, this movie will remind you why. Top acting, top visuals, top scares & a top start to a franchise that has well lost his way.
A Nightmare On Elm Street