A Nightmare on Elm Street Movie Review (Wes Craven Special)
The scariest day of the year finally arrived & to celebrate it I will be reviewing Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Director: Wes Craven
Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Johnny Depp, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corry & John Saxon.
Run Time: 91 min.
US Release: 16 November 1984
UK Release: 12 July 1985
German Release: 29 August 1985
I remember when I watched this movie the first time; I sneaked down into the living room during the night, turned on the TV, then switched the channel where this flick was playing. Ever after that night, I was haunted by this shocker for months. I was only 10 during that time and after finishing the film, unable to fall asleep for days. If I managed to doze away, I had nightmares about Freddy. A Nightmare on Elm Street, although a little bit dated, is to this day one of the scariest pictures ever made.
Wes Craven obtained the idea for his horror narrative from several newspaper articles that reported on three young Southeast Asian refugees, who died of nightmares in their sleep. He also drew inspiration from eastern religions.
Reviews for A Nightmare on Elm Street had been very positive, even reaching international acclaim. Critics praised Craven for playing with the audience's senses, as well as the feature's intelligent plus highly imaginative plot. Robert Englund’s performance was iconic, being one of the most horrifying I have seen up to date! His depiction of Freddy Krueger has been named the 40th greatest villain on “100 Years… 100 Heroes & Villains”.
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
The plot of this movie is quickly told. Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is a typical teenager of the 80s with family, as well as relationship issues. Her parents are divorced, not getting along, her mother descends into alcoholism, while her boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp) wishes for a more physical relationship, something Nancy is not yet comfortable with.
One night, Nancy has a terrifying nightmare, concerning a burned man in a striped shirt, dirty hat, wearing a leather glove with knives as fingers. In school, she learns that her friends and boyfriend all had the same dream of the burned man who calls himself Freddy (Robert Englund). When Nancie’s friend Tina dies in one of her nightmares, she immediately knows that Freddy is hunting them in their dreams.
Nancy learns from her mother that Krueger used to be a child molester and murderer. The parents took it upon themselves to hunt him down, then burned him alive. Nancy is sure that Freddy returned from the dead, haunting the children of the parents that killed him, in their dreams as revenge. She sets a plan into motion to bring Freddy back from the dream world, to finally kill him for real… again!
The story was fantastic, including a lot of sexual plus social symbolisms that are supposed to represent the coming of age. It is also the film that broke the rules of horror, by showing us that anyone, no matter if they have sinned or not, can die, as there is no place on Earth where Freddy Krueger can’t get to you. In this story, Wes Craven breaks down the wall that separates reality from fantasy.
It also features a strong heroine who will not bow down and go hide, but who will stand her ground, kick and punch back, never stopping at anything, to defeat the monster out of her dreams. The characters are all well-scripted and painted; they are flawed young teenagers or adults with real-life problems. Heather Langenkamp did a great job as Nancy Thompson, while Robert Englund was fully submerged in his role, as the demon spawn who infiltrates young people's dreams.
While some of the effects are dated and viewers can clearly make out the stuntman, who plays Krueger on fire in the last act, A Nightmare on Elm Street still has some of the best horror effects I have seen to date. One of these is the bed that pours out buckets of blood, when Freddy gets to Glen, sucking him into his world, through the mattress, killing him.
The cinematography by Jacques Haitkin is immaculate! The shots through the tight, piped-filled corridors of the boiler room create an incredible sense of claustrophobia. My favourite shot though must be the bathtub scene, where Nancy falls asleep and Freddy’s hand pops out of the water.
The synthesiser riff that accompanies this horror flick was inspired by Gary Wright’s 70’s pop song “Dream Weaver”, being one of the scariest soundtracks in a horror movie.
Verdict: A Nightmare on Elm Street is one the most terrifying horror shockers of its generation, it broke the rules of the genre, setting up new grounds for future horror features. The cinematography is amazing and the performances by the actors are iconic. I will give A Nightmare on Elm Street an 8.5 out of 10.
What is your opinion of this horror classic? Leave a comment below.