New Line Cinema/Heron Communications/Smart Egg Pictures
Written and Directed by Wes Craven
Produced by Robert Shaye
Music by Charles Bernstein
Cinematography by Jacques Haitkin
Edited by Patrick McMahon/Rick Shaine
I honestly do feel sorry for those of you who missed the 1980’s. Because you missed the craziest, most insane and yet most fun decade of recent American history. Especially if you were a movie fan. How else can you explain that the major cultural icon of 1980’s horror movies was a pedophile? A wise cracking rapist and murderer of children? Because when you get right down to it, that’s exactly what Freddy Krueger is. He’s a pedophile that terrorizes children before he rapes and kills them. And I think that’s why the 2010 remake wasn’t a success. Freddy Krueger is very much a cultural icon that could only exist in a certain time and place in American history. In fact, he’s become a dream of an earlier time. Which is most appropriate for the character.
But no…you can’t have pedophiles as the main character of your Politically Correct horror movies nowadays. Because that’s too close to Real Life. The Internet has shown us that pedophiles are everywhere and all our nerve endings are way too sensitive. And so we don’t have the distance where we can see a Freddy Krueger in a movie and laugh at his one-liners. Because we’re not that innocent anymore. We talk to the monsters everyday online.
But the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET from 1984 is still here and it can be watched and enjoyed as a superior example of imaginative horror. The entire NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series, along with the ‘Phantasm” movies is still my favorite horror film franchise of the 1980’s and I think it’s because I’m still fascinated by how they play so freely with what is real and what is a dream. In A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET there’s a scene that still freezes my blood when Our Heroine Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) falls asleep in her tub while taking a bath and Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) yanks her through this tiny hole in the bottom of her tub, snatching her from the Real World into his Dream World.
Because that’s the only way Freddy can attack you. Nancy finds out from her alcoholic mother Marge (Ronee Blakley) that years ago she and a bunch of other parents in the town of Springfield took revenge on Freddy Krueger for killing 20 children. Krueger went to trial but was released on a technicality. The outraged parents burned Freddy alive. And now, Freddy has come back for revenge from beyond the grave, striking at the children of the parents who killed them through their dreams.
Nancy figures that out but it’s a futile revelation because eventually we all have to go to sleep and when the children of Elm Street go to sleep, Freddy Krueger is waiting in their nightmares with his razor bladed glove to strike and slay.
There’s so much to like about A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET I honestly don’t know where to begin. The star-making performances of Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund is the major draw. Upon watching this movie recently (and yes, I rewatch the entire NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series every year during the Halloween season) I was again struck by how little dialog Freddy has. He certainly isn’t the wisecracker we get to know in later movies. This Freddy is horrifyingly committed to his mission of revenge.
This movie is also noted for Johnny Depp’s first major Hollywood role and he quite rightly has the most spectacular death scene in the movie. I’m sure he didn’t plan it that way but it’s kind of fitting that Johnny Depp in his very first major role has an over the top scene. John Saxon and Charles Fleischer (the voice of Roger Rabbit) are also here in supporting roles. In fact, John Saxon has top billing even though his role is a supporting one. Amanda Wyss has more screen time than John Saxon and she gets killed twenty minutes into the movie.
So should you see A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET? I’m pretty sure you have and so you have your own opinion about it and I’m not here to change your mind. Only to give you my opinion and here it is: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is one of the most original and entertaining horror movies I’ve ever seen. If you’ve seen it, I hope you agree. If not, let’s argue.