A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Rating: *****Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp and Robert Englund
By the time I got my first DVD set (consisting of five movies from the series), I was in high school and I completely overcame my childhood fears. I did, however, understand why it became a classic.
The teenagers of Elm street are having the same nightmare about a man in a striped sweater and knives for fingers, with a nursery rhyme chanting children warning them of his presence. His name is Freddy Krueger and when Tina Grey got one of these dreams, she asks her gate-crashing boyfriend Rod Lane and her friends, Nancy Thompson and Glen Lantz to sleep with her later that night to keep her company. Soon, they all fell asleep and Tina falls prey to Freddy. Witnessing this was Rod who now became the prime suspect as he fled the scene.
Eventually, either out of drunken stupor or guilt seeing how stressed out, Nancy’s mum finally grab the balls to tell her daughter of who’s the man of their nightmares; ole Fred Krueger molested and murdered a number of children back in the days and when enough is enough, the many angry parents of Elm Street placed Freddy under trial. But when someone dumb enough to forget to file a search warrant set Freddy free, the parents took the law into their own hands and trapped Krueger in his own boiler room and set him ablaze. Now, she believes everything is just a bad dream for Nancy, but we all know better.
The border of dream and reality began to thin out, Nancy had no choice but to prepare herself to do the nearly impossible; to fight Freddy in her own terms and end it all.
The film was also a stepping stone to many casts who would later appear in a long line of stardom (yes, Johnny Depp, I meant you), but in the end, it’s all about Robert Englund’s performance as Freddy, a then experimental bogeyman, now a star of his own kind with his face plastered into almost anything you can get your hands on. (toys, trading cards, T-Shirts, he even had his own music record(!)) It was this kind of franchising that turned Freddy into a sellout and his films mushes into piles and piles of special effects with very little story to back it up. As sad as it is for this reviewer and slasher fan, I’ll be a hypocrite to say his latter films were not enjoyable; I still have fun, the mindless violence and the “colorful” dreams is pure entertainment, but none of them brought the real proper kind of scares this film has offered. (Well, none except New Nightmare!)
Released in what many considered as the beginning of the last years of the 80s slasher's Golden Age, A Nightmare of Elm Street not only introduced a franchise and villain that everyone will remember, but it also reminded us the fact that a little imagination is sometimes enough to pull off a somewhat dying idea back from the dead. And while it won't be until 1996 when director Wes Craven save the slasher sub-genre from dying with Scream, this 80s classic of his had done plenty of good for the horror genre.
1 female slashed repeatedly with a knifed glove
1 male hanged with bed sheets
1 male mentioned burned to death
1 male pulled into a bottomless pit and liquefied into a geyser of blood
1 female burned while being strangled by a killer set ablaze