A Nightmare on Elm Street
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
The 248th review overall!
I love the month of October. The leaves are beautiful, it turns into hoodie weather and of course the horror movies. Now that I have a son, I’m looking forward to instilling my love for Halloween into him. Tonight was a good first step, he went to grandma and grandpa’s house, dressed as Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and he was looking too sharp. After we passed out candy we came home and watched...
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
I kept debating which movie I was going to watch tonight, finding the perfect cap to my annual movie marathon is always tough. But I watched the recent episode of “The Goldbergs” where Robert Englund donned the Freddy costume for the first time since retiring from the role and I felt I had to watch the original. Everyone knows the backstory, Freddy is one of the most iconic characters in movie history and the idea of him is just so terrifying. There is literally nothing you can do to escape him because eventually you need to sleep. Really the only way you can survive him is if he lets you or gets too cocky and screws with you too long.
The movie is fantastic and is a very different Freddy Krueger than the one everyone knows and loves. Most recognize him as the super powerful, evil jokester that has fun at your expense before he kills you in horrible ways, well, not in this one. In this film, he’s pure evil and his hijinx aren’t for his and the audience’s amusement, everything he does in this one is to put his victims on edge. There are no jokes, he’s much more focused, even his iconic laugh is toned down. They tried to keep him scary in the second one (which sucked), then in the later movies he gets a little too slapsticky, it’s the third one however where they strike the perfect balance.
Freddy is a lot more scary in the original and you never get a good look at his face. He’s always shrouded in shadow or is obscured in some ways, and it’s really effective. In later films you can always see his smiling face and the movie is all about him and the fun things he can do. This one is more driven by Heather Langenkamp, who plays Nancy. I said it in an earlier review, but she was always my favorite final girl. Langenkamp was my boyhood crush growing up.
The movie is genuinely scary. The dream sequences aren’t as wild as you get in later films, it’s usually just a perversion of the place the person who fell asleep was in. The score is very creepy. It’s amazing how a soundtrack can set a scene for you. It’s soft and has a dream-like quality that puts you on edge when you hear it, because when it plays you know bad things are about to go down. The special effects are wonderful. Everything is done with practical effects, not CGI. It’s a common occurrence for me to stop mid-review and complain about CGI, but I don’t care, practical is better. Take the remake that came out in 2010, it was pretty much a shot for shot remake and the 1984 version looks much better. Suck it computers.
Now this movie does have its flaws. A minor nitpick that is more humorous than anything, the movie is set in the fictional city of Springwood, Ohio. But on several occasions you can see palm trees in the background. I’ve lived in the great state of Ohio for most of my life, and I can assure you palm trees are not a common thing around here. The other thing is how long it takes people to believe Nancy that there’s something going on in her dreams. I understand it’s an outlandish thing to believe, but Nancy is strapped to a hospital bed with doctors and her mom watching, and when she wakes up from a dream she has cuts on her arm and somehow has the hat of a man the town helped murder, I think it’s time to believe the unbelievable.
The acting is good, John Saxon is great, Robert Englund is terrifying, Heather Langenkamp is awesome and there’s even a very young Johnny Depp in his first role before he went nuts. This movie is a classic for a reason and it deserves every bit of praise it gets heaped on it. It came out when slasher movies were all the rage. You had Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees dominating the genre, then a different type of slasher comes along and tweaks the formula brilliantly and manages to stand on its own on even footing with the icons. Every horror fan should watch this movie at some point, it’s great.
9.5 Dr. Chainsaws!
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Happy Halloween! Until next year, folks!