Today, August 30, 2017 marks the 2 year anniversary of the death of cinemaster, Wes Craven. I think it’s about time that I got off my lazy ass and write a review of, not only one of his biggest contributions to filmmaking, but also my favorite movie of all time, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. I’ve had a draft of this for years, but again, I was too lazy to complete the draft. I felt that you all wanted to know more about Emma Roberts joining the cast of the upcoming season of AMERICAN HORROR STORY instead.
It feels redundant for a site devoted to horror movies to recap the synopsis for a film as widely known as A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET but here it goes: Freddy Kruger is stalking and killing teens in their nightmares because their parents killed him in a lynch mob 10 years prior for killing a bunch of kids. Nancy Thompson realizes this is shitty, buys a book about booby traps and Johnny Depp gets sucked into a bed. Get it? Got it? Good.
One of NOES’s strength is how it separated itself from its peers at the time. Instead of a big-breasted blonde getting chased down with an axe while her boyfriend comes to her rescue, the characters and setting was significantly more grounded. Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy Thompson is not your typical girl-next-door type. She’s mutli-dimensional, mentally and emotionally strong, and fully capable taking care of herself and her drunken mother. The villain…you guessed it, Fred Kruger, is a vulgar nightmare demon out for revenge. Unlike the popular horror villains at the time like Jason Voorhees and Michael Meyers, Fred had personality. Since this is the first film in the series, Fred Krueger isn’t cracking jokes yet. He’s mean, nasty and downright scary in this one. The other characters were also well fleshed out and were multi-dimensional characters, which became a standard of the series. Craven’s script can be interpreted as a story of the loss of innocence, or a story about the breakdown of the nuclear, suburban family. Nancy is a child of divorce and is the victim of her parents sins as they know more about Krueger than she thinks. Along with strong special effects and a, still creepy and recognizable score, this film proves why Fred Krueger became iconic and Wes Craven fully respected as a filmmaker.
Honestly… not much. Of course, I’m biased because, as I’ve said earlier, this is my favorite movie of all time. However, I can recognize that the acting is pretty uneven at times and the deletion of one scene where Nancy and Glen’s fathers discuss if the murders are related to Krueger would’ve taken the film and later sequels into a completely different route. Again, I’m biased as these are only minor criticisms.
The original NIGHTMARE ON ELMS STREET is such an iconic classic that is sustained a movie studio, created careers, created a franchise and delivered one of the most recognizable villains in movie history. Wes Craven didn’t initially want this movie to be sequelized but when he did become involved with later installments, he had such a fresh character with Krueger and the lack of limitation in the dream world that they turned out to be the most acclaimed sequels in the franchise (parts 3 & 7). I still have memories of watching this movie as a kid and being in awe of the images and story that I became a Freddy and Wes Craven fan for life.
**** out of 4 stars