Scream Horror Magazine


Posted on: June 28th, 2016

ANightmareOnElmStreet_ MAIN IMAGE PLEASESynopsis:
Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) is having grisly nightmares. Meanwhile, her high school friends, who are sharing the very same dreams, are being slaughtered in their sleep by the same hideous stranger. After her best friend is murdered, and the police ignore her explanation, Nancy decides to take matters into her own hands. She must confront the strange, horribly burned killer in his nightmare territory.

Featuring a strong cast, including John Saxon, Johnny Depp, and Amanda Wyss and directed by horror master, Wes Craven, comes this timeless shocker that remains brilliant to this day. With mind-bending special effects, this horror classic gave birth to one of the most infamous and loved, undead villains in cinematic history – Freddy Krueger.

‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ is the horror film that cemented my interest and love of the genre. The idea behind it always fascinated me; if you fall asleep, you die. The villain was so horrific; Freddy Krueger, who was horribly burned, had knives for fingers, wore a dirty red and green sweater and a fedora. Immediately iconic. The heroine, Nancy, was so strong, for a change. The scariest thing though, was that Freddy could make your worst fears come true. He taunted his victims & enjoyed their fear, he actually spoke! (Unlike most slasher killers.) The rule was simple though, “Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep.”

Freddys First Appearence (ANOES1984)Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is a happy teenager, she has Glen (Johnny Depp) for a boyfriend. Her father is Lieutenant Thompson (John Saxon). Sure, she has an over-protective, alcoholic for a mother (Ronee Blakely), but otherwise, things are good. Then, on a sleep-over date with best friend, Tina (Amanda Wyss), Tina confides in Nancy about a hideous guy taunting her in her nightmare. As Glen looks on in disbelief, they realize they’ve all dreamt about the same guy. Tina is scared and doesn’t want to be left alone, so when her bad-boy boyfriend, Rod (Nick Corri), show’s up – she’s pleased to see him. She then discovers Rod also had a nightmare… in an iconic and horrific scene, Tina then falls asleep and meets Freddy again. Tina meets a gruesome end, as Rod looks on in horror. Soon, Rod is blamed for Tina’s death, and Nancy starts to unravel the truth about just who Fred Krueger is, and the rules of the nightmares. As Nancy’s loved ones fall prey to Krueger’s knives, she decides to take Krueger on herself with lots of coffee and a well-placed sledge-hammer.

One of the great things about this seminal horror, is Heather Langenkamp’s performance and character, Nancy. Wes Craven, a master of the macabre, decided that his hero wasn’t going to be the girl that fell over and screamed, after his daughter commented on how this always happened in the genre. Nancy is a strong character, well written, who is going to fight back, after telling Glen, “I’m into survival.” The last twenty minutes, where she booby-traps her home to catch Krueger is superb. Nancy is portrayed as strong, feminine and intelligent, which is a rarity in the slasher genre. I don’t feel she ever gets enough appreciation as a female hero.

All four of the teenagers in the movie are fully fleshed out and likable characters. Tina is sweet, and the Janet Leigh of the movie, though her murder sequence, like Leigh’s before her, is probably the most iconic and scary of all Freddy’s nightmares; partly because it’s the first time we meet him, but also because it’s so brutal. Rod is masculine and intense, the scene where he describes his encounter with Krueger to Nancy is superb. Then of course, we have Johnny Depp in his first role as Glen, the unreliable boyfriend that means well and is trying his best to find a reasonable explanation. His nightmare sequence is also iconic, and I think a lot of people were scared of getting into bed after watching this movie. I know I certainly was.

nightmare_on_elm_street Nancy and Tina discover KruegerOf course, the main star that came out of the film was Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. He has become an icon of the horror genre, his stance and mocking cruelty is vividly charged with terror. The mere idea of a burned lunatic with knives on his fingers, who stalks you in your sleep was terrifying. After all, in the end we all have to sleep, and Craven plays on this idea superbly.

This film is a ground-breaking horror of the genre. Wes Craven puts his own fears on screen, and you can tell that he loved this project. The story-line plays out as a well written thriller. The fear is amped up with the now iconic soundtrack, the ghostly children singing the jump rope song “one, two, Freddy’s coming for you.” The cinematography is superb. The rotating bedroom which must’ve seemed so amazing in 1984, in Tina’s horrific nightmare sequence is so surreal, and Nancy getting dragged into the bath tub was incredible. Also, the ghostly dreams, which make you question when the characters are awake and when they’re asleep. The special effects are superb (apart from the embarrassing end scene, involving Marge Thompson, and chosen by producer Bob Shaye, simply to make room for a sequel). The effects were all done practically, and they’re all the better for it. Krueger, appearing through the bedroom wall is outstanding and looks better than in the CGI heavy re-make. Some things still make you question ‘how did they do that?’ The acting is strong and believable (Ronee Blakely lets the side down slightly), but the rest are solid, and the scene where Nancy discovers who Krueger really is, still chills.

Cast NOES 1984This is a fantastically crafted piece of cinema history. The film has become as quotable as any other cult classic. A brilliantly written and directed film which takes its characters and story-line seriously. Any flaws are small. It’s no wonder that this film has gone down in Hollywood history – it’s quite simply brilliant.

Words: Steven Casey Murray

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