A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

This article was originally published on March 19, 2007, on Fight-Evil.com.

Nancy and her friends are getting stalked and murdered in their dreams by a man who can?t possibly exist.  When Nancy discovers that her parents recognize the name of the killer, she begins to wonder who she can really trust?

A Nightmare on Elm Street is a horror classic; perhaps one of the last, published in the mid-80s.  One of those movies that uses all the clich?s before they were clich? and uses them well, Craven establishes early on the sex versus survival rule and uses the disbelief formula best seen in Jaws: unleash a killer that authority figures refuse to acknowledge on a group of unsuspecting people.  In the days when Frankenstein, not Jason, was the greatest of the zombies and Michael Myers was a force of pure evil instead of a pawn of the man in black, these ingredients are expertly stirred, heated to a low boil, and simmered for an hour and a half.

Beyond that, NOES is the home of the most classic scenes and lines in the entire series.  The first appearance of Freddy- both the sight and his opening line- is a classic in itself.

Spoiler below?

This movie is also home to two of the best, if not the two best, kills in the series.  The first and last dream kills of the film (closing dream not counted, as latter movies proved it not to be canon) are classic horror literature.  The bloody girl being dragged along the ceiling, and my favorite Johnny Depp scene ever as Glen?s body is converted to blood and sprayed back onto his ceiling.

End spoiler.

Craven also expertly combines the elements of disgust (the sound of nails on a chalkboard, Freddy slicing off his own fingers) with fear to make a character you really want to get away from.

As part of a series, the original is without question the best Nightmare.  Having never been seen before and without an established identity, Freddy can do things he would never have been able to do in the latter films, such as peeling his face off and leaving nothing but a bloody skull behind.

Spoiler below?

A Nightmare on Elm Street also displays the first of 5 different Freddy/dream theories, each of which later seems to be false as a matter of continuing the series, and the first of 3 ?let?s pull him out of the dream? scenarios.

End Spoiler.

Falling asleep and encountering the killer in the middle of class was also an original idea? until it started happening every movie.  Good job writers for the rest of the series

Try as I might, I could not find enough problems with the acting in this movie to penalize it on a 10-star scale.  While the characters might come off as cry-babies, wimps or the like, that is because that’s what people are really like, not the faults of the actors.  The one point I think could have used improvement was John Saxon’s “Jesus Christ” after Nancy blocks him from chasing Rod.

A Nightmare on Elm Street has been one of my favorite movies since I first watched it.  The effects, despite the budget, are on a level where no fool would try to remake it (except maybe for Rob Zombie; he remakes movies that had no need for effects).  This is definitely the darkest Freddy, and the second-to-last movie in the series with any real originality (the second being Freddy?s Revenge).  If you actually had reason to skip over my spoilers, you need to get your ass off the computer and go watch it.

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