Caila went to Meremac-STL for journalism and has been writing for most of her life.
Haunted in Dreams
1, 2 Freddy's Coming For You!
So this year I decided to go on a long journey of horror films for the entire month of October in a Halloween movie marathon. One of the first franchises on my list used to haunt my dreams at night when I was a kid... fitting though, right? A Nightmare on Elm Street came out in the mid 80's, so almost 40 years ago, but does it still have the same horror factor to it that it did back then? Another question I asked myself while reviewing this film was, 'Is Freddy even scary?' and 'Is this something that would scare kids now?' I am a visual person, so Freddy Krueger was always somebody that scared me when I was younger, but would it be enough to scare a child of the modern world we live in today with our CGI and ridiculous budgets for films? Let's find out!
3, 4 Better Lock Your Door! - Mental Warfare
The film really opens up with action and gets straight to the point about everything by placing you in someone's dream where they are being terrorized by Krueger off the bat. It's effective because you don't really know what is going on at first. In the beginning a group of friends, led by Nancy Thompson, the final girl of this franchise, realize that they are all having similar night terrors of the same man. The man is horribly burned everywhere, wears a brown fedora hat, has on a nasty looking green and red knit sweater and has knives on his fingers that are sharp to the touch. He also talks and jokes to them in their dreams, frightening them. No one asks enough questions or gets to the important points that they should, but teenagers are going to teenage, I guess. Because Nancy's friend thinks she is going to die in her dreams, she has her friends stay over just in case to calm her nerves.
However, the friends being there do not help anything. Nancy is still killed in her sleep outright by Freddy in her bedroom. It's really one of the most memorable pieces of horror cinema history watching this kill as Freddy drags her around her bedroom, the walls, and the ceiling, splashing blood literally everywhere as he slaughters her. At the end of the kill, the room is almost entirely red and her boyfriend looks extremely suspicious to everyone in the house and now to the police who find him. He tells them that he could not see the killer, even though he tried to very hard. The boyfriend is placed in jail, and you can just tell it's going to get worse from here on out for everybody.
Freddy is easily separating them, making them look and sound crazy, demolishing their morale because they can't sleep, and it all comes off as a master plan! Krueger was extremely strategic about his kills in the beginning of the film. One led right into another smoothly and it all made sense from the perspective of someone else who had no insight on the nightmares. Very smart killer. By the time the group starts figuring things out, it's almost too late as Freddy kills the boyfriend that was locked up by hanging him in his cell (smart). Nancy has been off of sleep for a while now, she drinks coffee to stay up all night, her hair is graying and her face looks older and older as the movie goes on. This is extremely traumatic for her.
The whole ordeal though is distressing for everyone though. Nancy's father is the chief of police, doesn't listen to anyone and is hardly ever home for his work. Her mother is a part of her life, but is essentially turning herself into a drunkard throughout the film. She's constantly drinking and checking in on Nancy at all times. Her overbearing love and obsession over Nancy and her looks comes off as just wanting something of her own because her husband is never home. It's really sad and makes you wonder how long it has been like this and if Freddy has anything to do with the mental state of these characters as well.
5, 6 Grab Your Crucifix! - Backstory
Nancy's mother eventually takes her to a dream and sleep analyst and this is a very interesting scene. The information we are given about the state of Nancy when she is in her deep sleep and dreaming is very cool. Nancy does not tell her mother everything she needs to know in order to help her, so it is sad to see her mother trying to do what she thinks is right, but is putting her daughter at an extreme risk without realizing it. When she pulls Freddy's hat out of her sleep and there is no explanation, it definitely looks weird from someone else's perspective still. The parents, however, have the same problem as the children. Nobody listens and nobody says anything that they should be saying! Nancy's mother does not tell her of Freddy's true identity and what happened to him until it is almost too late, yet again!
We learn that Freddy Krueger was a child murderer and that he had killed many children in the neighborhood by the time he was caught, many of which, were Nancy's friends siblings. So the neighborhood parents burned him alive for his crimes after he was set free by a loophole in the justice system. The legal system failed them, so they took it into their own hands, surprisingly uncharged with anything afterwards. I am not mad at the parents for how they handled the situation at all with Freddy. They were down for their kids' safety, but to know that Freddy is probably the reason that Nancy's mother is so attached to her is another trauma point for this film.
What would any 1980's movie be without a montage of people fixing something up? The scene of how Nancy decides to kill Freddy with booby traps from a book that her boyfriend gave her before he also died in the film, did not fit the mood or the tone of the movie at all. It REALLY took me out of the horror of it all. Nancy decides to pull Freddy out of her dreams and trap him in her house and find a way to kill him in the real world. When she pulls him out, it is a clusterfuck of things happening at that point to try and either kill him or get her father to come and get him. The end resolution also did not fit the tone of the film to me. As you could just wish all of this away? Take back the energy you gave him? Not afraid anymore so he leaves? It does not work for me, but I could understand what they were going for though.
7, 8 Gotta Stay Up Late - Lore and Kills
This movie has so much lore behind it from the way Freddy died, to how he comes back with supernatural powers, his road he chooses to take for revenge, the children singing the skip rope song, the trauma that surrounds the entire families that had to go through this ordeal. It's a lot to unpack, but it is good though! The drug Hypnocil was even in this movie, whereas I thought that was something that was simply made up for the 2003 Freddy vs Jason movie. I think that the fact that Wes Craven took so many different ideas and blended them together made for a great story and a great horror movie villain. The name Freddy Krueger was chosen because it was somebody that bullied Wes when he was a child. The green and red colors on the sweater are supposed to be visually off-putting to the eye and that's why he chose them. Freddy's character was also inspired by a man that Wes knew around his neighborhood that freaked him out once. Even his powers have lore behind them, as Craven had heard the story of people that had actually died in their sleep and in their nightmares for no reason at all. It's all there and it all works for characterization purposes when he wrote the character. New Line Cinema is the production company that Freddy built. The House that He Built! His character put them on the map! It even put Johnny Depp's career on the road it would take. It's all just so good!
This movie works so well sometimes in the best ways that it can and the ways that matter: the horror. The kills in this film are iconic! There are a few kills in this movie that should be on a list of "Classic Horror Movie Murders" or "Best Kills in a Movie" or "Most Iconic Shots from Horror Films"! They are THAT good! Classic stills such as Freddy's glove coming out of Nancy's bathwater while she's taking a bath, Johnny Depp's character being eaten by a hole in his bed and then blood gushing from said hole afterwards onto the ceiling, Freddy bursting through the mirror onto Nancy is a great shot, and one of the most iconic, Freddy stretching out the wall to get to Nancy! These are just top tier kills and imagery that come from this film that should always be praised!
Nothing Better than the Original
9, 10 Never Sleep Again - My Final Thoughts...
You're supposed to be safe in your sleep. You're supposed to be at peach when you sleep. That is what made this movie so frightening! Nancy and her friends literally almost had no way to stay sane in this! Without sleep, your body deteriorates pretty quickly and you start sleeping without even knowing it and possibly dreaming while awake. These are real life things that can happen. They were not safe anywhere after a while. It's a very supernatural aspect to the film and a different kind of killer, which is what made Freddy very cool! I think this movie had the perfect mixture of creepiness and mental warfare within it that if it could have kept going in this same clever direction that it started in the franchise would've been far more successful in the roots of horror. Although Freddy is probably is most people's Top 3 Horror Movie Villains overall, as his character has contributed much to horror, he is still looked at as a bit of a joke though. Had they focused throughout the franchise on making him less joking, he could make for an extremely terrifying and intimidating foe. In the 80's and 90's, it feels like a lot of companies and movies lost the roots of horror and what made movies scary and got more obsessed with a single character and still calling it horror when it wasn't anymore, similar to Chucky the Killer Doll and how comical he got, but people still watched because it was Chucky!
I think the concepts for this movie are great and they stand the test of time, but I think it can be lost to time in certain ways because of flaws of the film, like its ending. There were many other ways to show Freddy's immortality than him coming back at the very end after the whole "I take back the energy I gave you" spiel. However, this is another cool factor to Freddy's character, as he can't die. He's like a specter at this point. Just a spirit that won't go away. I don't think any of the iterations, sequels or other movie involving Freddy were as good or scary as the original, as I did watch most of them on my Halloween Movie Marathon for the month; All but one, New Nightmare, which puts a spin on the same old story. It's another of Wes Craven's projects but it makes Freddy scary again! That is the only sequel to this franchise that was as good as the original. Other than that you can't beat an original idea!
Money! Money! MONEY!!!
On a budget of about 1 million dollars, the movie returned $56 million of that budget! THIS IS AMAZING! Not only did it double the budget but it skyrocketed the budget and made such a good profit for a horror movie, solidifying the character of Freddy Krueger as one of horror's legends in just an hour and a half of a film!
This movie was a.... DIAMOND!!!
Nightmare on Elm Street Movie Review Poll (1984)
Actors, Actresses, and Production Teams!
|Actors/Actresses||Production Crew||Production Companies|
Wes Craven (Director, Writer)
New Line Cinema (Production and Distribution Company)
Robert Shaye (Producer)
Media Home Entertainment (Production Company)
Jacques Haitkin (Cinematographer)
Smart Egg Pictures (Production Company)
Patrick McMahon (Editor)
Rick Shaine (Editor)
Charles Berstein (Music)
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