Nightmare on Elm Street, A (1984)

“Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep.”

Synopsis:
A group of small-town teenagers are slain while dreaming about a sadistic masked man with knife-blades for fingers (Robert Englund). It’s up to Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and her boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp) to stay awake long enough to survive and investigate the mystery of Freddy Krueger.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, the premise of this “Wes Craven chiller” — that what happens while one is asleep can have a direct consequence on one’s existence — is “unusual and interesting”. However, he argues that its “execution is disappointing”, given that “‘Freddie’ (Robert Englund) is made up and dressed too foolishly to be taken seriously”. He posits that “too many of the nightmares are similar in content”, and that while “there are occasional shocks,” there’s “little suspense.” He further notes that “while the splatter murders are well done, you can’t really respect a film whose highlights feature blood spurting onto walls and ceilings”. He goes on to call the film’s ending “trite and infuriating in that it defies the film’s logic”, and notes that “worst of all”, the “teenagers and adults are [all] unappealing”. Nonetheless, in the years since Peary’s book was published, Nightmare… has gained an increasingly strong cult following, and remains mandatory viewing for all film fanatics, given its pivotal place in the slasher film genre.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Johnny Depp in an early role
  • A creative premise for a slasher flick

Must See?
Yes. This is one of a handful of horror films which should be seen by every film fanatic.

Categories

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

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One Response to “Nightmare on Elm Street, A (1984)”

  1. I agree that, given the number of horror films – in particular, the more contemporary of them, it’s accurate to say that the real ‘musts’ are not all that far from “a handful”.

    This one is a must.

    ‘ANOES’ is among the best films by director Craven, clearly a smart guy. The premise is strikingly original – based as it is on the nature of nightmares and the speculation of what dreams are and where they come from. The fluid blending of the dream world and the real world is remarkable. The film uses its time well and (with what looks like shrewd execution of a limited budget) exhibits mind-boggling use of effects and visuals, accompanied by an unnerving score. Expectations are constantly played against – which brings me to the ending: in a sense, it “defies the film’s logic”…that is, unless the protagonist of the story (Nancy) is asleep from first frame to last. (That works for me!)

    Years later, Craven would, of course, go on to make ‘Scream’ – something of a self-parody. Yet, seeing this again, I couldn’t help but notice a considerable number of similarities: the tone is consistent, the humor (if buried) is there, as well as an element that compassionately humanizes the main characters (something missing from many disposable films of this type).

    A genuine cult film. Not something I’d want to see all that often but a definite ‘chill ride’.

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