A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

Oh, God. I look 20 years old!

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It feels like I’ve been writing these for much longer than 28 days now, but I’m pretty certain I mentioned way back in my Halloween (1978) review that the John Carpenter original spawned an entire genre of rip off/tributes in the years that followed.

Namely, a group of pretty teenagers somewhere in the wealthy suburbs of America being preyed upon by pure evil in the warm autumn sun. Yes, while these types of films are invariably set somewhere in the midwest, the sad truth is that California tends to be the filming location of choice for many aspiring filmmakers. But, you know, whatever. Just throw some autumn leaves on the road. That’ll work perfectly!

But let’s take a moment to think back over the past 27 reviews. I’ve covered Halloween, Friday The 13th – there’s gotta be someone missing?

One, two, he’s coming for you…

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) is one of those films that surely everybody must have seen by now. At the very least, the name Freddy Krueger should at least ring a bell.

This is partly down to the fact that as the character of Freddy suffered what is known as flanderisation. That is, the point in which a character becomes a parody of itself, uttering catchphrases at every opportunity and losing all sense of depth. For a textbook example, please refer to Monica during the final couple of seasons of hit sitcom Friends.

Friday The 13th also suffered from this, but in a wholly positive way – from barely appearing in the first film, Jason became a staple horror icon during the course of the franchise. Freddy, well, Freddy went the other way.

But let’s not get bogged down in the real world here, let’s step back into the dream world.

Teenage schoolgirl Tina Grey (Amanda Wyss) has been having nightmares. Typically, she feels the need to share this with her friend Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) and Nancy’s boyfriend Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp). She is terrified that the dream meant she would be killed, and is shocked to hear that Nancy has been experiencing the same thing.

Not wanting to sleep alone, Tina invites the pair to stay with her the following night and the group are joined in the night by Tina’s boyfriend Rod Lane (Nick Corri). While Rod sleeps beside her, Tina again experiences a nightmare – but this time there’s no getting away. She is stalked by a sinister figure in a red and green jumper, wielding a bladed glove.

The figure is Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund), and he’s after Tina’s blood. Back in the real world, Rod is disturbed by Tina’s screaming and wailing. Not knowing what to do, Rod watches as Tina’s shirt is torn open and four deep cuts slice through her chest. Pumping blood, Tina is thrown around the room before finally planning back into the bed with a wet splash.

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Now, can I just say here, I still think this scene holds up. I’m still amazed to see what director Wes Craven and company pulled off in this film – and I don’t think I’m alone. The last person I sat down to watch this with visibly had their mouth open during this scene. It’s a hard one to beat!

Rod is swiftly picked up by the local police due to Tina’s death, but Nancy knows there is more going on. Opting to avoid sleep, Nancy and Glen work together to try and discover the source of the evil in their sleep. Nancy takes it on herself to try and confront Freddy, even managing to grab his hat in the dream – and be holding it the following morning in the real world.

As Nancy and Glen continue to work out how to beat Freddy, the truth begins to emerge that maybe, just maybe, their parents may be the cause of the evil after all…

There’s not much I can add here. A Nightmare On Elm Street is a classic slice of popcorn horror. Despite the series becoming more child-friendly in time, the first still retains the dark sense of humour throughout the film. Freddy, in particular, is prone to doing odd things from time to time. See, the reason he’s lasted so long in popular culture is that not only is he evil – he’s enjoying himself too.

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Well, I enjoy it anyway.

But wait, there’s more!

Okay, so you’ve probably seen this a million times before. While the film still stands up – I can understand if you feel you need a little more spice. Next time you have an hour or so to yourself and fancy a laugh – check out the RedLetterMedia commentary for this film.

You can find it below – it really is worth a listen!

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 track=3502019263 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

Yours, A P Tyler

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