Wes Craven is a disturbed individual. No, really. He read a string of LA Times articles printed in the 1970s about a number of men in South East Asia who died under mysterious terms while experiencing vivid nightmares. A normal person reads a few articles of that nature and thinks “Oh, how terrible.” or “Those poor men and their families.” or “That is very creepy and I wish I hadn’t read it.”
But not Wes Craven. A man like Wes Craven reads those articles and thinks “I can use this to scare the living hell out of children for decades to come!”
And so was born tonight’s feature: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Year Released: 1984
Written By: Wes Craven
Directed By: Wes Craven
Starring: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Amanda Wyss, Johnny Depp
When all-American teenager Tina has a nightmare in which a grizzled and burned figure slashes her with a bladed glove, and she awakens with four slash marks across the front of her nightgown, she becomes a bit distressed. Upon telling her friend Nancy of her experience, Nancy reveals that she had a similar dream, though their other friends refuse to believe them.
That changes over time, as one by one, gruesome deaths befall each one; In their sleep.
Nancy soon comes face-to-crispy-face with the shadowy figure haunting her dreams, who calls himself Freddy Kruger, and he almost ends her. But as her friends and family all die around her at the claw-gloved hands of Mr. Kruger, Nancy has no choice but to take a stand and face him in a fight to the death. Will she survive the night?
Ah, Freddy Kruger. The ugly bastard who stalked the dreams of teenagers through the 1980s and well into the 1990s. One of the most iconic movie monsters and arguably one of the scariest ever put on film, it’s not the outright terror that people tend to remember most about Freddy, but rather the over-the-top hilarity of his horrible actions. I mean, Johnny Depp gets killed by a bed in this movie. A bed. It eats him and throws up a fountain of blood. Just in case you fail to grasp what I just said, let me repeat it: Johnny Depp gets killed by a bed in this movie.
Granted, the truly goofy stuff (yes, goofier than a kid being killed by a piece of furniture) doesn’t happen until later sequels. Oh, yeah. There are sequels. Quite a few of them, too, and only a couple of ones I’d call good. Okay, not “good”, but “entertaining”. Still, a whole lot of silly in this movie, and that’s what I love most about it.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie does the scary stuff right. This is, after all, a Wes Craven film. Wes almost always does a good job of balancing the silly with the scary. The premise alone is terrifying and Craven does a lot with it in this first film.
The acting is pretty typical for a mid-80s horror film, and the standout of the crowd is Robert Englund as Freddy Kruger.
The effects are decent for the time the movie was made, a lot of the makeup work and prosthetics are actually pretty impressive.
Should You See It:
Listen, if the words “Johnny Depp gets killed by a bed in this film” are not enough to entice you, I just don’t know what is.