A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Nightmare-Elm-1

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Still nightmare inducing.

What are dreams? That question has plagued the minds of scientists for years, and there was always that supernatural question…what if dreams were more than just images that your brain create? What if dreams are doorways to other dimensions where the things you see are real and can affect you? People have been asking that question for years, long before A Nightmare on Elm Street surfaced. Heck, why do you think nightmares scare us? At the time, they are as real as you and I. All this film did was materialize what people already fear, used the elements of what separates dreams from reality, and blended it all into one successful horror flick.

When a few teens living on Elm Street begin dreaming of a demonic burned man with knives for fingers, they start to fear his existence when they learn it is a shared dream. Their fears become reality when one of the kids actually dies a brutal, and seemingly paranormal death. Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is the name of the man stalking them while they sleep, and he was a child murderer that the town killed years before. The police think they’re crazy, so what are they to do in order to stay away from a murderer that can kill you in your sleep? Stay awake of course, but we all know we will die without sleep, so that doesn’t last long. When Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) learns she can bring something from the dream world into the real world, she sets a plan in motion that’ll either be fool proof or foolish.

I’ll tell you right off the bat that this film has ‘80s cheese written all over it. The acting, the voice dubbing, the clothes, the hair, the music, the acting…it’s inescapable really. The only thing that really saves it, and ultimately makes it a masterpiece, is the concept and Robert Englund’s portrayal as the iconic Freddy Krueger. There’s no question. Wes Craven held the title of “King of Horror” for a while, because he could create something so memorable and iconic, that it would change the history of horror films forever. Playing off of a simple fear of a nightmare is beautifully simple, and it was done in a way that would have audiences thinking at night…hearing those girls singing “1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you…”. Who wouldn’t fear falling asleep after that, honestly?

Freddy Krueger had some really grisly makeup that makes him out to be one heck of a scary villain. Sure, the “burns” don’t look exactly like burns as much as makes him look like a monster, and the makeup in the remake was better in realism, but it didn’t have to be. This is a dream, people. The guy slices his body open, and bugs come spilling out. It’s meant to take advantage of the unlimited possibilities dreams possess. The ability to manipulate the molecular level of pretty much anything is in Freddy’s disposal, and he is going to use it to stalk you and eventually kill you.

As mentioned above, the acting isn’t that great, especially in regards to Heather Langenkamp, but for some reason or another, she was still the most memorable character in the whole series (other than Freddy) from my recollection. Right down to New Nightmare when she returns for the last time. It was just the ‘80s cheese that made it seem like she was bad at acting. It was great when it was first released, but for a modern audience, some of that ‘80s stuff will not translate all that well.

A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most memorable horror films to date, introducing one of the best horror villains to ever show up, thanks to Master of Horror Wes Craven.

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10 thoughts on “A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

  1. “This film has ‘80s cheese written all over it” Haha! So true, bro. Good review, man. I’ve read so many ANOES reviews but yours was spot on and fun to read. I like that you mentioned that the material “materialized” things that we fear and dread. Good observation, Dave. Thanks for the review!

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  2. I actually went to see this in the theater way, way back in 1984. Even then, as a kid, I knew Heather Langenkamp was not a very good actress, ’80s cheese or not. The only reason she is memorable is because they focused several movies on her. That said, I wholeheartedly agree the concept makes this a true classic. It’s one of the very best slasher flicks ever made, in my humble opinion.

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