A Nightmare on Elm Street
- Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson
- Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger
- John Saxon as Don Thompson
- Ronee Blakley as Marge Thompson
- Johnny Depp as Glen
- Nick Corri as Rod
- Amanda Wyss as Tina
A seminal horror classic that is perfect for spooky viewing today on Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street is atmospheric and exceptionally directed terror that sucks you right in to the strange story and introduces the world to another horror villain in the shape of Freddy Krueger.
The film centres on a group of teenagers; Nancy, Tina, Glen and Rod, in a quiet town, who begin experience unusual things in their dreams. Tina is the first member to have the vivid nightmares, and who begins to get very frightened of the possibility of death by what she sees. All of the teens seem to have had the same dream of a scarred man with knives on his fingers called Freddy Krueger tormenting them. But these dreams take a definite and more sinister tone when Tina is actually killed while dreaming of this. Thuggish bad boy Rod is accused of the slaying and arrested, but Nancy( who is the daughter of the local police chief) is not to sure as she can’t shake the feeling that the shared experience of dreaming the same thing holds a bearing over this. Nancy is right about the man from the dreams being responsible, but everyone else thinks she his going crazy due to grief. As more blood is spilled, it becomes a struggle to stay awake and not drift to sleep, where Freddy can kill them. It also transpires that there is something hidden by Nancy’s parents regarding Freddy, that may just hold the key to his murderous appearances. Yet Nancy has already deduced a way that she may be able to render the seemingly omnipotent Freddy powerless. With an array of strong plans, she sets up battle against the monster that is Krueger, with the intent on putting a stop to his savage killings once and for all.
The horror maven that is Wes Craven is the man behind this work of cinematic horror. His expertise in the macabre and terrifying are bountiful and for all to glimpse, with most impressive achievement being the way he blurs dreams and reality to become jagged and indistinguishable. By employing this technique, Craven catapults the audience into the confusion of the central teens as they look for ways to stop falling asleep for fear of what will happen. There are numerous times when even we are not sure whether we are viewing a dream sequence or normality as the effect of each is meshed to such a spectacular degree. Memorable moments come from this film and continue to enthrall. My personal favourites being the opening dream of Tina’s in the boiler room that sets the atmosphere of the film, Nancy following a ghostly vision of Tina wrapped in a bloody body bag and Nancy’s setting of traps to ensnare the bogeyman of Freddy for good. A Nightmare on Elm Street established the horror icon of scarred child killer Freddy Krueger, who no doubt had viewers terrified of going to sleep and still no doubt does that today. With that maniacal cackle, gruesome appearance and sly wit, he is one of the best villains to come from the horror genre. The sins of the parents theme is visited quite well and adds another element of tension to the strange mix at work. Where the biggest points are scored in A Nightmare on Elm Street is the aural landscape of spooky synthesizers and repeating percussion to create a haunting, childlike influenced score of sinister backbone that will make even the most serious person afraid and with nerves jangled.
The lead character of scared but plucky Nancy is embodied by the naturalness and likable delivery of Heather Langenkamp. Nancy is the only person who realises the link between the dreams and the deaths and sets out to. She is depicted as a strong and intelligent young girl who is adept at survival and unlike some girls in horror that are thrust into battling, Nancy is the instigator of the fight with a fierce determination. The smarts are wonderfully provided by the assured work of Heather Langenkamp, who shows us a Scream Queen of cleverness and vigor. Robert Englund cements his place in movie history with his creepy interpretation of the knife-wielding Freddy Krueger. With a despicable and unearthly menace, he scares the hell out of everyone because of how powerful the character seems to be(and the fact that dreams are uncontrollable). John Saxon and Ronee Blakley contribute a sense of unspoken terror and knowledge playing Nancy’s parents, who have more than a little inkling of what is going on. A young Johnny Depp in his movie debut, portrays the goofy boyfriend of Nancy who is also dragged into the creepy goings on that plague him and his friends. Nick Corri and Amanda Wyss are used well as two of the teens who fall victim to the slayings.
Frightening from start to finish and packed with spine-tingling events, not least of which is the ability to traverse reality and imaginary, A Nightmare on Elm Street is deservedly a classic of the horror genre for its execution and ability to scare, even by today’s standards.