27 Days of Fright (The Reprint) – Day Two

Originally Published Tuesday 7th October 2008

A Nightmare on Elm Street

The original Nightmare on Elm Street was released back when I was in primary school and I can still remember hearing about it from one of the kids in my class who had claimed to have seen this hit 80’s gore fest on video. Nightmare is, like Star Wars, one of the movies whose reputation preceded itself for me and it was several years later before I finally got to see it.

Jump forward in time more than twenty years and you’ll find that A Nightmare on Elm Street was last nights movie and that it still holds an amazing ability to entertain especially considering how cheaply and (to be fair) badly made it is.

For those not familiar with the film that started one of the most successful horror film franchises, Nightmare tells the tale of a group of suburban American teenagers from the same neighbourhood who are plagued with terrifying dreams of a killer with an old hat, a stripy jumper, and knives for fingers. Those dreams become even more scary when they stop being just dreams and spill out into the waking world. Those youngsters having the dreams are violently murdered one by one until we are left with Nancy (the hero of the day) and her chum Glen.

Indiana Jones really let hmself go

Nancy is determined to survive the killers rampage despite her mother trying to cure her nightmares with doctors and whatnot. While at the doctors, undergoing a form of sleep and dream analysis, Nancy is attacked again but manages to escape when her doctor and her mother wake her. This time Nancy takes a souvenir in the form of the killers hat and this prompts her dear old mum to reveal what she knows about the killer.

It turns out that a few years prior there had been a serial child killer working the area who was eventually caught by the police but got off on a technicality at trial. The local parents weren’t best pleased with this and took the law into their own hands, killing the killer, one Mr. Freddy Krueger.

Nancy determines that Freddy is out for revenge through the dream world and that the only way to end the horror is to drag him into the real world and sort him out there!

A Nightmare on Elm Street was not the first of the teen slasher flicks but it came to embody all the clichés of the genre – disbelieving parents, those experimenting with drink or drugs or sex die first, running up the stairs when they should go out the front door, and most importantly a female protagonist who starts off as soft as shite but ends up well ‘ard!

Nightmare was cheaply done and this is very evident from some of the effects and stunt work, in particular keep an eye out for the mattress used to break Freddy’s fall down the stairs near the end. But the cheapness of the production and the familiarity of the story do nothing to detract from what is definitely an out an out classic horror. Nightmare unleashed two horrors onto the world; Freddy Krueger, a villain in every sense of the word but oddly charismatic and a guy we love to hate, and Johnny Depp – Nightmare was his first film! (I kid, Depp’s OK in my book, just check out Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to see why).

For a great intro to the slasher flick phenomenon check out A Nightmare on Elm Street – but remember out the door not up the stairs! Two thumbs up for Freddy Krueger!

One thing I nearly forgot to mention – look at the state of Nancy’s mother in this film. Boozed up royally for most of the movie she doesn’t really act much until her brilliant death scene under (that’s right, under) a flaming Freddy Krueger! The droopy eyed piss-head…

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