My husband dislikes Freddy Krueger. He thinks Krueger is less scary and more silly given that he is a dream and can do things like stretch out his arms and appear out of thin air. I, on the other hand, think this is the genius behind the red and green sweater. Viewers have to suspend their disbelief for most (all?) horror films, and especially for serial killer franchises in which the antagonist never dies. A Nightmare on Elm Street is the loophole; you can’t kill a dream. No matter how silly Krueger acts or how unbelievable the deaths are, everything is justifiable because anything is possible in a nightmare. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some pretty crazy dreams.
A Nightmare on Elm Street kicked off its franchise a bit later than the rest, but it came out fighting. Several local teenagers begin having nightmares starring a man with a burned face, a red and green sweater and razors for fingers. One by one, the dreams terrorize them and few wake up. Turns out Freddy Krueger was a child murderer hunted and burned by the townspeople years ago. Now he haunts their childrens' dreams to seek revenge. Directed and written by Wes Craven (surely I have your attention now!), this film is nearly flawless. The antagonist is riveting and terrifying, the protagonist is relatable, the death sequences are works of art; and to top it all, this film is the debut of the actor known as Johnny Depp. (Let’s pause and note the coincidence that this is Depp’s first film, which features a villain with razor fingers, and the fact that he eventually goes on to play Edward Scissorhands.)
One, two, Freddy’s coming for you... A Nightmare on Elm Street is another franchise with a kickass theme song. Little girls in white dresses, jumping rope and singing this song is really creepy. Krueger is a perfect villain. He was a villain when he was alive and now he’s a vengeful villain. Plus, he’s already dead, so the viewers don’t have to play the “OMG, did he really die?” game. His sweater is amazing and his hat completes the outfit. Such small details make Freddy the icon that he is today. There is no justification for his actions. He used to murder children and now he terrorizes and then murders them; no one sympathizes with him, which leads to a fun, evil villain. There’s nothing Krueger can’t do and that knowledge opens up a world of fear. The concept of a serial killer haunting dreams is terrifying and something everyone can imagine fearing.
Along with Krueger, there is a cast of equally engaging characters. Nancy, the protagonist, is captivating as she attempts to never sleep again. Johnny Depp plays Glen, Nancy’s boyfriend, and his character is also fun to follow. The characters in this movie express true emotions and connect with the audience, which ultimately leads to a better film. As Nancy became more tired and more crazy, I became more tired and more crazy. As she fought to outrun Krueger, I fought to outrun him. And as everyone around her died, I felt sad with her.
The best thing about A Nightmare on Elm Street is its death scenes. In horror, it seems there are only so many ways someone can die. There is only so much original thought surrounding how to kill off characters. This film brings its death scene creativity to a whole new level. We’re talking climbing the ceiling, blood gushing everywhere, getting sucked into the bed greatness. The deaths are epic and bloody and cryptic. Since the characters are dying in their dreams, people outside of the dream only see a person dying, not the killer or cause of death. Imagine lying next to your significant other and suddenly they start screaming and blood is everywhere and gashes appear on their body. Imagine it.
I’m sure at this point you’ve realized that I loved this movie. I loved everything about it and while it wasn’t a perfect 10, it was damn close. I reserve the tens for legendary films such as Psycho, but this movie is amazing. This movie isn’t just saving horror - it is horror. Films should be so lucky to sit on the shelf next to this movie.
If you liked A Nightmare on Elm Street, you might also like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4.