Written and directed by Wes Craven
Released November 1984
New Line Cinema
This is my all-time favorite horror movie. And re-watching it today I find it just as suspenseful as I did when I first watched it as a wee lad. The main credit to the success of this film has to go to Heather Langenkamp who stars as Nancy Thompson, a teenage girl living with her alcoholic divorced mother (Ronee Blakley), and dealing with her overbearing father (John Saxon), who happens to be local Sheriff. Nancy has been having recurring nightmares about a strange man in the shadows who comes after her wearing a glove with knives on the fingers. But she’s not the only teenager in town with those same dreams, Nancy’s friend Tina (Amanda Wyss), her boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp), and Tina’s boyfriend Rod (Jsu Garcia), all have similar nightmares (and are similarly talented young actors). As the nightmares escalate to the point where her friends start dying as a result of what happens to them in their nightmares, Heather uncovers the truth behind the myth of Freddy Krueger, and builds to a final showdown between her and him.
Pretty much everything about this film works for me. The way Freddy (played to perfection by Robert Englund) is portrayed here remains his scariest appearances (before later films turned him into a wise-cracking joker), as Craven only films him in the dark, never giving you a clear look at Freddy’s face. Scenes like when he slices his own fingers off or when he runs after Tina with his arms extended help make him seem like a monster from a child’s nightmares. I also like the slow revelation of Freddy’s origins, from when Heather first grabs his hat from the dream and sees the name printed inside to when her mother takes her down to the boiler room and shows her the glove (why would she keep that with her, it’s evidence of a crime? nevermind…) and tells her the story of Freddy Kruger, the serial killer of children who was then burned alive by an angry mob of parents, and says “He’s dead honey, because mommy killed him.”
The death scenes were also brilliant in their simplicity, from Tina’s bloody body being dragged up her bedroom walls and across the ceiling to Glen being sucked into his bed and then a geyser of blood erupting out of it. Not to mention the sequence where Nancy follows Tina’s bloody corpse in a body bag down the school hallway, or the final jump-scare when Nancy pulls Freddy out of her dream and into the real world. That still gets me every time.
There’s also the iconic image of the young girls jumping rope while singing the nursery rhyme about Freddy. And that final ending with that twist that was so good because it was truly unexpected. Almost 30 years later, A Nightmare on Elm Street remains the standard by which all horror films are judged by.
Just my opinion.
Freddy was and is still the man for horrors. I was a young kid back then and way too young for the horror movie stuff like A Nightmare on Elm Street but I still found a way to watch it and boy was I fascinated by Freddy. That scene with the blood coming out of the bed was gross but amazing. The elongated arms scene gave me real nightmares for days. I also admired how tough Nancy was in going toe to toe with Freddy. I saw almost all the sequels after this film but this was the best one out of the series, followed by part 3, Dream Warriors.
For the longest time I didn’t know Johnny Depp was in this film, maybe because I was so enthralled following how Freddy was doing his thing I didn’t pay much attention to anything else.
Yes, I was also probably way too young to be watching such movies when I first saw this. But my mother was always a huge horror fan, both books and movies, and so we were always watching stuff like this as I was growing up. I actually saw both Nightmare 1 and 2 (which I’ll review tomorrow) on the same day. I distinctly remember that day, my mother had rented both films on video and we (along with my brother, and our then-stepfather) all watched them together. I’d already seen the first 4 or 5 Friday The 13th films by then, and I loved Jason Voorhees, but once Freddy came along it was a total game-changer.
Oh, yeah can’t forget the nursery rhyme…1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you-classic!
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I saw this film as a teenager. I enjoyed it but it never stuck with me. I remember my younger sisters flipping out over ‘the boyfriend’ and wondering who is Johnny Depp. This started their teen love affair. I never even remembered the boyfriend myself. Lol. To this dayi stilldon’t find JD atttractive.
My all time favorite horror film remains to be the original Halloween movie. I would guess it’s bc I love the holiday. I am also very nostalgic for the 1970s too. I think Nightmare on Elm Street never stuck with me bc I like the demonic element in my horror. I’m totally looking forward to the release of ANNABELLE in theaters in October.
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I like “HALLOWEEN” as well. I reviewed all the films in that franchise last year, starting with the original:
[…] place a year after the previous film (which took place five years after the first film), Heather Langenkamp returns as Nancy Thompson, who is now some kind of therapist specializing in […]
[…] Street 3: Dream Warriors would be the end of the Elm Street saga, but it ended making more than the first two films, so a year and a half later we got A Nightmare on Elm Street […]
[…] in that A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was supposed to take place 5 years after the original film, which was in 1984, then it should be around 2004 when this film takes place…oh nevermind), […]
[…] its most well-known movie character with this film, released in time for the 10th anniversary of the original film (dang, it’s almost hard to believe that they did so many films in this series in such a […]