31 Nights of Horror: Night Eighteen: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Whatever you do...don't fall asleep!

Back when I was about 11 years old, I snuck downstairs in order to watch TV. I was so young and naive...all I wanted to do was feel the rush of "breaking the rules" for the first time in my life. When I turned on the TV I tried to search for something taboo...something with naked titties or something that would make my sneaking out of the lock down of my bedroom worthwhile. I happened upon Amanda Wyss running around in a skimpy lace negligee. I paused here. I thought to myself.....THIS IS IT!!! THIS IS WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT!!! Then, I noticed a sheep at the end of a long hallway. A sheep?? What the hell was a sheep doing here?? Soon...I heard the laughter...and...oh, God...the nerve-shattering sound of metal blades scraping against old rusty metal pipes. In an instant...my taboo lacy negligee fantasy turned into something more sinister. I felt something wicked in the pit of my 11 year old stomach. I felt myself sweating, not from late night excitement, but more so from late night fear. Then, in a brief second, he appeared. In that moment, I was both frightened and entranced by this man in a fedora. His name was...Freddy Krueger.

I sat there in the middle of the living room floor and watched the rest of the movie in the darkness of my solitude. I don't know if I was intrigued by what I saw or if I was just too scared to move. In the end, this film has certainly left its mark. A Nightmare on Elm Street is certainly my favorite Wes Craven film and his iconic serial killer, Freddy Krueger, needs no introduction.

Freddy is different from his peers in several ways. Both Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers are the silent, slow and dumb killers...while they both sometimes display a rather superhuman ability to lift an individual off the floor with a scalpel or toss an ax from 30 feet away impaling their victim to a tree, Freddy is a much more intelligently deranged killer. He'll have fun with his victims, using their very own fears against them to kill the individual within his or her dreamscapes. Pinhead, while possessing some of the immeasurable powers of hell, has to ultimately abide by his strict rules...you have to solve his Goddamn puzzle in order to summon him. Freddy has no rules. He does whatever the fuck he feels like...which makes him all the more unpredictable. Leatherface has a chainsaw, and although he's pretty fast on his feet he tends to be rather clumsy and dumb. Freddy is quick on his feet, as well, but he's no dummy...and he tends to be rather agile and nimble. Freddy Krueger is the quintessential night stalker as he actually stalks you in your sleep and turns your dreams into nightmares of death....name me one other killer that does that.

In a Nightmare documentary I saw not too long ago, Wes revealed that he read somewhere that the colors green and red are the toughest colors to view by the human eye when side by side...so, he felt that was the perfect color combo for Krueger's iconic dirty sweater.

Oh...and did I mention that the guy has five sharp razor blades on his fingers?? Come on, man....that's sick!

Anyway, the film comes from 1984...a time when horror was enjoying a fun era. Original concepts were coming out left and right and genre icons were just being born. Wes Craven has made several classics. I, personally, have always loved The Last House on the Left and The Serpent and the Rainbow. However, in terms of sheer fantasy and terrifying originality, nothing compares to A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Johnny Depp makes his feature film debut in this movie. Overall, the acting in the film is pretty good...thanks in part to Depp and veteran actor John Saxton, as well as the lovely Heather Langenkamp as Nancy.

Oh, Heather. I think Heather Langenkamp might've been my very first horror movie crush. She was just so pretty and innocent and yet, very tough in a push-me-and-I'll-kick-your-burnt-ass-all-over-the-fuckin'-bedroom sort of way. I miss horror film actresses like her. And those freckles...

So, anyway...the film is basically about a child killer who is burned alive by the parents of his victims back in the day. Now he's back to haunt the dreams of the parents' children and whomever else happens to come along his path. He is unique in the way that he can do whatever his happy little heart wants to do in your dreams and he can kill you pretty much anyway he desires.

A word on Mr. Robert Englund. Despite playing one of horror cinema's most iconic evil characters in the history of film, Robert is actually a really nice guy. I recently had the opportunity to meet him at a horror convention and he was basically having a great time talking to his fans and taking pictures with everyone. I never imagined that he would be so nice. I've met some douchebag celebrities before...but, Robert stands as the most genuinely nice celebrity I've met. And yet...he plays a dream-murdering child killer on film. If that doesn't say anything about the genius of his acting abilities...I don't know what does.

Platinum Dunes recently tried (and failed) to make a good remake of this classic horror film...but, nothing can touch Wes Craven's original take on the killer with the red and green sweater and the five pointy fingers.  There's even been quite a number of sequels throughout the years (my favorite of which being Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors complete with a kick-ass Dokken theme song). This is a timeless horror film perfect for the Halloween season.

4.5 out of 5
Would've been a perfect 5 if not for the stupid reshot ending.

Thanks for reading,

This is how we chill from '84 'til infinity.