31 Days Of Horror: A Nightmare On Elm Street

When I was a young teenager, out of the ‘Big Three’ of slasher horror (Halloween and Friday the 13th being the other two), it was A Nightmare On Elm Street that I found really scary.  It’s clever, because if you think too much about the film, you end up having nightmares about Freddy Krueger yourself.  This happened to me for years, so I was careful not to watch it too often!

Nightmare On Elm Street boxset
This boxset contains all the films up to New Nightmare (1994), but I’ve only ever watched the first one!

Being less easily spooked nowadays, I really appreciate the innovation of this one.  It’s not always clear whether something is a dream or not, just like in real life, and the whole feel is really unsettling.

The boiler room opening sets up the atmosphere really well.  The creepy skipping rhyme (‘one, two, Freddy’s coming for you‘) is also inspired and is one of the most memorable aspects of the film.

There’s a bit of a theme of bad mothers in this one – Tina’s mother seems only to care about her boyfriend, and Nancy’s mother is an alcoholic.  I think the latter can be explained, however (unless I’m giving the script more credit than it deserves), by her trying to cope with having been part of the angry mob that killed Krueger with fire.

Johnny Depp makes his first ever film appearance, looking crazily young from today’s perspective!

I find it a bit odd that the local high school just goes on with classes as normal when one of their students has been brutally killed!

I’ve not seen most of the sequels (I plan to rectify that partly this month) but a common complaint is that Krueger’s not scary in the subsequent films due to being overexposed and having too many wisecracking lines.  That is not a problem in this film – the character is brilliantly creepy and gruesome.

‘Oh, God…I look twenty years old,’ says Nancy as she looks in the mirror after a week of avoiding sleep.  I can never work out whether this is meant to be a sly joke about the fact that the actors playing the fifteen-year-old characters ARE twenty years old, but it kind of takes you out of the story.

I like the bit with the doctors studying Nancy at the sleep disorders clinic, but Geth will probably know better than me whether it’s realistic or not.

When Freddy is on fire in the ending sequence, it’s really obviously a stuntman, ’cause he looks about five stone heavier than when he’s played by Robert Englund!

The ending scene is a bit confusing.  Is it a dream sequence?  Is Nancy dead now?  What’s going on?  Apparently the reason it makes no sense is because Wes Craven and the producer wanted different endings, so they came up with a nonsensical compromise.

And finally, here we have the very ’80s thing of having a rock song (Nightmare by 213 in this case – not to be confused with ’90s rap supergroup 213 – this was the band’s only credit as far as I’m aware) over the end credits.  Gotta provide some work for small unknown local bands from the Los Angeles area!

Back to the Halloween films tomorrow.

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