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A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

In honor of the new “re-imagining” of A Nightmare On Elm Street that comes out on April 30, 2010, I decided to re-watch the original.  I’m a huge fan of the original franchise and I hope that this new film doesn’t completely ruin it like that last card you place on top of a house of cards that causes it to crumble.  Before I begin talking about the actual film I’d like to discuss why, in my opinion, Freddy Krueger is one of the best horror movie villains of all time.

First and foremost, he is pure evil.  His mother, Amanda, was a nun who was brutally raped by mentally insane inmates at the Westin Hills mental hospital.  It is mentioned in one of the Nightmare films that Freddy is “the bastard son of a hundred maniacs.”  He was raised by an abusive alcoholic after his mother committed suicide.  And, on top of all this, he is a notorious child murderer who became known as “The Springwood Slasher.”  If that isn’t the epitome of pure evil, a person who murders helpless children, then I don’t know what is.  He is also easily recognizable for his red-and-green striped sweater, fedora hat, burned face, and his trademark metal-clawed glove.  Most importantly he is a dream stalker who kills his victims in their dreams, causing them to die in the real world.  Evil, I tell you!  How can you not sleep?  How can you possibly try to stay awake all day every day so you can escape him?  Lastly, he has been consistently portrayed by Robert Englund since his first appearance.  Now, the reason why this is important to Freddy being an amazing horror villain is because he isn’t hidden by some mask like other villains.  His burned face is so recognizable that I feel if he had been portrayed by like 5 different actors he wouldn’t be as iconic.  He also has a personality, unlike other killers who are silent predators.  Englund played Freddy in every film and the TV series and was able to develop Freddy’s personality and make it all his own.  He completely understands and loves this character.  He is a horror icon and a cult favorite among horror fans and there truly isn’t another actor who has made such a huge impact on horror movies than Robert Englund.  All this and the man is a classically trained actor!

What gives me some hope about Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger in the new film is the fact that Robert Englund seems to have given him his blessing.  He has been quoted as saying, “I’m more than happy to hand off the baton to Jackie.  This guy has such chops.  I was a fan of his as far back as the very early ’80s.”  And I have to admit I’m also a fan of Jackie.  If I was ever going to be happy with someone other than Robert Englund playing Freddy, then Jackie Earle Haley is that man.  He’s also an Academy Award nominee!  How many other horror villains have been played by an Academy Award nominee?

Ok, so that’s my opinion about Freddy Krueger.  As for the film, I still feel that it can hold up to today’s standards of what a horror movie should be.  It was received with relatively mixed reviews from critics but was an instant commercial success, making back its estimated budget of $1.8 million in the first week.  And it has made a significant impact on the horror genre, being the third highest grossing horror franchise with approximately $522 million (adjusted for inflation), behind only the Friday the 13th ($614 million) and Hannibal Lector series ($573 million).  One of my favorite things about this film is that the main protagonist, Nancy Thompson, seems like a regular girl who I can relate to.  She’s not a blonde bimbette with huge boobs and no personality or intelligence.  She is a character that someone can root for.  Someone we want to survive.  Heather Langenkamp was a great choice to play Nancy.  She has curly brown hair and looks like your best friend in high school, not that blonde model with a perfect body that you only see in magazines or fashion shows.  She reminds me a lot of Laurie Strode, from the Halloween franchise.  I would say that A Nightmare On Elm Street owes some of its success and inspiration to Halloween.  Aside from Nancy being brunette and smart like Laurie, she’s also virginal and seen as somewhat of a “goody two shoes.”  They both have a friend who has sex and then is immediately killed by the villain.  Back to the film, though.  Director Wes Craven did a great job of toying with the audience’s perception of what was a dream and what was reality.  And who can forget the little girls jumping rope and singing “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…”  I know all the words to that creepy little song!  As far as being innovative, it pretty much follows every slasher film cliche.  Male killer with a childhood trauma?  Check.  Young, attractive teenagers who are promiscuous and do drugs?  Check.  Final girl who does not partake in these illicit activities with her friends and ends up surviving?  Check.  But one can forgive all this because the characters are so fully developed.  Most horror films get generally bad reviews because there is no real story and no character development.  And the film has some pretty memorable moments.  The one depicted on the official poster has Nancy laying in bed and Freddy “pushing” through the wall above her.  Freddy bursting out through that mirror was also pretty memorable.  And when Nancy is on the phone with Freddy and his tongue comes through the receiver.  That particular scene creeped me out and haunted me in a few nightmares.  And, of course, the scene where Johnny Depp’s character, Glen, gets sucked into his bed and is thrown out as blood and guts.  With all this said, I’ll leave you with this.  After watching this film today, I still got as scared as I got the first time I watched it.  I still think Freddy Krueger is evil.  And I still can’t get that song out of my head.  5 stars.

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  1. April 29, 2010 at 3:47 am

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