Pop Junk’s 31 Days of Halloween: #4 A Nightmare on Elm St.

In 1984 Wes Craven came up with one horrifyingly imaginative idea;  Invading people’s nightmare and creating what might be one of the the most terrifying horror villians of all time in Freddy Kruger.  Forget the camp and the bullshit of the later movies, in A Nightmare on Elm Street part 1, Freddy found a way into the nightmares of the children of the 80’s and became an unforgettable Icon.  It’s creepy tone, frighteningly nightmarish settings in the dream world and one of the most horrifying looking antagonists of all time, but real so real looking at the same time crafts this movie on to a classic.  Wes Craven really found a way to tap into people psyche with this film because in our nightmares, anything goes.

The Movie center’s around A cop’s daughter Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and her group of friends who are being menaced in their dreams by a murderous boogeyman named Freddy Kruger.  Except in this film the rules have changed and if you die in your dreams then you die for real.  The first to go is Tina who is dragged up the wall of her room and cut to pieces by Freddy in the first of many iconic scenes.  Her boyfriend Rod is blamed for the murder and then Freddy kills him in jail making it look like a suicide as these kids are just dropping like flies.    Nancy traces the cause to child molester Fred Krueger (Robert Englund), who was burned alive by angry parents many years before. Krueger has now come back in the dreams of his killers’ children, claiming their lives as his revenge. The teenaged leads are sympathetic and intelligent, unlike the dumb victims presented in most films of the period. Another teen who bites in is Nancy’s boyfriend Glen played by Johnny Deep.  The blood and the gore is really just background to the skin crawling performance of Robert England as Freddy Kruger.  England is brilliant as Freddy and he does pepper in a bit of humor in the first movie but here it’s not over the top and uses it to toy with his helpless victims, upping the terror that much more.

Another notable performance is veteran actor John Saxon as Nancy’s father, police officer of Springwood and one of the men responsible for the death of Freddy Kruger; causing him to become an unstoppable boogeyman inside his victim’s nightmares.

The idea of someone haunting your dreams is so smart and so terrifying  and the success of the movie was based on the audience’s insecurity: we are never sure whether the characters are dreaming because the line between nightmare and reality is blurred, and, as a result, the terror is almost nonstop.  Added on to that is a really underrated score by Charles Burnstein which just layers on another creepy element to this brutal assault of a film.

You really have to remove yourself from the sequels and picture seeing this film for the first time as a child.  It’s just an assault on the mind because as I said before, in your dreams, anything is possible and as a child this movie came really fuck with you.  We are most vulnerable in our sleep and Wes Craven is well aware of that with this creation.  This films legacy is unprecedented as Freddy is still a pop culture icon to this day, but least we forget the first nightmare is easily one of best and most terrifying horror movies of all time.


~ by ATOM on October 28, 2011.

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