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A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
 
   
 Directed by: Wes Craven
 Starring: Heather Langenkamp/Nancy
Johnny Depp/Glen
John Saxon/Donald
Ronee Blakley/Marge
 
RATING

PLOT-CRUNCH:


A bunch of fifteen-year-old kids (actors in their 20s) all dream about the same skinny, dirty madman with claws for fingers. The catch is that if he kills them in their dreams, they die for real.
  

THE LOWDOWN:


This movie marked me when I was a kid and left me with many sleepless nights. It marked a lot of people cause this badboy sprang 6 sequels. It made Robert Englund (Freddy) a star, introduced Johnny Depp and set a new trend in horror: dreams versus reality. Now everybody knows that Freddy became the "Big Mac" of horror. We got Freddy underwear, Freddy dolls, Freddy lunch boxes, damn Freddy even got his own TV show (Freddy’s Nightmares). But before all the hoopla Freddy was far from funny, he was a true nightmare: A filthy child molester who comes back in dreams to murder the children of the parents who killed him. Does that sound funny? At all. The whole: are we in a dream? are we in reality? thang is fascinating and very "avant garde" for its time. The line between the two is always blurred and that kept me on my toes the whole way.

Nightmare On Elm Street wears its title well, watching it is like watching a nightmare captured on film. It’s dark, weird, unpredictable and very out there. We get many disturbing images (the long armed Freddy scene or the running lamb did it for me), creepy settings, a few gore shows, some nice surprises (Freddy phone tongue) and a messed up ending. I’m still not sure what the ending means, so many ways you can interpret it, I think the whole movie is a dream. Apart from messing with our heads Craven gets to fully explore his booby trap fetish (he dabbled with it in Hills and Last House) and it works like a charm. The film does suffer from some mediocre acting by its lead (Langenkamp) and the fire stunt (guy in fire suit) is badly done but its morbid imagination, its scary set ups and its tight pace more than make up for it. Lets stroll down Elm Street.
 
    

ACTING:


Heather Langenkamp's (Nancy) performance in the film isn't flawless but she has that special something that makes her very appealing. Amanda Wiss (Tina) is the strongest thespian here and is very credible, I liked her lots. Johnny Depp (Glen) underplays the part and is responsible for some funny moments. John Saxon (Donald) is awesome as always, he’s an actor you can’t help but like. Ronee Blakley (Marge) is very spooky looking and it works for the part. Nick Corri (Rod) does the bad boy thang to a T and comes through in his emotional scene (love the leather jacket). Robert Englund is creepy as the gloved wonder and his limited screen time makes him even scarier.
 

GORE:


Some off the wall stuff. The girl being dragged up on the ceiling, being cut by the invisible Freddy. The geyser of blood that comes out of the bed. Enough here to satisfy.
   

T & A:


Side view of Nancy’s breasts in the tub but they belong to Cristina Johnson who doubled for Langenkamp.
   

DIRECTING:


Craven does well. Great lighting, lots of fade to blacks, the film moves at a tight pace and Craven does everything he can to scare the shite out of the audience. It works.
   

SOUNDTRACK:


Classic, eerie score by Charles Bernstein…chilling.
   

BOTTOM LINE:


Of course, today the film is not as scary as it used to be when I was 15 but I can’t deny the film’s ambition and originality. I put this flick right up there with Exorcist, Halloween or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s a staple in the genre that’s still effective today. Forget the sequels, forget the Freddy "Happy Meals" and check this classic out. Elm Street wasn’t always about a wisecracking villain, it use to be about fear.
 

BULL'S EYE:


The 1996 Elite home video re-release features outtake footage added as a bonus on a separate tape. It's also remixed for surround sound. Here are the scenes:

An extended scene when Rod shows up at Tina's, a small love scene between Nancy and Glen. The two kiss, then she stops it.

A scene between Donald and Marge in the graveyard after Tina's funeral, talking about Fred Krueger and how they "knew" Krueger was dead.

Another Extended scene is in the sheriff’s office when Nancy is begging her father, Lt. Donald Thompson, to let her see Rod. (Also seen in one of the original trailers).

A falling dream sequence with Nancy wasn't finished with complete special effects after a test screening. After Glen is sucked into the bed, and it shoots out blood, his blood soaked body rises up out of the bed, and falls limp.

And the scene in the basement when Nancy's mother shows her the claws, she also reveals that Nancy wasn't always an only child, along with every other child on the block, adding a deeper motive not given in the final cut of the film.

There are several different cuts of the ending were lighter on the scares. Originally Bob Shaye had Wes end the film with the kids getting on the bus, and Freddy turn into the bus driver, and they drive away. (much like the beginning of Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)).

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The Way The Arrow Points...

   
 I’d BUTCHER my family to see this again
 HANG me but I dug it a lot
 An ok way to KILL two hours
 Just sling an ARROW in my head and let me die in peace

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