A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
A young girl and her friends are beginning to have recurring nightmares that a man with Razor Fingers is stalking them. One by one, they begin to die, is this man real, or a figment of their imagination?
Is it good movie?
"This..is God." -Freddy Krueger
Who am I to be reviewing a Nightmare on Elm Street? Really now, what qualifications do I have to actually grade one of the movies on the frontier of the horror genre?
I'm André Manseau, that's who.
This movie sucks.
Oh, that felt good. Of course, this is completely untrue, and I feel that writing a review for this movie is almost ad nauseum, when you consider the thousands of reviews that have been written saying the exact same things i'm going to say. I bow down to the Elm Street series, particularly this movie, as it's one of the reasons I love horror so much today, and I consider the first entry in its series to be one of my favorite movies. It's still tremendously effective and holds up even to the most jaded horror fan.
For my money, this film is almost completely perfect, and i'm absolutely certain that when it was released in 1984, it *was* the definitive horror experience. The idea of a killer who attacks people in their dreams is something that every single one of us can relate to. Nightmares are not discriminating creatures, and happen to every one of us. The creative possibilities are endless, and they're explored here.
Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) is a real live teenage girl, not some buxom blonde who trips over tree roots and goes the wrong way. She does a fantastic job of bringing the character to life, and will always be one of the best horror heroines. Johnny Depp is fine as glen, and John Saxon is always great as Nancy's father. the other standout, of course, is Robert Englund, whose menacing performance as Freddy Krueger helped create one of the most pre-eminent pop culture icons the world's ever seen.
My only problem with the movie is that I thought that the ending was sort of weak, the whole Home Alone (I know this came first) type of approach didn't really work for me, and some of the effects got pretty bad near the end. Then again, this was the early 80s, and this film was shot on borrowed time and money.
The movie brings the gore, and is rather unforgiving. The soundtrack, while sounding a little like disco, is still rather effective and packs a punch as well. The cinematography is intense and atmospheric, and all of this adds up to one of the best horror films ever made. This is the way Freddy Krueger was supposed to be portrayed, not as the jokester on the cereal box from the late 80's.
Do not dismiss this film as simply another 80's slasher. It's the one that spawned all of those awful rip-offs that still occur today.
Video / Audio
Video comes in a perfect 1.85:1 widescreen transfer that really puts the previous release of this film to shame. Simply gorgeous.
Audio comes in two choices, either Dolby Digital 5.1 EX or 6.1 DTS ES. You don't see 6.1 mixes often enough, and they both sound awesome, with deep bass, and shrill screeches squealing in perfect harmony.
Disc One features a commentary by director Wes Craven, stars Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon, and director of photography Jacques Haitkin, and is chock full of technical information from the film's creator. A second commentary is available as well, pieced together with various thoughts from other cast members.
Also on disc one are some Kill Scenes from other Nightmare Flicks. Awesome.
We also get some alternate endings that were shot, some for the studio's satisfaction, some to appease Craven, and quite honestly, I think that Craven's original ending was probably best.
Never Sleep Again is the making of featurette that basically goes over the entire making of process of the film, from production to set design to make-up, it's awesome, and each feature can be selected
separately. It offers the most new material and is nice and detailed.
The House That Freddy Built: The Legacy of New Line Horror was also a great feature, as Bob Shaye, head of New Line and a host of others basically detail how NOES put them on the map, from distributing schlock to becoming a multi-million dollar company. Each NOES film is also glossed over in this doc, with uncensored thoughts from cast and crew. New Line makes an interesting point several times in this doc- they own three of horror's biggest franchises in Freddy, Jason and Leatherface. What's next?
There's also Night Terrors: The Origins of Wes Craven's Nightmares, which is a great piece about what creative juices were flowing in the mind of this master of horror before he became a master of horror. Craven didn't even want to do any more horror films for awhile before he made NOES! The impact that dreams have on us all, what a great idea to put on this disc. This feature is a great little supplement, quality stuff.
Don't forget, there's also the Infinifilm feature itself, which allows you to watch many deleted scenes and featurettes while watching the film. I personally would rather watch this stuff
separately from the movie, and most of it can be watched on its own, but there are certain features only available in the infinifilm version of the movie, and it's slickly produced too.
There's also a Nightmare fact track. I love fact tracks, because sometimes commentary can take away from the enjoyment of the movie when you want to hear a favorite line spoken in a scene. Kudos for fact tracks!
Don't forget about the Freddy Trivia Game! It's short, and you get the same result whether you win or lose, but it's interactive, can be challenging, and its fun.
There's also a trailer gallery, too, just in case you wanted
If you like horror movies and you haven't seen this, what are you waiting for? If you're like me, and you own the Boxed Set, yes, you should still pick this up. If not for the supplemental material, do it for the overall better quality of the source material. This is the best Nightmare has ever looked, and it has really gotten the royal treatment. What else do I need to say to you? Buy this flick!