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Original Vs. Remake: A Nightmare on Elm Street

07.30.2014by: Mike Catalano
There were no complaints with the outcome of our last Original Vs. Remake. The intensity of Martin Scorsese's remake of Cape Fear easily bested the original with many agreeing that Robert De Niro's killer performance was a big factor in the win. Nice work, counselors.

For today's O vs. R, we decided to descend to the boiler room and work out a true horror classic! By now, you should already know what's up. So, fill up on a ton of coffee and make sure you stay up late... unless you're more of a clawed glove wearin' kind. Alright, little piggy, enough talk. Let's get on with comparing both versions of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET!

Teenagers in the town of Springwood are having some serious nightmares each involving the same badly burned man with a claw glove. Soon said teenagers end up dying in their sleep and some say the man with the claws, Freddy Kruger, is the cause. The parents don't believe all this madness, however they may also be trying to cover up for something.
Once again, the teenagers of Springwood are being haunted and hunted in their dreams by a burned bastard named Freddy Kruger. Only now as the kids are getting offed in their sleep, the survivors are working to solve some sort of mystery linking them to some preschool group they were all in years ago. This was a somewhat lame angle that tried a little too hard to humanize Freddy's evil.
The young talent brewing within this flick was exceptional. First, Heather Langenkamp, who was able to match the scream-queen-worthiness of Jaime Lee Curtis. John Saxon and Ronee Blakley are exceptional as the worried parental units. Plus, you've got Johnny Depp just starting out on the path of his brilliant career. And of course, you can't forget the star-making turn of Mr. Robert Englund gives a performance that still scares 30 years later.
The talent was certainly brought on for the remake. Rooney Mara was a fine choice to play Nancy as she was just on the cusp of being nominated for her first Oscar. Clancy Brown and Connie Britton were also ideal choices to play the concerned parents. Both are fantastic. Lastly, I have to say that I really enjoyed Mr. Jackie Earle Haley's take on Freddy. Obviously, the dude's an incredible actor and he seemed to really be relishing the role.
Special Effects
For a 1984 low budget horror flick, the original Nightmare accomplished wonders in terms of practical F/X. I mean, just take a look at Freddy's f*cking face! Not to mention every dream sequence, including a crazy long-armed stalk. The bloody-soaking bed of Johnny Depp is a real scream. And having Freddy stretch out of a wall and a bed looks amazingly creepy.
Well, this was 2010, so of course the effects are going to be pretty advanced. Still, it doesn't appear as if the filmmakers utilized the technology available to its fullest. Case in point, the "Freddy coming out of the wall" scene. However, Freddy's burnt face does look incredibly realistic and gross. And the dream sequences that do occur are visually stunning.
This is one of the scariest 80's teen slashers ever made. Period. Like I said previously, even 30 years later, this flick can still freak out a first time viewer. Any time Freddy pops his burnt face onscreen, your heart skips a beat. This was before he became a more humorous stalker. His look, his voice, his claw are just absolutely frightening.
There is a definite sense of harshness to the plot because it involves teenagers that may have been abused as kids. And Haley's portrayal of Freddy definitely has a scary mean streak. But for a movie remaking one of the scariest horror films ever, it is surprisingly devoid of any majorly intense thrills.
Hot Chicks
I know it was the mid 80's, but Nightmare hits the nail on the head when it comes to hot chick casting. Langenkamp is so subtly sexy and her scene in the bathtub is one sneakily sexual treat. Amanda Wyss also makes for an ideal sexually active scream queen with an extremely sultry saunter.
I've gotta say that, surprisingly, the remake doesn't go all out in the hottie department! Sure, Rooney Mara and Katie Cassidy aren't bad to look at, but it seems that their looks aren't utilized to their fullest potential. Connie Britton is a babe too, but again, her wonderful cleavage just doesn't see the light of day.
This is the genre genius, Wes Craven, and Nightmare is arguably his best film ever. In terms of utilizing shadows, the unknown, and sound effects, the man sets the standard. It's as if he knows what makes us scared and exploits those fears in impressive fashion. He doesn't overdo anything (that includes the Johnny Depp bloodbath). Every suspenseful instance is a master stroke.
Samuel Bayer is not an untalented director. He was just given a movie that was extremely tough to produce. And I'm not saying he did a poor job with the Nightmare remake. I actually enjoyed the flick. However, it didn't even come close to making the kind of impact the original delivered. The scares were scarce and the dream sequences weren't elaborately executed.
Freddy Kruger was a career and genre defining character brought frighteningly to life by Robert England. His delivery, his voice, and his motions all combine to create the ultimate boogeyman. It's a performance that even transcends all the creepy pizza-face makeup he wears. He makes the makeup scary! I think it is fair to say that no one else will ever be able to play this character as pitch perfect as Mr. Englund.
Out of all the actors that could have been cast to play Freddy in the remake, I still say that Jackie Earle Haley was the best choice. His performance was a chilling cocktail of cool, creepy, and menacing. I loved his raspy voice and evil delivery. Any time he was on screen, the movie became elevated in quality. However, as I already stated, no one will ever be able to play ol' Fred as pitch Perfect as Englund.
A Nightmare On Elm Street '84
Okay, did anyone really think that the remake would win out in this one? Doubtful. And I reiterate, I was a fan of the remake. However, that doesn't mean I was oblivious to the fact that it did not in any way generate the powerful intensity of the original. How do you feel? Want to voice your utter disdain for the remake or say how it has clawed out a small little space in your heart? Spit them bullets below! And if you have any flicks you'd like to see in this column, give me a shout at [email protected].



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