Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Review:

If you look at the history of cinema, almost every horror villain has something in common; they physically exist. They are present in the material world no matter how many times they're resurrected from the dead. That is, except for Freddy Krueger, who is the exact opposite of every other character. He literally doesn't exist, unless you're asleep. If you're asleep, then you should worry. Who knew that while even sleeping you couldn't be safe? Well, this is what happens to a group of teenagers who discover they are being haunted by the same creeper every night when they fall asleep. Sounds fun.

Heather Langenkamp
The girl who realizes this ongoing trend is Nancy Thompson played by Heather Langenkamp. Langenkamp is another one of those special actresses where credit must be given for giving her character amiability. Just like Kirsty Cotton from Hellraiser (1987) and Laurie Strode from Halloween (1978), Nancy is a character that shows strong courage in the face of severe danger - even if they do scream. But then again, who wouldn't if you truly had to face these menacing demons? Freddy Krueger is played by Robert Englund and although he barely has any dialog, the fact that his cackle is all that he really needs, makes him all the more intimidating. Aside from these two main actors, audiences will also get to see John Saxon from Enter the Dragon (1973) play Nancy's father, Charles Fleischer who later plays as Roger Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and playing Nancy's boyfriend is the now ever famous Johnny Depp.

The writer behind this movie is Wes Craven (who's also directing). What helps this movie elevate itself among other horror franchises is the fact that it relies on a whole different way of surviving. Forget running away. You can't escape your dreams if you’re tired enough. At some point, you will fall asleep. Most people can not avoid sleep so either way, Freddy will find you. Adding to this different angle of suspense are Wes Craven's heavy-handed gore scenes and uncomfortable imagery. Many of these scenes involve realistic looking practical effects, which will keep the audience guessing whether the character is dreaming, or not. Also, there are some scenes that are just downright creepy. Being haunted by ghosts are not the best memories people would like to relive.

Because everyone loves this guys mug....
But perhaps one the weaker parts of Craven's writing is the explanation to Krueger's special abilities. His backstory is elaborated on which is great, but the actual information about his demonic powers are never talked about. It would be nice to know. Plus, there is a point in the film where it's kind of explained on how he continues to exist but even then there isn't much explanation given. Not sure if it was supposed to be left unexplained but it could've have been, to clear things up. Finally, the last element that really helped this film was Charles Bernstein's score. His main theme which consists of a tune not only fits the story well but is rather unsettling. Although the music is enjoyable, at points it did sound like Bernstein couldn't come up with not very many other new tunes. It could've been worse though. Overall very entertaining.

Wes Craven changed the game of horror when he added Freddy Krueger to the mix. Only the insomniacs are safe. The special effects are great, along with a unique story, likable characters and creepy music. Some explanations are needed from time to time though.

Points Earned --> 8:10

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