Frightfest 2015: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

What if your nightmares weren’t “only a dream”?

a-nightmare-on-elm-street-1984-2

The late Wes Craven touched on something primal here with his horror classic that spawned way too many shitty sequels. Three high school students on Elm Street discover that they have been dreaming about the same nightmarish figure with severe burns on his face and knives for fingers. And that laugh. Oh my God, that laugh.

a nightmare on elm street

It seems that the now infamous Freddy Krueger was once just a regular child murderer. Now that he’s dead, he can only get to you in the world of your dreams. I’ve had nightmares before that would make me fight sleep just to avoid getting back to that place. Here, to fight for sleep is to fight for your life. Craven’s mythology surrounding the world of the dream isn’t nearly as elaborate as, say, Inception’s but he’s come up with an interesting idea here that he has a lot of fun with.

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For a modern audience, the most fun part is watching Johnny Depp’s first movie looking as baby-faced as you’ve ever seen him at 20 years-old. He plays the typical teen boyfriend in a high school movie, apparently not yet having decided that he would play every part as a weirdo. Having never acted before, Depp was so nervous about every scene that he would bring an actor friend of his (who I think may have been Jackie Earle Haley, who would later play Freddy in the 2010 remake) to run lines with because he was so afraid of getting it wrong.

As humble beginnings go, Depp’s wasn’t so bad. A Nightmare on Elm Street is a Halloween guilty pleasure of the best kind.

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12 thoughts on “Frightfest 2015: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

  1. SLIP/THROUGH - Dan

    I love this movie! One of my fav horrors of all time. You’re right, the premise is terrifying because we can all relate. Seeing a young Depp, in a makeup free role šŸ˜‰ is pretty interesting too. There are a few shocking and iconic scenes in the original Nightmare. Thanks for highlighting this in Frightfest.

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    1. Matt Post author

      I was surprised how effective Nightmare still is, especially knowing that Friday the 13th and Halloween have lost most of their punch over the years (although halloween is exceptionally well-made).

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      1. SLIP/THROUGH - Dan

        Totally agree. Thanks for commenting, Matt. Some of the 80s slashers seem tame after Saw šŸ˜‰ but Nightmare is still just as terrifying, perhaps because of the ground breaking practical FX sequences, but also for the psychologically disturbing premise… Oh, and I still love me some John Carpenter Halloween. So intense.

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      2. Jay

        We nearly saw this in Canton on an actual Elm Street. It would probably be creepier when seen out in the open. I like a nice solid wall behind me when watching a scary movie.

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  2. Pingback: Frightfest 2015 | Assholes Watching Movies

      1. Matt Post author

        Oh yeah, I’m actually amazed I took so long to watch the first one. I may have liked it enough to give the second one a try, despite my usual suspiscion of horror sequels. I heard about a popular theory that the second film in the series is an allegory of sorts about a teen’s struggle to confront his own sexuality. I feel like I’ve got to see it after hearing that.

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    1. Matt Post author

      For sure. I actually believe that there should have never been even a single sequel to this movie. I find it works better as one stand-alone story.

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