Nightmare on Elm Street" is a genre movie
through and through, but it's also one of the best, for this simple reason: like
the original "Halloween" and "Hellraiser,"
"Nightmare" brought something new to the Slasher genre. Besides
introducing Freddy Krueger into the American lexicon, "Nightmare" was
one of the most frightening movies I had ever seen as a kid.
Now, as an adult (an assertion that's open to debate by
intimate friends, natch), the whole premise of "Nightmare" still
appeals to me. A serial killer that can stalk you in your dreams? The premise
was horrifying. At least with a Michael or a Jason you had a chance – a small
one, but a chance nonetheless – to defeat them. But how do you run from a
killer that's just waiting for you to go to sleep? The answer: not very
effectively! Especially in light of the fact that if you're killed in your
dreams, you also die in real life!
Heather Langenkamp stars as Nancy Thompson, the Innocent
Teen that has to battle Freddy Krueger. Because Nancy is the Innocent Teen
(there is always one in a Slasher film, it's a Golden Rule or something), she
has a boyfriend, but she isn't promiscuous. In fact, her promiscuous friend Tina
(Amanda Wyss) is the first one Freddy visits and slaughters. (Ladies, remember,
if you're in a Slasher movie, whatever you do don't (literally) screw around!)
You see, years ago Freddy was… Well, I won't spoil it for
those who have yet to see the movie, but needless to say, ol Freddy has plenty
of reasons to stalk the children of Elm Street. It's personal. Although the
adults have all the answers (or at least the answers to Freddy's true identity),
it's the kids, led by the independent and strong-willed Nancy, who must fight
back. They have a big stake in the matter because Freddy is getting back at the
adults through their kids!
Written and directed by Wes Craven, "Nightmare"
is one of the most creative genre pictures to come down the pipe back in 1984;
it's even more special now, with the sea of "Scream" carbon copies
flooding the market. (Craven, incidentally, helped bring the whole cheapo Teen
Slasher film back into fad with "Scream".) The whole concept of a
bogeyman that can invade your dreams and kill you is a stroke of brilliance. The
film spawn a string of sequels, with Heather Langenkamp returning for Part 3,
then again in 1994's "New Nightmare."
"New Nightmare" took a very novel (and
intriguing) approach by bringing back everyone, including Craven, Langenkamp,
and franchise star Robert Englund (Freddy) to play themselves, as well as
introducing a whole new angle to the Freddy mythos. The 1994 movie also brought
back the horror element to the franchise, whereas the other sequels had
journeyed into absurd and comedy territory. By the end of Part 3, Freddy seemed
to have given up the whole notion of scaring the audience, and was preoccupied
with making wince-inducing one-liners and bad puns.