For most people, Halloween is a holiday that at most lasts for a weekend of parties and costumes. For a growing number, Halloween is a season that begins with the death of mosquitos and the dusk of summer. However, for a select group, Halloween is a lifestyle. So from all of us, I would like to welcome you, Halloween, and Geekade’s celebration of this fantastic holiday helps make this a special time.
For the second year in a row, Geekade is turning the horror up and embracing the fear with 31 Days of Halloween taking over the entire site. As the resident horror head, I’ve taken it upon myself to gift you with four weekly editions of my Macabre Movie Mausoleum. For this delightfully dreadful celebration, I will be reviewing and discussing the first four movies in the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. With that said, my little gravediggers and undertakers welcome to the first stop on the Freddy Krueger terror train.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Director: Wes Craven
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund
I’ve already talked at great length about how this is my favorite horror movie, but this is my official review.
In the middle of the slasher craze birthed by John Carpenter’s Halloween starring Michael Meyers, Wes Craven bucked the trend and made Freddy Kruger. While he certainly hits all the common tropes of a slasher, he does them in his own way. Why use a single kitchen knife or machete, when you can have a an entire glove of sharp objects? Why silently stalk your prey, when you can taunt them as you kill them? And why just slash and stab, when you can haunt, stalk, and terrorize them in their dreams-turned-nightmares before killing them? Freddy and Nightmare flirted with the familiar, but presented something new that could only come from the mind of Wes Craven.
If by some offense to the horror gods you actually haven’t seen the movie, here’s the briefest of summaries.
Freddy Kruger was a child murderer (or molester according to an early draft of the script) and after being released due to a technicality, the local parents took it upon themselves to kill him, burning him alive. Decades later, Freddy has now returned in the form of a nightmare that’s able to murder the teens in their nightmares. He begins with Tina and Rob, friends of Heather, who’s the daughter of two of the parents that killed Freddy. In one of the most iconic, and goriest scenes ever captured on film, Freddy kills a young Johnny Depp (in his first credited role) by pulling him into his waterbed, and spewing out gallons upon gallons of blood.
Freddy continues to taunt Nancy, blurring between reality and the dreaming world, until she’s able to drag him out of a nightmare, where she can fight him on equal ground. Unfortunately, Freddy survives his second apparent death and once again attacks Nancy. It’s at this time she recalls her boyfriend’s story about monks who would master their dreams and turn their backs on nightmares, stealing the power of fear. Nancy does this, and Freddy Kruger vanishes into nothing.
With the threat at an end, Nancy finds that all of her friends are alive, and her alcoholic mother is sober, and all is right in the world. That is, until Freddy reappears, trapping the teens in a car, and dragging Nancy’s mom through a window.
The nightmare is not over, Freddy lives!
I mean you saw this coming, right? Obviously it deserves the highest rating ever. Not only did Nightmare revitalize the slasher genre, it introduced the world to Freddy Kruger, for which we should all be eternally thankful. At a time when slashers were growing stale with the doom and gloom of the Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Chainsaw franchises, Wes Craven gave us the first slasher that was more than human, who had a unique weapon, and a unique sense of humor. With the creation of Freddy a critical and financial success, how did the series continue with its second instalment? Tune in next week to find out.
For more from the author, check out AzarRising