Sunday, May 11, 2014

Nightmare Night: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

The original Nightmare.  If you are not a fan of the series, this is just another run-of-the-mill slasher with a slightly different premise.  To fans, this is the one that started it all.  This is before Freddy Kruger became wise-cracking, when he was still menacing.

One thing I love about this movie is how well Wes Craven does the dream sequences.  People walk through doors and find themselves in entirely different locations, odd objects appear, all sorts of things that happen in actual dreams.

Craven also does a fine job with the kills.  These are the bed-and-butter of slasher flicks, and the original has several of the series' best.  Tina's falling across the walls/ceiling as cuts appear all over her, Glen's fountain of blood.  There are few actual kills in this movie (4 in total, rather low for this genre of horror), so he makes them as impactful as possible.

While the acting isn't superb, you do have some quality performances from Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon as Nancy and her father, plus the iconic performance of Freddy Kruger by Robert Englund.  Not to mention the debut of Johnny Depp.

Plotwise, it does have a few holes, but nothing totally unforgivable:  This movie is all about the premise, and it works well.

Random Thoughts:
  • I love the reaction shots of Nancy's parents when she first describes her mystery assailant.  They know exactly who she is describing but refuse to believe it.
  • The sequence at the sleep institute (or whatever you want to call it) is pretty well done:  Gives some exposition and sets some ground rules for the series as a whole.
  • The tale of Freddy's death is a great moment, even if I don't think much of Ronee Blakely's performance in this,
  • "Nancy, you are gonna get some sleep tonight if it kills me" is a hilariously macabre line if you know how the movies ends.
  • Nancy is a fine name for the lead character, but it really should be Cassandra, given how correct she is and how little everyone believes her.
  • I like how unhinged Nancy gets (progressively) as she avoids sleep to try and stay alive.
  • I also like the 'Nancy sets traps' montage.  Girl isn't going without a fight.
  • I remember thinking the crucifix Nancy had was going to play a bigger part in defeating him.
  • Bad job editor!  We totally see the mattress that Englund falls on to once he is pulled out of the dream.
  • I bet Freddy doesn't appreciate the irony of burning to death twice.
  • I really wish they had let Craven keep his original ending, as the one they do have seems tacked on and is definitely lower quality than the rest of the film.
Well, there you have it.  1 down, 6 more to go.

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