By Walker Rise
Over the weekend I saw the original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). The film is a definitely considered a classic in the horror genre. Wes Craven wrote and directed this incredibly original slasher film, which has since had seven sequels, a spinoff, and even a remake. I am not normally a big fan of horror films, but I did really enjoy this film. This film is by no means great, but is quite entertaining and scary. There are certainly ridiculous moments and the writing and acting are pretty bad at times, but its a fun watch.
The film is about a group of teenagers who begin having similar nightmares. In their nightmares they are in a creepy boiler room and are being chased by a man with a burned face and a glove with knives on the fingers. Then one night one of the teenagers actually dies after being attacked in the nightmare. They discover that the man was a real person named Freddy Krueger. The rest of the film follows the teenagers as they struggle to stay awake in order to stay alive and try to convince the adults of the town that Freddy really is hunting them through their dreams. This concept is quite scary because most associate sleep with peacefulness, and this film makes it the opposite. Today Freddy Krueger is probably considered one of the most iconic and terrifying horror movie villains of all time.
In many ways this film is a standard slasher flick where the teenagers are being killed one by one by a madman. The fact that they can only be killed in their nightmares though adds a very original twist to the standard slasher film. One way that it is really like other films is the over the top and bad acting. Most of the actors pretty young and inexperienced, so the expectations are pretty low. Interestingly though one the young actors is Johnny Depp making his film debut. He looks so young in this movie and it’s definitely fun to think about how famous he is now, and see him in a pretty minor role.
I think it is a shame to see a pretty original idea get stretched through so many films in the franchise. I think the horror genre is the guiltiest of producing unnecessary sequels rather than new original films, and the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise is a prime example. I haven’t seen any of the sequels, but based on some reviews and ratings I looked at they all sound pretty bad. While I’m sure the sequels made money they ultimately only diminish this film’s legacy. Wes Craven is one of the most famous directors in the horror genre, and he stepped away from the franchise after the first film. He would return ten years and five films later to direct another sequel, but one with a very original idea called New Nightmare (1994). I don’t plan on seeing the sequels, but I would recommend this film to fans of horror films because it is original and very entertaining.
Here is an interesting article about the film and the franchise it inspired.