A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

DVD Cover (New Line Studios Infinifilm Special Edition)
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Overall Rating 79%
Overall Rating
Ranked #718
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On Elm Street, Nancy Thompson and a group of her friends (comprising Tina Gray, Rod Lane and Glen Lantz) are being tormented by a clawed killer in their dreams named Fred Krueger. Nancy must think quickly, as Fred tries to pick them off one by one. When he has you in your sleep, who is there to save you? --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: December 15, 2006
Here it is, folks - the single most iconic horror villain of our time. While he wasn't the first and his movies may not have been the best (and he isn't even my personal favorite out of "the big three"), there's no denying that Freddy Krueger is more of an icon in the world of horror than both Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. Since I recently picked up the Nightmare on Elm Street Collection on DVD, I thought that it would be interesting to go through every film in the series and jot down my thoughts on each for you fine readers.

Is a synopsis really necessary for this film? Probably not, but in sticking to my personal review protocol, I'll include one anyway. It all begins when a group of young friends - Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), her boyfriend Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp in his debut film appearance), Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss), and her boyfriend Rod Lane (Jsu Garcia) - start to have nightmares about a strange man with knives for fingers. It's a bit odd that they're all dreaming about the same guy, but they sort of shrug it off as a bizarre coincidence... until, that is, Tina winds up dead as a result of these nightmares. The police, led by Nancy's dad (John Saxon), pin the murder on Tina's "bad boy" boyfriend, but Rod claims that it was an invisible assailant who used some sort of knives to carve his former love to pieces. Of course, nobody buys his invisible murderer story, and we eventually learn that the man in their dreams is Fred Krueger (Robert Englund), we find out that he was burned alive by the parents in this town, and most importantly, we discover that he's hell-bent on getting his revenge by killing the teenagers of this town.

Unlike the other horror icons, Fred (or Freddy as he would later be referred to as) has changed considerably over the course of his seven films. Most people think of him as a wisecracking joker who just so happens to enjoy killing teenagers, but in his debut film, he's all business. While he does slip in one or two one-liners, he's far from the joke-a-minute character that he'd later come to be known as, and he's also a lot more mysterious in this one. Today, everyone knows what Freddy looks like, but his looks were kept hidden for the most part in this film. You do see a couple of quick peeks at his burnt flesh and his trademark outfit, but Craven wisely chose to keep him in the shadows and such for much of the running time here. The mystery is gone some twenty years later during repeat watchings, but this was an excellent choice and more aspiring horror directors should take note of how the villain was handled here.

The special effects are another thing that I should point out. While they're nothing special by today's standards, they were quite impressive when compared to some of the other releases in and around 1984. We've all seen the person / demon / ghost / whatever "moving behind and through the wall as though it were a sheet" trick thanks to the wonders of CGI, but again, this was something spectacular by the set standards around the time of its release (and it still looks great today). The gore is also well done, but it's far from the stacked body-count that we'd wind up receiving in the later entries. I'm not complaining, of course; I love a good gore flick as much as the next guy, but given the choice of lots of gore or lots of scares and a solid story, I'll take the latter.

Overall, it's a damned fine film that definitely stands the test of time, and after sitting through this solid offering for the hundredth time, it's quite obvious why Freddy is one of the "big three": the character is great, the story surrounding him is fairly original, and the movie itself is excellent. Granted, it is fairly overrated - it's certainly not the scariest movie you'll ever see - but there's no denying that it does deserve a large portion of the love that it receives. 9/10.
Tristan #1: Tristan - added 08/29/2007, 08:14 PM
Welly, welly, welly, well. The movie that launched the second most successful horror series in history. Oh yes, F13 is my favourite of the two, so eat me. This movie was good, but didn't deliver the way I'd always hoped. Like Chadders here I picked up the box set after having seen this at least 10 years ago, and while I was greatly impressed by the acting, story and special effects, parts of the movie didn't sit right with me. Freddy is terrifying in dream world, but when he runs around going "aaaah" and throwing his arms out like some cheesy ghoul in reality, I couldn't help but snicker. And the ending made me want to just deck Craven. Yeah yeah, I know that they tested 3 or 4 different endings, and this was a compilation of all of them, but I still couldn't stand it. This was probably the only entry in the series that didn't fall into self parody, and ultimately kill the character by making him a wise-cracking cheeseball. Also, not being able to see Krueger aside from brief glimpses outside of shadows really helped to make him much scarier. Okay, long enough comment. 9/10
Shakes #2: Shakes - added 01/22/2009, 12:52 PM
What can I say???I love Nightmare on Elm St and part 3. The others suck ass.. Alhough I've always been more of a Voorhees fan.. Freddy is a pussy compared to Jason. I mean, if you have to kill people in their dreams then you're a punk-ass bitch. Gotta love his cheeseball jokes though! 10/10
Rest Easy Soul #3: Rest Easy Soul - added 01/24/2010, 08:28 PM
The first horror movie I watched all by myself and actually watched it all the way through. Amazing to say the least. My favorite in the whole series and it will always have a special place in my heart.
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