A Nightmare On Elm Street

"Grim"

A Nightmare On Elm Street Review


A Nightmare on Elm Street, and more notably Freddy Kruger, has a special place in the hearts of many Americans in their late 20s and early 30s. When the movie was released in 1984, these now older viewers were in elementary and middle school. The dark was a formidable threat, and a villain like Kruger was a concern that tapped at the corners of the mind.

Viewed through older eyes, Nightmare isn't remotely scary. I can see the nostalgic value of Freddy Kruger (played by Robert Englund, who has a built career on this role) the same way that I sometimes hum Debbie Gibson songs to myself. But as a first-time viewer, I found my attention caught by the lousy acting, hideously dated wardrobe, and actress Ronee Blakley's apparent bronzer addiction. She makes Jessica Simpson in The Dukes of Hazzard look like an albino.

The movie centers on a group of teens (including a pre-stardom Johnny Depp) in a suburban town, who suffer horrible nightmares, starring Kruger, a child murderer. Time has not been kind to Kruger, who sports a gnarled, burned face, a glove with fingertip blades, and the ability to kill children when they sleep. That's what happens when you're burned to death by angry parents; you get numerous chances to extract revenge. Somehow student Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) keeps staving off sleep so she can keep confronting Kruger.

What really prevents Nightmare from evergreen status is that for all of the plot's creativity, blood splattering, and dream terrors, writer/director Wes Craven has little time to define his teen characters, a key reason why his Scream was so good--or to delve into Freddy's child-killing craziness. He chases the kids around like it's some demented game of tag, but we never feel the sense of bone-chilling terror the kids supposedly feel. And, man, it would have been great if Craven had examined Nancy's struggle to fight off sleep or explored her quickening demented pace. It never happens.

Oddly enough, the movie has value. I can see Nightmare being ideal for kids at a sleepover -- pending parental supervision, of course -- because it's a grisly ghost story. And kids, unless there's a burgeoning Anthony Lane in the bunch, will be too busy covering their eyes to be concerned with narrative flaws. For adults who once shuddered at Freddy's presence, re-watching Nightmare should be like looking through an old yearbook: "Look at the hair! Look at those clothes! Can you imagine how scared we were?" For adults who are watching with virgin eyes, pleasant dreams. You might be asleep sooner than you think.

Who knew that the sheep were homages to Buñuel? Or that this was Johnny Depp's first movie? The DVD has a commentary track with Craven and the then-idolized Langenkamp, among others, to clear this all up for you.

A new Special Edition DVD piles on the extras: A branching feature lets you jump away to outtakes and extra clips, plus you get making-of featurettes, commentary tracks, and three alternate endings, all spanning two DVDs.



A Nightmare On Elm Street

Facts and Figures

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th November 1984

Box Office Worldwide: $25.5M

Budget: $1.8M

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Production compaines: New Line Cinema, Smart Egg Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 44 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Freddy Krueger, as Nancy Thompson, as Glen Lantz, as Marge Thompson, as Lt. Thompson, as Tina Gray, as Rod Lane, as Dr. King, as Sgt. Parker, as Teacher, Joe Unger as Sgt. Garcia, Mimi Craven as Nurse, as Foreman

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

Advertisement
The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Partisan Movie Review

Partisan Movie Review

With his feature debut, young Australian filmmaker Ariel Kleiman tells a creepy story about a...

The Revenant Movie Review

The Revenant Movie Review

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as...

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who simply can't be ignored, especially when he lobs a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.