A Nightmare on Elm Street Review (1984)

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

A Nightmare on Elm Street Review (1984)

Horrorific content by adrian on February 14th, 2018 | Movie Review | A Nightmare on Elm Street Series, Slasher, Supernatural, Cult Classic, Revenge, Suburb

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It’s about a supernatural serial killer named Freddy who hunts a specific group of teens in their sleep. And when they die in a dream, they die in real life.

A Nightmare on Elm Street was directed by Wes Craven (who also directed Scream, The Hills Have Eyes and Shocker) and stars Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp and the debut of the legendary Johnny Depp.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984

This was the very first horror movie I ever watched back when I was 8 (so it’s only fitting this be the very first movie review published to All Horror). This movie really messed me up, I couldn’t think about anything else for weeks. But as most fans of horror can relate to, this terrifying experience is what seeded my lifelong love of horror movies. A Nightmare on Elm Street totally scarred my 8 year old psyche… and I was the first in line to see part 2, part 3 (my personal favorite), part 4 and every other horror I could find. Deep down I think I’m still watching horror movies in an attempt to capture that feeling of terror Freddy delivered so many years ago.

So needless to say I’m a bit biased toward NoES (as many others are toward the first movies they were introduced to). But despite this, it’s hard to argue against how ambitious this movie was. Craven and his team took a small budget and used it to create a supernatural dream universe unlike anything horror had seen before. While Jason was slow-walking through the forest with a knife Freddy was running, jumping and shape-shifting. He was pulling fools into mattresses, dragging them across ceilings, walking through walls and cracking jokes. Every dream sequence was different and creatively surreal.  

The practical effects worked, the score really helped to accentuate the dread and terror the characters were experiencing and the cinematography was solid, especially the lighting and use of shadows. You can really feel the blurred lines between dreams and reality as Nancy, Tina and Glen navigate around their surreal dreamscape.

Of course, watching it now as an adult I can clearly see the budget restrictions they were working with. There’s definitely a B-movie quality to this and its many sequels. And Langencamp’s forced acting only add to its B-vibe.

Most outlandish was at the very end when Nancy’s mom is pulled through the front door window. Even as a kid I was like whaaa? Apparently Wes Craven wanted to end the film on the shot of Freddy’s car slowly driving past the little girls playing jump rope but producer Bob Shaye insisted on the final door scene. Dammit, Bob.

Overall, Nightmare on Elm Street knocked it out of the park back in ‘84. It was an instant classic that went on to spawn several sequels, a remake, a showdown between Freddy and Jason, a music video and a Nintendo video game . It successfully merged the slasher and fantasy genres and is as entertaining today as it ever was. It’s a solid 9 star horror.

Could have been a 10/10 if it wasn’t for that blow up doll at the end.

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