Yesterday kicked off my 31 days of horror film binging, and it kicked off with the film that gave Craven his first soiree with the millennials who came to adore his work. Today, I continue my journey with another Craven classic: “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
While the iconic movie poster could make you double check what’s behind your headboard, the film itself is certainly the stuff nightmares are made of. Robert Englund began his lengthy tenure as the night-stalker Freddy Krueger in this 1984 classic that also introduced adoring fans to Johnny Depp. While the film was meet to keep the slasher craze going, following a number of other horror classics that will make their appearance on my list, its journey into the dark depths of our dreams and internal fears struck a cord that is lasting still today–so much so it spawned six sequels and remake (which robbed Katie Cassidy of the spotlight she deserved).
Traditionally, when I talk about this film I usually go the deep dive of “well, it is a movie that evoked our fears of post-Nixon Watergate and our internal conflict with Reaganism.” However, that’s usually when eyes gloss over and I lose my audience. In this case, I’ll spare any readers and say that I’ll save it for another day and another post. For this post, I’ll focus on why this is a go-to for a 31 Days of Halloween viewing:
Answer: It is scary.That is all.
Many criticize the later films for their lack of seriousness and fear, and, while I agree slightly, the others provided us with the personality that is Krueger and that personality is exactly what made him an icon and a renowned name in the homes of Americans and others around the world. This film, the OG, isn’t that revelation of comedy; this film, is the primal fear that is meant to keep you up at night.
The knife-fingered glove (in a much scarier iteration than what wouldn’t translate as well in Depp’s “Edward Scissorhands” in 1990) that Krueger wields is enough to send chills up your spine, but when it is used in conjunction with the nails-on-a-chalkboard-like screeching announcing his entrance into a teen’s bedroom dreaming, it lasts. The blood is plentiful and the chase sequences are lengthy and tense. It is a film that has stuck with me ever since I first saw it and it is one of the many films that continue to enhance my love of the genre each and every time I watch it.
Beyond the laughs, the scares and the utter fear of knives protruding from between Nancy’s legs, this film is one you can’t escape awake or asleep. Give it a chance today.