Movie Name: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Studio: New Line Cinema
Release Date(s): November 9, 1984
MPAA Rating: R
The children of Elm Street are being haunted by strange dreams of a man named Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). On his hand he wears razors like long nails and a dirty green and red sweater. When Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), her friend Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss), her boyfriend Rod Lane (Nick Corri), and Nancy’s boyfriend Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp) decide to stay together to ward off the dreams, tragedy occurs. Tina is killed in her sleep, Rod is blamed for the murder, and the threat of Freddy grows greater. When Nancy learns the truth about Freddy from her mother (Ronee Blakley) and her father (John Saxon) refuses to believe her, Nancy must go into her nightmares to stop Freddy herself.
A Nightmare on Elm Street was directed by Wes Craven and became an instant classic. It was credited for its writing and gave the world a new boogyman in Freddy Krueger. It also featured the first feature film premiere for Johnny Depp.
A Nightmare on Elm Street was scary as hell when it came out. Freddy had a sense of humor, but in the first film, he was much darker and the situation seemed rather bleak. The story also has a sort of wrap around feel with a dream within a dream (maybe) type story that instead of being trite, felt original. The series was of course driven into the ground with sequels, but this first film was different than other slasher films at the time.
The reason for the difference was in its cast. Robert Englund as Freddy was a revelation. I often think of him as the quiet, soft-spoken “visitor” Willie from V since that was my real first encounter with him, but Freddy is about the opposite of Willie, and Englund seems to revel in his badness. Langenkamp also plays a good heroine in Nancy. She’s smart and instead of shying away from the fight, she meets Freddy on his own terms. Johnny Depp as Nancy’s doomed boyfriend final encounter with Freddy is one of the most memorable deaths in the series. Depp doesn’t really demonstrate the acting that made him famous but either did Kevin Bacon in Friday the 13th.
The only thing that hasn’t held up well in A Nightmare on Elm Street is the special effects. Most of the effects come off poorly especially the last few minutes of the film. Nancy’s confrontation with Freddy wasn’t ever great, and her mother being pulled through the window always looked fake. Looking at them now 25+ years later…they look even worse.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is a fun film that has remained a classic. Newer viewers might be a bit jaded by its pacing and effects, but its importance in horror cannot be forgotten. Freddy is still haunting people’s nightmares and sporting the green and red. A panned remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street was released in 2010, but stick to the original.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)