A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

nightmare on elm street poster 1984 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Freddy Kruegar

Some dated visuals that were even dated when the movie was made

Movie Info

Movie Name:  A Nightmare on Elm Street

Studio:  New Line Cinema

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  November 9, 1984

MPAA Rating:  R

nightmare on elm street freddy above bed robert englund

He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. He’s kind of like Santa…and he wears red & green

The children of Elm Street are suffering from nightmares.  A man named Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is haunting their dreams, and they are about to discover what happens in dreams can kill them.  When Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) and Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp) discover their friend Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss) has been allegedly killed by Rod Lane (Nick Corri), they realize Freddy won’t stop until their all dead…Freddy’s seeking revenge and Nancy’s parents Donald (John Saxon) and Marge (Ronee Blakley) might know the reason why!

Written and directed by Wes Craven, A Nightmare on Elm Street is a slasher horror movie.  The movie was met with positive reviews and quickly became a cult classic.  The film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2021.

As a kid, A Nightmare on Elm Street was legendary.  I had the novelization of the first three movies and remember loaning it to a friend whose mother threw it away.  It was a horror movie with edge, but it still was funny.  If you were a kid and could get a hold of a Nightmare on Elm Street movie to watch with friends, you were golden.

nightmare on elm street glenn johnny depp bed death

Man…his parents are going to be mad they have to clean up this mess…

The first movie still is the best, but it is also before the whole “mythos” of Freddy Krueger took over.  While Freddy still comes with the jokes (which makes him scary), he is more menacing and intense.  He’s a killer armed with a nightmarish weapon and you can’t escape him.  The movie smartly blends this with reality bending aspect of dreams and a classic “grown-ups don’t understand” aspect of horror movies.

The cast of course is led by the scene stealing Robert Englund as Freddy.  As mentioned, he’s a dirtier, more threatening Freddy than in later films, but I remember it was odd because I knew him as the “nice” alien from V.  The young cast is young and sometimes it shows.  Heather Langenkamp is a good “final girl” though even she struggles through some parts in the film and Johnny Depp shows why he became popular with this and 21 Jump Street.  Ronee Blakley doesn’t do much better than some of the younger cast (though I loved her in Nashville), but John Saxon does add some nice weight to the film.  Horror fan favorite Lin Shaye appears as Nancy’s teacher (her brother produced the film and also appeared as a broadcaster in the movie).

nightmare on elm street freddy krueger robert englund

1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you!

The film doesn’t have the biggest budget, but it does well with what it has.  Scenes like Freddy’s long arms kind of look cheesy, but it is shot in a way that at least makes it look better than it really is.  The use of shadows and darkness in this entry in the movie really stylize the film and make it scarier…later entries are a lot brighter and sunnier…capitalizing on Freddy’s popularity.

A Nightmare on Elm Street holds up.  The first three films probably are the most interesting.  The first film has the initial hook and experiment of the series, the second film has the bizarre sexual aspect (which actually makes it interesting but not very good), and the third film finds the series magic with the Dream Warriors (which encapsulates all the ’80s slashers).  A Nightmare on Elm Street is a movie you can revisit often for fun and reminiscence.  A Nightmare on Elm Street was followed by A Nightmare on Elm Street 2:  Freddy’s Revenge in 1985.

Related Links:

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)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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