A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) Review (4.5 of 5)
One of the best low budget horror movies ever made, Nightmare On Elm Street was original and for at least one kid (me), was genuinely scary.
The basic premise is well known. A killer that stalks and kills you when you fall asleep.
She soon realizes that every time she falls asleep that she faces an attack from the demonic man in her dreams. As this is a horror film, noone believes her, not even her boyfriend (played by Johnny Depp) or her parents.
The mother specially is portrayed as especially impassive to Nancy’s plight. While doing her own investigation and questions, she soon finds out that her parents may have something to do with the situation.
Langekamp may not be the most expressive actress, but she does a good job with the part. She has all the requirements of your classic female horror film protagonist. She is very pretty with her All-American teen mag cover girl looks.
Johnny Depp is the boyfriend. Obviously he went on to the biggest acclaim after this. Much of his big success coming in the last decade. He actually seemed to be playing a ‘normal’ character here, rather than the goofballs hat his success has allowed him to play.
Robert Englund is decent as the villain, but I think the dream FX, the voice modulation, the shadows and the horrific makeup and wardrobe played a big part in the villain’s success. Unlike the sequels, he is more like a boogey man here. You never really get to know a whole lot about him.
I think the fact that the FX were made on a very tiny budget, even for the time, actually helped to create onscreen visuals that appeared as if they were from someone’s weird nightmare.
In Nightmare On Elm Street there are MANY very memorable sequences. Much of the imagery truly is nightmarish. Weird and dreamlike at times and brutal in others, there are a lot of ideas that went into the film. There are several underlying themes. Giving that what you fear power.
It also had one of the better trailers and marketing campaigns ever for a small budgeted indie film. I can’t think of too many taglines that are any better or more iconic than the clip that is used for the trailer.
First an announcer sets up the story of the Elm street kids being stalked by a strange boogey man. Then Nancy earnestly warns: “Whatever you do… Don’t… fall… asleep…” That’s all I really needed to know. It delivered on it’s promise of scares, too. At least for me.
Great horror films, the best horror films, always have fears of the real world buried beneath the surface. Wes Craven really tapped a gold mine when he created this. Interesting that another great movie involving the realm of dreams came out around the same time (Dreamscape).
He was written much more hammy and braindead in the sequels… This movie is also a lot grittier, having more mood than the later slicker and cheaper looking installments, but this remains one of those watershed horror films that holds up pretty well.
It’s definitely worth watching if youre a horror fan. This is a seriously made genre film that entertains as well as scares. I would say its not for the squeamish, but I think the squeamish are who horror movies are made for.