Thoughts on A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most recognisable titles in cinema – as is it’s villain, and star, Freddy Krueger. I felt the urge to re-watch this film after my recently-formed gaming obsession with Dead By Daylight. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that much of the film still holds up to modern viewing.

What is A Nightmare on Elm Street about?

Behind the scenes on A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street follows four high-school kids, who are all experiencing almost identical nightmares. Nightmares about a mysterious burnt man in an old jumper and hat with knives for fingers. This figure is none other than one of cinema’s most charismatic antagonists – Freddy Krueger.

Freddy has long been dead, but has since returned to feed on children’s fear within their dreams in order to kill them. While alive, Freddy was exclusively a child killer – and possibly worse in the originally draft – which makes him one of the most despicable of his contemporary killers. Yet, perhaps intentionally, this is juxtaposed with his bouncy, playful actions and the fact that through the course of his films people have come to regard Freddy as a “cool character”.

It isn’t long until one of the children Freddy is hunting, Nancy, takes it upon herself to stand up and fight back against him. This ultimately leads to a showdown where you’ll want to throw your fists up and shout “Fuck Yer, Nancy!”.

A Nightmare on Elm Street artwork

The Effects still hold up

When the Matrix came out in 1999 it blew most people away with its cutting-edge, computed-generated, effects. Less than ten years later and those effects sure did start to look dated – more so now. However, with films that focused on created actual physical effects, this dated effect is lessened quite substantially in my opinion.

A Nightmare on Elm Street, although cheesy in parts, still holds up strongly with its physical effects. Especially those bedroom death scenes from both the start and end of the film. R.I.P. Johnny. And Freddy is every bit as menacing and full of charisma as I’d remembered from watching it years ago.

Nancy in the bath
Nancy in that famous bathtub scene

It’s great when modern films take a leaf out of the books of films like this one. You really can’t beat the authenticity of good-old physical effects. Especially in horror.

A personal favourite favourite of mine of all the film’s effects, is when Nancy is asleep at Tina’s house. Freddy can be seen pushing his way through the over-arching bedroom wall from the other side. And although it’s not too difficult to work out how this could be achieved it is still effing terrifying and highly effective.

Freddy is still rock n roll

Nancy and Freddy

Freddy Krueger is one of those pop culture horror icons who sits beside all of the greats. He sits with characters such as Michael Myers; Pinhead; Jason and Leatherface. He was played so perfectly by Robert Englund and like Doug Bradley for pinhead, will always be tightly linked to his seminal role.

Interestingly what differs Freddy from many of his contemporaries, is his sense of humour and playfulness with his victims. Michael Myers was a silent shape in the darkness; Jason too was silent; Pinhead spoke only in a deep, almost poetic manner. But Freddy just toys with his victims in his cheeky, tormenting way.

Freddy has been a really fun villain to revisit and I’m looking forward to re-watching the other films too. This includes one I’ve never seen before – Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. I’ve heard good things about it so will get a hold of that when I can.

In Summary

A great horror film that I think still holds strong today. Wes Craven unknowingly created an icon that would go on to become a household name – like Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Coca Cola.

If you’ve never before seen A Nightmare on Elm Street, I urge you to give it a watch. Yes there are some aspects of it that will be dated, such as the fashions and the acting in places. But this really is an important horror film like all of the top films lists repeat. You wont sleep easy till you watch this film.

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