A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Welp, I’ve finally come to it, the movie that started my obsession with scary movies. When I was very little, three or four maybe, my mom heard me laughing hysterically at the t.v. It turns out I was watching A Nightmare on Elm Street and I thought that Freddy Kreuger was a funny robot. Yeah, I was a little different.
I wonder if I’d never seen this movie if I’d still be obsessed with horror the way I am now. Would I still randomly sing “Dream Warriors” at work? I just don’t know but I think that this is one of the movies that made me who I am today.
The weird part is that I haven’t sat down and watched A Nightmare on Elm Street in decades. Truthfully, Freddy Kreuger still scares me. Not in his later incarnations, when he was goofy and trying to be funny. Original Freddy. He’s the reason I won’t let my feet dangle off of my bed when I sleep, because I’m secretly convinced that he’ll chop them off with his knife-hand.
It was nice rewatching this movie and, for all of its eighties-ness, it’s still a good, underapreciated film.
Here’s the story, for everyone who hasn’t seen it yet. The movie opens with what has to be one of my favorite creepy sequences. A man in a boiler room attaches knives to a glove. Then he chases a teenage girl who wakes up with four scratches in her nightgown. It turns out the girl is Tina (Amanda Wyss) and she was just having a bad dream. Actually, all of her friends have been having bad dreams. Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and her boyfriend, Glen (Johnny Depp), agree to stay over since Tina’s parents are out of town. Tina’s boyfriend, Rod (Nick Corri) also shows up. Tina is killed by something that violently slashes her. Rod denies killing her. Nancy becomes convinced that something in her dreams is stalking her and that if she dies in her dreams she’ll die in real life. This leads to some of the creepiest sequences that have ever been done in a slasher film.

Freddy Kreuger, the original Slenderman.

Freddy Kreuger, the original Slenderman.

Nancy decides to willingly hunt Freddy to find out who he is. Glen is supposed to keep watch over Nancy and wake her up if it looks like she’s having a nightmare but he falls asleep.
This is when she realizes she can bring aspects of her dreams into the real world and that maybe she can kill whoever is stalking her. Nancy’s mom finally confesses that there was a child killer in their town who killed twenty children. He was never sent to prison due to a technicality so Nancy’s parents, along with other parents in the neighborhood, burn Fred Kreuger (Robert Englund) to death. He’s the one stalking the teens and killing the children of those who killed him.
After a sleep study, where Nancy wakes up with a kick-ass gray streak, she decides to face Freddy and kill him herself.
She studies how to make traps and rigs her house in the hopes of capturing Freddy in the real world. This becomes even more important to her after Freddy kills Glenn.
The ending is kind of weird. It becomes like a dream within a dream ending and it makes you question everything you just watched.
There is just so much creepy weirdness about this movie. First, the fact that Freddy is a child-killer and basically based on a child-molester. That makes things especially weird as Freddy Kreuger became a kind of cult figure and as the movies became goofier and goofier. I also found Nancy’s parents to be really weird. They’re both pretty disconnected from Nancy. Mom (Ronee Blakley) drinks a lot and Dad (Jon Saxon!) is a detective investigating the teen murders, so he’s busy and not at home. Aside from their disconnection, they were part of the vigilante posse that killed Freddy. Does that mean that they had a child who was one of Freddy’s victims? I’ve always wondered why they were involved and that seems to be a logical reason. It takes a lot to burn someone to death and I’m not sure if just knowing a kid who was killed is enough reason to do it. Also, Nancy’s mom is super creepy because she keeps Freddy’s knife glove. I would not want that thing in my house. Her speech has always given me the creeps, “He’s dead honey, because Mommy killed him. I even took his knives. So it’s okay now.” WHAT?
I’ve noticed that a lot of movies from around this time, from the mid-seventies through the eighties reflect this anxiety at home and fear for your family’s safety (See, Alice, Sweet Alice, Don’t Look Now, The Initiation, The Funhouse, Poltergeist, and The Stepfather.) If these movies have one thing in common, it’s the idea that you’re not safe, even with your family, and that the hidden secrets of those you love can be deadly.
What I really like is the added supernatural element of A Nightmare on Elm Street, which keeps it apart from the usual slashers of the era. I also like that Nancy is such a kick-ass final girl. She’s smart, tough, and funny and I think she’s pretty much my favorite final girl.
If this isn’t enough to love, this is the movie that introduced us to Johnny Depp in a cropped t-shirt.
I think it may have also invented the cat meme when I noticed this weird poster in the doctor’s office.
I think this might be A Nightmare on Elm Street week, since I do have this snazzy four-pack of the first four movies that I picked up.


About scarina

I like scary movies a little too much. I thought I'd share my obsession with you.
This entry was posted in 1980's, famous movie monsters, ghosts, slasher, supernatural and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

  1. Thomas Duke says:

    That’s a giant lesiure cat terrorizing San Francisco, it appears. Maybe something you’d see on a quirky postcard.

    Is that technically called a “cropped” shirt? I’d call that a half shirt, but maybe it’s a 3/4 shirt and hence “cropped”. I don’t know fashion stuff, so that’s why I ask.

    The entire Nightmare series has some rad songs if you like shit music. Dramarama, Romeo’s Daughter, Fates Warning, Fat Boys. Dream Warriors does tower above all though. Note: there are 2 versions of the Dream Warriors video. In one of them, the band members defeat freddy by screaming and playing loud guitar licks. So, freddy hates loud music. If only Glen knew…

    • scarina says:

      It’s such a weird thing to see in this movie. It’s not like it’s Scarina’s Slasher Movie that also has Kittens (And the Slasher is a Cat.)
      I don’t know fashion stuff either, maybe it’s middy? What’s middy, is that a word?
      I love shit music! Remember when Freddy became a cultural icon & there was Freddy stuff everywhere Like those balls that squirted water? And his music career? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oj2ZQ4QtJrg

  2. Crypticpsych says:

    I’ve always believed Nightmare on Elm Street has plenty in common with Hellraiser in that, while both have decidedly 80s aspects, they’re kept relevant by some unifying family theme, whether it be Hellraiser and infidelity or Nightmare on Elm Street and the combination of neglectful/drunken parenting and the consequences of brutal revenge.

    Regarding the ending, on wikipedia (and originally on the Nightmare on Elm Street box set and blu-ray, there’s info about how there were three different endings (and also shows the alternate ones). One just had them getting into the car and driving away, one had them freaking out as the car drove them away, and one had that plus Nancy’s mom getting sucked through the door (I think…I could be wrong). It was part of that whole Carrie after-effect where everything had to have a big twist ending or an attempt at sequel bait.

    Incidentally, I believe you can also get a snazzy low-priced 4 disc of Nightmares 5 and 6, New Nightmare, and FvJ…just saying.

    Also, everyone sings Dream Warriors at random moments, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

    • scarina says:

      They definitely have things in common & they both have killers that became cultural icons. Weird, huh?
      Man, I don’t know which ending I hate more, just because one is treacly, and the last two make no sense. Was it all just a dream and then there was a dream or what?
      Ooooh, that second set sounds awesome. This set cared so little that it just stuffed all 4 dvd’s on one spindle.
      Now I feel better!

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