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.
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.