Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Heather Langenkamp in Fred Krueger's dream lair
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984). Written and directed by Wes Craven.

"Oh, God, I look twenty years old!" -- teenager Nancy.

Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) discovers that some of her friends are experiencing the same nightmare about a disfigured man who wears a glove with knives attached. Fred Krueger (Robert Englund of V -- The Final Battle) was a child murderer who was burned to death by the parents of his victims, but apparently he still lives in a dream state where he can stalk and slay his victims (the other children of the parents who killed him) when they are asleep. The gruesome results of his handiwork are apparent in the real world. Nancy discovers she can bring objects, such as Freddy's hat, out of the dream world into the real one, and determines to drag Krueger into her universe where he can face ultimate justice. A Nightmare on Elm Street certainly has a good premise, but its execution is more problematic, being a trifle cheapjack and schlocky at times and never becoming especially scary. Krueger often comes off as more comical than anything else (later he was turned into a kind of slasher comedian). An "unhappy" ending was tacked onto the movie over Craven's objections, but this led to several sequels. Langenkamp, with her unattractive mouth and big teeth, is an odd casting choice, and she comes off more like a talented amateur than anything else, despite her obvious hard work. Johnny Depp [Dark Shadows], who is introduced in this film and gets the most grisly and flamboyant death scene, exhibits star charisma, as does Jsu Garcia (aka Nick Corri) as Rod. Amanda Wyss is effective as Tina, the first victim, as is John Saxon [Queen of Blood] as Nancy's dad, a cop. Ronee Blakley plays Nancy's mother. Craven's direction makes less of the film than the premise deserves. It is never explained how Krueger can call Nancy on the telephone and even stick his tongue through the receiver when she's awakeRemade in 2010.

Verdict: Great idea, not such a great movie., **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Bill, though you only give it two and half stars, your article makes me want to see it again...I was nuts about this genre back in the 1980s when they all came out - Friday the 13th, Halloween, My Bloody Valentine and of course the Nightmare series. Loved em all.
Speaking of the very young Johnny Depp, I just saw him again in 1985's Private Resort with Rob Morrow...boy were they cute!

William said...

They sure were! "Nightmare" is still worth watching again, as well as many of the others -- "My Bloody Valentine" in particular. I know the "Friday 13th" movies aren't particularly good, but they were fun in their own way!