A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
USA / English
"She is the only one who can stop it... if she fails, no one survives. "In the dreams of his victims, a specteral child murderer stalks the children of the members of the lynch mob that killed him.
Dated and very genre but still an effective low budget horror
When a group of friends all have similar dreams with a weird man in a
dirty red and black jumper they just think it's a bit weird. However
when one of them is brutally murdered by an unseen force while she
sleeps, her boyfriend Rod is arrested for the murder. Meanwhile, Nancy
falls asleep in class, only to find herself chased through her dream by
the same disfigured man. When it becomes apparent that this is more
than a dream, more of Tina's friends start to die
With seven or eight (who can keep track?) sequels under its belt,
Freddy merchandising and the fact that the 'monster' has become almost
a hero, it is hard to look back at this film with fresh eyes. This film
is not the gory spectacle that teenagers with video recorders in their
bedroom will have come familiar with over several flashy sequels;
rather this is a low budget horror movie that is quite gory, quite
scary and pretty effective. The plot is interesting enough and is
better than the 'gore for gore's sake' that the sequels fell into –
it's still not the most intelligent thing you'll ever see but it is
still interesting enough. Of course it is about 20 years old now and it
looks dated, an effect not helped by the way recent horrors have made
fun of the things in here that have become genre cliché over the years.
The downside of watching it now is that you expect it to be as 'big',
'gory' etc as the 7 or 8 sequels have progressively become – but it
isn't, it's a lot more straightforward a horror than that.
Despite this though it is still a good horror movie – low budget but
yet with effective effects and a monster that has grown larger than the
series itself. The cast all fit into the requirements of low budget
horror, that is to say they can't really act and just scream lots.
Langenkamp is a good example and, accordingly, she has done little
since this film of any high caliber. Wyss, Garcia and even Depp are all
pretty wooden and just fit in with the genre. Saxon puts in a better
performance but even then it is only comparable. Englund is actually in
the film a lot less than you would expect and, as a result, makes more
of an impact. He would later take his Freddy to the level of cartoon
character or celebrity (as shown in the New Nightmare) but here he gets
his horror character just right – a monster.
Overall this is a good low budget horror but it is one that is
difficult to view now without looking back and seeing it as the start
of a long horror series that producing a character that has even moved
beyond the constraints of his own film. The best way to enjoy this is
on its own terms – it is not a massive horror series, it is a single
low budget horror movie from the mid-eighties; as such it suffers from
the usual genre flaws from the period but it also delivers the goods in
terms of scares and gore. It may not be as gory or as knowing as some
of the later sequels but it does what it originally intended to do –
scare and thrill.