When I was a kid I watched a lot of movies, I still do, but as a kid television and movies were a major part of my life. Movies and television allowed me to escape that. It allowed me to go places outside of my reality. (Books, music and Video Games would later end up in that mix but that’s not what this is about.)
There were key movies in my life that helped to make me who I am today. Movies that I have loved from the moment the opening credit rolled and still love now. This blog series is about those, My guilty pleasures, my favorites, my escapes. Some were very popular, others not so much. Some of these will have some real life take-aways, others are just for fun.
After talking with you about the Child’s Play franchise, I felt we needed to revisit another old favorite of mine. So today we discuss the start of a franchise that resonates to this day, A Nightmare on Elmstreet.
Today’s Key Movie:
A child murderer is reborn in the form of a vengeful spirit determined to get revenge through the dreams of the teenagers who’s parents killed him. Starring Heather Langencamp, Johnny Depp, John Saxon and Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger, this was the start to a slasher franchise that changed the landscape of horror.
Why this movie?
When this movie hit theaters there was no chance that I would get to see it on the big screen. Even though my parents never seemed to have an issue with showing us horror, this film was deemed too scary for my young mind to handle and so I merely listened to everyone else talk about how cool this movie was. In fact, I became even more determined to see this movie when the news even talked about how dark and frightening this film was. Needless to say, when this film hit VHS, I made sure that my father rented a copy and I watched in rapt attention as the teens of Elmstreet come face to face with the horror that was Freddy Krueger.
In no time at all I became a fan of the dream demon with finger knives watching this and it’s subsequent sequels over and over again. By the time I saw this, I had already been exposed to the summer-camp murders in Friday the 13th but there was something about the supernatural elements of Freddy’s story that always intrigued me. The idea of a vengeful spirit killing kids in their sleep was both frightening and fascinating since dreams were, and still are, vastly unexplained. If the dream world was still such a wild and unexplored region, why couldn’t there be monsters lurking in the recesses of those nightmares?
You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?
This film remains one of the best horror films of it’s time. Not only is it a solid story, the theme and effects hold up exceptionally well even today. Wes Craven created a poignant and thought provoking tale of terror that somehow remains valid even now over 35 years later.
The thing I think makes this film work so well is that nearly every part of the film meshes so perfectly in every moment of every frame. Somehow Craven is able to keep from going into campy B movie territory despite the fact that it would have been so easy to do so at any moment. There is not a wasted moment, or a need for extraneous exposition at any point in the film, as it seems that Craven trusts that his audience is intelligent enough to understand what is going on from the start. Combined with the tremendous cast (including the first appearance of Johnny Depp and a great job by Heather Langencamp in the lead role as Nancy ) to even the incredible score by Charles Bernstein, this film shows a careful balance of quality storytelling and visual elements that blend to create a literally perfect nightmare. Also, to not mention how incredibly horrifying Robert Englund was in his portrayal as Freddy would be a disservice. From the moment I first saw this film, Englund was immediately one of my favorite horror actors and I would look forward to seeing him in other roles such as the Visitor ‘Willie’ in the tv series V and even as himself in a later sequel in the Freddy Franchise.
One of my absolute favorite things about this film is the use of practical effects. This was made before cgi had become mainstream so Craven and team were forced to use only what they could make in the real world. From stretchy walls to beds exploding in fountains of blood, this dedicated work has managed to keep the film from looking aged even after being over three decades old.
This film would go on to spawn a franchise that ranged from exceptional to utter camp, but the nightmare that is Freddy Krueger continues to live on in the minds of horror fans everywhere. It is a dark and frightening tale that is worth watching over and over. I am sure I had a few nightmares of my own inspired by this film but that never stopped me from watching it and the many sequels that came after. Come back next week when we talk about NOES Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge!
OK, where do I get this movie?
This is a film that will likely be around for many years to come. This is a horror and cult classic that, if you haven’t seen it yet, you are really missing out. You can pick it up on bluray or even a great box set and I am sure you will find it via your favorite streaming service as well.
Regardless, don’t be afraid to never sleep again and give this a shot, it’s killer!
Late To The Game 11/26/2020
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
For more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here. and, If you dig Music, I have a semi regular series called Stand Out Albums that covers some of my favorite records I have come across in life.
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