Alex E’s review published on Letterboxd:
Alex E's A Nightmare on Elm Street Marathon #1
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
"Whatever you do... don't fall asleep." - Nancy Thompson
1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most iconic Horror films we will ever see in our lifetime. With a fantastic concept, alongside a talented cast and crew we get introduced to my personal favourite Horror movie villain of all time in Freddy Krueger.
On Elm Street, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) and a group of her friends (comprising of Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss), Rod Lane (Nick Corri) and Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp) are being tormented by a clawed killer in their dreams named Fred Krueger (Robert Englund). Nancy must think quickly, as Fred tries to pick them off one by one. When he has you in your sleep, who is there to save you?
Nancy and her three friends are very likeable, thanks to their engaging performances alongside some nice character development. Johnny Depp in his first role adds a likeable presence to Glen, the boyfriend of Nancy. Alongside Depp, Nick Corri does good work as the rebellious Rod, who is wrongly accused of killing his girlfriend Tina. This really is Heather Langenkamp's movie though, as she makes Nancy into one of the best protagonists in Horror movie history. Nancy reallys has a nice character arc, and I liked how she is religious, kind yet brave to face Freddy head on despite the torment Freddy causes her.
We get two great performances by John Saxon, and Ronne Blakley as Lt. Donald "Don" Thompson and Marge Thompson respectively. It's nice to see the relationship between the Thompson family as it is a very estranged relationship. I like how they touched on Marge's addictions alongside Donald not believing Nancy that Freddy is murdering her friends in their dreams. One of the best scenes has to be when Marge tells Nancy about Freddy, which really adds a lot to the backstory of Fred Krueger.
Robert Englund was born to play Fred Krueger. His menacing presence really gives you the creeps, thanks to all the work that went into his character. Englund's performance is really stand out, and shows why he needed to return for the rest of the series. Robert Englund is Freddy Krueger, and that's the bottom line cause Elmo said so (sorry I've been watching a lot of WWF: Attitude Era recently with my pal Geoff). Freddy Krueger is my favourite Horror villain thanks to his look, his weapon, Englund's captivating performance and the fact he kills you in your dreams. It's such a scary thought, but I enjoyed how Nancy stands up to him near the end which tells us that you need to overcome your fears.
The special effects done by Jim Doyle have aged very well. Some of the best work in this includes when Freddy's signature weapon, the bladed work glove comes out of the bath that Nancy is in, alongside the glove coming through the other parts of the house. A few minor effects do look a bit silly like Freddy flying through a door, but I can look past that due to how well everything else holds up.
Jacques Haitkin's cinematography is outstanding thanks to that classic 80s look. I love the orange colours used for the daytime and the dark blue ones when it gets dark. His lighting reallys creates a powerful sense of dread especially during all the dream sequences. This is one of my favourite photographed films from the 80s, due to Haitkin's excellent work.
Charles Bernstein provides a very eerie and haunting score with some really memorable pieces of music. Some of the best pieces of music in this is the opening track, alongside the music used in the dream sequences. I like the dark piano melodies throughout, alongside some really nice synth textures. Also the end song Nightmare performed by 213 is such a great fun 80s song.
This is the best Nightmare film in my eyes because it feels the most grounded. The dreams aren't outlandish and the whole thing feels real, Wes Craven deserves a lot of credit for this as he allows the story to never lose steam and always keeps you glued to your seat. Craven's direction and writing here are second to none, and he creates a terrific atomosphere throughout. I also liked the psychological aspect that this movie was doing from time to time, and it includes some very memorable yet haunting imagery. The way the story progressed is just fantastic as we learn more about Freddy, and the dreams which makes us want to know what happens next as we experience this movie first handwith the characters on screen. Wes Craven is truly one of the best directors when it comes to the Horror genre, rest in peace Wes, this film will always be in the discussion for best Horror film of all time.
Overall 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of my favourite films, it's just such an entertaining movie and still manages to terrify to this very day. You could make a case that the film is kinda trapped in the 80s, but I feel that is apart of it's charm. While many of the sequels to this are fun, they never managed to reach the heights of the original Nightmare.