A Nightmare on Elm Street ★★★★★

So I’ve started the re-watch of this series. And after re-watching the Friday the 13th series recently, this feels like Citizen Kane in comparison.

As much as I liked the Friday the 13th and Halloween franchises when I was a teenager, I was always a Freddy guy. In fact, I was obsessed with this series before I ever actually saw any of them. I have vivid memories of seeing the poster for Part 2 in the newspaper when I was 8 years old. I remember loving the poster and especially the font of ‘A Nightmare’ in the title. I still love that font.

From that moment on I was determined to circumnavigate my parent’s restrictions on what I watched and somehow see these movies. This involved secretly taping them when they were on TV, secretly watching them after school in 10-15 minute chunks while my mother was out of the room and even once hiding in the lounge room and secretly watching Part 4 when my older brother hired it. It was maniacal.

I managed to see them all by the time I was 13. By that time I had the toy Freddy glove, had the posters that I didn’t dare put up, had the film novelisations and expanded universe novels. I was a Freddy kid. I actually remember thinking to myself ‘when I grow up I’m going to watch Nightmare on Elm Street all the time.’ If my younger self knew I’d only watched each of these maybe 3 times over the last 15 years, he’d be pretty disappointed.

But I still love this movie. The concept of a bad guy hunting and killing people in their dreams is fantastic. It’s just instantly more interesting right off the bat than almost every other slasher film. And it’s easy to take Freddy for granted but he’s an awesome creation. The hat, the glove, the sweater, the burned face and the way Robert Englund moves and stands are just perfect. I mean, his sunken shoulder still kind of creeps me out. And his run towards Tina in the dark alley with his arms out absolutely still creeps me out.

I like the goofy Freddy of the later movies who is always throwing out one-liners. But I love the darker Freddy of the earlier films best. We don’t really see Freddy in full light in this movie - he’s mostly hiding in the shadows with only hints of his burnt face. That’s the Freddy I remember the most. I still find Freddy in these early movies to be legitimately unnerving.

A lot of the score isn’t very good but I still love the main theme. It sounds eerie to me.

Besides Englund, the performances aren’t the best. Heather Langenkamp is ‘fine’ as Nancy but she’s barely ‘fine.’ Her mother is a total train wreck. John Saxton as the cop/dad is really good though.

It’s kind of strange that there are only three victims in this movie – Tina, Rod and Glen. I guess there are four if you count Nancy’s mum but that whole ending is too confusing to count her for sure. Three is a fairly low body count for these kinds of films. But all three kills are iconic, so who’s complaining?

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