31 horror films in 31 days: A Nightmare On Elm Street

Unknown-1   This film holds a special place in my bloody heart for a couple reasons. First, because this is the first horror film that I feel defines my generation. I was 13 years old when it came out, just a touch younger than the characters in the film. I was able to relate more than any other film. Second, we were introduced to a character that would quickly become a horror icon. No one had ever seen the likes of Freddy Kruger. Like Michael Myers, Leatherface, and Jason before him, he has burned such an unforgettable impression not only in pop culture, but in our brains as well.

The film starts with the hands of a man making a homemade glove, complete with knives as fingernails. Elsewhere, a pretty blond teen named Tina has a dream that an unknown man wearing that exact same glove is chasing her, through disgusting allies and a steamy boiler room. The next day, she tells her best friend, Nancy, about this dream, who completely understands because she had a similar dream herself.

Due to these unrelenting scary dreams, Tina invites Nancy and her boyfriend Glen over for a sleepover while her mom is out of town, just to make her feel safe. Later that night, Tina’s delinquent boyfriend Rod crashes the party. After having sex with Rod, Tina falls asleep and dreams of the same horribly deformed man chasing her. She is brutally murdered in real life by an unseen assailant, with Rod witnessing the whole event. Out of fear, Rod quickly runs from the scene. Being the only one in the room when Tina dies, he is naturally accused of the murder and is hunted down.

At the police station, Nancy sits with her mom Marge, and her dad Donald, who also happens to be Lieutenant of the police department.  She desperately tries to tell her parents that there is no way Rod is the killer. Yes, he’s an asshole, but he would never commit such a heinous crime. She tries to tell them about the man who kills people in their sleep, but she is quickly dismissed. The next day in class, Nancy falls asleep, where she is greeted by the corpse of Tina and lead to the basement of her school, where she personally confronts the monster. Realizing she’s only dreaming, she purposely burns her arm on a hot pipe to wake herself up.

Concerned about her daughter’s lack of sleep and mental state, Marge takes Nancy to a sleep institute to have her evaluated. After a violent nightmare, she wakes up and presents a charred hat from under the sheets. She says she grabbed this off of the monster’s head. It’s at this point that Nancy realizes she had the power to bring her dreams into physical reality.

For fear of her safety, Marge puts bars on all the windows of the house and brings Nancy down to the basement. There, she tells Nancy the story of a man named Fred Krueger, a serial killer that killed 20 children, but got away with the crime due to a technicality. She goes on to say that she, with another group of parents, hunted Fred down and burned him alive in vengeance. She presents the glove to Nancy as evidence.  Marge hopes that all this will end Nancy’s worrying, telling her that she can now sleep in peace because Freddy is long dead.

Not completely convinced, Nancy devises a plan with Glen, who lives directly across the street, to fall asleep and bring Freddy back to reality and beat the crap out of him, in hopes to end the whole thing. She’s desperate to prove she’s not crazy, and after 7 days of no sleep, this sounds like the best option.

Um, yea………

The night of this whole big plan, things turn into a complete shit show. Marge decides to lock Nancy into the house, while Glen did exactly what he was told NOT to do and falls asleep, only to be quickly murdered in his own bed by Freddy. As Donald is trying to make sense of the crime scene, Nancy calls him and fills him in on her master plan, and tells him to wake her up in 20 minutes. She was once again going to try to grab Freddy and bring him back to reality. She sets up the house with a series of intricate booby traps, then allows herself to fall asleep.

Nancy is successful at bringing Freddy back to real life, which leads to a game of cat and mouse throughout the house, where she eventually sets him on fire, hoping to kill him. As the house fills with smoke, Donald eventually runs to his daughters’ rescue, where they all find a fiery trail of footprints, leading up to Marge’s bedroom. Together, they watch Freddy murder Marge, as she slowly sinks into the mattress of oblivion.  Eventually, Freddy reemerges from said mattress and attempts to attack Nancy, who denounces all power she ever gave to him. In mid-attack, he quickly disappears into the unknown. Forever.

Or so we think…

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommendation: Again, I have a soft spot for this film because this was the first one I saw in my teen years that really struck a cord. By today’s standards, it might be called cheesy, but if you think back to 1984, it was quite groundbreaking. The visuals were disturbing for the time, the ideal of being terrified in your dreams was original, and the pace of the whole film kept you engaged. The script was well written, and the acting was acceptable. Well, except for Ronee Blakley, who took full advantage of her overacting abilities to the point where you tend to giggle throughout…anyhoo…Oh, and we can’t forget the debut of the beautiful Mr. Depp. He was completely misused in this film, but eh, it’s all good. He provided good eye-candy. We all wished we had a boyfriend that looked like Glen. And finally, all us horror fans fell in love with the disgustingly lovable Robert Englund. He will forever be an icon.

My parents know Robert personally. Find me on facebook or twitter and ask me how.

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