A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

A very special one today…very special. Not only is this film one of my favourite horrors but it is the first post of a Wes Craven film that I’ve posted since his incredibly saddening death. In hindsight, I probably should have posted a tribute to the great director on the day but it will come at the end of this post…I think that still fits well enough. This is his best film after all.

Let’s get started then shall we. A Nightmare On Elm Street is so iconic within movie history that it is impossible for me to tell you anything new about it…but that won’t stop me pouring my admiration of this film out. As far as I’m concerned, it is one of the few ‘perfect’ horrors. There is honestly no fault within this film that I can see. Everything from the sound to the camera to the acting to the effects to the lighting to the direction to the writing is exactly what you’d want from a good horror film…exactly what you’d want.

You know how much of a lover of practical effects I am and ‘ANoES’ is another one of those delightful 80’s films that showcases practical effects at their best and most entertaining. Practical effects within the horror genre make you realise you’re watching a film while still making you feel uneasy and in some cases, scared. This, I think, is one of the most important parts of watching a horror film and becoming a lover of the genre. Being aware that you’re watching a film makes you realise all the elements that have gone in to making that film. Effects are just a small part of that but I think are the easiest to realise. Legendary effects man, Tom Savini talked about this is this documentary…easily one of my favourite documentaries out there hosted by the wonderful Bruce Campbell of ‘The Evil Dead Series‘…Definitely worth checking out!

This awareness allows you to realise what is a good horror film and what isn’t (to an extent) as this genre is quite unlike all others when it comes to judging what is good and bad. It’s why I love the genre so much.

It can be compared to James Bond films (I’m going seeing Spectre this Monday!!) in the sense that horrors are considered to be good if they perform the conventions correctly as well as adding an element or elements of something new. Because we, as a movie-going audience, have such a clear indication of what good horror is, when we see something that follows those conventions whilst also adding something fresh and interesting, we know it to be successful.

That, I think, is the same with Bond films.

A Nightmare on Elm Street helped to shape and perfect conventions of slasher horrors and it is for that reason that it is so well regarded as one of the best, because, simply, it is. It also brought something fresh and interesting to the sub-genre that previous slashers hadn’t…the idea of a killer stalking you in your dreams…perfect.

Moving on to the cast, which is brilliant. Horrors, especially slashers don’t tend to be known for their incredible acting but this is an exception. Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger, a name we’re all familiar with whether we like horror or not, is truly excellent. He doesn’t get much screen time, nor does he get many lines, but he delivers one of the most terrifying, sadistic and darkly funny performances of any horror movie killer…and there has been some great ones as we know. Englund as Freddy will go down in history for decades to come…no one else could play this part this well…it is the perfect slasher killer performance.

Also, as you can see above, this film gave a little known man named Johnny Depp his big screen debut and it’s clear from here that he would go on to be the talent that he has proven he is now…an excellent debut. And of course, what slasher would be complete without a final girl (click here to find out about ‘the final girl’). Heather Langenkamp plays Nancy, the protagonist and plays her exactly how you would want a ‘final girl’ to be played…similarly to Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween.

It shouldn’t really need to be said that you have to watch this one. This post is another one of those where I just express my love rather than tell you about the film because I’m sure you’re all aware of it…go and watch it though, actually no, leave it till Halloween night…it’s only a week away.

Ah Wes, Mr. Craven, the legend, the icon, the great director. Taken from us far too soon at the age of 76 on Aug 30 of this year. It’s strange to think nearly 2 months have passed since that very sad day. Robert Englund said it best above I think. The man, who also appears in the ‘Masters of Horror’ documentary above, was responsible for some of the finest horror cinema out there, from The Last House on the Left (his debut), to The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street of course, as well as the Scream series (a post is upcoming on that one). He was widely regarded as one of, if not the finest director in the genre and will be sorely missed by all who are involved with and love the horror film genre.

Wes Craven’s name became one of the first you thought of when ‘horror director’ was mentioned…and for good reason. Now, 2 months after his death, I want to try and watch as many of his films as I can that I haven’t already seen. I think it’s the only way that I can truly pay my respects to this great, great director. Rest In Peace Wes, the horror world will forever be in mourning.

Next up we move from slasher into body horror of the 1980’s and we will talk about 2 films which really perfected that small sub-genre, both from 1986, one a remake and one, very original story. Can you guess??

Let me know your thoughts on A Nightmare on Elm Street and on Wes Craven as a director in the comments and be sure to check me out on Twitter and Instagram!

The Journey Continues

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