Halloween is a special time. It is the one time of year when everyone gives of themselves. What they give can be anything from candy to a scare. We thought this October, we here at Mania would give you 31 Horror Films for the 31 days of October. Now, many of you will know these films. Some of you, may not. Get ready for 31 days of Horror Films that will run gauntlet from scary to campy, from horrific to down right ridiculous. Happy Halloween from Mania!
Day 29 on our 31 Days of Horror brings us to a true classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) directed by Wes Craven and starring Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, and, of course, Robert Englund.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is the story about young teenagers that all keep having the same person in their dreams. They are all being haunted by this person and the dreams keep getting scarier and scarier. Some even wake up with bruises and scratches. It turns out that their parents, several years ago, caught the local high school janitor, Freddy (played by Robert Englund) who was a child molester and burned him alive. Freddy is back from Hell and now he is taking his revenge on their children in the one place the parents can’t protect them, their dreams.
Now, back in 1984, a horror movie like this was a bit of gamble. Would audiences buy into a guy who kills children in their sleep? Well, the audience bought into it and keeps going back every time they put Freddy in another movie.
Now, it had been years since I had seen the film. I made an effort at my first video store job to watch all of them. A Nightmare on Elm Street was not something that my parents would have taken me to see, nor was it something they would have watched themselves. Yet, I was fascinated and sat and watched 5 of them back to back. They were repetitive and I noticed that I started rooting for Freddy more and more. Why? Well, I knew he was the only one that was going to survive, that’s why. That, and you wanna root for a winner and it seems Freddy always wins.
In watching the film again for the new Blu-ray box set release, I noticed one thing in particular and it really made me appreciate the film so much more. When Wes Craven went and made A Nightmare on Elm Street, the budget must have been very low. The film was gritty, dark, and he used some clever camera tricks. In short, it wasn’t laden with heavy special effects. The film was raw, the story was good, the villain was clever and it was damn scary. This film was dangerous. Now, I know Wes Craven had nothing to do with the sequel. He did do the third Nightmare and the eighth (my favorite). As the sequels went on and the special effects got better, the stories got worse. A Nightmare on Elm Street became a cash cow for New Line and Freddy became their Santa Claus whom they put in everything and anything. This, creatively, cheapened and diminished the original film. They did it with Frankenstein, so why not Freddy? It is a business, I tell myself. They are in it to make money.
So, should you watch A Nightmare on Elm Street for Halloween? Yes, but do this one thing for me: put yourself in place where there is no A Nightmare on Elm Street box set, no Freddy vs. Jason, a place where Wes Craven isn’t the man you know who directed Scream. Just sit there in the dark and watch a good scary movie about a man who has knives for fingers and haunts you in your dreams.