Quite possibly one the most influential and iconic entries into the horror genre is the Nightmare on Elm St. series. Who started out as a psychotic child murderer, Freddy Krueger is now a marketable villain, and appears on lunch boxes and coffee mugs. Undoubtedly, these films have gained tremendous allegiance and respect from fans over the years and now with a reboot and ninth entry into the franchise only a few days away, let's take a look at the good and bad of A Nightmare on Elm St.
A Nightmare on Elm St. (1984)
Courtesy of New Line Cinema
Director Wes Craven took his success from previous gems such as, "Last House on the Left" and "The Hills Have Eyes" and produced this classic first entry on a shoestring budget. With no studios interested in the film, Craven found small and practically destitute film company, New Line Cinema, to take on the project. Of course, the film was a huge success and New Line often cites themselves as "the house that Freddy built".
The plot is simple enough and has become pretty standard for the series; a group of teenagers suddenly find themselves having terrible dreams that involve a pizza-faced guy in a dirty red and green sweater and an old Fedora hat. Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) is the heroine in this film and the audience is treated to an accurate portrayal of a typical high schooler as she struggles to maintain the necessary strength as her friends are slowly killed off by Freddy.
Not much can be said about the original Nightmare, other than it is simply brilliant. The film has often been referred to as a John Hughes-like horror movie because of the strong character development and the precise representation of the teenage plight. Of course, this film and the subsequent sequels would be nothing without Robert Englund's terrifying and superb performance as Freddy.
5 / 5 "Kills"
A Nightmare on Elm St. 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
Courtesy of New Line Cinema
With the immense success of the first film, it only inevitable that the fine folks at New Line would want to milk such good fortune dry with a sequel. This follow-up was released a mere year later without any attachment to Craven. The good director's absence could have something to do with the fact that this entry is often cited as the worst of the series. This seems like quite the feat to accomplish, considering how many of the sequels were pretty terrible.
This time around, the plot involves Jesse, whose family has just moved into 1428 Elm Street, Nancy's old house. Well, poor Jesse barely has time to unpack his briefs or rad sunglasses before the nightmares begin. Apparently Freddy has had it with the dream world because his new plan is to possess Jesse's body and enter the real world. This strategy of course gets Jesse's new friends into a heap of trouble, as he is now manipulated by Freddy to kill them off.
Nightmare 2 is bad, but surely not the worst of the series. For one thing, Freddy appears to much darker and more sinister than even in the first film, which can refreshing considering how he has become quite the jokester in recent sequels. One of the best and most classic scenes is when Freddy runs through a pool party, slashing guests and claims that "you are all my children now". The effects are decent for the time but nothing completely spectacular. Also, the acting is terrible, then again, so are most pre-90s horror films.
One thing that should be mentioned is the accusation of overt homoerotic overtones. This alleged implication is not just one-sided either because the film has even won awards and been celebrated by gay and lesbian organizations. Many of gay connotations involve Jesse getting in touch with his feminine side and his rather close relationship with his pal, Ron. Of course, one cannot ignore the scene, in which Jesse bumps into Coach Schneider at a gay bar and then Schneider proceeds to force Jesse to run laps, shirtless, for his own amusement.
All in all, it's not a bad entry. It's tolerable and mildly entertaining. The film was shot on a budget of only $3 million and went on to earn $30 million domestically. Because of the small budget, the film was considered to be successful, which prompted the studio to rush out a second sequel.
2 / 5 "Kills"
Check out part 3!