Sunday, October 09, 2005

31 Days of Des' Horror Favourites: #23 A Nightmare on Elm Street

Why I like it: Granted, this is a bit of a softcore Wes Craven film that resulted in a score of really bad sequels. And I have been complaining about softcore Wes Craven for a while but this one is too original to overlook.

During a time when the industry (horror film industry that is) was being saturated with slashers, this introduced, well, a different kind of slasher.

It starts out as a great revenge drama: Freddy Krueger, a child molester/murderer who has been attacking the children of Elm Street for a while, has been discovered by the parents of his victims before the police. In a mob scene much like the Universal Frankenstein film he is surrounded in a shed and is burned alive by the enraged parents. All is well on Elm Street for a long time until Freddy has found his way into the dreams of the children of Elm Street. He is the legend that hasn’t died.

It is the idea of this movie that makes it so good. Freddy is the boogeyman made flesh and then made legend. The revenge drama is twisted so that it is Freddy who now gets revenge on the citizens of Elm Street for what they’ve done to him.

Robert Englund plays the supernatural psychopath beautifully and takes part in all manners of terrible and over-the-top deaths. It quickly slides, however, into a game of “how to kill the bad guy” and this is where the sequels have become terribly ineffectual. They simply rehash the same old garbage. The only attempt at something new was that awful Dream Warriors garbage that comes up in the third film.

What’s best about the first one is that Freddy hardly has any screen time at all, especially in the first half of the film. This makes him more believable as the mysterious legendary killer until they pull the veil back completely.

The cast is rounded out by Heather Langenkamp (who plays Nancy, the girl no one believes) and Johnny Depp (in his first role ever!).

Check these out:
-Candyman-Another “imaginary” killer idea but this time done right.
-Wishmaster-Robert Englund again plays an “imaginary” killer but this time he’s an evil genie. There’s a whole slew of them but please only watch the first. Even so, do it without my blessing.
-Urban Legends-Englund plays the Professor lecturing on Urban Legends in a fun film.
-New Nightmare-the only sequel worth any salt. It has the Freddy myth come to life in the real world where Englund plays himself and Krueger. Heather Langenkamp returns playing herself as well.
-Tonya and Nancy: The Inside Story-The most horrifying film of all! Langenkamp returns to play a different Nancy: Nancy Kerrigan! Worth it for the TV movie experience alone.

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