I’ve loved Nightmare on Elm Street as a child and continued to love it into my adulthood. There are so many things that I find lovable about this film but I’ll begin with my appreciation of Freddy Krueger himself.
Robert Englund does an outstanding job playing the role of Freddy Krueger. He’s one of the most unique horror villains to appear on cinema, from his mannerisms to the gruff pitch in his voice there isn’t a thing I would change. Freddy Krueger is the type of predator who likes to play with his prey. He’ll whisper your name into the night, drawing you out into the darkness and just when you think no one is there, he appears, scraping his claws against a rusty old pipe. I think one of the most impressive things about Freddy is his sense of humour. He’s hilarious and terrifying all at the same time. I think we remember the moment in the film where he says, “I’m your boyfriend now, Nancy.” And a gigantic tongue makes it’s way towards her mouth. The depth of his character never seizes to amaze me. I can’t think of a single horror icon that could pull that off.
As entertaining as he may be, Kruger does not fall short in the scary department. There are three cringe-worthy scenes that really stood out to me; The first one is Tina’s nightmare. The suspense in this scene is paralyzing. Freddy lures Tina outside by throwing rocks at her window and whispering her name into the night. Romantic, right? Far from it. Tina continues out to the alley where she sees Freddy’s shadow appear. She’s stunned and unable to move. Freddy moves in closer with outstretched arms, scraping them as he walks. He chases her into her backyard, where he makes her watch him cut off his fingers. He laughs as blood squirts from his finger stumps.
Tina runs towards the house, Kruger is close behind. We cut back to reality and see Tina squirming in her sleep. Ron jumps up, pulling the blanket back and Tina’s shirt rips open, four deep slashes appear down her chest. We see Tina being dragged up the walls and onto the ceiling. Behind her screams are Freddy’s horrifying groans. If that doesn’t raise the hair on your arms then I don’t know what will.
The second most noteworthy scene is Nancy falling asleep in the bathtub. Now, this scene was something that was well thought out. Nancy drifts off while taking a bath. In her nightmare, a hole appears at the bottom of the bathtub and she falls in. She fights to swim above the hole. We see Freddy’s claw illuminated in the light reaching up towards Nancy. I feel like this scene was different from the typical cat and mouse game Freddy usually plays with his victims. This particular nightmare played on a psychological fear that is very common in people. The fear of deep water. Annnnd dum-da-da-dummm!
Last but not least, the most famous scene: Glen’s Death. After multiple warnings from Nancy, (“Whatever you do… DON’T FALL ASLEEP.”) Glen goes ahead and falls asleep. Shocker! Freddy’s hand rises up and pulls Glen and his television into the bed. He struggles to stay up but he’s no feat for Freddy. Seconds pass and we hear something brewing. It’s a blood bath. Hoards of blood shoot out from the hole in the bed, creating a red ocean on Glen’s ceiling. His mother screams in terror at the sight. Don’t fall asleep watching T.V., kids.
Deciphering dreams from reality doesn’t always translate well on screen. Wes Craven seems to be a professional at it. If the music isn’t enough of a hint, the art department gives it away. There’s always something that’s a bit off in his dream sequences. In the scene where Nancy falls asleep in class, she follows Tina (who is in a body bag, might I add) down the hallway. Everything looks good and normal until we see a pile of leaves blowing in the wind right in the middle of the hall. In another scene, Nancy tries to find Freddy in her dream. She walks through an old rotted shed and on the other side is the police station. I thought these were realistic ways to approach dream sequences because things don’t always make sense in our dreams. We’re always floating instead of walking or looking at someone and not actually seeing their face. Well done, Mr.Craven!
There are so many other things worth mentioning about this movie, I could fill a book. Writing this article has been one of the most difficult things I’ve had to write in awhile. Putting into words why you love something is never as easy as it seems, however I can without a doubt say that Wes Craven has genuinely created one of the most amazing horror movies out there. In the end, everything comes together with the acting, the soundtrack, the art direction and the lighting. If you haven’t seen it, I hope this give you an incentive to and if you have seen it, I hope I’ve shone a different light on it for you and you can appreciate it in a different way.