31. A Nightmare on Elm Street

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Movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Release Date: November 9, 1984

Director: Wes Craven

Starring: John Saxon, Ronee Blakely, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund.

Tag Lines: “She is the only one who can stop it… if she fails, no one survives.”

“If Nancy doesn’t wake up screaming she won’t wake up at all.”

“The kids of Elm Street don’t know it yet, but something is coming to get them in their dreams.”

“1,2 Freddy’s Coming For You!”

“From Suspense Master Wes Craven, the director of The Hills Have Eyes and The Last House On The Left, comes a new film of fantasy terror.”

“Watch This!”

“You Won’t Be Sleeping Alone.”

“There’s something out there..Don’t Fall Asleep!”

“Welcome to your nightmare.”

“Midnight, Baseball Bats and Boogeyman.”

“Come to Freddy.”

“What’s In A Dream Anyway?”

“Dream A Little Nightmare Of Me.”

“Meet The Glove.”

“It’s Like Something From A Nightmare.”

“Sleep Kills”

“A scream that wakes you up, might be your own…Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep…or you’ll meet the terrifying Freddy.”

Relevance: I have already mentioned my love for Wes Craven on this blog (see 37. Scream), but now I get to write about how I was first introduced to the master of suspense. Ironically, it was not through today’s movie. Sometime in 1982 or 1983 a small little movie called ‘Swamp Thing’ was playing incessantly on HBO and my family loved it. I mean loved it. So much so that it came very close to making my list of most influential movies of all time. Despite it not being represented on this blog, it was a movie that was watched over and over and over again by not just me but my entire family, even my mother. Not usually a fan of that type of movie, there was something about it, probably the love story, that made her watch it just as much as I did. At the time I didn’t know who the director, Wes Craven, was but I would find out with his next film, a movie my mother most definitely did not watch.

‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ was released in theaters in early November of 1984. It was receiving decent reviews, something that a horror movie was not used to getting back in the day. It has since been deemed one of the greatest horror films ever made. It was successful in the box office as well, grossing close to $58 million worldwide, more than twenty-eight times its budget. It put New Line Cinema on the map making it a very popular and sought after movie company later known as “The house that Freddy built.”

In the Fall of 1984 I was thirteen years old and starting up my last year of grade school. I loved horror movies and I remember seeing the trailer to ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and I knew I had to see it. However, it had an R-rating and my chances were slim to none that I would be able to get an adult to take me to see it. It was a lot tougher to get into movies back then if you were under the age limit. I thought I was going to have to wait until it was released to home media or HBO like I usually did with other R-rated movies. Thankfully there were a few friends in my class that wanted to see the movie as much as I did. One of the girls happened to be really tall and looked a lot older than thirteen. So one weekend the tall girl, me and two other friends went to the theater to try to get in to see Freddy.

It worked. The three of us huddled off to the side while the tall girl went to handle the ticket transaction. We were all more than pleased when she walked over to us with four tickets in her hand. I was thrilled that not only was I going to my first R-rated movie in the theater, but that it was a horror movie. Our next stop before grabbing our seats was a stop at the concession stand. Popcorn was something that I would get at the movie from time to time, but Jujubes were my candy of choice and one that I got every time. So with a soda and a box of my favorite candy, we went in to see Freddy Krueger.

The theater was pretty empty and the four of us sat somewhere in the middle, me in the aisle seat with tall girl next to me and my other friends on the other side of her. Once the lights went out, I was riveted. I loved everything about the movie, the scares, the story and especially the villain. Everything was there to fulfill all of my horror dreams. I was literally on the edge of my seat. Somewhere near the climax of the film, I felt four sharp claw like movements across the back of my neck. I jumped, screamed and what was left of my Jujubes went flying throughout the theater. The tall girl apparently had been planning the attack with her long fingernails through most of the movie to see if I would get scared. It worked. Despite me not having the rest of my candy and being a little annoyed with the tall girl, I enjoyed the rest of the movie.

‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ became my favorite movie of that year. When it was released as a rental, I did just that. When it played on HBO, I watched it over and over again just like ‘Swamp Thing.’ It also became one of our “recorded on a blank VHS” movies in our collection. I watched it all of the time. I absolutely loved Freddy Krueger and was excited every time a new movie was released.

I did not see the second film in theaters, but watched it many times on HBO. I enjoyed it but was not overly enthusiastic about it like I was the original. However, I did see the third movie, ‘Dream Warriors’ in theaters and my enthusiasm for the franchise skyrocketed again. I loved everything about it and it became one of my favorite movies of 1987. (It almost made this list right along with ‘Swamp Thing’). As the sequels were released fast and furious over those years, I was sure to try and catch them either on HBO or through rental. The only other ‘Nightmare’ movie I saw in theaters was 1991’s ‘Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare’ mostly for the 3-D glasses. Some of the films were good, others not so much, but regardless, Freddy was king. I even watched the late 1980’s television series ‘Freddy’s Nightmares.’ I was a regular Freddy Krueger groupie.

‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ remained one of my favorite horror movies of all time. It not only had become a huge money making franchise, but Freddy became a pop culture phenomenon. To this day, everyone, even young adults my son’s age, knows Freddy. I was not very pleased with the 2010 remake that came out of Hollywood, but at least it got the world excited about this great character again. (I did however enjoy 2003’s ‘Freddy vs Jason.’) Thanks to Wes Craven and Robert Englund, the actor who has portrayed Freddy the most (and by far the best), the character is an unforgettable character in the horror genre, one that equally makes us laugh as well as toss our Jujubes.

Today’s Thoughts: “Whatever you do… don’t fall asleep.”

Last week I had watched an almost four hour documentary on “A Nightmare on Elm Street’ franchise entitled ‘Never Sleep Again.’ It made me love the series even more that I already had and made me super excited to re-watch the one that started it all today. I own the box set with all of the movies and watch them periodically but I was super excited to sit down again and have breakfast with Freddy Krueger.

‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ still remains a fun, spooky horror film despite it being almost forty years old. Sure, some of the effects are a bit dated, but the story and scares are still intact. I love how as the movie progresses it becomes more and more surreal and the viewer is not sure what is a dream and what is reality. I have always loved mind-fuck movies like this one but having Freddy Krueger in it makes it far superior than any other. He is such a kick ass character and played so beautifully by Mr. Englund. Sequel after sequel, Freddy got more and more comical than scary, so watching the original today made me remember just how terrifying he really was.

Wes Craven really was a fantastic director that knew how to shock, scare and entertain people of all generations. His films may not all be iconic like ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ or ‘Scream,’ but he has had my attention for most of my life. I love this film and every memory that is associated with it and I am sure that I will be watching Freddy wreak havoc for many more years to come.

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, Amazon Prime, iTunes, DVD Availability.

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