A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Director: Wes Craven (1984)
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Johnny Depp, The John Saxon
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Gary Glitter take note. Sometimes, screaming hate mob Daily Mail justice can do wonders for your career. From the twisted mind of Wes Craven comes his Nightmare on Elm Street, an asparational film for paedophiles. Fred Kreuger (Englund) was but a mild kiddy-fiddler; fond of murdering children every now and then, but nothing special. One night, mob justice comes-a-callin' and soon Fred is sipping molotov cocktails, courtesy of Sheriff Thompson (The John Saxon). Being a little more ambitious than your average pervo, Kreuger resurrects himself as a Dream Demon, and begins stalking his victims as they sleep. And so a bona fide horror icon is born.

Wes Craven’s original Nightmare on Elm Street is about as classic as you can get; up there with such genre might as Halloween, Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (I actually prefer it to Halloween). Indeeds, they actually showed it as part of a film module on my university course. Many sequels and a VS movie later, Freddy Kreuger is as much a horror giant as the likes of Frankenstein, Dracula and Jekyll/Hyde. Not bad for a scabby paedo in a dodgy Christmas jumper.

Reviewing such classics are always hard, since so much of it has been said before. The central idea is an incredible one; a universal fear of the boogeyman that stalks one's dreams. It's well acted, well written and directed by one of the genre's masters. It has Johnny Depp dying one of slasherdom's best deaths (second only to the same movie's first kill). It has the John Saxon. It's full of iconic moments - the glove in the bathtub. The girl being dragged across the ceiling. The face emerging from the wall. Hell, it spawned Freddy vs Jason; this fanboy's wettest of wet dreams. I don't want to live in a world in which Freddy vs Jason never existed.

Sure, it hasn't aged as well as some (the scene with Freddy's elongated arms ain't looking too sharp these days) and Langenkamp isn't quite as likeable or fun as her co-stars, but it manages to capture that universal fear matched only by the very best horrors out there. And it has Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger - arguably the finest boogeyman of the 20th Century.

I’m looking forward to the remake, but there’s no way that it can possibly match its predecessor. I’m sure Jackie Rorschach Haley will make a great Freddy Krueger – and Lordy knows, the character needs returning to his scary roots – but no-one can possibly do it quite like Craven and Englund. Freddy would return a multitude of times after his first Nightmare (and then some), but for a blast of sheer scary unadulterated slasher goodness in its purest form - that first Nightmare is always the scariest.

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