Matt’s Walk Down Elm Street #1

Written By: Matt Parks
August 25, 2017

The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise is a cultural staple as far as horror movies go.  The original is a horror masterpiece that successfully combines humor with horror without becoming a meta self-parody in the same line of Wes Craven’s later masterwork, Scream. Freddy Krueger is a horror icon who will never cease to be the go to costume for edgy teens and easy girls at every Halloween party.   As with any box office smashing horror film, however, the original spawned a line of less scary and more bogus sequels, spanning seven films.

To earn my ticket on the Hardcore Henderson Express, I was tasked to watch all of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, and give my two cents on them. This task included movies one through eight, excluding the 2010 remake… to my delight. Although they aren’t at all close in quality to the original, I will say that every remake brings something refreshing, new, interesting, and fun to the table.  There will never be a Nightmare on Elm Street movie that will ever achieve the greatness that the original was able to accomplish, but each film is worth watching if you consider yourself a horror fan of any sort. 

Welcome to Matt’s Hall of the Macabre, this is “Matt’s Walk Down Elm Street”.
The original Nightmare on Elm Street is arguably Wes Craven’s magnum opus. Along with being an introduction to Johnny Depp who would become one a cultural phenomenon in his own right, the film introduced Freddy Krueger, a wise cracking, flesh tearing entity of pure vengeance and rage.  The film grossed over twenty-five million dollars at the box office, terrifying audiences across the country.  Along with Friday the 13th, and John Carpenter’s Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street would come to be a part of what I consider the Trinity of Slasher Movies.

 It gave us an early taste of Wes Craven’s self-aware style, without becoming an outright comedy. The character’s sense of humor is perfectly balanced without becoming a character of comic relief.  His one liners and raunchy humor make us laugh uncomfortably to shake away the feeling of our skin crawling.  What Freddy sees as humorous is the sense of humor of the child killer he was while he was alive. Instead of making every line a punchline, Craven uses Freddy’s sense of humor to shake you to the core. One of Freddy’s “jokes” is when Nancy gets a call from her boyfriend after Freddy turns him into a volcano of blood, and Freddy says “Nancy, I’m your boyfriend now” and proceeds to shove his tongue down Nancy’s throat through the phone line… clean up on row three in the theatre showing “A Nightmare on Elm Street”.

Wes Craven was no stranger to gore during the making of A Nightmare on Elm Street, and it shows with the contorted body horror that Freddy uses to scare his victims before disposing of them. Freddy slices open parts of his body just to scare the teenagers, and the effects used are repulsive.  You’ll never forget the yellow ooze that Freddy bleeds, or his hyper extended arms in the alley way.  His ability to control dreams, and distort his appearance is a key to his character that makes him all the more unsettling.

The movie does an amazing job keeping you at the edge of your seat by shattering the line between the dream world, and reality without becoming a convoluted mess. If a dream sequence is ever initially left open ended, the movie shows later exactly when they’d fallen asleep.  It confuses you just enough to creep you out, but provides a logical resolution and explanation later without leaving you questioning any dream-world related plot holes.  Wes Craven brilliantly balances the two worlds of the movie for maximum scares.

The movie functions brilliantly as both a slasher and psychological thriller, and will always be on a pedestal as a horror classic.  It’s eerie, gory, downright unsettling, and will most definitely have you drinking coffee past your bedtime.  My personal score of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street is an 9 out of 10.