Splatter Time Fun Fest 2010/80s US Bracket: A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

The second film in my first match-up in the second round of the 80’s US Bracket is also the first entry in Splatter Time Fun Fest 2010!

Written By: Wes Craven
Directed By: Wes Craven

I should hate A Nightmare On Elm Street, I should hate it with a passion. You see, this is the film that introduced me to Wes Craven and it’s the film that introduced Wes Craven to more than just a horror niche audience. I don’t know if there’s a more overrated horror director in the history of the genre than Craven. Outside of A Nightmare On Elm Street, New Nightmare, and maybe the Scream series depending on where you fall on that franchise, he has released nothing but a never-ending stream of shitty horror films. At least most honest horror fans recognize that someone like Eli Roth is a no talent hack, but Craven is recognized as talented and is considered a go to guy as far as horror is concerned. It’s maddening to hear, read about, and see the reputation that Craven has built for himself within the horror community, all based on the backbone of one film and one film alone. But, I can’t hate A Nightmare On Elm Street, I just can’t, it’s too god damn good to hate.

The topic of dreams in film has been a hot button topic in 2010. It’s not an idea that is new to film, nor was it new to film in 1984, but with the release of such major productions as Shutter Island and Inception it has been at the front of most film aficionados minds. I ask all those people who are praising such pedestrian fare as Inception, and to a much lesser extent Shutter Island, to take a way back machine to 1984 and give A Nightmare On Elm Street another watch. This isn’t your typical horror film, it goes so far away from horror that at times I don’t believe it can be classified as a horror film. A Nightmare on Elm Street has slasher elements, it has standard horror elements, but it also has supernatural elements. That last part is what allows A Nightmare On Elm Street to become a unique experience, this isn’t a film concerned with what you know about horror or the world around you. A Nightmare On Elm Street is a film concerned with where dreams begin and end, and where oh where does reality fit into that equation?

Think about it for a second, where does A Nightmare On Elm Street really end? Does it end when Nancy wakes up or does it end when her mom is pulled through the front door by Freddy? I can’t answer that, I can offer up some theories sure, but Craven creates a dream world that is undefinable, and to borrow from my friend James’ review over at his blog, Cinema Sights, a film that is undefinable. You don’t know where the dreams end and reality begins, where reality ends and the dreams begin. Maybe Freddy is confined to the dream world, or maybe Nancy can pull him out of it. I can’t answer any of the questions I have asked in any definitive fashion, and that is a great thing to be able to say. Most horror films nowadays are concerned with fitting into neatly confined boxes that define the genre. A Nightmare On Elm Street only wants to ask questions of its viewer and what its viewer expects from its horror. If you want to think then A Nightmare On Elm Street is the film for you. If you are looking for nothing but severed limbs and eyeballs being pulled out of their sockets then go watch Hostel, I won’t stop you.

A Nightmare On Elm Street isn’t without its faults. Some of the dialogue is a bit off, it’s never terrible, but there are more than a few lines that have a very 80’s feel to them. There are also some dicey acting provided in some spots, mainly from the mother. But, on the whole A Nightmare On Elm Street is a well put together film, and a surprisingly thoughtful film to boot. It even hits its marks with its music, and that is often where most modern horror films can step too far into overbearing territory.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Wes Craven may have had a less than stellar career, but don’t let that sideline you from enjoying A Nightmare On Elm Street. I may not be able to define it for you, but do you really need your movies defined for you? If you want to see a slasher then give A Nightmare On Elm Street a chance. If you’re looking for a standard horror film then pop in A Nightmare On Elm Street. If you want something that offers a bit of the supernatural, you can’t go wrong with A Nightmare On Elm Street. If you’re looking for a good movie that deals with the subject of dreams, don’t bother going to the theater, instead pop in a DVD of A Nightmare On Elm Street, that’s what I would do.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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6 responses to “Splatter Time Fun Fest 2010/80s US Bracket: A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

  1. ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ is trippy little film, one that I enjoyed thoroughly. I think its horror genre characteristics outweigh any other non-horror qualities it possesses, hence placing it firmly within the horror genre for me.

    You’re on to something when you mention that its supernatural elements differ the movie from what we might expect and know from horror films. Its supernatural elements give it an edge, a harder character and a quality of unpredictability which a lot of horror films lack.

  2. Wow! What a memory! I can’t even remember the first time I saw this movie but I know I never forgot it. This is classic camp-style horror with no apologies and in your face cinema style. You know the good films by the fact people still talk about them almost 30 years later!!

    Drop by my site, new review up of As Good As It Gets (a bit of a stretch from your horror flicks, eh?)

    cheers!
    rory
    Above the line: Practical Movie Reviews

  3. Maybe you’re right about Craven, but this film and Scream are not only two of my favorite horror films but also two of my favorite films of all time.

    I think there’s a level of cinematic imagery and visual creativity in A Nightmare on Elm Street that one doesn’t see in most horror films. That’s what appealed to me so much and why I’ve gone back to the film time and time again.

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  6. Edgar – Agree with everything you’re saying, thanks for the contribution. 🙂

    Rory – Hmmm, there is some camp in Nightmare but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a campy style horror film. It’s pretty darn serious, and that’s part of the fun I think.

    James – I recently went back to Scream and it didn’t work as much for me this time. Still, Craven did give me this one and New Nightmare, so there are still those gems in his catalog.

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