Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street

14 Oct

October Horror Month

Where would Halloween be without a film from the Nightmare on Elm Street series and it may as well be the one that started the whole thing going. This film has a story that was genuinely original at the time and still stands up today

Tina (Amanda Wyss) is having a nightmare about being lost in a boiler room and being menaced by a man with deformed face that really freaks her out. She mentions it to her friends Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and Glen (Johnny Depp). She asks Nancy to stay with that night since her mother is staying in Las Vegas with her boyfriend and she doesn’t want to be alone.

At Tina’s Nancy mentions she has nightmares too just to make Tina feel better but they find out they are dreaming about the same guy with the burnt face and knives on his fingers. The hear some noise from outside like claws on metal but it turns out to be Tina’s boyfriend Rod messing around trying to scare them. Rod and Tina go upstairs but Tina asks Greg and Nancy to stay too.

That night Tina dreams that she goes outside she sees the nightmare man with the metal fingers. He chases her and she finds herself back in the boiler room. She tries to get away but the man, who we all know is Freddie Kruger (Robert Englund), catches her. Back in the waking world Rod hears Tina screaming and writhing around. Four parallel slashes appear on her stomach but her assailant is invisible. Tina is forced right up against the wall and across the ceiling before being dropped with a splash into the puddle of blood on the bed and she’s dead. Greg and Nancy manage to break the door in and find Tina’s body but Rod has run away in a panic.

Nancy’s parents want to know why she was there at Tina’s house she tells them about Tina wanting company because she’s been having nightmares about someone trying to kill her. He father Lt Thompson (John Saxon) is a policeman and he thinks Rod killed Tina

Next day Nancy is going to school despite her mother’s concerns and Rod grabs her into the bushes and pleads for her help because he didn’t kill Tina but Nancy’s father appears and the other police swoop in and arrest him.

In school at English class Nancy nods off and in a dream follows Tina’s body in a body bag out into the corridor and down into a boiler room. Freddie is there and he comes chasing after her and has her cornered but Nancy deliberately scalds her arm on a steam pipe and wakes up in class screaming. Her teacher sends her home for the day and once outside she sees the burn she got in the dream is still on her arm in real life meaning these dreams can hurt you. Nancy goes to the police station cells and talks to Rod find out about what he saw in Tina’s room. Rod just saw Tina being attacked and saw the razor marks appearing but he couldn’t see the attacker. Rod had thought he was having a nightmare and it turns out Rod has been dreaming of Freddie too.

Nancy goes home and has a bath and when she nods off we see the razor hand come out the water between her legs but her mother knocks on the door and wakes her up and the hand vanishes. She nods off again and gets dragged down into deep dark pool of water almost drowning her but she wakes up and gets out of the bath and apologises to her mother for frightening her.

Nancy takes caffeine pills and tries to stay awake. Glen comes to her window and he’s sceptical about what she thinks about Freddie harming them in their dreams. She asks him to stay awake and watch for Nancy having a nightmare, she wants to go looking for Freddie in her dream. Once in the dream she checks to see if Glen is still watching which really doesn’t make sense but go with it. She ends up at the police station and looks into the cells and sees Freddie go into Rod’s cell. Then Freddie comes out to get her and she runs back home up the porridgey stairs into her bedroom where Freddie jumps her and they struggle. Then her alarm clock goes off and wakes her up to find Glen is asleep (probably dreaming of being a pirate)

They go to the police station and insist on seeing Rod. Nancy’s father not happy to see her there but Nancy insists Rod is danger so they go to the cells and find Rod is getting strangled by his sheet and is dead by the time they cut him down

After the funeral for Rod she tells her parents about Freddie and they recognise the description but don’t say anything. Nancy is taken to a sleep clinic by her mother. She gets hooked up to electrodes to detect her brainwaves and monitor her when she’s entering REM sleep and her nightmare is beginning. She has a violent screaming fit and the readings go crazy and she wakes with Freddie’s hat in her hand and a cut on her arm.

At home Nancy drinks strong coffee and talks to her mother about the hat. It is proof that man in her dream is called Fred Kruger and he’s real. Her mother tells her Kruger is dead and it is just a dream tells her to go for a sleep. Nancy leaves and goes to talk to Glen who tells her about the dream practices of the Balinese people who turn their backs on monsters in their dreams to destroy them. Glen is worried when he finds out Nancy has got a book about making booby traps.

When Nancy returns home she is furious to discover her mother has put bars on the windows. She takes Nancy down to basement and tells her about Fred Kruger, a child killer who was freed on a technicality so a group of parents burned him alive in the boiler room he hung around in and she has his knife-glove in the boiler.

Nancy calls Glen and warns him to not fall asleep and wants to meet him at midnight so of course Glen falls asleep until his mother wakes him and tells him to go to bed. Glen’s parents see Nancy at her barred window and his father thinks she’s insane and doesn’t want her near Glen any more. Nancy discovers her mother has locked her in and tries ring Glen but his mother answers and his father hangs up on her and leaves the phone off the hook. Nancy’s phone rings and there the squeal of metal claws on metal and in a blind panic she pulls the phone out of the wall. The disconnected phone rings and it’s Freddie and an obscene tongue comes out of the receiver

Glen is fast asleep and just as the TV station is signing off he gets dragged down into his bed with his TV and hi-fi then there’s a huge fountain of blood that comes pouring out of the hole and pooling on the ceiling. Soon police are all over Glen’s house and have no answers for what they find. Nancy calls and tells her father that she’s going to get Fred in her dream and she wants father to come and help her but her father just humours her to get her to go to sleep. Nancy sets up booby traps and sets her alarm.

Nancy goes to sleep and in her dream she goes down to cellar and discovers Freddie’s claws are gone. She goes through a door that takes her down stairs into Freddie’s boiler room and she hunts around for him. Freddie jumps out at her and after a chase she falls into her front garden. She’s nearly out of time when Freddie jumps out of the rose bushes and her alarm goes off and wakes her up

At first she’s alone and thinks she might really be crazy but it worked and Freddie is there and as he chases Nancy he sets off the booby traps and gets a hammer to the gut and explosives blows right next to him. She tries to get her father to come and help her. Then Freddie is up and after her again and they end up in the cellar and Nancy throws a flammable liquid over him and sets him on fire then she escapes the cellar, and shuts him in

Nancy calls for her father and because of the smoke and fire police break in to deal with it. Nancy finds a trail of fiery foot prints going up to her mother’s room. Fred is in flames on top of her mother. Her father rushes in and covers the burning bodies but when he takes the sheet away again only her mother is there and she’s is dead and gets absorbed into the mattress.

Nancy tells her father to go downstairs and wait for her. Once she’s alone Freddie comes up out of the bed. Nancy tells him she wants her friends and mother back and then she turns her back on Freddie. He jumps at her but fades away with a pathetic cry before he reaches her.

Suddenly it’s a bright sunny misty day and Nancy‘s friends are waiting in a car for her. Nancy says goodbye to her mother and she gets in the car. The sun roof comes over and it has the same green red stripe from Freddie’s jumper. Then the windows and doors lock and the car speeds off out of control. Then Freddie’s hand comes out of the window and drags Nancy’s mother through it.

This is a deserved classic and I loved it from the first time I saw it. I always wondered  why it gets called a slasher film and gets lumped in with those because there is definitely a supernatural element to these films that is often absent from slasher films. I know that Freddie Kruger became a pop culture phenomenon and camp humour became more evident in the sequels but this first film had only touches of humour and is a much better film for it

Rating 9.0/10

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Posted by on October 14, 2012 in Entertainment, Film


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