It seemed appropriate to watch a horror film on Hallowe’en, and it just happened that A Nightmare on Elm Street was on. Since this is the first Hallowe’en since Wes Craven died, I thought that this was also very appropriate. Having set up his stall firmly in the horror genre with Last House on the Left and The Hills have Eyes (neither of which I’ve seen I must admit) it was this story of sleepy slaughter that really announced Craven to the world.
Now, I’m not going to go into much detail about this seminal horror movie as better writers than me have said a lot more about it. Suffice to say that ANES is furiously inventive, not afraid to pull any punches or disorientate the viewer, and as an aside gives us one of the most memorable villains in movie history.
OK, so there are various bits that seem silly: the rhyme “1, 2 Freddy’s coming for you” has lines that don’t make any sense whether it’s sung in the real world or the dream world; at no point (that I was aware of) does anyone mention Elm Street nor is there an establishing shot of Elm Street. Though really any attempt to pick apart the logic of a plot where a serial killer murders people via their dreams would be churlish.
The cast are all good, generally. Heather Langenkamp is good as heroine Nancy, if occasionally a little hammy; but it is Johnny Depp that steals the show with his lovely flowing locks. John Saxon does well in an underused role as a police lieutenant (Nancy’s Dad), but it would have been great to see more of him.
Sure the special effects look a bit rubbery and daft looking at ANES through 31 year-old glasses, but it doesn’t detract from the quality of the ideas and execution. In fact to paraphrase V: “Beneath this mask there is an idea, and ideas are bulletproof.”. It is these ideas that do for sleep what Blink would do for statues 23 years later. A game-changing genre-defining horror that is still quite sinister despite its age. But, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion man.