Horror Movie: Nightmare on Elm Street (R; 1984; 91 min.)

Wow…what a blast from the past this was, with hair that defies gravity (on a mom, no less), sweater vests over polyester tan pants, pre-computer teen bedrooms, and kids who wear actual pj’s to bed! Now, growing up on Elm Street, this movie arrived when I was 16 years old to scare the aaaahhhhh! out of me. Especially when watched again later at home on video (VHS, not BETA) with family members – during one intense phone call scene from the killer late in the movie, our phone rang at the exact same moment! Double aaaaahhhhh!

Director Wes Craven’s horror movie status took off with this story about teenager Nancy (played so incredibly badly by Heather Langenkamp it was painful to watch at times…worst fake-crying I’ve ever seen! Her lips and face barely move when she talks too!) and her three friends (another aside: Nancy’s boyfriend Glen is played by the incredibly young, pre-voice change, preppily-dressed Johnny Depp!) who discover they are having the same nightmare each night. Whew! The nightmare features Fred (not Freddy yet) Krueger, an incredibly freaky man with oozing burns covering his face and wearing razor-sharp knife-fingered gloves on his hands. He does sport a stylish red and green-striped sweater though!

Anyway, this charred man, it turns out, is chasing these teens in their dreams, with the ability to slash them up and make them levitate, spin and slide up the walls and ceiling while dangling upside down and squirting blood like a geyser. Oh, and he can pull them into his world through their mattresses! Of course, none of the adults around believe them about this man in their dreams, even as one by one they all are gorily picked off.

Parents: “Gee, what a coincidence that all of our teenagers are dying gruesome deaths and the survivors all claim it was this disfigured man in their nightmares who is doing it, but who is dead already. We know because we killed this child murderer years ago in a horrible, fiery way, so he couldn’t possibly be here now! (He’s dead honey, because Mommy killed him!) Wonder who it could really be?” Teens: “Don’t make me go to sleep, Mom! I’ll stay awake for 7 days, take STA-AWAKE pills, and hide entire coffee makers under my nightstand if you try to make me go to sleep! No wait, I WILL go to sleep and I’ll pull this crazed killer back into the real world with me when I wake up. I’ll set up elaborate traps for him there too, using the convenient razor wire and sledgehammer I found nearby. Then you can bonk him over the head with a bat!” You get the idea…

So, will any of the teens survive to make the 17 sequels? Will Fred become Freddy before N.O.E.S 2? Will the parents quit drinking booze from clear glass bottles they’ve hidden in every room of the house? Watch this classic (best to watch with friends while drinking for some great laughs!) and find out!

  • Top Scare: Boiler room scenes
  • Heartbeats: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 4 out of 5 (lots of scenes are gory, but I can’t handle watching bugs crawl out of people’s mouths!)
  • Suspense Factor: 3 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 17 and up

Next up: Nine Dead


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