Why A Nightmare on Elm Street is the Perfect Horror Movie
Released in 1984, Wes Craven‘s A Nightmare on Elm Street was hardly the first slasher movie, but it was certainly in a league of its own. Instead of another giant silent stalker, ANOES presented us with a more original villain; the incorrigible Freddy Krueger. Instead of being mute he mocked his victims and their fear. Instead of following them at a slow pace, he popped up in front of them and moved with an inhuman ability. And most frightening of all, he killed you in your dreams.
Freddy Krueger was a child murderer who was killed by the town’s parents to protect their children. Now, years later, he has come back to haunt those children (now frisky teenagers) and kill them in their dreams. Wes Craven took something peaceful and non-threatening and turned it against us. Usually when we watch a scary movie we sit in bed in the dark and try to fall asleep so that we can forget being afraid. But with Freddy, it’s the very sleep itself that we dread.
Fred Krueger (played by Robert Englund), inspired by a homeless man Craven once saw outside his window and named after a childhood bully, is one of the most iconic characters in horror history. His dirty striped sweater, horribly burnt face, and homemade glove of knives can strike instant fear and recognition into people of all ages (There’s even a “slutty” Freddy Krueger Halloween costume bouncing around various party stores every Halloween.). There’s a reason he can’t be killed, he is the supernatural sandman. The bogeyman that haunts you in your sleep.
ANOES doesn’t just have the best horror villain; it has the best horror heroine too. Nancy Thompson (played by the fabulous Heather Langenkamp) is not only likeable but wise behind her years and pretty kick-ass. She automatically thinks something odd is going on when her friends keep dying (instead of just ignoring the facts) and starts investigating right away. After a few sleepless (and terrifying) nights, Nancy starts to piece together what is happening to her and instead of sitting around and crying about it, she takes the initiative to stop Freddy herself. After her idiot boyfriend gets himself killed by Freddy, Nancy goes into her dream and brings him out, even though she’s locked inside her home and no one actually believes her. Then she leads him through a house of booby-traps. Nancy Thompson will always be the bravest, smartest, and most reliable horror heroine and it all started with the original ANOES.
While some horror movies seem stale and tired generations later, ANOES instead stands the test of time. There was no CGI and no crazy tricks that studios could convert to 3D and exploit. Instead we got low-budget special effects that were, and remain to be, surprisingly affective. From Freddy trying to push his way through Nancy’s ceiling to his tongue jutting out from her telephone, to the never-ending bathtub, it was always apparent that there was no escaping Fred Krueger.
A Nightmare on Elm Street revived the slasher genre and added to it originality, humor, and a kick-ass heroine. It spawned a multitude of sequels (some better than others) and a less-than-stellar remake. However many more Freddy movies are made, no one can deny the staying power and overall awesomeness of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street.