A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984/ 2006)

National Cinemedia 2 Night Re-Release Showing (September 20 & 21, 2006)
(Premiere Date: November 09, 1984)
(Release Date: November 16, 1984)

Three Stars for the Four Razors!Three Stars for the Four Razors!Three Stars for the Four Razors!

The Original... One Last Time... for your Nightmares!

should clip his nails!!!
J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

Back in the Sixth Grade my school had a lock-in in the gym that featured dancing, food, singing competitions and a number of those AV Club TV and VCR Wheel Stands strewn about the place playing a plethora of all-night questionably age-appropriate horror flicks, including a popular horror flick called A Nightmare on Elm Street (and its first sequel). If that sounds to be in poor taste for sixth graders, let me tell you that my Fourth Grade Gateway Lock-in was my first full-length viewing of Psycho, so punch, singing girls and disfigured slashers with knives for fingers wasn't that big of a deal! Let me tell you, I was an instant fan... I can't remember ever seeing anything more thrilling ever. Oh, I don't mean the movie, I meant this one chick from the sixth grade named Kristin who did this Madonna song, dressed like her. It was "Dress you up in My Love" and I had just hit PUBERTY... OOH! Oh, man! I was one dizzy eleven year old for WEEKS!


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He's more than a SHADOW of his FORMER SELF!

I'm BACK! Shave me!

No, not really. Okay, yeah, that's true, but my point is that I became a big Freddy Krueger fan.

In the following years I've seen the film that made Wes Craven a huge star director about one hundred thousand times, as well as all its various sequels (of varying quality). In the coming years, while the concepts are still dead on brilliantly original, A Nightmare on Elm Street has shown its flaws in various ways. After all, up until the time of Nightmare's release, Wes Craven was directing B-Movies. Some considered classics now, but B-Movies nonetheless. Regardless, when I heard that the original and untouched edition of A Nightmare on Elm Street was being released on the big screen for a two-day engagement (essentially an advertisement for the new Infinifilm DVD Release), I JUMPED at the chance, bought my tickets in advance and dragged my family to the theatre early to stand in a long, long line.

It was a line that never came. Perhaps other viewers knew what I didn't. This "Big Screen Entertainment Production" was presented by National Cinemedia, the company that puts on special engagement showings of music concerts. Shockingly, especially for a company famous for music presentation, the sound quality in the theatre was worse than the skin condition of the movie's main character. Dudes and chicks, it sounded like someone had placed a walkie-talkie behind the screen, and held the other one up to a speaker somewhere else in the building. This isn't "Miss Nude America", we care what they say!

Somehow the experience wasn't so bad. For once, the audience was respectful, jumping at the right moments, laughing at the right moments, jawing a lot less than usual. More importantly, there's something great about seeing A Nightmare on Elm Street on the big screen for the first time. The hidden imagery and in-jokes that old Wessy-poo threw in are as huge as lame self-referencing editorials on this website.

After seven sequels and a TV Show most of which watered-down the themes to the point of self-parody, it's easy to forget just how Scary Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund, of course) really was in his initial incarnation. The sweater only your grandmother would love. The Inbanana Jones hat. The darkened visage, not yet over-lit, allowing such a killer reveal of a horribly burned face (like my sixth grade Social Studies teacher, since we're kind of on the subject). Most of all, let's not forget the horror-equivalent of the Light Saber, namely, the "Freddy Claws", a glove with razors tipping each fingertip.

But it's Freddy's supernatural aspects that really help the film live up to its title. The kids on Elm Street, Springwood, USA are having bad dreams... and not just because of Reaganomics. Young Hottie Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss) is tormented by a recurring nightmare of a disfigured dude in need of a Manicure chasing her around a boiler room that makes the trash compactor from Star Wars look like a Suite on the French Riviera. The truly scary thing is that when she wakes up, she finds four razor slashes in her nightgown. Lucky for Tina, her friend Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) comes by for a supportive sleep-over (which I, frankly, might have directed differently). Luckier for both of them, Nancy's boyfriend Glen Lantz also shows up ("lucky", because he's played by Johnny Depp in his first screen role). Lucky (only for Tina), her own estranged horn-dog, appropriately named Rod Lane (Jsu Garcia, credited as Nick Corri), shows up for a... Uh... Okay, I guess my humorous Sexual Euphemism mechanism must be on the fritz. They get it on, okay? No, that's not suave or classy, or even funny, but damn, every comic critic has an off-day once in a blue ball! LEEMEALOAN!


Anyway, back to my point... UNluckily for them all, each of them has been having the same nightmare about the aforementioned, self-mutilating Dream Demon!

In the first of a bizarre series of Murders, Tina is slashed open and smeared across the wall and ceiling, but not before one of the scariest chase sequence since Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in Top Gun. Positively chilling. The town is thrown into turmoil, and Police Lt. Donald Thompson (John Saxon) has his hands fuller than a flaming knife juggler, especially seeing as how one of the potential victims is his own daughter, Nancy.

As the plot progresses, Nancy's stories get crazier, her Mother (Ronee Blakley's Marge Thompson) gets drunker, and the neighborhood kids get deader and deader. Naturally, Nancy's crazy, right? Or could the parents in town know a secret about "Fred Krueger" that could hold the key to this whole nasty business? Does it matter, though? How can Nancy possibly defeat a killer who only appears in her dreams, especially because what happens to the dreamer in the wildest REMs, happens in real life.

A Nightmare on Elm Street started a new and influential angle on the supernatural subgenre of slasher horror flicks. Wes Craven, born to a devout protestant Christian family, the holder of at least two college degrees and a former teacher, sure has an amazing knack for thinking up various and brutal ways to kill people. The special effects (especially for the time) were great for the subject matter. However, what could have been yet another "Boogeyman" feature was amplified by the inventive nature of Craven's Kills (Johnny Depp's bed alone... I mean... DAMN!). The cultural significance of this film is hard to question in addition to all this. Freddy stands up with the best of the Movie Nasties out there from Jason to Leatherface to Michael to Tom to Chucky.

However, let's remember that this films successes were, to some extent at least, a suprise. At times, Langenkamp, who isn't a bad actress, really, has some dialogue flubs and vocal freeze-ups that are worth cringing over today. Unfortunately, she's not alone. Only Depp delivers a purely even performance, feathered hair and all! It'd've been hilarious if the Infinifilm Infinifolks had re-dubbed him in a Jack Sparrow voice, right? No? Moving on.

To an extent the flaws are magnified when thrown onto the big screen, but to another extent, the overall vision of Craven is seen in much greater glory. If the opportunity presents itself, see it on the huge screen and just look in the background for a few things. A mask on Nancy's wall resembles Alice Cooper's "Welcome to my Nightmare" face. A Jason-esque hockey mask can be seen in Tina's room, while Nancy is sleeping (and Tina's gettin' some). Nancy even checks out a few minutes of Raimi's The Evil Dead, complete with an appearance from Bruce Campbell. Yeah, because that will help with your nightmares!

A bonus of the big screen is the fact that the audience is there for the energy, especially the comic aspects of this film. Sure, some of this is unintentional, but it's easy to miss some of the funny moments in a home video solo viewing session. Freddy, though not as goofy as he eventually becomes, can be quite funny here. Further, Nancy's mom seems to have a virtually unlimited supply of Vodka bottles that she can pull out of the netherworld at a second's notice. Watch her, kids. She's like Rom: Spaceknight with his guns. She can reach anywhere and pull out a vodka bottle. That is one handy magic trick. Then there's the omnipresent smoking. Nancy's bed in the sleep clinic catches fire, her hair goes gray and the room is filled with smoke. But I'm sure that had nothing to do with the Doctor's Chainsmoking!

A special mention should be given to the character interpretation of Freddy performed by Robert Englund. Primarily known at that time as "That Geeky Visitor from V", Englund's villain is striking and frightening, taking advantage of the darkness and the Craven-created mood to pump up the fear. His delight in chopping up the kids (and himself) is chilling. His comic timing is brilliant (though much too overused in some of the later sequels). The man is positively frightening. He dresses nice, though. I'm kind of a sweater guy myself. Mostly red, sometimes green, never the two together, though, so it's not quite the same. Also, I think I'd wear my Fedoras with, you know, Leather jackets, maybe a whip, go for the whole Raiders thing, maybe. Skechers on the feet, perhaps? Where was I going with this? Sorry, I haven't slept well for the past week. I've been working on this review for three days.

In a review for the National Cinemedia screenings, the show should have been much better, especially considering the sound issues. Kids, we have tickets to the Depeche Mode show on Monday, September 25. Hope the sound is better for that, because, damn! Anyway, taken for all with all, A Nightmare on Elm Street is still a classic, but for the more obvious issues, Eat a big bowl of Three Stars out of Five (or just dream about doing so). A note on the supplemental feature called "Freddy's Best Kills", which was tacked on to the end of the program as an added enticement: While it's interesting from a fan point of view to see a great many of Freddy's murders from the original 1984 film through each Theatrical Release up to Freddy Vs. Jason encapsulated into a small amount of time (the comparison and contrast angle is neat-o), the end result is actually a bit dull, and repetitive. Now I see what Horror Detractors mean. Further, Freddy's Best Kills serves as a "Spoiler Room" for the uninitiated, and a reminder of how Silly Freddy got in his later incarnations to the super-fans. Still, this was a fun night, fully worth the time, effort and admission to see. It didn't give me nightmares, though. You know what gives me nightmares? Editors! DAMN, this is a long review. See you in the next Nightmareel.

Long Nails, Bad Skin, Stupid Hats...
But at least I still have my hair and good teeth!
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A Nightmare on Elm Street NCM Re-Release (1984/ 2006) reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
Whom you wouldn't call a "Walking Dream"!
But you just might call him "Responsible for his own Reviews!"
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Man... I want some A Nightmare on Elm Street Porn!

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