A Nightmare on Elm Street
It’s been years, probably decades, since I watched the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. I wanted to see how well it holds up — or doesn’t. My takeaways:
1) Surprisingly, Freddy Krueger isn’t on screen all that much. Although his presence is very much felt, the emphasis is on the tormented teens and their bad dreams.
2) The nightmare sequences, with their heavy dependence on set design and special effects, are dated. Sequels and other rip-off horror movies have left A Nightmare on Elm Street in the dust.
3) The soundtrack is quite good.
4) Johnny Depp’s debut performance: About what you might expect from a debut performance — not much. The future superstar is practically unrecognizable as one of the teens. And this movie confirms what I’ve always suspected: Depp’s later, odd accent seems to be an invention of his own choosing. There is no affected speech from Depp in this film; he is just an ordinary-sounding bloke.
5) The indominable John Saxon: I’ll bet that when Saxon launched his Hollywood career, he had no clue that his eventual legacy would be starring in not one, but two groundbreaking horror movies (the other being 1974’s Black Christmas).
Overall, the movie does not hold up as well as contemporaries like Halloween or Alien. But as an example of typical 1980s white-kids-in-suburbia-terrorized-by-fill-in-the-blank, it’s nostalgic fun. It’s just not particularly scary. Release: 1984 Grade: B
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