A Nightmare on Elm Street Movie Review

A Nightmare on Elm Street

If Nancy doesn't wake up screaming... She won't wake up at all.
A Nightmare on Elm Street Picture
Heather Lagenkamp plays 'Nancy'


Heather Lagenkamp, John Saxon, Amanda Wyss, Ronee Blakely

Johnny Depp, Robert Englund, Nick Corri, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Jsu Garcia, Charles Fleischer, Joseph Whipp Update Cast

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Writer/Director Wes Craven has insisted that it took so long for his script to be optioned that his ideas were stolen by other producers including those who made "Dreamscape".

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Are you ready for Freddy?

Young Nancy Thompson is your common-or-garden teenager.

An intelligent, popular youngster, she and her friends all live on the quiet, uneventful Elm Street, a leafy part of Springwood. Lately, however, they've all been suffering terrible nightmares. Each teen dreams of being stalked by a horribly scarred man with razor-sharp knives for claws.

Soon, however, their nightmares becomes real when one of their number is brutally torn apart during a sleep-over. Soon, each of them are fighting for their lives against an enemy who knows their deepest fears and desires and uses them against them.

While searching for a way to beat him and regain her sanity, Nancy finds out that the stalker was a child-murderer called Fred Krueger, who held the streets of Springwood in a grip of fear back when Nancy and co. were still children.

Fred had been caught and arrested, but a bungle on the search warrant meant he was set free...

The townsfolk sought vengeance and burned Krueger to death for his sins.

Before he died, Freddy swore vengenance on the town for their actions. His re-emergence in the dreams of the teenagers proves his prophecy has come true.

With this knowledge and the realisation that Fred can be brought to the "real world", Nancy prepares to fight Fred not only to save her only life, but also that of the entire town...

Author: mcewanUpdate This Review


Much like he would achieve with "Scream" a decade later, Wes Craven revolutionised horror with this neat twist on the standard "stalker/slasher" film.

The film achieves greatness because it uses themes and situations that most people have dreamed about from time to time e.g. Trying to run away from someone but finding that the ground has turned to porridge and you can't escape. This is in contrast with later editions of the series, which became more outlandish with the dreamscapes.

The SFX, although made on a lower budget, are more realistic than the sequels, as is the acting and characterisation. Heather Lagenkamp, in particular, merits reward for her moving portrayal as a troubled teen who refuses to quit in the face of overwhelming odds. For a debut performance, Johnny Depp demonstrates the skill that is evident in films such as "Edward Scissorhands", making the character of Glen seem like a regular guy on the street. The supporting cast are also of a high calibre, although the characters of Tina and Rod are underused. Ronee Blakely comes close to descending into melodrama, but narrowly misses it, provoking feelings of sentiment. John Saxon, is good in his role as Nancy's father and is a stand-out of the film. The key performer, though, has to be Robert Englund. In an evolution of his character from "Death Trap", Englund oozes disdain and sleaze as Fred Krueger. His performance is subdued and never descends into the pantomime performances of "baddies" such as Jason Vorhees. The character is displayed as the typical psychopath i.e. charismatic, intelligent but with no regard for life. Although they would be diluted as the series continued, Krueger's actions and reactions are frightening and close to the knuckle.

The only flaws with the film are the music, especially the dismal closing credits theme and the ending, which was tagged on at the behest of New Line cinema to open the possiblity of sequels. It spoils the mood of the film, detracting from it's overall high quality.

Overall, though, it is a recommended film and minor masterpiece.

Excellent acting, inventive special effects.
The music is mediocre. The ending is trite and forced.

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The Movie Data

Key Crew

Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Wes Craven
Producers: John Burrows, Stanley Dudelson, Sara Risher, Robert Shaye, Joseph Wolf
Locations Manager: Craig Pointes

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Release Date: 16 Nov 1984
MPAA Rating: R
Studio: New Line Cinema
Production: Elm Street Venture, Media Home Entertainment, New Line Cinema, Smart Egg Pictures
Genre: Horror / Occult

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The Movie Trailer
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1984 New Line Cinema
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