A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)
OK, it is time to dry-hump another classic Horror series, time to let pretty boy, Freddy Kreuger takes center stage, & thrill you with his dance moves. This hugely popular first film spawned 8 sequels, 7 of which featured Robert Englund as Freddy. We will look at all of them, & the two rip-off shorts that have surfaced as well.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)
Written & Directed by Wes Craven @ 91 minutes.
Wes Craven has become mostly known for his horror films, joining the ranks of John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, & Sean Cunningham. Craven has directed 29 films since 1972, including THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972), THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977), SWAMP THING (1982), THE HILLS HAVE EYES II (1984), THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS (1991), SCREAM (1996), SCREAM 2 (1997), SCREAM 3 (2000), RED EYE (2005), & SCREAM 4 (2011).
Craven wrote the script in 1981, and he made the rounds with all the major studios with it; was told the premise would never work, never make a dime. He was at it for 3 years before New Line Cinema picked it up.
He came up with the fascinating idea for the film from several newspaper articles in the LA Times, about three Cambodian immigrants who began having terrible nightmares, tried to stay awake–all young & healthy; then one after the other, when they finally fell asleep, died before they woke up. Doctors said “They just died, none had heart attacks.” Medically they now call the condition the Asian Death Syndrome; kind of like SIDS.
Wes Craven said, “Horror films are like boot camp for the psyche. They give us a way of thinking about, dealing with our primal fears.”
Taglines: Sleep kills.
Do Not Close Your Eyes.
If Nancy doesn’t wake up screaming–she won’t wake up at all.
She is the only one one who can stop it–if she fails, no one survives.
“Fuck” was said 5 times, & so was “shit”.
The film was made for 1.8 million, & it grossed 26 million in America.
It had a 30 day shooting schedule.
the C A S T were:
John Saxon as Lt. Don Thompson.
Ronee Blakely as Marge Thompson.
Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson.
Robert Englund as Fred Kreuger.
Amanda Wyss as Tina Gray.
Jsu Garcia as Rod Lane.
Johnny Depp as Glen Lantz (his feature debut).
Charles Fleischer as Dr. King.
Lin Shaye as the Teacher.
Mimi Craven as the Nurse.
Taking top billing was John Saxon, a busy & popular actor, who now has had 199 film credits in his 60 year career, since 1954;
including ROCK, PRETTY BABY (1956), CRY TOUGH (1959), THE UNFORGIVEN (1960), WAR HUNT (1962), BLOOD BEAST FROM OUTER SPACE (1965), THE APPALOOSA (1966), JOE KIDD (1972), ENTER THE DRAGON (1973), THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN (1979), BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS (1980), PRISONERS OF THE LOST UNIVERSE (1983), DEATH HOUSE (1987), NIGHTMARE BEACH (1989), THE LAST SAMURAI (1991), HELLMASTER (1992), THE NEW NIGHTMARE (1994), & FROM DUSK TO DAWN (1996).
Second billing went to Ronee Blakely, brought into prominence by director Robert Altman in NASHVILLE (1975). She had 27 film credits from 1970-1990, including THE DRIVER (1978), a ton of TV roles, & her final film was MURDER BY THE NUMBERS (1990). On the DVD commentary we learned she had a “unique” personality, & that she changed her hair style & color a half dozen times during filming.
The cult favorite emerging from this film is actor Robert Englund, who has become the latter-day John Carradine, racking up 143 film credits since 1974; including BUSTER & BILLIE (1974), STAY HUNGRY (1976), EATEN ALIVE (1977), DEAD & BURIED (1981), a running role on V the TV series (1983-85), CHUD II (1989), THE MANGLER (1995), & WISHMASTER (1997). He also was the Host of a TV series called A NIGHTMARE ON ELMS STEET: Real Nightmares; a game show (2005).
In retrospect, the big buzz was about Johnny Depp, who had quit school at 15, & had come to the audition for this film just to accompany his pal, James Earl Haley, & won the part because the producer’s daughter thought he looked “dreamy”; beating out other seasoned actors like Charlie Sheen, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Brad Pitt, Kiefer Sutherland, & C. Thomas Howell. Depp had been a rock musician, fronting for several garage bands; even opened once for Iggy Pop. Unless one has resided under a rock for the last 30 years, everyone is very aware of Depp’s career; racking up 73 films since 1984. He was 21 when he made NIGHTMARE; hard to believe that makes him 53 today.
Heather Langenkamp, was 19 when filming NIGHTMARE; which was her fourth film project. She has had 28 film credits since 1984, including NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: Dream Warriors (1987), a running part on the TV series GROWING PAINS (1989), & STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS (2013).
If one searches long enough usually you can find a nude scene done by most actresses. In NIGHTMARE, She did a topless scene, from the back, just giving us a flash of her right breast. The infamous tub scene, where we see Nancy pulled underwater, we get several juicy tit-shots, but turns out that was a body double.
Heather, however, has been nice enough to provide us with some fine actual tit-shots from her film NICKEL MOUNTAIN.
Amanda Wyss as Tina, has stayed busy, racking up 74 credits since 1981. She was 24 when she filmed NIGHTMARE; other films include FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (1982), BETTER OFF DEAD (1985), POW WOW HIGHWAY (1989), MARRY ME, OR DIE (1998), THE GRAVES (2009).
Her being small-busted did not keep me from looking hard at the scene in NIGHTMARE where she wakes up with 4 blade slashes in her nightgown, but no luck on a tit-shot. However, she did provide us with some very nice wholesome tit-shots in a film called DEADLY INNOCENTS.
Jsu Garcia showed a lot of promise as Rod, & has had a good career; racking up 71 film credits since 1982, including WILDCATS (1986), SLAVES OF NEW YORK (1989), TRAFFIC (2000), WE WERE SOLDIERS (2002), ALONG CAME POLLY (2004), & CHE: PART I (2008).
The musical score, which was very effective, was written by Charles Bernstein, who has written 124 movie scores since 1969, including WHITE LIGHTNING (1973), OUTLAW BLUES (1977), CUJO (1983), RUMPELSTILTSKIN (1995), KILL BILL: VOLUME I (2003), & INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (2009).
The cinematography was done by Jacques Haitkin, who produced wonderfully lit, crisp colors, amazing clarity. He has lensed 86 films since 1972, including GALAXY OF TERROR (1981), DEMON LOVER (1987), MANIAC COP 3 (1993), WISHMASTER (1997), & FACE OF TERROR (2004).
The film opens on a small insert scene, like 16 mm feel to it.
We hear a man shuffling his feet, groaning, grunting; in a workshop, where he is sharpening to a razor’s edge, four knife blades, & inserted them into a plastic articulated knuckle, & attaching that to a metal frame, & attaching that to a thick leather work glove.
Cut to a high school female blond teen ager, wandering in a dirty empty hallway, wearing a see-through long nightie, who is startled by a lamb–that Craven is asked about all the time; symbol of innocence, vulnerability–hard to tell. He said it was his homage to Luis Bunuel who had died the year before; odd, I don’t remember any sheep in BELLE DE JOUR (1967) or THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISE (1972).
Tina finds herself in a boiler room, lots of warm colors, rusted steaming pipes, where she is stalked by what appears to be a severely burned man who wears a bladed glove on his right hand, & knows her name. When he finally catches her, sneaking up behind, she awakens screaming in her own bed. When her mother & new boyfriend come to her bedroom door, they find that her night gown has 4 slashes in it, identical to the ones given to her in the dream–setting the premise, there is a monster in a dream, & if you are harmed in that dream, you will carry it back to reality.
Mom: Are you alright, Tina?
Tina: Just a dream, Ma.
Mom: That must have been some dream, judging from that–(Pointing to the four slash holes in her nightie. The boyfriend begins to pull her back to bed.
Mom: Tina, you either have to cut your fingernails, or you gotta stop that kind of dreaming–one or the other.
The next morning Tina joins her BFF, Nancy, & their boyfriends, Rod & Glen. They roll to school in a 70’s red Caddy convertible. She talks about her dream; turns out Nancy had the same dream ( & so did the boys, although they don’t admit it yet). Nancy, our heroine, recalls a childhood jump-rope Nursery Rhyme:
One, two, Freddy’s coming for you!
Three, four, better lock your door!
Five, six, better grab your crucifix!
Seven, eight, better stay up late!
Nine, ten, never sleep again!
Cut to a shot of four little girls in white pretty dresses, singing this song, & jumping rope, fading into the red Caddy parking at the curb. It is Glen’s ride. He gets out by leaping over the door, which seemed pretty frisky to me. Each time I see this film, I get angry that they leave the car at the curb, with the top down, right in front of the school–what HS would allow such bullshit parking?
Rod: I had a hard-on this morning, Tina; it had your name all over it.
Tina: There’s 4 letters in my name, Rod. How can there be enough room onyour tiny joint for 4 letters.
After school, when they meet:
Tina: All day long I’ve been seeing that guy’s weird face, & hearing those fingernails.
Nancy: Fingernails? That’s amazing you saying that; that made me remember the dream I had last night too.
Tina: What dream?
Nancy: I dreamed about a guy in a dirty red & green sweater.
Tina: What about the fingernails?
Nancy: Well, he scrapped those fingernails along things; but actually they were more like finger-knives–something he made himself. They made a horrible sound.
Tina: Maybe we are going to have a big earthquake; things alway get real weird just before one.
That night Nancy & Glen go to Tina’s house, since her mother is off somewhere with her latest loser boyfriend. Glen is interested in the dream dilemma, though still says nothing about his own dreams.
They hear a metal-screeching sound outside, in the backyard, so of course they all go out to investigate.
Glen: (feigning bravery) I’m going to punch out your ugly lights, whoever you are?
He turns back to the girls, and is attacked out of the darkness, knocking him to the ground; turns out it is Rod.
Rod: It’s Rod Lane bringing Lantz down, only 3 yards from the goal line!
Tina: What the hell are you doing here?
Rod: Came to make up; no big deal. Is your Mom home?
Tina: Of course.
(holding up a pronged garden tool)
So what’s this then?
Rod: Intense, huh? So what’s going on here, an orgy or something?
(today it would have been an orgy or some shit)
Glen: Maybe your funeral, dickhead!
Rod whips out a switchblade & holds it up to Glen’s face.
Nancy: taking the knife; It’s just a sleep over, Rod. Tina & Me. Glen was just leaving.
Rod pulls Tina back into the house, toward her bedroom.
Tina: Please don’t leave me alone with this crazy man!
So Nancy & Glen sleep over to, but in separate rooms.
Glen has difficulty sleeping while listening to Rod & Tina howl, grunt, & bang their butts together. After sex, while Tina carefully keeps the sheet up over her breasts, Rod admits he’s been having bad dreams too; but they shrug it off, and go to sleep.
Immediately Tina enters her nightmare, hearing a noise, she rises from the bed wearing only white panties; quickly putting on a shirt, to cover her shadowed breasts. Barefoot, bare-legged she goes out the front door to look for the noise; she soon finds herself in the alley behind her home.
A trash can lid comes rolling out and crashes by her feet; she turns around, & she sees Freddy a few yards away.
Freddy: (Note; no one calls him “Freddy” yet; in this film he is just plain Fred.) Tina”?
He laughs, moving toward her, his shadow-arms stretching across the entire width of the alley.
Tina: Please, God.
Freddy: This is God! (holding up the bladed glove).
He begins to chase after her.
Tina screams and runs toward the house.
Cut to her bedroom, her struggling awakens Rod. He pulls back the blankets & we see Tina, still in the dream, thrashing about & screaming–suddenly we see the 4 slash-blade marks on her stomach, & blood begins to splash & spurt about the room. Her body rises up off the bed while Rod stands there helpless:
it begins to spin as several more wounds are made to her chest, neck, & face; blood is everywhere.
Her body makes it to the ceiling, where it is dragged back & forth, being knifed continuously–then with a final scream, Tina drops to the bed, breaking the frame, & flops over next to Rod, her whole body covered in blood.
Glen & Nancy break down the door & rush in, accusing Rod of killing Tina. He grabs his pants & shirt, and flees the scene. The police are called, & we soon find out that Lt. Thompson is her father; even though her parents are divorced.
Nancy: The killer’s still loose, you know.
Lt. Thompson: You are saying someone else beside Rod killed Tina? Who?
Nancy: I don’t know who he is, but he is all burned up & he wears a weird hat with a red & green dirty sweater; & he uses knives like fingernails.
Lt. & her mother, Marge, exchange a meaningful look.
On the way to school, Nancy is attacked by Rod, who pleads his innocence. Lt. Thompson appears, gun-drawn, so Rod runs off; only to be caught by several squad cars that had the area staked out.
Later in school, Nancy drifts off to sleep at her desk. She looks around & sees Tina in a bloody see-through body bag (even though most of us, thanks to CSI, know that body bags are opaque like Visqueen).
She looks for Tina in the hallway, and finds a thick black trail of blood (very black, like dirty motor oil). At the end of the hall, she sees Tina in the bloody bag, being dragged around a corner by invisible hands.
Chasing after her, Nancy sees damp leaves all over the hallway; (& maybe it is this dream where the fucking lamb shows up–hard to recall).
Soon she finds herself in Freddy’s boiler room, being pursued by Kreuger. He chases her all about, not catching her. When he got close, she put her arm on a hot steam pipe, which woke her up screaming in the class room. The teacher sends her home, & she notices that the steam burn is still on her arm. The hall monitor, wearing a red & green sweater asks for a pass;
Nancy: Screw your pass!
Nancy knocks her down, and rushes past. Turning back to look at the Monitor, we see her wearing a mock knife-blade glove:
Hall guard: No running in the hallway!
Is Nancy awake yet, or is this a dream within a dream within a dream?
She goes to the jail to visit with Rod.
Rod: I probably could have saved Tina if only I had moved sooner–but I thought I was just having another nightmare, like the one I had the night before. There was this guy–who had knives for fingers.
That night, Glen, who lives right across the street, crawls up her rose trellis, to visit with her.
Glen: What happened to your arm?
Nancy: I burned it in English class.
Then they discuss what was akin to Asian Death Syndrome.
Nancy: but what if they meet a monster in their dreams, then what?
Glen: They turn their back on it-take away its energy, & it will disappear.
Nancy: But what happens if they don’t do that?
Glen: Well, I guess those people don’t wake up to tell what happens.
Looking into a mirror, now more that a week without sleep:
Nancy: Oh God, I look 20 years old.
She decides that it is his job to stay awake while she investigates her dream, & to wake her if she gets in trouble. She sets an alarm, and dozes off. In her dream, she walks into the same alley that Tina had, but this time ends up at the police station, staring down into a window, seeing Rod asleep in his cell. Suddenly she sees Freddy approaching the cell & walking right through the bars. She wakes up screaming, hearing the alarm clock going off; seeing that Glen has fallen asleep. (that being the case, why didn’t Glen see Freddy in his dreams right then too? Is Kreuger restricted to one dream at a time?)
Nancy: Glen, you bastard!
Glen: waking up–what the hell did I do?
Nancy: I asked you to just do one thing, to stay awake and watch me sleep, so that you could wake me up if it seemed I was having a nightmare–& what did you do, you Shit? You fell asleep!
Nancy & Glen get up, get dressed, and head off to the police station to check on Rod. The cops, including Lt. Thompson are slow to allow them to visit Rod at that hour; meanwhile the sheets over Rod twist themselves into a rope, which snakes around his neck; while he sleeps. ( I see part of the wire in the end of the sheet used for pulling it). Then the ghostly sheet drags him to his feet, & up the wall, strangling him. (Actually this is a disappointing way for Freddy to dispatch this victim; would have been a lot cooler, & more logical, to cut off his head, or some shit.)
Of course, when Nancy & Glen finally arrive, it is too late.
At Rod’s funeral, Nancy is wearing a hot blue polka-dotted dress; didn’t have a black one I presume. Her mother, Marge, decides right there that she is taking Nancy in for some psychiatric help.
Cut to a sign about a PSYCHIATRIC SLEEP CENTER. We find Nancy being hooked up to several kinds of electrodes.
Nancy: I don’t see why you can’t just give me a pill to keep me from dreaming.
Dr. King: Everybody has got to dream, young lady–if you don’t dream (pointing to his temple)you will short out the brain tubes, & blow out the back.
Sleep is induced. Dr. King is talking with Marge, referring to a monitor.
Dr.King: A nightmare will register plus or minus 5 or 6; she is at 3 now.
Nancy begins twitching with REM, & we hear Freddy’s knife blades.
Marge: What’s she doing now? Is she asleep or awake?
The monitor throbs with negative vibes, shooting up to #30.
Dr. King: Something is wrong! It never goes that high, never!
Nancy gyrates on the bed like someone during an exorcism. They awaken her, & they discover that now she has gray streaks in her hair, & is sporting a serious slash on her left forearm; near the steam pipe burn. Then much to Marge’s surprise, Nancy pulls Freddy’s battered felt hat out from under the covers; she brought it back with her.
After they get home, Nancy talks with her mother:
Nancy: Let me share with you what I’ve learned at the dream clinic. Rod did not kill Tina, & he didn’t hand himself. There is this guy, & he is after us in our dreams.
Marge: But that is just not reality, Nancy.
Nancy: pulling Freddy’s felt hat out of a drawer–This is real, Mom; feel it!
Marge: Give me that damn thing.
Nancy: It even has his name written in it; Fred Kreuger.
The look on her mother’s face tells all.
Nancy: Do you know who that is–because if you do, you had better tell me, because he is definitely after me now!
Marge does not respond.
Nancy: Maybe I should pick up that bottle & veg out with you, just ignore everything that is going on around me by getting good & loaded. Marge slaps her in the face.
Returning from school soon after that, Nancy sees that her mother has had rod-iron bars installed on all the home’s windows.
Nancy: Mother, what’s with all the bars?
Marge: swilling vodka: Security.
Nancy: Security from what?
Marge: Not from what–from whom. Come down into the cellar. You want to know who Fred Kreuger was? He was a filthy child murderer, who killed at least 20 kids in the neighborhood–kids we all knew.
Nancy: Oh, God, Mom.
Marge: It drove us crazy not knowing who he was, but it was even worse after they caught him.
Nancy: Did they put him away?
Marge: Well the lawyers got fat & the judge got famous, but someone forgot to sign the search warrant in the correct place–so Kreuger was set free.
Nancy: What did you do then?
Marge: A bunch of us parents got together, & tracked him down. We found him in an old abandoned boiler room, where he used to take his kids.
Nancy: Go on.
Marge: We took gasoline & poured it all around the place, then made a trail of it out the door–we lit the whole thing up, & stood & watched it burn. So Fred is dead now–because Mommy killed him. I even took his knives.
She opens her furnace, & pulls out a rag-wrapped parcel, then reveals the real Kreuger knife blade glove.
(WTF) In over a decade no one fired up that furnace? The glove just sat in there all that time?)
Marge: So it’s OK now–you can sleep.
Cut to Nancy in a bubble bath, her head against a rubber pillow, her bent legs exposed above the water, legs spread like a maiden ready for coitus. Then, out of the bubbles, as she begins to nod off, Freddy’s gloved hand appears between her legs, raising up to strike; a twat-slash first, I guess.
Marge knocks on the door: Nancy?
Nancy: What, mother?
Marge: Don’t fall asleep in there–you could drown, you know?
Nancy: Oh, for Pete’s sake!
Marge: It happens all the time.
The mother walks away, & suddenly Nancy is pulled under water. We see her struggling in a ten foot deep tank, something, someone pulling her down; several lovely tit-shots were clearly seen (from a body double it seems). Screaming a lot, she fights her way up out of the tub. Marge returns, & Nancy acts like everything is fine.
Cut to a phone call from Nancy to Glen, talking to each other, standing at their respective windows. Nancy hatches a plan to take care of Freddy once & for all. Glen offers to come over right at midnight, with a baseball bat. Nancy decides that if he wakes her at midnight, she will drag Kreuger back to reality with her, & they can kill him.
Nancy: But what ever you do, do not fall asleep.
But, of course, Glen’s parents grow suspicious of Nancy, & lock Glen in, not letting her talk to him at all. He is straining to stay awake, wearing headphones listening to rock music, lying on his bed, a portable TV on his lap. His alarm seems to awaken him, & he struggles to wake up; but suddenly he, the TV, & the stereo are sucked into the center of his bed, & sink below sight.
Without warning–a geyser of blood (50 gallons of fake blood) gush up out of the bed, splashing the ceiling, & soaking the room.
The police presence cordons off the street. Lt. Thompson arrives, and Nancy sees him.
Ambulance Driver: We don’t need a body bag, we need industrial mops.
Nancy calls over there, and gets her father on the phone:
Nancy: Hi, Daddy. I know what happened to Glen.
Donald: I haven’t been upstairs yet.
Nancy: Yeah, but you know he’s dead, right?
Donald: Yes, apparently he’s dead.
Nancy: Listen, Daddy, I’ve got a proposition for you. Listen very closely, please.
Nancy: I am ready to go & get the guy who did this, & I want you to be there to arrest him when I bring him out. OK?
Donald: Just tell me where he is, & I’ll go get him, baby.
Nancy: Fred Kreuger did it, Daddy–& only I can get him–he comes to my nightmare.
Lt. Thompson promises to come over there as soon as he can, & hangs up–but we all know he won’t make it in time. Upstairs, one of his officer’s says: What the hell could have done that?
Donald: I don’t know. What did the coroner have to say?
Cop #3: He’s been on the john puking ever since he saw it.
Nancy sets several booby-traps in her home for Freddy–a sledge hammer wired to a door knob, gun powder in a light bulb, etc. Her phone rings; she hears Freddy’s blade screeching against metal. Freaking out, she rips the phone out of the wall, setting it on her bed. It rings again, even though it is disconnected from the wall. She answers it; a tongue comes out of the speaking end, wiggling toward her mouth:
Freddy: I’m your boyfriend now!
Nancy readies herself for the encounter. She pulls the crucifix off her wall, kisses it, puts it back, and says the Lord’s Prayer.
Nancy: Ok, Kreuger, we play in your court now.
As she slips off to sleep, the wall above her head becomes elastic, and Freddy’s face & hands appear to stretch it out for a moment.
Soon asleep, she rises in her cute pajamas and goes in search of him, descending several ladders & staircases, down, down, until she is in the boiler room.
Nancy: Come out & show yourself, you cowardly bastard.
Freddy comes up behind her; screaming she pulls away, and Jumps from the boiler room, through her bedroom window, and drops two stories down onto the rose trellis.
Nancy: God dammit, where are you? Where the hell are you? I know you’re here!
Freddy: whispering: Nancy.
He pops up from under the rose bush.
Nancy leaps onto him, grabs him, hangs on:
I’ve got you now?
She hears the alarm going off, so she wakes up; seems to be alone.
Nancy, putting her face in her hands: Christ, I guess I’m crazy after all.
Freddy rises up from behind the bed, and Nancy rushes about the room. Then he disappears. She stands in front of her mirror:
Nancy: This is still a dream, it isn’t real, he isn’t real!
Freddy crashes through out of the mirror, and lands on her. Nancy gets out of his clutches;
Nancy: Come on, Freddy. Can’t you catch me?
Freddy, following her: I’m going to split you in two!
She runs into the other room, sets the sledge hammer trap for him. He opens the door, takes the sledge in the chest & keeps coming. She runs downstairs with him in pursuit, as he trips her trap wire, and the lamp bomb explodes in his face; not fazed by it, he keeps coming. She scampers downstairs into the cellar; he follows.
Freddy: Nancy, I’ll kill you slow.
She doses him with gasoline, and lights him on fire; then rushes back upstairs. He follows, covered in a pillar of flame. When she gets to the main stairway, the steps get soft like quicksand; but she struggled to the top; he follows like a Buddhist monk in a real flame suit.
Back in her room she goes to the window.
Nancy: Help! I got him! Hey, Daddy, where are you. I got him trapped.
From below Sgt. Parker yells: Everything’s going to be all right! Everything’s under control.
Nancy: Get my Dad, you asshole!
She evades Freddy again, and heads downstairs, just as her father kicks the front door in, arriving with his cops. They rush back upstairs, to her mother’s room. They find Freddy on top of her in bed, giving her a hot hump. Donald grabs a blanket, and covers Freddy; pulling it off, they see Marge looking like a crispy critter fading into a blue light in the middle of the bed. Then she disappears. Nancy calmly asks her father to leave her there alone, which he does.
Nancy: I know you’re there, Freddy.
Freddy: You think you was going to get away from me?
She has her back to him, using Glen’s advice.
Nancy: I know you too well, Freddy.
Freddy: Now you die.
Nancy: It’s too late, Kreuger. I know the secret now. This is all just a dream.
You’re not alive; everything is just a dream.
She turns around & faces him;
I want my mother & friends again.
Freddy: You what?
Nancy: I take back every bit of energy I ever gave you. You are nothing.
You are shit.
She starts to open the door. He jumps at her, but suddenly vanishes in a flash of strange light. Exiting the bedroom, she steps out into a bright morning’s sunlight.
Her mother is standing there with her, sober, cleaned up, cheerful. Glen drives up in his red Cadillac convertible; Tina & Rod are smiling in the back seat.
As Nancy gets into the car, the convertible top suddenly closes, and it is striped like Freddy’s sweater, red & green.
Glen: Hey, I’m not doing this.
The windows roll up, & the car drives off on its own, with the kids yelling & screaming. Marge is waving good-bye just as Freddy’s arm crashes through the front door & grabs her, pulling her off her feet, & back into the house.
Roll the closing credits.
TRICKY ending; a dream within a dream within a dream? Did any of this really happen?
David Warner was originally slated to play Freddy Kreuger; make-up tests were done, but he had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Heather Lagenkamp beat out over 200 actresses in open audition; the likes of Demi Moore, Courteney Cox, Tracey Gold, & Jennifer Grey.
The original script had a different ending, where Nancy awakes to find that the events of the film were all just an elongated nightmare, but Produce, Robert Shaye wanted a twist ending, with Freddy reappearing as the Car, & kidnapping Nancy & her friends, before yanking Marge back through the front door. Wes Craven never wanted the film to become an ongoing franchise; so he dropped out of the production loop from 1985-1994, when he helmed WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE (1994). He hated the Shaye twist ending, and maintained they should have used his “happy ending”.
The first time Robert Englund tried on the knife-blade glove, he cut himself. It took about three hours for him to put on the Kreuger make-up. He based the physicality of Kreuger on a performance by Klaus Kinski in Werner Herzog’s NOSFERATU; THE VAMPIRE (1979). The alley scene where Freddy’s arms are elongated, this was achieved by men holding fishing poles on each side of the alley, marionetting a set of puppet arms attached to Englund. The scene where Freddy seems to come out of the wall above Nancy’s head was shot by stretching a sheet of spandex across a hole in the wall,& pressing against it. Freddy was played by F/X designer Jim Doyle. Despite the impact of Englund as Freddy, Kreuger only had 7 minutes of screen time.
This was only the second film put out by New Line Cinema, & it was their first main line feature cinematic venture; it was so successful, they called themselves, The House that Freddy built. The scene where Freddy was on fire, then knocked back down the stairs, only to rise again, and race back upstairs, was done in one take with several cameras; it was the most elaborate fire scene ever filmed at that time; done by stuntman Anthony Cecere, wiinning Best Stunt of the Year Award.
In a cut scene, Marge admits that Nancy, Tina, Rod, & Glen all had older siblings that had been killed by Freddy Kreuger. Tina’s death scene happens just 18 minutes into the movie. The Tina scene with her on the ceiling, was shot using a rotating room set. Amanda Wyss was actually on the floor. When Rod reached for her, he was dangling upside-down from the ceiling. The effect worked so well visually, Wyss got a case of severe vertigo while filming it.
For the blood geyser scene in Glen’s death, they used the same rotating set, so that when the 50 gallons of blood water gushed out, it came straight down, but looked like it was straight up, but the water pressure was so intense, it tilted the set, gushing fake blood all over Wes Craven, & the crew, and shorting out several bunches of wiring. Craven called the scene, the Ferris wheel from Hell.
Prior to the making of this film, Amanda Wyss had never seem a horror movie, & Heather Langenkamp had only seen one. The sparking glove scenes were done by attaching the glove to a car battery. The screeching sound they made was done using a steak knife on the underside of a metal folding chair. Freddy Kreuger is ranked at #40 in AFI’s 100 Heroes & Villains list. Charlie Sheen might have got hired to play Glen, but the salary demands he made were not viable for their modest budget.
Rotten Tomatoes rated this film at a whopping 96% Critic’s Approval, with a 83% Audience Approval.
James Berardinelli of REEL VIEWS wrote: “This film stands on its own as an intriguing & chilling example of how horror works best–when the characters & the audience don’t have to be lobotomized.”
David Jenkins of LITTLE WHITE LIES wrote: “ A smart streamlined Slasher with plenty under its bonnet.”
Fernando F. Crose of CINEPASSION wrote: “Freddy is the Sandman/bogeyman of Reagan’s cozy suburbia.”
Steve Biodrowski of E-SPLATTER wrote: “ This is one the great Horror efforts & a worthy successor to the classic monsters of yesteryear.”
Wesley Lovell of CINEMA SIGHT wrote: “An inventive & terrifying horror film that explores the inner psyche, with its ability to turn nightmares into reality.”
Filmed in Los Angeles, fitting in for “somewhere in the Mid-West”, they did find a great neighborhood where there were wood frame homes & elm trees, but the one scene, on a bridge across a canal in Venice, CA., with a palm tree in the background, with Nancy & Glen, was pretty jarring to me.
I had to try & remember how I felt when I saw this in 1984, when Freddy Kreuger was a new idea, when the premise was fresh, inventive, brash, & exciting; for this time I was too aware of the bad acting, especially with Heather Langenkamp, some cheesy sets, & some poor writing. I already know that this franchise would be carried on for almost 3 years, & is far from dead yet. Renee Blakely was a bit zombiefied, but hey, the whole premise of dreams within dreams supports her stilted portrayal. It was cool to be reintroduced to Johnny Depp as a young inexperienced kid; they said he kept an acting coach with him on the set the whole shoot, petrified that he might forget some of his lines. I will bestow 7 stars on this film, 7/10, for its originality of concept, and it’s impact on the horror genre.