31 Days of Halloween – Day 3 – Nightmare on Some Street
I was watching Cube (1997) today and playing The Stanley Parable, so prepare for a stupidly esoteric review of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). I’ve always felt that the Nightmare series was a little too concerned with meeting all the usual slasher tropes, though it’s pretty good at building up to something. It’s also a little slower than most slashers, though I feel that helps develop its creepiness. Wes Craven paints a picture and does it very well.
This movie has all the slasher tropes. It has attractive girls and a villain out for revenge. Those are the two most essential elements of a slasher ever. The guys are all obsessed with the opposite sex. The villain can disappear at will, and he’s explicitly designed to do that in this movie. There’s a morally incorruptible Final Girl. It’s all there!
This movie’s interpretation of Shakespeare is kinda funny, and the basis for Freddy’s strange actions. According to Shakespeare, much of what operates in Nature and in the human element itself, is rotten. That’s what the movie says anyway. There is further comment about dreams, which take on a strange context within this movie. Usually movies treat dreams in a Freudian or philosophical way, showing that they explain something about human action and motivation. That’s not the case in this movie. Dreams are the den of Evil in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and the only way to win is to stay awake. The waking world is where the truth lies, not in dreams. It’s not clear if Wes Craven hated Freud or not.
The pursuit of truth is questionable in this movie. According to the plot, the parents in the waking world are responsible for setting the trouble in motion in the first place, so getting to the heart of the matter is not found in any dreams. It’s found in the real world. The dream world becomes nothing more than an instrument of torture.
The tweaking of the relationship between the unconscious and conscious mental states is very interesting. The movie seems to condemn the ego and personal justice, as if its message was anti-vigilante from start to finish. Freddy’s quest is for revenge against those vigilantes, the parents who condemned him. There’s not much more to it than that. The movie tries to imply that there is some secret in all the teen’s dreams, but that’s just a red herring.
Much like The Blair Witch Project I reviewed yesterday, the less you know, the better. Later installments of the Elm Street series are way too talky and don’t have enough of what makes the original good: the eerie and creepy stuff. The plot and the horror set pieces are the highlight. The plot is not as straightforward as you might think, and the revelation about the parents is the best part.
As far as performances, Heather Langenkamp is probably the best of the overactors, but she does a good job There’s really not any god-awful performances, though the mother sure is annoying and her dialogue delivery needs help. Johnny Depp is in this movie and he does alright I guess. The gore is also kinda limited, though we get plenty of blood to make up for it. I didn’t really notice.
In all, this is a good movie. Wes Craven really hated shrinks, and it shows. He says screw dreams and screw symbolism, because it doesn’t mean squat. The best part of this movie is the duality it achieves by flipping back and forth between the dream world and the real world, but not telegraphing it. What’s real in this movie? Everything and nothing. The ending threw me for a loop, but it’s kinda unnecessary. A dream within a dream within a dream? Is this Inception?
31. Poltergeist (1982) vs Poltergeist (2015)
30. Blair Witch Project (1999)
29. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – This post
28. The Wicker Man (1973) vs The Wicker Man Remake
27. Tales from the Darkside, the Movie (1990)
26. Saw (2004)
25. The Prophecy (1995)
24. The Hills have Eyes (1977)
23. House of the Long Shadows (1983)
22. Creepshow (1982)
21. Phantasm (1979)
20. The Omen (1976) vs Damien: The Omen II
19. We Are Still Here (2015)
18. The Guest (2010)
17. Return of the Living Dead (1985)
15. The House that Dripped Blood (1971)
14. Army of Darkness (1992)
13. In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
12. Friday the 13th Part III
11. Theater of Blood (1973)
10. House of Wax (1953) vs House of Wax (2005)
9. Hellraiser Inferno (2000)
8. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
7. The Changeling (1980)
6. The Eye (2002)
5. The Hitcher (1986)
4. Paranormal Activity (2007)
3. 28 Days Later (2003)
2. Suspiria (1977)
1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – This review will be published October 31st!