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Focus on the Frightful: A Nightmare on Elm Street

When you think about it, the fact that Freddy is such a beloved character from A Nightmare on Elm Street is a little mind-boggling. Fred Krueger was a child killer that, in turn, was killed by the parents of the children he murdered (including the Sheriff) after a technicality freed him from jail.

Not exactly what you would think of as a character that inspires affection or fans. Yet, he does. Mostly because of the charisma of Robert Englund himself. Englund is a great character actor in the horror genre (along with a very Freddy inspired episode on Bones). He alone gives Freddy his character, as evidenced by the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot not doing as well. Which I think is mostly due to so many of the practical effects being replaced with CGI, the dream sequences being severely sub-par and Jackie Earle Haley just doesn’t have the oomph that Englund does. I’m sure he’s a fine actor in other things, just not as Freddy.

Robert Englund as Freddy

A Nightmare on Sci-Fi and Scary

The first movie in the series is certainly more in the creepy and atmospheric realm of horror and is more restrained. That might sound weird when we’re talking about beds exploding into blood showers and skinned ladies writhing on the ceiling but, in comparison to later Freddy movies, it’s remarkably restrained.

The Kali Krew have been watching through the Nightmare on Elm Street series and even though I’ve watched most of them multiple times (except 2, I just…can’t) it has been interesting watching them through fresh eyes and with fresh perspectives.

It’s also made me realize that for being ‘just a slasher’ it really has some greatness to it. The first movie has shots that are truly and beautifully shot. Freddy framed by the boiler. Nancy napping obliviously while Freddy’s glove emerges from the bathwater,

Nancy sleeping in the tub as Freddy's law emerges from the bath water

The acting is unique, as well. The actors are not seasoned and some lines are a little flat but they feel real and that’s what matters. Nancy makes an excellent strong character who gets overshadowed a lot by Laurie Strode. I’ve never really understood why, except for the fact that Laurie is a recurring character while Nancy only appears in two movies of the series. She’s much more proactive in helping herself to defeat Freddy and more than ready and willing to tell her mom off for not believing her and not telling her the truth.

Nancy booby trapping a lightbulb

There are scenes that really shouldn’t work in this movie. The scene where Nancy’s mom is telling her about Krueger is pure exposition and the movie stops entirely to do it. But it is one of the most memorable scenes in the move purely because the chemistry between them is so there. It’s just the two of them with Nancy looking on in disbelief and fear of the story her mother is telling her.

Ronee Blakley as Nancy's mom by the furnace in the basement

One thing that always makes me giggle, though, is that Springwood (and Elm Street) are eventually revealed to be in Ohio. Well, I don’t know about you guys but Ohio looks a lot like California to me. Unless palm trees are native to Ohio.

John Saxon (Sheriff  on a background of palm trees in A Nightmare on Elm Street
Also, enjoy sexy John Saxon

A Nightmare on Focus on the Frightful

I’ll be going through each of them, giving my old and new perspectives o each movie. I feel like I’ve said enough about A Nightmare on Elm Street here so the next one in line is Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. And, oh boy, do I have thoughts on that one!

So join me for the next month or so on Focus on the Frightful to see how the Elm Street movies break slasher tropes and show some thorough creativity!

Published inFocus on the Frightful

2 Comments

  1. I give credit to NOES for making the idea of a character escaping from dreams into the real world workable. It helps that Kruger is really almost a bit character in the first film, nothing like the humorously ingenious slasher of the later (III and after) films. The focus really is on Nancy and her parents. Nancy has to learn to take on their better characteristics while outgrowing both of them. That’s another reason the exposition scene works: Nancy is confronting her drunk mother, whose flaws could get them killed. (Anyone who feels I’ve overthought the movie, you’re welcome. I have, and I’ll stand by it anyhow.)

    • Yeah – first time I’d ever seen it. Man, this series terrified me. The thought of it. Still does, even if the movies themselves are corny now.

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