A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) | History of Horror


Pierce Turner

Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Horror. Here we will be taking a look back at everything spooky in both film and video games and analyze how horror has evolved over the last century. Check back at unfspinnaker.com every day for a new installment!

What’s scarier than a being that enters your dreams and kills your in your sleep? Okay, maybe clowns….and moths. But nonetheless, this idea carried the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise through six sequels, a crossover, and a remake.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) was the first in the series and was extremely unique at the time. It has a group of teenagers like Halloween and Friday the 13th, but instead of being hunted by a human killer, they’re hunted by Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). Freddy is the reason these movies are so popular. He has the most personality of any slasher villain ever, cracking jokes and killing people in creative ways. Though, in the first film, he is more scary than funny.

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The film is carried by Nancy (Heather Langenkamp). She is yet another “final girl”, but she fights back like no other. Johnny Depp is also in this movie but it was before he became huge. It’s a lot like how Kevin Bacon is in the first Friday the 13th. Like Bacon, Depp gets killed on a bed, except he gets pulled through in his dream. An ocean of blood shoots out of the hole in the bed and it sets the ridiculous tone for the entire series.

The first film was directed by Wes Craven. This wasn’t his first horror film, but it’s probably his most famous and it put him on the map as one of the masters of horror. He later went on to do the Scream movies (which we will cover down the line).

Like Friday the 13th and Halloween, there’s an abundance of sequels. Most of them are over-the-top and cheesy, but part three is actually quite good, mostly because Langenkamp comes back. Part seven, or, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994), is the best sequel. It takes place in the real world where the crew who worked on the original film get attacked by a real-life Freddy. A film that’s also better than expected is Freddy vs. Jason (2003). Freddy meets Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th and they don’t agree with each other. It came out at a time when bad CG polluted horror movies but there’s a lot of love for practical effects too.

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Despite what the franchise devolved into, the original A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the best scary movies ever made and deserves its place in the History of Horror. Check it out, and if you want, check out part three, New Nightmare, and Freddy vs. Jason to get the best out of the series.

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