A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) Reviews and overview

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A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 1984 American slasher horror feature film written and directed by Wes Craven, and the first film of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.

The movie stars Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon (Tenebrae), Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss, Jsu Garcia, Robert Englund, and Johnny Depp in his feature film debut.

British actor David Warner (The Omen) was originally slated to play nightmare killer Freddy Krueger and did screen tests with makeup but was committed to other projects by the time filming commenced.


Craven directed A Nightmare on Elm Street on an estimated budget of $1.8 million. An instant commercial success, the film’s United States box office gross was $25.5 million. It spawned a franchise consisting of a line of sequels, a television series, a crossover with Friday the 13th, beyond various other works of imitation, a poorly received remake was released in 2010.


An unknown person is seen in a dark boiler room creating a glove with razor-sharp knives embedded in the fingers.

High school student Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss) has a disturbing nightmare in which she is stalked through the dark boiler room by a severely burned figure with a bladed glove on his right hand. When he finally catches her, she awakens screaming in her own bed. However, her nightgown has four slashes in it, identical to the ones given to her in the dream by the unknown’s razors and is less than convinced it was just a nightmare.

The next day, Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) recalls a nursery rhyme from Tina’s description when they meet up with Nancy’s boyfriend, Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp). Tina’s boyfriend Rod Lane (Nick Corri) shows up as well. All of them avoid the topic of the nightmare though Tina is visibly disturbed…

” …while the franchise may have descended swiftly into self-parody – they marketed Freddy Krueger dolls to pre-teens, if you recall – the original remains one of the most daring, inventive and downright terrifying shockers of the last century. Wes Craven’s control over his material is absolute, and even a handful of low-rent, low-budget effects can’t undermine the mounting air of existential, avant-garde dread.” Time Out

The nightmares are a sort of heightened version of reality… nothing immediately over-the-top or surreal to give away its hand. That sort of initial uncertainty keeps both Freddy’s victims and the audience on less-than-steady footing, and when Krueger does attack, it’s so much more visually spectacular than just another machete to the chest.” DVD Talk

“Rather than simply being a large, bulking mass of lunatic rage, Freddy brazenly toys with his prey and speaks to them with malicious and diabolical mockery. Nightmare also shows weak relationships between parent and child, presenting teenagers from dysfunctional families. The film moreover takes the “Final Girl” epithet a step further in the Nancy character.” High-Def Digest


Never Sleep Again The Elm Street Legacy Thommy Hutson Pocket Books

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