The Halloween Top 13: Number 4:Nightmare on Elm Street
Four-tunately, you've returned today just in time for a terrible pun, and tonight's film I hope. Tonight's film has a special relationship with the number four. It was Wes Craven's eighth film, and eight is totally divisible by four. Spooky, right. Alright then try his on for size it came out in 1984. Does that not blow your mind. OK, perhaps not. I was just warming you guys up. The movie revolves around a maniac coming to get four kids, and he's going to use his glove with four razors on it. Not only that bus there are almost four watchable films in this series. Convinced? Maybe I've just been awake too long because I just watched...
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) starring Heather Langenkamp, John Sexton, Johnny Depp, Ronnie Blakley, and Robert England. Directed by Wes Craven.
After Nancy (Langenkamp) and her friends have a common dream about a razor blade gloved killer. It all seems like just a dream, but when Nancy's friend Tina gets cut wide open and tossed around her room, Nancy begins to suspect something seriously messed up is happening. She encounters the killer again in her dreams and starts to understand the nature of the dreamworld. Eventually Nancy learns of Fred Kruger, a child-killer who was burnt alive by the local chapter of the angry town mob, and more specifically Nancy's mother. As the last of her friends get killed. Nancy takes her last stand against the killer of her dreams.
--The movie Nancy watches in her room to stay awake is the trailer for The Evil Dead.
--This was Johnny Depp's first film. He had accompanied his friend Jackie Earle Haley to the audition. Depp may have got the role because the producer's daughter thought he was "dreamy".
--Freddy's sweater is red and green because those colors are the hardest to process.
--Wes Craven says he took Freddy's name from a childhood bully. he had almost used the name once before in Last House on the Left and the rapist Krug.
--Robert England has played Freddy for 8 consecutive times. The only other actor to play a horror character so many time is Doug Bradley with Pinhead.
-- David B. Miller, the makeup artist responsible for the Freddy look, also created some of the work for Swamp Thing
--Charles Fleisher who played the sleep clinic doctor would later go on to be the voice of Roger Rabbit.
Why Do I Love It?
Why? Well, for starters because there was no need for even the skimpy synopsis I wrote. This is a movie that has permeated culture and left an indelible mark. Myers might have been menacing, Jason might have been unstoppable, but Freddy was a personality. Now the best thing about the first Nightmare film is that the personality hasn't got out of control. Freddy was allowed to be scary and have snappy one liners, and the film strikes a balance that works.
A Special Note From the Bug
When I'm talking about the humor in this movie, I'm really only referring to the intended humor. So I wanted to stop here for a second to talk about my favorite laugh in the film.When Nancy pulls Freddy's hat off him and brings it back to the real world, it is her first clue to unraveling the mystery. Why is it a clue? Because she finds the name Fred Kruger written in it. Seriously, Freddy put his name on his hat? So it won't get confused with other dirty brown fedoras that smell of charred flesh? Did Jason's mom write his name in his hockey mask? I would say no, but that's because Jason's mom was busy putting his name in his underwear.
The movie itself really scores in Craven's ability to create mood. From the beginning dream sequence on, the movie moves freely between the real world and the dream state. The way everything was so subtly shot that the changes were both distinct and seamless. It created a world in which a girl could be dragged by an invisible force around her bedroom or a kid could get eaten by his bed and cause a blood geyser, and it was instantly believable. That was the fantastic trick Wes pulled in this movie. He took a far out, big concept, supernatural killer and made him real. It really is a feat that has seldom been done better.
Punctuating the macabre at the very right times with the familiar strains of the main title theme, the score is also a large part to the film. The near constant music in the film is what really let the scenes move the way they are needed. With just a few tones, the audience is often clued in on what to expect, and this is a film that delivers. How much does it deliver? Well in the scene where Glenn becomes a fountain of blood so much was used that it flooded the room and shorted out the electrics on the set. That is dedication my friends.
Nightmare is probably another one of those movies that I keep coming back to because of when I saw it, but each time I do watch it I am constantly amazed by the new layers of appreciation I can heap on it. Don't get me wrong ol' Wes makes more bad films than good ones, for every The Hills Have Eyes there's a Vampire in Brooklyn. This time Craven hit it right on the nose. He created a character every bit as iconic as any in genre, and by doing so, unleashed a monster of his own doing. After this film, Freddy was never the same. The jokes began to get bigger and bigger, and more and more Kruger stepped out of the shadows to take center stage. It's too bad that all the menace was taken away from the character so quickly, but we still have this masterpiece to enjoy. So this Halloween for straight slasher goodness the only address is on Elm Street.
I had to include the Angry Video Game Nerds review of the Nightmare on Elm Street NES game.
Today's Top 5 Lists Come from a couple of Ryans. First us is Ryan over at Blog of the Realm. Ryan write some hella' good posts about movies, books, and whatever else crosses his mind. He also is the owner of a particularly awesome Riddler costume which makes me green with envy. Ryan's Top 5 goes a little something like this...
1.Dracula/Horror of Dracula (Terence Fisher, 1958)
2.The Omen (Richard Donner, 1976)
3. The Haunting (Robert Wise, 1963)
4.The Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935)
5.Night of the Demon (Jacques Tourneur, 1957)
Ryan actually put together a pretty nice post explaining his Top 5 list over on his site. Check out his expanded coverage over here.
While you're checking stuff out. Head on over to The Dark of the Matinee to check out Ryan the Mad Hatter's list. Also our friends over at Lost Highway have counted down their Halloween favorites, and it's well worth a look at.
I'll see you folks tomorrow, and as All Hallows Eve approaches we get down to business. My top 3 favorite Halloween films in the next three day, and tomorrow is already coming to get you.