Should you watch “Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)”?

Eli Anton, Staff Writer

Movie release poster by Mathew Peak

When it comes to classic horror films, “Nightmare on Elm Street” is a title that has lasted generations. You may have watched it, heard your parents talk about it or seen it on a list of must-watch horror films. The iconic villain that emerged from the phenomenon is none other than Freddy Krueger whose burned face still appears on Halloween masks to this day.

The original film came out in November 1984. It was followed by seven sequels that were released throughout the years 1985 to 2003. A full remake came in April 2010 with the intention of making Krueger terrifying again as he had, according to the remake’s producers Platinum Dunes, lost that chilling charm in the sequels.

For those who know nothing about the plot or need a refresher: The focus is on a group of four teens who are having nightmares about a man that is hunting them down, soon realizing these nightmares are more than just a dream.

I will be spoiling small parts throughout the film and most of the ending as I discuss my opinions, so read ahead at your own discretion.

Now, I would like to say the movie lived up to its reputation as I admire the concept and character design for Krueger, but unfortunately, it did not.

Most of the jump scares were completely expected and announced as you would hear Krueger yell “GRAH!” or something similar. The only exception I can give is when the protagonist named Nancy thought she had failed to pull Krueger out of the dream only for him to lunge up from the other side of her bed after a build up of tension. Still a bit predictable, but a better job in delivery.

I did notice efforts that may have been spooky back in the 1980s, such as having the camera zoomed in really close on an actor’s terrified expression or the exaggerated use of fake blood.

The weirdest parts were also the most questionable. In one scene, Nancy is laying in a bathtub and Krueger’s hand comes out of the water right between her legs. In another scene, Nancy picks up the telephone and Krueger’s tongue comes out of the mouthpiece to lick Nancy’s lips after saying he is her new boyfriend.

According to interviews with the writer and director Wes Craven, the original vision for Krueger, and what ended up being true in the 2010 remake, was for him to be a child molester, not just a child killer.

Now knowing this, those odd moments go from just being weird to overall creepy. Except, this type of creepiness is not the kind even us horror fanatics want.

The element they seemed to rely on was audio. Every time a chase sequence occurred, electric music would amp up. Although fitting to the chase, it made Krueger seem like any other action movie antagonist. The worst part was when Krueger dragged his blades across metal. Imagine nails on a chalkboard but even more grating and high pitched. I am sure that would be horrifying to hear in person, but through a speaker, it was rather annoying and at some points painful.

For the majority of the film, the story was not bad. Nancy showed progressive character development, and the kids who died did not have a halo of protection that some writers ultimately give. I enjoyed the film up until the end.

During the climax of the story, there is a scene where Krueger kills Nancy’s mother and dips back into the nightmare realm. Nancy feels defeated by this, having lost her chance to capture Krueger and end his killing spree. She turns her back and Krueger immerges from the bed, coming back into reality. Some dialogue takes place, and she uses the power of thought to make him disappear forever.

This is honestly where they should have stopped. Make things go back to normal and have Nancy adjust to life without her three friends and mother.

What about the sequels? Easy, instead just cut it off after Krueger escapes to the nightmare realm and as I said, put her back into a normal life, coping with the deaths of her loved ones.

Instead, it ended in a happy scene where her mother and friends are suddenly alive again but all of them are stuck in a nightmare where Krueger is somehow still there to torture them.

That final scene was just a disappointment for me. It did not make sense according to what happened just a few minutes earlier, and it made all of Nancy’s efforts to survive meaning nothing. Twist endings are nice, but this one felt sloppy and last-minute. According to interviews posted online, Craven wrote both this and another ending with no rush, meaning it really could have been better.

If you are looking for a good horror film, I would say pass this one up. It is not scary, and the turn out is not satisfactory. If you want to learn more about iconic horror villains in the movie industry or are interested in what older horror films were like, then go ahead and watch it.

“Nightmare on Elm Street” is weird and could have been better, but it was still an interesting piece to watch. The 2010 remake may have solved the problems that I saw, but I have yet to find out.

My final thought on this is that if this movie came out this year instead of in 1984, it would have never gained the fame it currently holds.