Growing up, I was always more afraid of Freddy Krueger than Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers or any other sadistic fictional killer who viciously murders their victims just for the hell of it. My reason: same reason as everyone else’s; the man haunts your dreams. There really isn’t anything you can do if someone decides to invade a place where most people should probably feel is their safe haven. After a long day at work or school, you can always fall into a good dream during a nap or at night where you can make anything happen. Sneak into the hottest girl at school’s window for a midnight treat, hit the lottery and do what you want with the loot, win the Super Bowl with your favorite team and then tell the world that you’re going to Disney World afterwards.
Sure sometimes you might have a bad dream or two but usually it was waking up in your office naked or something like that. Child murderer, Mr. Krueger, put the “night” and “mare” into nightmare. He was the sole reason I was afraid to go to sleep for about an entire month (read my story in my review of this year’s remake). From Robert Englund to Jackie Earle Haley, if there’s someone to be afraid of, Freddy is that man. I recently went back and watched the entire A Nightmare on Elm Street series. It goes without saying but I’m going to say it anyway; they weren’t as scary now that I’m an adult but they were still pretty good. Unlike many horror films of today, the films get to the point rather quickly of what they are trying to do. They are attempting to scare the everything off of their audience by killing as many characters as they possibly can but still allowing someone to live to maybe be able to have a role in the next sequel.
Nightmare has many of those, six sequels to be exact. Seven if you count the crossover Freddy vs. Jason. Freddy Krueger developed the reputation of being a prankster, jokester if you will without the direction of creator/originator Wes Craven. He consistently made fun of and completely humiliated his victims before finally sending them to their doom. Over the many sequels the characters would come up with different tactics to try to defeat him. Part 3: Dream Warriors, which had young versions of Patricia Arquette and Laurence Fishburne, saw teenagers who had been committed to a mental hospital using their dreams to give themselves powers. Each of them played to their strengths to give the master of the dream world a run for his money.
Another sequel, Part 5: The Dream Child, had Freddy attacking a survivor of an earlier sequel through her unborn baby. Even though a large number of sequels can easily contribute to an exhaustion of a franchise, Nightmare seemed to keep it’s killings of characters relatively fresh and creative. If you get tired of seeing teenagers flee for their lives, you should at least continue to return just to see how they die.
The special effects that were used in all parts of the series were pretty impressive. Especially considering that they were mostly filmed in the eighties and nineties, before the pinnacle of CGI and digitally created visual effects. Turning a girl into a roach, dragging another one across the ceiling of her bedroom and literally pulling a pre-everything Johnny Depp into his bed and having a gushing out-pour of his blood fill his room was sheer genius in my opinion and super-entertaining.
New Nightmare allowed Freddy to return to his sinister and maniacal true form when Wes Craven decided to take back over. With the resurrection of Nightmare pioneer Heather Langenkamp and her heroine character, Nancy, that film took on another direction. Making it seem like Krueger was in fact real and having him attack and kill members of the actual cast was just another testament to the horror intellect that is the master of horror, Wes Craven.
Although I must admit a guilty pleasure of loving the 2003 combination of Freddy and Jason into one movie, I think the original Nightmare was in fact the best one. It set the bar for horror movies in general and contributed to many sleepless nights for tons of people. The franchise even spawned a horror television series similar to that of The Twilight Zone called Freddy’s Nightmares. Sure, you can’t kill Jason or Mike Myers but at least you can run away from them or at least slow them down. Unless you plan to stay awake forever and ever, your dreams will serve as your final resting place when it comes to Freddy Krueger. Better grab a whole lot of coffee and stay away from decaf!
I give the A Nightmare on Elm Street series “more than 5 reasons to respect Wes Craven out of 5”
“1, 2…Freddy’s coming for you”
“3, 4…better lock your door”
“5, 6…grab your crucifix”
“7, 8…better stay up late”
“9, 10…never sleep again”