Yes, we're at the end of the countdown, and looking at the movie that introduced Freddy. Today, it's the original A Nightmare on Elm Street
: The kids of Elm Street have been having strange, scary dreams. Dreams in which a scary man in a striped sweater chases them, and threatens them with a razor-lined glove in a dark boiler room. Worse, some of them aren't waking up from those nightmares. Nancy Thompson soon discovers that the menacing dream figure is Fred Krueger, a child killer who evaded jail on a technicality, and who was immolated by an angry mob. Now, all the children of the mob members are being threatened.Kills
: 4, arguably 5 at the end (depending on whether you want to believe that Nancy was meant to die originally).Really bad kills
: none.Really Good Kills
: all three kids die interesting deaths.
Let's start with poor Tina, the classic example of a horror movie girl doomed to die. She's fifteen and not even close to being a virgin, dating a bad boy, etc. She's also the first person we see getting stalked by Freddy, as she escapes a dream stalking to open the movie. Shortly after her sexual liason with Rod, she falls asleep, and for the second time, we see her get stalked, only she's not as lucky this time, and Freddy catches her and starts to slice her up. We then cut to the "real" world, and we see Tina get sliced by an invisible hand, as four slashes appear on her. She screams, and contintues to not only get sliced, but to get dragged around the room and even up the walls. Rod wakes up, sees this happening, but is unable to stop it. As he watches TIna continue to get sliced up, their friends Nancy and Glen -- sleeping elsewhere in the house (and separately) -- hear the screams, but are unable to get into the room until Tina is already dead. Tina's death, of course, is blamed on the horrified Rod.
Rod, of course, is the next to die. Sitting in jail, he dozes off. Nancy, who has fallen asleep at the same time, sees Freddy entering Rod's cell, but in "our" world, we simply see the bedsheet snake out and wrap itself around Rod's throat, then drag the struggling boy to the bars, where he's hung to death. It's a nasty death, and the fact that the sheet was wrapped around Rod's throat first (and he thus had more time to recognize his upcoming death) made it even nastier.
Finally, there's Glen, who dies one of the great excessive deaths in horror movie history. Lying on his bed, trying to stay awake, he's watching tv, and finally dozes off. All is quiet for a second, and then, we see Freddy's arms reach up out of the bed and pull Glen and all his stuff into the mattress. Another pause, then a veritable geyser of blood (way more than you'd expect to see in one, or even three, bodies) bursts out of the bed, splattering the entire room in blood.
Although Nancy's mom dies a relatively mundane death offscreen, the final dream sequence features a second death for her, as Freddy reaches through a front-door window and pulls her into the small opening. It's not a "real" death, but it's still worth mentioning.Freddy's quips
: The original Freddy's a child murderer, not a comedian (dammit, Jim!). He does get two lines worth mentioning. First, before killing Tina, when she screams, "please, god," he holds up the glove and snarls, "This is God!" And, of course, who can forget Freddy calling Nancy on the telephone and saying, "I'm your boyfriend now?" Notable Celebrities
: Aside from Langenkamp, Saxon, and Englund, we get the feature film debut of none other than Johnny Depp, playing Glen. Amanda Wyss, who played Tina, was Randi for half a season on the Highlander
: Nancy manages to wake up and drag Freddy into our world, where he eventually kills her mother, and seems to have burnt up. But as the cops go away, he reappears to menace Nancy, who kills Freddy by revoking any power she gave him, and telling him she doesn't believe in him any more. This seems to work, as we fade into a new day, with Nancy's friends and mom still alive. But as Nancy and her buddies get into a convertible, the roof flies up, showing the pattern of Freddy's sweater, and Mrs. Thomspon gets sucked through the front door's window, as we fade away.Miscellany
: Written and directed by Wes Craven, about whom I've already said plenty.
That said, there's more to say here. This is not the first movie in which Craven explored the consequences of parental revenge for crimes committed against their children. In Last House on the Left
and The Hills Have Eyes
, he focuses on the way that such revenge brings the parents themselves down to the same level as their new victims (without necessarily passing judgement over doing so). In those movies, however, the consequences are internal to the parents. Here, Craven explores the effect on the children -- the reasons for the revenge -- themselves. Again, there's no judgement being passed, just a sense that no action, no matter the cause or justification, can be taken without repercussions.Overall
: What an amazing movie. Even allowing for the way it's aged (as so many '80s movies have), this movie creates a scary, nasty monster, one who has total control over us when we're asleep, and who is inescapable. Worse, he's one who arose from the actions of People Like Us. Throw in some amazing dream sequences (seeing Tina's body dragging itself through the school still creeps me out), images like Freddy's tongue coming out of the phone, the bathtub sequence (which is flawed on some levels -- the claw emerging from the water is a scare for the audience, instead of for Nancy -- but still incredibly well done), and it's just an amazingly intense film. Do NOT watch it on TV (even on IFC, which shows the edited version); watch it uncut, in a dark room, right before bed. Then see what kind of dreams you have.