A Nightmare On Elm Street

Viewed – 22 May 2010  Blu-ray

Warning: May contain spoilers

In the wake of the remake of this 1984 horror classic, watching it now with somewhat jaded horror-fan eyes is certainly a different experience to when it first freaked me out on VHS all those years before.  Wes Craven’s third movie is arguably one of the more imaginative movies of the eighties horror boom that spawned countless Friday the 13th sequels and rip-offs, and here we have a boogeyman like killer (the legendary Robert Englund) stalking teenagers in their dreams, wearing a red & green striped sweater and a dirty old fedora.  His weapon of choice?  A rather sickening glove with razors on the fingers.  Shudder.  Nancy Thomson (Heather Langenkamp) is the plucky school girl who watches her friends fall victim to this grisly menace and gradually figures out a way of stopping him, aided by her Police Lieutenant father John Saxon.

The dreamy atmosphere, the eerie music, that jump rope song and the presence of an actually scary Freddy Kreuger all come together to create a memorable and unnerving experience that with set pieces such as the murder of Tina with her being pushed up the wall and across the ceiling to the murder of a young Johnny Depp by being pulled into his own bed, followed by an eruption of blood – still shock and amaze to this day.  With some stylish camera work, believable performances (bar some cranky dialogue) this is still leaps and bounds above the remake that although trying to offer something new, never matched what this did right in the first place.  With the advent of torture flicks like Saw and Martyrs this does feel a little tame bar the above mentioned moments and the Nancy-turns-D.I.Y action hero ending always seemed a little silly, and it’s hard not to smirk at those eighties hair styles.  Meaning that yes, the movie has aged.

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you … the Blu-ray boasts a detailed if slightly soft image quality but the colours and the close-ups all look a mark up from previous releases.  The dark scenes seem a little fuzzy in places and lack some of the detail evident in other scenes, but overall this is a very pleasing HD performance.  The soundtrack, so important in this kind of flick really impresses with lots of detail and clarity and the dialogue is mostly clear if a little echoey in places.  I did notice some lip-sync issues when played back on the Playstation 3 but this doesn’t seem to be something that rears its head on all players.  Thankfully the original mono soundtrack isn’t effected.  Extras consist of two commentaries featuring cast and crew, and also we get three featurettes, the best being the Never Sleep Again: Making Of A Nightmare On Elm Street which has plenty of interviews and unseen footage.  Add to this a trivia track and Blu-ray focus points and this makes for a quality package for a deservedly classic movie.

Verdict: 4 /5


Viewed – 31 January 2008  DVD

What makes a good horror movie?  Well for one, you hope its frightening.  If your a fan of gore – you want the claret to be flying, and well, how about a bit of imagination?  Screaming z-list actors? – check.  Deformed madman?  check.  Haunted woodland?  check (OK, its a swamp – same difference).  So where oh where does this go so horribly wrong?

Obviously we’re in low budget land here, which normally I’m fine with (to be honest, my much loved Dario Argento never has much money to work with)…whereas this director, well, he’s seen a few dodgy eighties horror movies…and learnt how to make a poor copy.  So there’s a back story involving some deformed guy (Friday 13th regular Kane Hodder) who was burnt to death many years ago, and now haunts the swamp – oh heck, cut the bullshit – the story is rubbish!  Even the gang of twenty-somethings are so annoying you cheer at the screen when one of them is killed (and the deaths are the only calling card this film has – they are uniformly over the top and lacking in any imagination…no build up, no tension, no panache whatsover…).  When you consider directors like Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi cut their teeth on this shit, and still managed to deliver excessively clever gore films (ala Bad Taste, Braindead, The Evil Dead)…then it begs the question – who gave this hideously untalented man the green light?  Was it the clever script…duh, no!  The heavy weight talent that it attracted?  Cameos by Robert Englund and Tony Todd justify nothing…and most insultingly of all, respected Internet critic Harry Knowles, who I would normally champion – says its the ‘next icon in horror’ – is he insane???  Or was he being Ironic??? Or paid the rest of this films meagre budget to sell a few copies before anyone found out?

“Kane Hodder creates a horror film icon that if all goes as I pray to God it does with this film… that will stand alongside Jason, Michael Myers and Freddy.” -Harry Knowles.

The movie even tries to be funny – and it so definitely isn’t – not for a second.  Not even unintentionally.  Ok, maybe slightly.  Oh well…at least its got tits and gore in it.  That’s something.  😛

Verdict:  2 /5