Wes Craven’s flight of terror Nightmare On Elm Street was released the same year as Friday The 13th. It was a banner year for horror films of the slasher genre it was also the year that critics, talk show hosts and legislators went bonkers trying to destroy the genre. No matter how hard they tried they couldn’t kill Freddy.
New Line Cinema’s Nightmare On Elm Street is one of the best slasher movies ever to hit the screen. Craven pays homage to Bob Clark (Black Christmas) and John Carpenter (Halloween) in his use of some of the dramatic camera work in this movie most notably Clark’s invention of “Serial Killer Cam” where the action is seen through the eyes of the killer. One wonders if the casting of B movie character actor John Saxon as Lt. Thompson was also a nod towards Clark who cast Saxon as Lt. Fuller in Black Christmas
The tagline for the movie sums up the plot: “If Nancy Doesn't Wake Up Screaming She Won't Wake Up At All...” Freddy Kruger is invading the dreams of high school students. When Freddy is encountered in the dream world he is all powerful and completely deadly. The body count isn’t very high in this movie compared to other movies in the slasher genre but the quality of the count is impressive. Also of note is a clear lack of motive other than simply being a psychotic in the dream world. Freddy never reveals if he is after the kids because of how he died or if it is just a lark. Freddy liked to kill kids when he was alive. He liked it so much he was caught and went on trial. Unfortunately for the public Freddy was released on a technicality. The audience is lead to believe though that Freddy is taking revenge for the unsavory way he met is own end at the hands of Nancy's mother. Of special note to film buffs is that this was the first screen appearance by Johnny Depp who is under utilized but clearly talented even at this early point in his career.Horror movies are more likely than other genres to generate a franchise even in these times of complete lack of Hollywood writing talent, but there are few franchises which have golden beginnings – Nightmare On Elm Street rises to the same level as Halloween and Friday The 13th and ultimately develops the most interesting and engaging slasher in the genre. This is a must addition to any horror movie fan’s movie collection.