I did a pretty extensive write up of this film back in 2014 on the 30 Years On Project, which covered films from 1984. We are just a year short of a 40th Anniversary for “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, but the screening was this last weekend so I’m not going to wait another year.
Most of my previous comments are still true in regard to my opinion of the film. The practical effects are the thing that make this movie so compelling. The sequence where Tina is attacked, while she is in bed with her boyfriend, continues to be pretty horrifying. We think one way to deal with nightmares is to have someone with us, but Wes Craven doesn’t give us that out. The brutal sequence happens in spite of the fact that physically capable Rod is right there. He is powerless as Tina is ripped open, flung around the room and snuffed out by the invisible nightmare she is having. The movement on the ceiling, the long cuts to her abdomen, and the volume of blood, make a terrific horror sequence.
The same is true of the attack on Glenn played by Johnny Depp. I criticized his performance in the first half of the movie, but it is not any more problematic than the rest of the cast, and everyone does seem to do better once the character of Freddy is established as the villain. I suppose it is silly to knock a film like this for overkill, so I won’t complain, but the amount of blood that poor Glen gives up is impressive.
If the film has any element to it that does not hold up, it is the musical score which marks it as a product of it’s time. Composer Charles Bernstein has the synthesizer do so much of the heavy lifting in the picture, that the music feels like an 80s cliché right out of the box. There were a few eerie moments, but way to often, the volume key and the hold key on the electronic instruments just happen too obviously.
Wes Craven created a masterpiece with this film. I frankly have not seen any of the follow ups, but I think I am going to remedy that soon.
30 Years On:1984 A Great Year for Movies-A Nightmare on Elm Street