I know this is blasphemous amongst the horror circles, and especially so in the wake of Wes Craven’s unfortunate passing, but it is what it is. As far back as I can remember, A Nightmare On Elm Street has always been my least favorite of the franchise movies. Admittedly, as the series went on, I liked them a little bit more – who can’t appreciate some of Freddy’s one-liners? The problem with this first one is that none of those are there (I’m not willing to count the “I’m your boyfriend now” line), none of the witticism at all is present, and without even that little glimmer of hope, the movie just falls flat.
See, here’s my big problem with the whole series, as compared to the other franchise films (you know, Friday the 13th and Halloween). The entire premise of Freddy only being able to kill people in their dreams, while unique amongst the other films, just does absolutely nothing for me. I think it’s stupid. I know, I know, suspension of disbelief. I just can’t get past how absurd it is, though. The way Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers are set up as characters is infinitely more interesting, and in turn terrifying, to me. Sure, Freddy Krueger has kind of a good back story set up, but it’s a story that leaves him with absolutely zero sympathy points. Let’s look at Jason Voorhees’ origin – disfigured child who almost drowns, then sees a camp counselor kill his mother. Even Michael Myers (if you look at the 2007 remake history of the character) has some sympathy points, though he’s generally just pretty insane. Freddy Krueger, though? He’s a child molester, who has returned to kill more children. I get it, we’re not really supposed to have ANY sympathy for these villains, but there’s at least more of an understanding with the others, something that makes them more human.
Speaking of Freddy’s past, one thing that always bothered me about the first Nightmare is how Nancy’s mother almost casually explains to her that, you know, she and a bunch of other parents cornered this guy in a building and burned him alive. Let that sink in, Nancy – your mother is a murderer and an arsonist. Oh, and here’s this crazy razor glove thing that she kept for good measure. Get your shit together, Marge! You’d think that a woman who had a child with a police lieutenant wouldn’t keep evidence of a murder that she committed laying around the house. By the end of the movie, you’re just kinda left wanting them all dead, so there’s no way that they can continue on. You’re not that lucky, friend… there’s 8 more movies awaiting you!
This is one of those instances where I can acknowledge the influence that this movie had on horror in general, I can acknowledge how great Wes Craven was, but I can also acknowledge how bad this movie is. You know, sort of like recognizing that Adam Levine is a talented singer, but Maroon 5 is an abomination. I honestly wish that I liked the series more, but it’s just kind of weak to me. That said, Johnny Depp’s death scene in this film is pretty consistently ranked in my mind as my favorite horror movie death scene, so there are some redeeming qualities, just not many. So, sorry guys, but uh… 5, 6, there are better flicks.