A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
We’re all going to miss Wes Craven. The man had a serious passion for the genre, and he had a fantastic grip on the necessities required to frighten viewers. Through the years he managed to turn out some remarkable pictures, a few of which would eventually earn legendary status. This is one of those pictures.
It’s easy to step back and brand Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street as a slasher, but that’s not really doing the film or the story any justice. A Nightmare on Elm Street is unlike anything you’ve seen, and it stands out on this list as a result of the stunning creativity of the story. Sure, Freddy Krueger stalks and slices teens to bloody bits, but he does so in a way – in a place – that none ever have before: our sleep. Given the fact that it’s natural to feel as though sleep is a complete safe zone, this idea – that shatters that illusion – makes for an absolute smash hit.
Just as we’ve never seen a film quite like A Nightmare on Elm Street, we’ve never seen a villain like Freddy Krueger. He’s scarred beyond all belief, wears a glove with knives affixed to the finger holes and can basically do and say anything he feels compelled to do or say. He’s also hard as hell to kill, because he’s already dead, which calls to attention another very unique aspect (beyond the supernatural element) of the character: he kills children as a means of revenge, but in this case, revenge is mighty interesting. Krueger was never wronged while alive, up until the point when he was murdered by the parents of the children he abused. So, Krueger’s basically killing because he’s pissed off at the fact that his reign of terror was cut short by parents who refused to sit back idly, or pursue legal routes to ensure the man was imprisoned for the remainder of his natural life. Vigilante justice brought a serial child abuser to an end, as a mere mortal, and that prompted the birth of something even worse than what he was while alive.
The franchise as a whole is solid, but Krueger’s alpha, so to speak, is a picture that terrifies, mystifies and breaks the heart of any parent concerned with the grim realities that our children are sometimes forced to face.
Continue the countdown of the 15 films that defined the horror genre on the next page!