Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) presents a unique take on the slasher/stalker subgenre as it questions reality with the implementation of veracious nightmares throughout the narrative. Additionally, a door is opened with the underscored killer, Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund), as his supernatural origin opposes anteceding existential killers of the subgenre. Analogous to previous slasher films such as Halloween (1978), Craven’s film proves worthy of its similar subsequent laudable franchise. However, during the time of A Nightmare on Elm Street’s release, the slasher film model had been stretched thin with repetitive exploitation of the framework. From less recognized films such as Prom Night (1979) to highly praised films like Friday the 13th, the narrative of the film model was becoming more quotidian with each new release. It was up to Craven to resurrect and restore the viewer’s faith in the sadistic subgenre. Through Freddy Kruger’s introduction to the established slasher film structure, Craven provides his viewers with the antidote to their boredom. While Craven intermittently relies on special effects to construct his killer’s full transcendent potential, Jacques Haitkin, the cinematographer, artfully complements these effects by contextualizing colors and sound; pressing the significance of key scenes on the viewer. As a result, the terrifying film grossed $25 million in the United States box office while leaving the horror fan-base with a venerable killer who would be a mascot of the genre for years to come.
The year is 1988. It’s been four years since the original A Nightmare on Elm Street was released, simultaneously impressing and haunting the world with its originality and style, and distribution company New Line Cinema has just raked in a ton of cash for its highest grossing production yet, A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. Of course, this meant that Freddy Krueger wasn’t dead (kinda like how he wasn’t dead at the end of Nightmare parts 1, 2, and 3 either), and just one year later in 1989, Freddy returned to yet again terrorize some poor teenager’s nightmares. (Click here to read my thoughts on the previous three Nightmare sequels).
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
After releasing two very successful, fun, and inventive sequels with A Nightmare on Elm Street parts 3 and 4, New Line Cinema hoped to keep the Freddy train a-rollin’ with A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. It’s too bad, then, that this train was derailed by bad direction, lousy acting, and a lack of impressive death scenes (okay, I’m done with my train analogy now, you’re welcome). The Dream Child picks up about a year after the events of Nightmare 4: The Dream Master, with our main heroine Alice trying to keep it together and put Freddy in the past.
Of course, keeping in style of every previous movie in the series, the first scene is a nightmare which shows that Freddy is in fact alive again. This opening scene actually ends up being the best part of the entire film. Alice finds herself in an insane asylum wearing a nun’s habit and garnering a name-tag that reads “Amanda Krueger.” She becomes locked inside the ward with every patient loose, and is attacked. This scene is of course taken from the explanation as to what happened to Freddy Krueger’s mother we get in Nightmare 3, and it’s a genuinely effective and well produced scene, but the movie only goes downhill from here.
In 1984, a young director named Wes Craven unleashed the monster known as Freddy Krueger upon the world, and we loved it. After A Nightmare on Elm Street was released, the newest horror icon, Freddy Krueger (played magnificently by the horror cult icon, Robert Englund), became a household name throughout the 80s and 90s.
With A Nightmare on Elm Street came an abundance of toys, a television show, Halloween costumes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a “Freddy O’s” breakfast cereal was in talks at some point. Freddy Krueger was arguably the biggest movie icon of the 80s. Forget Johnny Depp (whose first role was in the original NoES); forget Patrick Swayze; forget Tom Cruise. We wanted more Freddy, and we got it in the form of six sequels.
Nearly everyone has seen the original A Nightmare on Elm Street (or it’s 2010 remake), but not nearly as many people have ever given the many sequels a chance. Because of this, for my first-ever post here on Jet Fuel Review Blog, I will be looking at the first three of six sequels (Nightmare parts 2, 3, and 4) and determining if the hype for Freddy Krueger was deserved or not.