My friends have freaky nightmares. Some involve stolen cars and dome lights. Some involve me with a shaved head. There was one about Optimus Prime (don’t ask). Even I’ve had a couple that would scare a Twilight Zone fan into a Golden Girls addict. Now, it’s Halloween time. The days are gray. Leaves are changing color. There’s something distinctly creepy in the air. Being that I am a Halloween fanatic, I get into this time of year. I do the pumpkin carving. I wander through haunted cornfields and the occasional cemetery. Most importantly, I watch tons and tons of horror flicks. Which is what I did last night. I drank my pumpkin ale. I lit my cinnamon candles. And I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street.
I’ve seen A Nightmare on Elm Street before. I like to think I’ve seen it many times, but this assumption gives me pause. Because honestly, if I’ve seen this movie so many times throughout my childhood and into adult life, why was I still terrified last night? It’s an eighties flick, released back in 1984, when I was two years old. The tagline is, “You’ll never want to fall asleep again.” Yeah. No kidding. If you do, Freddy Krueger and his knife-fingers will be waiting for you.
Nightmare was directed by Wes Craven. I recently saw the original Last House on the Left, a 1972 “horror” flick, also directed by Craven. I put quotes around “horror” because I hated Last House on the Left. I thought it was slow moving. The characters were dumb. There was nothing scary about it. In fact, the best part involved a woman biting a man’s…well, YOU KNOW, and that wasn’t scary so much as hilarious! However, A Nightmare on Elm Street gave Wes Craven some time to grow, released twelve years after this initial “horror” flick debacle. And the growing is evident.
First off, the storyline is better. This is the tale of Freddy Krueger—a child murderer, killed by a clan of suburban parents for revenge (and named, by the way, after a bully who terrorized Craven as a kid). Well, revenge is Freddy’s in the end, as he haunts the dreams of said parents’ kids. And the dreams are icky. They’re the kind of nightmares you hope and pray you never have. The kind where you’re being chased but feel like you’re walking through knee-high oatmeal. The kind where bloody corpses speak to you and call for help. The kind where you really, really think you might die if you don’t wake up, and of course, the kids in A Nightmare on Elm Street do. They die, and it’s in disturbing, gory ways. Ideal for a horror movie; unwise for right before bed. I mean, 500 gallons of blood were used in the filming of this movie! Five-HUNDRED! That’s what real nightmares are made of, people.
Of course, the movie has its pleasantries. For instance, it’s Johnny Depp’s first movie. He got the role because the producer’s daughter thought he was “dreamy.” And he is dreamy, all young and buff with a pompadour even Elvis would have appreciated. Then, there’s the moral lesson: DON’T HAVE SEX! If you have sex, you will immediately be tortured and killed. (I swear, a parent wrote that part to teach high schoolers a lesson…) But the foundation of A Nightmare on Elm Street is its serious creepiness that caused me to almost fall off my couch and stop breathing when my roommate came pouncing into our apartment last night. It’s why I love horror movies. It’s why I love Halloween time. Every day during this time of year, I entertain the prospect of my own horror movie. What would I do if a psycho came after me in the night? I like to think I’d survive. I’d like to think I wouldn’t run up the stairs when I should be running out the door. I like to think I won’t say, “Who’s out there?” But how do I know for sure? Maybe I’d be the first to go…
If you love horror flicks, check out A Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s a classic, just like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and The Shining. It’s Halloween time. It’s the time of year to light a candle, turn off all the lights, and scare yourself silly. Just don’t go to sleep. Freddy will be waiting for you.