A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Slasher Film, Teen Movie  |   Release Date - Nov 9, 1984 (USA)  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Adam Goldberg

Behold the horror epic that started the Krueger craze and the Elm Street franchise. This low-budget effort not only put frightmaster Wes Craven on the map, but it slashed new life into the dying horror genre. Nightmare on Elm Street is a surreal and artistic experiment in dark and bloody filmmaking, levitating above the senseless gorefests seen in Friday the 13th. Built upon a brilliant premise, Elm Street became known as a near-masterpiece of post-'70s terror that skillfully blurred the line between reality and fantasy. The character of Freddy Kreuger instantly joined the ranks of infamous modern horror villains. While Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers were steadfast and robotic, Freddy was a humorous sadist who refused to hide behind a mask. The dreamscape and surreal atmosphere that Craven creates is a key reason why A Nightmare on Elm Street remains so haunting to this day. Cinematographer Jacques Haitkin knows how to use shadow and light to his advantage, most notably in the trippy and eerie basement scenes and the moment in which a character is dragged across the ceiling. For a movie with a budget just over $1 million, Elm Street possesses a surprisingly stylish look; even the low-grade special effects manage to be effective. The film is tailor-made for those who like their gore coupled with smart and inventive ideas, a rarity in the horror genre.