You awake from a horrific dream, gasping for air, your pulse pounding, as you try desperately to get your bearings on reality. Slowly you realize that it was nothing more than a nightmare, a figment of your overworked imagination. You’ve returned to the safety of reality – or maybe not. Such was the premise that a group of teenagers faced in the disturbing 1984 film, A Nightmare on Elm Street, where they first caught a glimpse of the weatherworn hat and sinister grin of one of the most popular movie villains ever conceived – Freddy Krueger. With his formidable glove, equipped with a set of razor sharp knife blades, he forever blurred the line between dreams and reality and made A Nightmare on Elm Street one of the most beloved and successful horror film franchises in history.
When a young teenage girl named Tina has a horrible nightmare one evening, where a menacing madman with razor sharp claws is attacking her, she wakes up to make a startling and chilling discovery – the wounds she received in her dream are still present on her arm. She heads off to school that morning and is shocked to discover that her best friend Nancy experienced the very same dream.
Deciding that there is safety in numbers, Nancy and her boyfriend offer to spend the following night at Tina’s, along with Tina’s boyfriend Rod. It’s a nice plan, but it fails to keep Tina safe. Her and Rod retire to the master bedroom and fall asleep, and soon she finds herself in the same nightmare. Only this time, her sinister pursuer is victorious – brutally murdering Tina both in and out of her dream. Her poor boyfriend watches helplessly as her bloody body is dragged up and down walls and across the ceiling, as the invisible killer savagely murders her. As if that weren’t enough for Rod to experience, he is also summarily charged with her murder.
While the police may not believe Rod’s story, Nancy realizes that Rod was only an innocent bystander and that the real killer is someone not of this world. Unfortunately, the next time she pays a visit to Rod, along with her boyfriend Glen, they arrive to find that Rod died from being strangled by his bed sheets, which appears to everyone else to be a suicide. Nancy knows better but, at her mother Marge’s insistence, she spends the next night in a dream therapy clinic.
Unfortunately, her new surroundings don’t provide any better security from her nocturnal attacker, who shows up again in her dreams. She survives the ordeal and even brings back a souvenir, a beat-up old hat. And when Mom gets a look at the hat, it forces her to come clean with her daughter. This isn’t any random killer, this is Freddy Krueger, a former neighborhood resident that killed twenty children, was arrested, then released on a technicality. At that point, parents took matters into their own hands and burned him alive in a boiler room he was using for a hideout. And now, Freddy is back from beyond and he wants revenge.
Horror-film legend Wes Craven produced A Nightmare on Elm Street and cast veteran actor Robert Englund in the role of Freddy. Although the film wasn’t all that heavily marketed, word-of-mouth spread quickly and the film made a sizable profit, leading to a remarkable seven sequels. Over the years, the original has become a cult classic, helping Freddy earn his place as one of the most feared villains in movie history. To date, the franchise has earned well over $300 million at the box office, with its biggest success coming from an iconic pairing of Freddy with Jason from the equally-prolific Friday the 13th franchise, in Freddy Vs. Jason, released in 2003. A remake of the original film was released in 2010 and did respectable business at the box-office despite critics eviscerated it for lacking the charm of its predecessor. One thing seems certain though – we have not seen the last of that sinister grin, nor heard the last clickity-clack of those menacing claws which can reach out from a dream and slice anything in their path.
Did A Nightmare on Elm Street give you your own supply of nightmares? We hope you’ll share your memories of this classic horror film with us in our comments section. Sleep well and pleasant dreams.