(detailed information about this entry from Wikipedia)
- This article is about the film. For the article about the series, see A Nightmare on Elm Street (series)
A Nightmare On Elm Street was the first film in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series of slasher films. It was released in November 1984 by New Line Cinema. The film was directed by Wes Craven and starred Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, and Johnny Depp in his first motion picture role.
- If Nancy Doesn't Wake Up Screaming She Won't Wake Up At All!
- Sleep Kills!
A young teenage girl, Tina Grey (Amanda Wyss) has a disturbing nightmare in which she is stalked through a dark, never-ending boiler room by a creepy, shadowy figure with a dirty red and green sweater, a battered hat and a glove with razor-sharp knives for fingernails. Just as he's caught her, however, she wakes up screaming, only to discover four identical razor cuts in her nightdress. The next day, she finds out that her friend Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) had the same dream.
That night, Tina, Nancy and her boyfriend Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp) have a sleepover to make a distraught Tina feel better. Tina's rebellious, on-off boyfriend Rod Lane (Nick Corri) crashes the party and goes to bed with Tina. However, Tina has another nightmare and this time, the killer catches her and brutally murders her. Rod wakes up to find Tina being cut open by invisible knives and then dragged across the ceiling. Rod is of course suspected of the killing and arrested the next day.
Nancy then has three sadistically creepy, violent nightmares, in school, in the bath and in her bed, where she is viciously stalked then attacked by the same terrifying figure who attacked Tina. These nightmares lead her to talk to Rod in prison, who tells her what he saw in Tina's bedroom. She becomes increasingly convinced that the figure appearing in her dreams is the person responsible for the killing of Tina, much to the dismay of her mother (Ronee Blakley). Nancy and a skeptical Glen rush to the police station late at night to talk to Rod, only to find that he's been strangled by his own bedsheets. It appears to everyone, except Nancy, to be a suicide.
Nancy's mother takes her to a Dream Therapy Clinic to ensure she gets some sleep. Once again, she has a horrendous nightmare. This time, her arm is badly cut, but she finds that she has brought something out from her dream, the killer's battered hat. It arouses concern, but also other feelings in Nancy's mother, who is clearly hiding a secret.
Eventually, Nancy's mother, increasingly drink-sodden, reveals to Nancy that the owner of the hat, and the killer, was a man called Fred Krueger, a child murderer who killed at least twenty children. Furious, vengeful parents burned him alive in his boiler room hideout when he was released from prison on a technicality. Now, it appears he is manipulating the dreams of their children to exact his revenge from beyond the grave. Nancy's mother, however, reassures Nancy that Krueger can't hurt anyone ("He's dead, honey, because Mommy killed him.")
Nancy devises a plan, with Glen, to catch Krueger, but Glen succumbs to sleep and is viciously killed by being sucked into his bed and shot back up in a fountain of blood and guts. Nancy faces Krueger on her own and succeeds in destroying him by turning her back on him and draining him of all energy... or so she thinks...
Wes Craven wrote the screenplay around 1981. He pitched it to several studios, but all of them passed. Finally, the fledgling New Line Cinema corporation gave the project the go-ahead. It was the first real film made by New Line. Before that, they were merely a distribution company for low budget films. It proved to be the right move for New Line. They were saved from bankruptcy by the film's success, and in a relatively short amount of time became a major studio. Hence the company's cultural reference as "The House That Freddy Built".
However, the film was almost never completed because it lost its distribution deal halfway through filming. As a result, the cast and crew had to work for two weeks without pay while New Line located another distribution company. However, the production did not lose one crew or cast member. Wes Craven originally planned for the film to have a happy ending: Nancy kills Freddy by ceasing to believe in him, then awakes to discover that everything that happened in the movie was an elongated nightmare. However, New Line leader Robert Shaye demanded a twist ending, in which Freddy disappears and the movie all appears to have been a dream, only for the audience to discover that they are watching a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream, where Freddy reappears as a car that "kidnaps" Nancy, followed by a demonic arm killing her mother. Both a happy ending and a twist ending were filmed, but the final film used the twist ending. As a result, Craven (who never wanted the film to be an ongoing franchise), dropped out of working on the first sequel (Freddy's Revenge)
Wes Craven states that the film was inspired by several newspaper articles printed in the LA times on a group of Cambodian refugees and their children, who, after fleeing to America from Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime, were suffering horrific nightmares, after which they refused to sleep. Acting on medical advice, their parents encouraged them to do so. However, each of the children died in their sleep soon after, following the second dream. After Craven read the articles covering these events, he began writing the film.
Craven originally based the character of Fred Krueger on a child who bullied him at school; this name was first used as the rapist in The Last House on the Left, shortened to Krug. Krueger's appearance took key inspiration from a homeless man who had frightened him as a youth.
- Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund)
- Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp)
- Tina Grey (Amanda Wyss)
- Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp)
- Rod Lane (Nick Corri)
- Donald Thompson (John Saxon)
- Marge Thompson (Ronee Blakley)
The film was a phenomenal success. It spawned several sequels, as well as making a horror icon of the film's villain, Freddy Krueger. By the time of the film's second sequel, Freddy was a household name, appearing on t-shirts, masks, action figures, candy, magazines, trading cards, and much more. The character remains, along with Friday the 13th's Jason Voorhees, Halloween's Michael Myers, Frankenstein's monster, and Dracula, as one of the most popular horror villains of all time.
- Pancake mix was used for the "melting stairs" effect during Nancy's second dream.
- During the scene where Freddy falls off a banister, the mattress that he lands on is visible in the corner of the screen.
- According to Wes Craven, the red and green colors of Freddy's sweater were chosen because it is more difficult for the human eye to process.
- Although he is much more commonly known as "Freddy", Krueger is credited as "Fred" in this film.
- The House where Elm street was filmed is located at 1428 North Genesee Avenue, Hollywood, California.
- Originally, Tina's death involved a splash of blood when her body hit the bed after falling from the ceiling. This scene was included in the original UK cinema and video release on the CBS/Fox label, but cut from the US release and subsequent video versions.
- Wes Craven's original concept for Freddy Krueger was considerably more gruesome, with teeth showing through the flesh over the jaw, pus running from the sores, and a part of the skull showing through the head. Make-up artist David B. Miller argued that an actor couldn't be convincingly made up that way and a puppet would be hard to film and wouldn't blend well with live actors, so these ideas were eventually abandoned.