A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
By: Markus Zussner on December 9, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Roadshow (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0, English DD 5.1, English DTS 6.1. English Subtitles. 90 minutes
The Movie
Director: Wes Craven
Starring: John Saxon, Ronnee Blakely, Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp
Screenplay: Wes Craven Music: Charles Bernstein
Tagline: "Whatever you do, don't fall asleep..."
Country: USA
Nancy Thompson's best friend Tina is brutally murdered. Police Chief Lt Thompson (John Saxon), who happens to be Nancy's Dad, believes that the killer is Tina's boyfriend. She tries to tell dad that she thinks Tina's killer is not Tina's bit on the side, but rather a horrifying grotesque burnt dude from her nightmares. When hearing this, Mum, played by Ronnee Blakely, hits the bottle and tries to wash away bad memories with some nasty top-shelf, and Lt Thompson starts to think of how much of his Police pension is gonna go paying for Nancy's Psychiatric bills. Convinced that this burnt dude is stalking her friends and knocking them off in their dreams; Nancy enters a desperate race against time to bring Freddy Krueger out of her dreams and into the real world to stop him for good. Nancy better stop Freddy before she falls asleep again or she will become Freddy's next victim and the local pharmacist's best customer!

Wes Craven was inspired by so-called true supernatural events which occurred in Vietnam during the 70's, where people were waking up from nightmares screaming in terror and then just dying of shock. Prior, the victims mentioned being chased by an evil entity that was trying to kill them in their sleep via their nightmares. This blew old Wes baby away and activated his creative light bulb to full brightness. And so became the birth and rise of Freddy K in the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. Initially it was never meant to be a franchise; at this time New Line Cinema was born virtually out of a corner store video shop and they had a destiny to play with the big boys. All New Line really was back then was a distribution company that had obtained the rights to sell and distribute Reefer Madness which they were doing via mail order (any one remember the world without the internet?). Robert Shaye of New Line threw in all the money he could from his back pocket and the pocket of others including the kids lunch money, to ensure that A Nightmare On Elm Street would be made and released theatrically, which was really a big risk. If the movie failed then New Line Cinema was destined to crash and burn before it ever got started. As we all know A Nightmare On Elm Street was a huge success and ended up being New Line's cash cow. From the success of the first Freddy movie there was going to be nothing stopping New Line setting up the franchise and New Line needed it if it was going to survive. Seven 'Nightmare' films later New Line was a force to be reckoned with, becoming the largest independent in the industry. New Line went on to obtain the franchise rights to Jason, Michael and Leatherface. Talk about bringing in the heavy weights.

During the eighties the staple diet for horror fans was Zombie and Slasher films. Below par rip-off Slasher films seemed to corner the market at all turns. It reached a point where most Slasher flicks were going direct to Video, by-passing the theatrical circuit with little or no theatrical exposure at all. I didn't have a problem with this as most of these movies were so bad that they shouldn't have even been released on Video; cluttering up the horror section with pure crap made by people who didn't know anything about making a decent horror film. When I first saw A Nightmare On Elm Street I was working as a Sales representative for a video distribution company and was privileged to get an invite to the advance screening and was pretty much blown away by the whole concept for the film. The film was as original as it was unpredictable. What really worked for me in the first film is the inability of the viewer to define the vague line between the sleeping dream and the waking reality which is exactly the effect that Wes wanted to bestow upon us and obviously pulled off successfully. Freddy's dialogue was also kept to the bare minimum. Back then it was almost unheard of that any supernatural serial killer would have anything interesting to say and did their business with their mouth zippers shut. As the Freddy franchise unfolded, Freddy had a whole lot more of nothing to say, usually always in the form of one-liner wisecracks. New Line steered gradually away from the whole concept that Wes Craven had strived so hard to createm turning Freddy into somewhat of a joke and a bore. Sure there's lots of entertainment in the Freddy franchise, but it's all just dumb camp fun. As the world went to a more politically correct stance, Freddy's burn makeup became more passive and gore was replaced by over the top SPFX which made the obvious distinction between the dream and waking scenes as if the viewer needed to know when a character was awake or actually dreaming which took a lot of the edge away. If you are looking for serious Freddy fun then choose only the original. Accept no substitutes.  
The re-mastered, 16:9 enhanced 1.85:1 transfer is crystal clear and blemish free. Blacks are rich as charcoal and the colours are fresh and vibrant, in particular the two colours that apparently are the hardest on the human eyes - Freddy's freakish red and green sweater almost glow in the dark and will undoubtedly burn themselves right into your retinas.
What can I say but the sound is ripping! Literally! Especially on DTS 6.1 ES and 5.1 EX formats. Freddy will be tearing through the speakers to slice off you ears, I can promise you that. On DTS 6.1 track he sound is of good quality but not as good as I expected it to be. It seemed a little restrained. The sub just doesn't rumble enough to my liking.
Extra Features
Lots and lots of great special features scattered throughout both discs. We have three documentaries including a 50 minute feature of making A Nightmare on Elm Street which is the highlight. A documentary on the science and philosophy of bad dreams and how Wes Craven got his idea for the film. A documentary on the rise of Newline Cinema and the positive effect that A nightmare on Elm Street had in ensuring Newline Cinemas rise to success. Plenty of deleted scenes, 3 alternate endings, alternate scenes, alternate takes and alternative interview footage with cast and crew. Also trailers for each of the 'Nightmare' films; Have a look at other Nightmares - 15 clips from various 'Nightmare' movies; and two different Audio Commentaries - one with Wes Craven, Robert Shaye, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Ronee Blakely, Jacques Haitkin and others, and an older "Archival" talk-through with Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon and Jacques Haitkin. There's also a fun interactive game called 'The Nightmare Trivia Game' where you are given multi-choice questions related to the film A Nightmare on Elm Street; For example, What colour is Freddy's blood? A) Red B) Yellow C) Blue or D) Green. If you guess it wrong then Freddy's gonna git ya!
The Verdict
Bigger, better, darker, scarier and with more extras than you can shake a claw at. The original is the best of course; Accept no substitutes. The rest of the series unfortunately deviates from Wes Cravens original vision of the story which is a crying shame and a sure crime. This version of A Nightmare on Elm Street is as good as it is ever gonna get, and all that you'll ever need - at least on DVD. This is the final word on A Nightmare on Elm Street… until next time.
Movie Score
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