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      A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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      The monstrous spirit of a slain child murderer seeks revenge by invading the dreams of teenagers whose parents were responsible for his untimely death.

      Director:

      Wes Craven

      Writer:

      Wes Craven
      Reviews
      Popularity
      320 ( 76)
      3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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      Edit

      Cast

      Cast overview, first billed only:
      John Saxon ... Lt. Thompson
      Ronee Blakley ... Marge Thompson
      Heather Langenkamp ... Nancy Thompson
      Amanda Wyss ... Tina Gray
      Jsu Garcia ... Rod Lane (as Nick Corri)
      Johnny Depp ... Glen Lantz
      Charles Fleischer ... Dr. King
      Joseph Whipp Joseph Whipp ... Sgt. Parker
      Robert Englund ... Fred Krueger
      Lin Shaye ... Teacher
      Joe Unger ... Sgt. Garcia
      Mimi Craven ... Nurse (as Mimi Meyer-Craven)
      Jack Shea Jack Shea ... Minister
      Ed Call Ed Call ... Mr. Lantz
      Sandy Lipton Sandy Lipton ... Mrs. Lantz
      Edit

      Storyline

      On Elm Street, Nancy Thompson and a group of her friends (comprising Tina Gray, Rod Lane and Glen Lantz) are being tormented by a clawed killer in their dreams named Fred Krueger. Nancy must think quickly, as Fred tries to pick them off one by one. When he has you in your sleep, who is there to save you? Written by simon_hrdng

      Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

      Taglines:

      What's In A Dream Anyway? See more »

      Genres:

      Horror

      Certificate:

      R | See all certifications »

      Parents Guide:

      View content advisory »
      Edit

      Details

      Country:

      USA

      Language:

      English

      Release Date:

      16 November 1984 (USA) See more »

      Also Known As:

      A Nightmare on Elm Street See more »

      Edit

      Box Office

      Budget:

      $1,800,000 (estimated)

      Opening Weekend USA:

      $1,271,000, 11 November 1984

      Gross USA:

      $25,504,513

      Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

      $25,504,513
      See more on IMDbPro »

      Company Credits

      Show more on IMDbPro »

      Technical Specs

      Runtime:

      | (Workprint Version)

      Sound Mix:

      Mono

      Color:

      Color (DeLuxe)

      Aspect Ratio:

      1.85 : 1
      See full technical specs »
      Edit

      Did You Know?

      Trivia

      Although he is credited as Freddy Krueger in the sequels, he is credited as Fred Krueger in this film. See more »

      Goofs

      In the full-screen version, during the first nightmare sequence right before Freddy pops up to scare Tina, you can see Robert Englund as Freddy crouched down and moving into place behind her; however, at the time of the film's release, director Wes Craven would assume that only the wide-screen version would eventually be available for home viewing. You can't see Englund behind Tina in the wide-screen version. See more »

      Quotes

      [first lines]
      Fred Krueger: Tina.
      See more »

      Alternate Versions

      The German television version is heavily cut, allowing for an earlier time slot. The cuts are:
      • When Tina is sliced by Freddy Krueger, we don't see how he slices her chest and is pulled to the ceiling.
      • In Tina's last dream we don't see when Freddy cuts his own fingers off his hand. Later, there is a scene where Freddy's face is pulled off by Tina. This scene is also missing.
      • When Nancy meets Freddy for the first time, we can't see when he slices his abdomen and when Nancy puts her arm on the hot pipe.
      • When Rod's neck is broken by Freddy Krueger, we only see Rod looking at the "snake", before it kills him.
      • The scene where the dead Tina is talking to Nancy while snakes are coming out her dress is also cut.
      • Glen's famous dead scene is also cut. We only see how he is sucked in his bed. The bloody, second half is cut.
      • When Nancy is burning Freddy, we only see the fire reach his feet, then it cuts to Nancy calling her dad.
      • The scene where Freddy is killing Nancy's mother by burning her is also cut.
      • These changes were also made in the German video version, which has a "not under 16 years" rating. The uncut version is sometimes shown on Pay-Per-View and is rated "not under 18 years."
      See more »

      Connections

      Referenced in Dancing with the Stars: Episode #8.7 (2008) See more »

      Soundtracks

      Nightmare
      Performed by 213
      Written and Produced by Martin Kent, Steve Karshner, Michael Schurig
      See more »

      Frequently Asked Questions

      See more »

      User Reviews

       
      You'll never want to fall asleep again
      24 October 2005 | by kylopodSee all my reviews

      While I love horror films, I am not a big fan of the slasher genre, which has come to dominate and indeed practically to define horror since the late 1970s. While I do love the original "Psycho," most slasher films follow a different, and far more predictable, formula. The idea of a faceless killer going around stabbing teenagers just doesn't frighten me a whole lot, though some of these films do fill me with disgust--a rather different sort of emotion.

      I am far more frightened by films that deal with distortions of reality, where it's hard for the characters to tell what's real and what's not. Admittedly, that genre isn't always so lofty either. Dreams are one of the most overused devices in the movies, having a whole set of clichés associated with them. We are all familiar with the common scene in which a character awakens from a nightmare by jerking awake in cold sweat. This convention is not only overused, it's blatantly unrealistic, for people waking up from dreams do not jerk awake in such a violent fashion. Moreover, these scenes are usually nothing more than little throwaway sequences designed to amuse or frighten the audience without advancing the plot.

      What makes "Nightmare on Elm Street" so clever is how it creates an entirely new convention for representing dreams on screen. The dreaming scenes are filmed with an airy, murky quality, but so are many of the waking scenes, making it very difficult to tell whether a character is awake or asleep. Indeed, the movie never shows any character actually fall asleep, and as a result we are constantly on guard whenever characters so much as close their eyes for a moment. In crucial scenes, it is impossible to tell whether what we are seeing is real or happening only in a character's mind. But the movie ultimately suggests that the difference doesn't matter. The premise of the movie, in which a child-killer haunts teenager's dreams and has the capability of killing them while they're asleep, turns the whole "It was all just a dream" convention on its head: in this movie, the real world is safe, and the dream world is monstrously dangerous.

      The movie finds a number of ways to explore this ambiguity, including a bathtub scene that invites comparisons with the shower scene in "Psycho" without being a cheap ripoff. My personal favorite scene, and one of the scariest I've ever seen in a movie, is the one where Nancy dozes off in the classroom while a student is standing up in front of the class reading a passage from Shakespeare. The way the scene transitions from the real classroom to a nightmarish version of it is brilliantly subtle.

      The director, Wes Craven, understood that the anticipation of danger is usually more frightening than the final attack. There are some great visual shots to that effect, including one where Freddy's arms becomes unnaturally long in an alleyway, and another where the stairs literally turn into a gooey substance, in imitation of the common nightmare where it is hard to get away from a pursuer. The movie continually finds creative ways to tease the audience, never resorting to red herring, that tired old convention used in almost all other slasher films.

      Despite the creativity in these scenes, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is still a formula movie, with relatively one-dimensional characters and no great performances. This was Johnny Depp's first role, as Heather Langenkamp's boyfriend, and although he does get a few neat lines of exposition (his speech about "dream skills"), his personality is not fleshed out, and there is no sense of the great actor Depp would go on to become.

      Within the genre, however, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is a fine work. My main criticism isn't its failure to transcend the formula, but its confusing and obtuse ending, apparently put there in anticipation of sequels, but managing to create a mystery that the sequels were unable to clear up. The climactic confrontation between Freddy and Nancy is weakly handled. The crucial words she says to him are surprisingly clunky, and her father's muted behavior during that scene is almost inexplicable. It has led me to consider an alternative interpretation of the scene, but one that feels like a cop-out. The scene that follows, and where the movie ends, is anticlimactic and unnecessary. These clumsily-made final two scenes come close to ruining the movie, and it is a testament to the film's many good qualities that it still stands as an unusually effective horror film that invites repeat viewings.


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