Bad Movies Done Right — Nightmarathon Pt. 1: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: The Nightmarathon begins.

This weekend, Freddy Krueger will be introduced to a new generation of horror movie fans and to some he’ll be almost unrecognizable.

In the Michael Bay produced A Nightmare on Elm Street remake, Jackie Earle Haley (who has experienced a bit of a career resurgence since being nominated for an Academy Award for his role as a child molester in 2006’s Little Children) will don a razor tipped glove and red and green sweater to menace the children of Elm Street in their dreams.

Before watching the reboot of the series, I thought it was high time to finish watching the original Nightmare on Elm Street franchise — a series of films of which I had previously only seen half.

Growing up, A Nightmare on Elm Street was one of the few horror films my sister and I weren’t allowed to watch. Together, we saw some of the bloodiest, most disturbing horror flicks to grace the green pastures of our local video store but for some reason my parents drew a line at letting us meet Freddy Krueger.

It wasn’t until high school until I finally saw the original Nightmare on Elm Street and since then, I’ve only seen four films in the series.

Before I am introduced to Haley’s portrayal everybody’s favorite dream-tripping child murderer, I thought I’d do the full Nightmare on Elm Street experience and watch all of the original movies.

Being one to always jump into the deep end of the pool, I decided I would watch all of the films back to back straight through the night — struggling to stay awake just as much as the victims of Krueger do in the film series.

So, at 10:29 PM, I began my Nightmarathon by popping in the recently released Blu-ray version of Wes Craven’s original 1984 horror film.

For the half dozen of you who have either been living under a rock for the last 25 years or raised by parents as hard-nosed as mine, Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street stared Robert Englund as the disfigured ghost of a child murderer named Freddy Krueger.

For some reason, I had always assumed that Krueger was a child molester but one of the many things I learned during my Nightmarathon was that the film series went almost out of its way to label Krueger a child murderer and not a molester. I guess there were some topics even too taboo for a movie featuring a geyser of fake blood and a possessed telephone slipping a teenage girl the tongue.

In Craven’s original, Heather Lagenkamp stared as Nancy Thompson, a sweet girl-next-door type who finds herself at the epicenter of a slow-broiling massacre when her friends begin to be picked off by the invisible claws of Freddy Krueger.

Burnt to death by a vengeful mob of parents after Krueger’s penchant for killing little kiddies is discovered, ol’ Fred returns from the grave pissed off and with the power to enter the dreams of the teenagers of Elm Street — slashing them to ribbons with a glove tipped with knives on all of his fingers.

Compared to the rest of the films in the series, A Nightmare on Elm Street is a slow-paced pot roast of a film — marinating in its creepy, blood-soaked juices until it delivers an extremely tasty explosive ending featuring a final showdown between Freddy Krueger and Nancy, who is armed with the Macaulay Culkin approach to stopping bad-guys — a booby trapped home.

While later films in the Nightmare series would cast Freddy Krueger as a trickster anti-hero with the unfortunate habit of killing people, Robert Englund’s performance in A Nightmare on Elm Street is that of a subdued, glinty-eyed murderer — more prone to evil laughs and funny runs then cracking wise or killing with puns.

Heather Lagenkamp’s portrayal of Nancy Thompson is spot-on for what the series calls for — an all-American girl pushed to her limits and prone to bursts of melodrama-infused hysteria. Sure, she may overact at times, resorting to shrill shouts of exhaustion — but that’s to be expected for any teenager who finds themselves at the pointy end of Krueger’s claws.

Johnny Depp, an unknown when he was cast in the film, also stars as Glen Lantz, Nancy’s boyfriend — a nervous-eater with a fondness for half-shirts who finds out first hand what it feels like to be in a juicer after he meets his messy end at the hands of Freddy Krueger.

If you’re looking for a solid scare that still holds up by today’s standards, you can’t do much better than A Nightmare on Elm Street — which is looking even more fantastic in high-definition.

Together, Wes Craven and Robert Englund helped to create a character that would change and grow over the next twenty years but one thing is constant — there’s just something inherently creepy about a child murderer who has the power to loiter in your dreams.

To be continued…

Robert Saucedo is your boyfriend now, Nancy. Follow Robert on Twitter @robsaucedo2500.

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