Friday, March 27, 2009

Movie Spotlight

A Nightmare on Elm Street
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors

One of the earliest cinematic moments I remember is when a teenage girl named Tina had her stomach opened by an invisible specter and dragged across the walls of her room in front of her boyfriend. That scene made me run out of the room and hide. That scene was the first kill in a Nightmare on Elm Street. It was several years later till I saw that movie all the way through but by that time I had familiarized myself with the films and even a little of the TV series.

Since I recently picked up a 4-in-1 collection for cheap(and ordered the last 4-in-1) I've decided to spotlight two of the best in the series.

The original film by Wes Craven was inspired by LA Times articles about refugees who had horrific nightmares and refused to sleep, only to be forced by their parents. Eventually the children died.

The film follows Nancy, played by Heather Langenkamp, who watches as her friends die around her yet few believe in her boogie man killer. A boogie man in a stripped sweater, fedora, and glove with knives. She soon finds out the story behind the child murderer Freddy Krueger.

The first film is simple in its set up and effectively spooky. The acting is, solid, which is unusual for most horror films but definitely separates the classics from the rest. Heather is likable as the lead and her parents, John Saxon and Ronee Blakely give strong performances. Johnny Depp makes his film debut as Heathers boyfriend. The special effects are dated but still brilliant in their simplicity. Whether its Freddy's frame peeking through the walls or the geyser of blood in Depp's room, its a very creepy film.

The third film is the best of the sequels and some probably would say the best in the series. A group of teens who are believed to be suicidal are committed at a psychiatric ward and the doctors realize they all suffer from sleep deprivation. They believe the cause but of course, they're not sleeping because of Freddy Krueger. With the help of patient Kristen Parkers latent psychic ability they abnd together to fight Freddy.

Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon return and are joined by Patricia Arquette and Lauwerence Fishburne amongst a strong cast. This is the best acted of the films which is apparent real early with the teens reactions and anger over the fact no one seems to believe them. That's where the returning Nancy comes in as she's survived all this before. The effects are upped and the deaths are cool. The film does break down in the third act, which is why I like the original better, but really... how do you kill a boogie man killer? Plus a dumb expansion of Freddy's origin. This film also marks Freddy's shift to being more sarcastic. The script was co-written by Wes Craven proving all the good ones are his.

There's a reboot coming up and the review from Latino Review gives me hope. Restoring some of Cravens initial intentions and holding true to the first film(cast slightly different but feeling the same roles).

For the record: Elm Street 2 sucked but I hear it has a gay following which, I have to say, makes since if you watch the movie.
Elm Street 4 was cheesy fun.
Elm Street 5 was forgettable.
Freddy's Dead is a total, horrific, endeavor. Complete garbage from start to finish.
New Nightmare was strange in its meta-cinematic elements bringing Freddy into the "real world." The film was actually favored by critics but bombed at the box office. Good stuff though. Main reason I'm buying the next 4-in-1.
Freddy vs. Jason is b-film awesomeness. Also in that 4-in-1.

There's also a script for Elm Street 6: Dream Lover by Peter Jackson laying in New Line cinema somewhere. Though apparently this got him involved with New Line and helped the wheels on Lord of the Rings.

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