Welcome back! This month I will be talking about the horror movies that I watched growing up and loved to this day. Yes, even me, someone who was scared of Chuckie from Child’s Play, have favorite horror film franchises. First up?
Freddy Krueger and the Elm Street Dream Warriors
If you do not know about The Nightmare on Elm Street series, here is a general overview. Groups of friends keep having nightmares about a man who is burned, wearing a green/red sweater and claw glove. Soon, those dreams are becoming a reality, and slowly each kid starts to die in their sleep. This man was Freddy Krueger, and this group of kids was only the beginning.
I saw the first movie of this franchise when I was 12 years old. I had a slumber party, and someone brought the film with them. That was a requirement when you came to my house. Must bring one movie of your choosing. The movie scared the crap out of me, but it stayed with me. Even though I was scared, I went looking for the other movies to watch on my own time. There are a few movies that I have not seen since my original watch through, Nightmare 2: Freddy’s Revenge comes to mind. Some I look at every year in October like a favorite Christmas movie, Nightmare 1,3 and 7 for instance. This series has stayed with me because it aged well enough that I now pick up on the issues being discussed. Makes this series go from being just scary for kids and teenagers to a look at societies woes as an adult.
Let me preface this by saying that I am talking about the Wes Craven/Nancy run of movies. I’m not a fan of the series when it killed off the last of the Elm Street kids. Like Wes Craven said in the documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, there is no coherent storyline when it comes to this series. Too many hands in the pot. So, I will be talking about my love for the movies where I feel Freddy was dealing with a true nemesis or hero of the story, Nancy Thompson.
Why do you like this series so much?
I think the reason I love this series so much is that it was not just some slasher flick. So many slasher flicks out there have a killer just killing for the hell of it. This set of movies had a purpose and a message for each film. The production team did not rely on the typical morality tale that is throughout most 80’s slasher films. You know, the virgin is the final girl while the ‘slut’ falls on nothing and is dead instantly. It is dehumanizing actually. I love that all the characters in this series are flawed in little ways. Even Freddy’s true nemesis, Nancy has flaws that usually would make her dead meat in any other film.
Nancy and Freddy: Heaven and Hell Personified
Speaking of Nancy Thompson, she is one of my favorite final girls. Yes, I know she dies in the third movie but let’s not kid ourselves. In my head, even in death, she tormented Freddy Krueger. Without that, New Nightmare would not have had the impact it had on fans of the series (more on that soon). I think she is truly my favorite final girl because of how she ultimately dismisses Freddy in the first film. It was a stabbing or shotgun blast to the head. No. It was a speech about how she takes all the power she ever gave to him away. Without that fear for him to feed off of he has no authority to hurt her in her real or dream life. It doesn’t end violently she just walks away, and he is gone. If this were the only movie to exist with this villain, I would have been satisfied. Nancy as a character was relatable and was the only one to try to make a plan. She did her research, she figured out what the parents of Elm Street did and came up with a scheme to end the madness. While her friends/boyfriend just dismissed the notion of a dream killer, she knew better. It was nice seeing a final girl have some gumption and earn the final girl spot. She didn’t stumble into it because she obtained from sex. Please. That is a stupid requirement.
Continuing with characters there is a reason Freddy Krueger is one of my favorite horror movie icons. He is truly terrifying. He isn’t a physical force. He is in your head. He is in your dreams. That is truly screwed up. Freddy Krueger isn’t just running around attacking in the dead of night. Freddy is in your dreams and can attack you when you fall asleep. Your most vulnerable. That includes the brightest hours of the day. Even worse, Freddy knows all your deepest darkest fears. The things that you place deep down into your subconscious Freddy will bring to light. While being chased by a knife-wielding maniac with nothing to lose is scary so is someone who will never truly go away presenting your deepest fears to you. Freddy is already dead. There is no real way of getting rid of him. That is a lot scarier to me as a kid because I had some gnarly nightmares growing up. If I can have that scary of nightmares, who knows if it wasn’t a mysterious force directing them? It felt more plausible than a scary knife-wielding maniac. Though, now, it is possible that I die at the hands of a manic the way the world is today.
The Ideas and Issues That Run Through Elm Street
I guess what I am saying is these films have staying power because the ideas behind them never age. They do not get laughable with age like all the 80’s clothing and pop culture tidbits that are scattered around. The idea that sometimes to end the nightmare you need to stop giving power to the person or situation. Easier said than done. I noticed issues like the generational gap between child and parent, eating disorders, abortion, alcoholism and teenage fads and consumerism. Freddy and the various character react to these issues that were plaguing the 80’s, and I can guarantee they still plague this current generation as well. The movies were not coming right out with it, but these ideas and issues were in the Elm Street movies and did jump out at me once I was much older.
So, my gushing is getting out of hand here. I think I will always hold this series or franchise in high regard. It has so much going for it than just some slasher film (not that I hate the typical slasher film…more on that soon). It had strong messages that went beyond just appealing to the 80’s mindset. Even today, a lot of the issues and ideas presented in these films get people thinking and debating. That is the mark of a good movie in my book.
Stick around because coming up I will be defending my absolute favorite installment in the Nightmare series. I feel it is underrated and deserves more credit. Tomorrow I will be supporting New Nightmare or Nightmare 7.
Until then, the randomness has ended. Hope you enjoyed.