Tag Archives: one two Freddy’s coming for you…

Dog Days Are Over

A different take on Stock Background Characters 101 this month as VeVo appreciates the literal underdogs of slasher film – the faithful canine.

Dogs needn’t worry about going in or out of style, they retain their lovable auras regardless of big perms and mullets with nothing but a jangly collar and sometimes a neckerchief. Gotta love that.

There are many pets in slasher films, some fish, budgies, but mostly cats that leap out of wardrobes with perfect timing to scare the beejeezus out of the inquisitive final girl and dogs that sense trouble long before their masters. They try to warn them but, much like children, nobody really knows/cares what they’re on about. Regardé:

“Woof woof woof woof woof. Woof woof. Woof woof woof woof woof” Trans: “There’s someone outside. Look out. …I want some kibble.”

Let us celebrate the best dogs of the slasher realm…

LESTER from Halloween

Breed: German Shepherd

Owners: The family Wallace

Skillset: Senses danger early, loves Lindsay Wallace, hates Annie Brackett. Growls a lot.

Hug-a-bility: 42% – if you’re a Wallace.

Fate: Tragic early doggie victim of Michael Myers. Poor Lester. Sadface.

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MUFFIN from Friday the 13th Part 2

Breed: floppy, lapdog thing1?

Owner: Terry

Skillset: Wandering off to find backwoods-dwelling psychos, providing false sense of safety and does it all with a cute purple ribbon in her hair.

Hug-a-bility: 66%

Fate: Unknown, last seen alive (along with Paul), hope she canters off to safety.

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BEAST from The Hills Have Eyes Part II

Breed: German Shepherd

Owner: Ruby, I think

Skillset: Can save people from evil mutants not once, but twice! Capable of flashing back to experiences that occurred six years earlier. Has adorable Littlest Hobo-style neckerchief.

Hug-a-bility: 71% (if he likes you)

Fate: Saves the day again! Yay@Beast!

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JASON from A Nightmare on Elm Street 4

Breed: uhh…Collie-cross?

Owner: Kincaid

Skillset: Jason crosses into the dreamscape with Kincaid and is able to piss a fire that resurrects Freddy Krueger. In a dream.

Hug-a-bility: 88% (as long as you’re awake)

Fate: Survives! Comes-a-waggin’ when Kincaid gets de-gangstered by FK.

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SUNDAE from Halloween 4

Breed: Golden Retriever

Owners: The Carruthers

Skillset: Can make little orphaned Jamie Lloyd feel better when she has nightmares or nasty kids pick on her.

Hug-a-bility: 100%

Fate: Another of Myers’ poor innocent doggie victims. Sadface #2.

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TOBY from Friday the 13th Part VIII

Breed: Collie

Owner: Rennie

Skillset: This lucky puppy gets to cruise to New York City and demonstrates that dogs can climb up and down ladders to and from lifeboats. Barks at thugs and flees when told to do so.

Hug-a-bility: 97%

Fate: After scooting and thus missing having to trudge through sewers, alleys and diners, Toby pleases us all by appearing unscathed at the end, neckerchief n’ all!

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MAX from Halloween 5

Breed: Doberman

Owner: Rachel Carruthers

Skillset: Barky, scary doggie charged with protecting Rachel around October 31st. Fails to bite annoying friend Tina though.

Hug-a-bility: 11%

Fate: Max becomes yet another dead dawg to add to the pile on Michael Myers’ karmic epitaph. Although it’s clear that the dog pictured is a cuddly toy with some ketchup on it.

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HOOTIE from Urban Legend

Breed: Westie

Owner: Parker

Skillset: Hootie the fraternity dog drinks beer, has a pierced nose and scampers around the place bringing joy to all.

Hug-a-bility: 100%

Fate: Poor Hootie becomes the test subject in a recreation of the legend about the old lady who microwaves her wet dog. Ewwww.

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Unknown Dogs* from Flashback

*I couldn’t be bothered to decipher the abysmal dubbing to try and capture their names.

Breeds: I dunno, to be honest. There’s this dog on the left and another Westie-type pup later on.

Owners: Dog #1 – Janette’s family, Dog #2 – Ella

Skillsets: Dog #1 is nice to children and eats M&Ms; Dog #2 is a bit of a cute pest and interrupts sex.

Hug-a-bility: mean average of 76%

Fates: Pictured dog is sickled by the dress-wearing killer of the prologue and Westie-type dog is chopped in half by the dress-wearing killer of the rest of the film. A cat is shoved in a blender as well. This film was not a regular at PETA demos.

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CHEROKEE from Scream 3

Breed: Golden Retriever – but very red

Owner: Sidney Prescott

Skillset: He can make poor Sidney feel better about her frankly crap existence and all the people who keep trying to kill her for various contrived reasonage.

Hug-a-bility: 100%

Fate: Cherokee lives to see more country walks – yay!

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MAC from Jeepers Creepers II

Breed: Retriever cross

Owner: The Taggart family

Skillset: Mac is a lazy farmdog who loves the Taggart family and barks and howls when he senses that all ain’t right in yonder cornfield. Alas, this all comes too late and little Billy has already been snatched by the evil Creeper when those around him start to believe the dog.

Hug-a-bility: 83%

Fate: Yay! Survival against the odds. Guess he doesn’t have anything the Creepers needs.

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Feral dog clan from See No Evil

Breeds: Mixed

Owners: Nothin’ but the wind, baby

Skillset: Eating teenage animal rights protesters who happen to be suspended upside down – and bleeding.

Hug-a-bility: 29% (high chance of fleas)

Fates: They live paw-to-mouth. Hopefully Cesar Milan will come to their aid.

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REGGIE B from Simon Says

Breed: Is that a Poodle?

Owner: Blonde camper woman

Skillset: Little Reggie B is adept to finding and picking up severed hands as gifts for his owner.

Hug-a-bility: after doing that, 36%

Fate: stamped into oblivion by nasty Crispin Glover. Relaaax, it was clearly a toy dog. Owners then annihilated so probably for the best.

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Quartet of Killer Dogs from Wilderness

Breed: German Shepherds / Alsatians (aren’t these the same thing?)

Master: Psycho Killer Soldier Man

Skillset: Super-highly trained military dogs-of-destruction, these handsome creatures’ bites are far worse than their barks. Can eat Sean Pertwee in seconds.

Hug-a-bility: 3% unless you’ve got the whistle

Fates: one of them takes a fall over a cliff edge while another is decapitated. The surviving pair presumably find love on the island and start a family of happy little puppies in preparation for Wilderness 2: Return to Killer Dog Island of DEATH!!!

* * *

Conclusions drawn: Some dogs live, some dogs die, some dogs eat people on command. Beast is clearly the best dog to have around when psychopaths are after you. Listen to your dog when he begins growling and barking for no apparent/visible reason – something bad’s about to go down!

Other worthy mentions: Gordon, the dog who leapt out of a window to get the fuck outta there when Jason was on the prowl in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (did he jump or was he pushed? Well, the J-Man was in the basement 5 seconds later so I’m going for jump). Ebus, the dog from Poltergeist who pawed at thin air and ate unwanted waffles.

Where are Brennan & Booth when you need them?

BONES

 3 Stars  2001/18/93m

“This Dogg’s got a bone to pick.”

Director: Ernest Dickerson / Writers: Adam Simon & Tim Metcalfe / Cast: Snoop Dogg, Pam Grier, Michael T. Weiss, Bianca Lawson, Khalil Kain, Clifton Powell, Ricky Harris, Sean Amsing, Merwin Mondesir, Katharine Isabelle, Ronald Selmour, Erin Wright.

Body Count: 13


A sort of Blaxploitation reworking of themes from A Nightmare on Elm Street (and also from New Line, no less) in which a group of ambitious siblings purchase creepy gothic house in a bad neighbourhood where they plan to open a nightclub. The house contains a legend of its own as the murder and burial place of 70’s big cheese Jimmy Bones, who was shot and shanked by a group of drug pushers with whom Jimmy refused to play ball with.

His skeleton is uncovered and, post dog-mauling and rain of maggots, he sets about taking revenge on his killers, who have taken the once progressive berg and turned it into a rotting ghetto.

With almost a full hour before Bones rises from the grave, there’s mucho suspicious padding and hard to follow characters (most of whom die) before things go totally Krueger-ville when the final few parties involved are sucked into a parallel dimension to duke it out with help from Bones’ psychic ex-beau (Grier in a gruesome green all-in-one for the finale) and his unknowing daughter, Cynthia (Buffy alumnus Lawson).

More than anything, Bones stands out from the pack by sgiting the usual white middle-class setting (which is duly referenced a la Jada Pinkett’s ‘exclusion’ rant at the beginning of Scream 2) to the nightmarish streets of a decaying urban hellhole where drugs and guns are plentiful and people have little to lose. However, the out of place middle class brothers and their whiter-than-white sister adequately paint a picture of hope through determination that tries to pass itself off as a subtextual undercurrent…

Not as annoying as most other rapper-in-a-horror-film efforts, listen out for the funny “KFC is run by the KKK” speech.

Blurb-of-interest: Katharine Isabelle was Gibb in Freddy vs Jason and was also in See No Evil 2 and Ginger Snaps (and maybe the sequels, I’ve only seen the first one).

Ipso Facto – Documentaries of the Slasher Realm

Way back when I first experienced that wee-hours viewing of Friday the 13th in my folks’ lounge and became enchanted with the idea of ski-masked madmen slaying promiscuous teenagers, there were only a couple of academic texts around; no almanacs, film guides or documentaries. The only mention of slasher films in the books I had for my Film Theory degree was that they were “hate-women films!” (exclamation mark included).

After Scream and the contemporaries that were washed up in the tide it created, the genre became accessible once again and in our age of curiosity about things of yore that pre-dated the behind-the-curtain-ness of DVD, it wasn’t long before all the people who grew up on the golden age were old enough to write and even film their own love letters to the genre. That’s what Vegan Voorhees is about.

So, books beget DVD featurettes and eventually came the retrospective documentary features, released on anniversaries of eve’s of high profile “remakes” (that word again!!) here are four of the five I have. The fifth? It was a Channel 4 Mark Kermode thing that didn’t venture beyond the big franchises or have much to say about them…

goingtopieces1GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM

4 Stars  2006/18/88m

Field Director: Jeff McQueen

The only one to have started life as a book, Adam Rockoff’s overview of the genre up until 1986 was never available in the UK so I can only judge by what’s on the screen, which, for all we know is advantageous because it’s a great hour and a half retrospective, chronicling the humble beginnings of human fascination with voyeurism of suffering, quickly on to Psycho, the Italian films of Bava et al, and going in-depth for Halloween, Friday the 13th, Prom Night and A Nightmare on Elm Street, whilst giving nods to The Prowler (including at-the-time unavailable footage from the uncut version), Graduation Day, Happy Birthday to Me, Terror Train, The Slumber Party Massacre and Sleepaway Camp – at which point I would like to add that Felissa Rose is not only beautiful but makes good counterpoints when the legendary parental backlash over the Silent Night, Deadly Night commercials is explored.

Later chapters look at the late 80s/early 90s decline and then re-emergence with key cast members and directors dropping anecdotes and theorizing about the genre they contributed to. And it must also be said that while I can’t call myself a fan of Rob Zombie’s output, I quite like the man himself; he’s well-versed, articulate and, like Felissa, presents a good argument for horror in general. Amy Holden Jones also has a lot to say about unfounded criticism of the films by the Siskell and Ebert crowd – their unintentionally amusing TV diatribe is covered: “these movies hate the independence of women!”

Going to Pieces is best appreciated from a nostalgic point of view – it is genuinely nice to hear what some of the directors have to say, given that it’s a common myth that they only did it for the money or as a stepping stone to greater things, unaware that (for many of them) they were making the most notable films of their respective careers.

Betsy is still flabbergasted at the success of the film she thought was a piece of shit.

Betsy is still flabbergasted at the success of the film she thought was a piece of shit

Who else turns up: Armand Mastroianni, Paul Lynch, Herb Freed (“It was good – but it’s good that it was”), Lilyan Chauvin, Fred Walton.

Triv: some poor TV movie actress got ditched shortly before Prom Night began shooting when Simcom secured Jamie Lee Curtis. Bet there’s a few darts in that poster on someone’s wall somewhere… Elsewhere, Tom Savini states that he sees The Prowler‘s effects as his best work.

HALLOWEEN: 25 YEARS OF TERRORhalloween251

2006/18/84m  3 Stars

Director: Stefan Hutchison / Writers: Stefan Hutchison & Anthony Masi

On to the big boys we go with the first icon-centric love-in, filmed around the titular covention that celebrated a quarter-of-a-century since the (screen)birth of one Michael Myers in – more importantly the year of my birth – 1978.

Despite covering my second favourite franchise, I was less impressed with this one that I was with the documentaries for Friday the 13th and Elm Street. Possibly because it came first, there’s little sense of structure or – dare I say it – effort that went into the other two and also Going to Pieces.

PJ Soles narrates, which is great, and there’s some convention-set talking heads with Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell amongst others but it feels a bit fleeting, like a local TV news crew dropped in to grab a quick word. Meanwhile, Jamie Lee Curtis appears only in archive interview footage. Late series mainstay Mustapha Akkad takes the reigns from John Carpenter and Debra Hill after Halloween III is all but apologised for and, in turn, makes public his regret that Halloween 5 was rushed into production too soon.

There’s some insight and box office blah, interviews with some fairly unhinged fans (one of whom goes so far as to ape Soles’ “see anything you like?” moment for the camera – and then wins a contest to appear in what was then known as Halloween 9) and Marianne Hagan laments the troubles that plagued Halloween 6 but it all stops short of Rob Zombie’s redux, which would have made for some interesting insights from fans and series alumni alike.

Attention-holding enough for what felt more like a few DVD featurettes strung together to flog that thousandth reissue of the original, which was included in the 2-disc pack.

pjsolesWho else turns up: Brian Andrews, Tom Atkins, J.C. Brandy, Jeff Burr, John Carl Buechler, Jason Paul Collum, Charles Cyphers, Chris Durand, Gloria Gifford, Sasha Jenson, Nancy Loomis, Brad Loree, Kim Newman, Rick Rosenthal, Don Shanks, Beau Starr, Tommy Lee Wallace, George P. Wilbur.

Triv: Rick Rosenthal says he shot the hot-tub murder scene from Halloween II in a thong! Marianne Hagan talks about the test screenings for Halloween 6, where an ‘articulate 14-year-old’s’ opinion that “the ending sucked” ensured re-shoots for two thirds of the film! Rob Zombie goes on to detest the process, commenting that when he was 14 nobody gave a shit what he thought about re-editing Jaws! Danielle Harris had a creepy stalker. There were multiple masks used in H20 as various big-wigs cyclically disapproved of them.

hisnamewasjasonHIS NAME WAS JASON: 30 YEARS OF FRIDAY THE 13TH

3.5 Stars  2009/90m

Director: Daniel Farrands / Writers: Anthony Masi & Thommy Hutson

Released to cash-in on the impending Friday the 13th “reboot” and shown on TV in the US – and strangely released in the UK in April 2010 – like, thanks now

There’s more in common with Going to Pieces than the Halloween doc, as Tom Savini presents a segmented skate through the merry history of Camp Crystal Lake, starting with a superfast overview of films 1-11, appreciating Jason’s greatest hits, the score, the mask, pretty much everything you learnt from Peter Bracke’s Crystal Lake Memories book with a little less cast interaction, although Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King and (swoon) Amy Steel appear so who cares about the rest? The lovely Felissa appears once again out of mutual respect for a fellow summer camp slayer and everyone attempts to replicate the ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma sound with varying degrees of accuracy.

Several horror bloggers get screentime to admire the best of Big J but there’s even less technical information here than in the Halloween doc, as if the whole project was dumbed down to suck in airheaded fanboys who only care about the method by which various teenagers are disposed of.

The ever-beautiful Kevin Spirtas appears...

The ever-beautiful Kevin Spirtas appears…

That said, Friday is the brand I champion the most. It’s organically the classic slasher series, despite its commercial and critical failures throughout the years, it’s like the kid you love just a little more than your other two, who might be smarter and better turned out, but Friday the 13th needs only to don that puppy dog expression and I’m sold.

The second disc includes extended interviews, fan films and the like. Was VeVo asked to contribute? No. *sulks*

...And Stu Charno even beginning to resemble Jason from Part 2

Who else turns up: Diane Almeida, Erich Anderson, Judie Aronson, Diana Barrows, Richard Brooker, John Carl Buechler, Chuck Campbell, Gloria Charles, Jensen Daggett, Steve Dash, Darcy DeMoss, Todd Farmer, John Furey, Warrington Gillette, CJ Graham, Seth Green (!), Kane Hodder, James Isaac, David Kagen, Elizabeth Kaitan, Ken Kirzinger, Paul Kratka, Adam Marcus, Tom McLoughlin, Lawrence Monoson, Camilla & Carey More, Lar Park Lincoln, Catherine Parks, Amanda Righetti, Shavar Ross, John Shepherd, Danny Steinmann, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Russell Todd, Debisue Voorhees, Ted White, Larry Zerner.

Triv: Darcy DeMoss’ murder scene was actually filmed underwater.

neversleepagainNEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY

2010/239m  4 Stars

Directors: Daniel Farrands & Andrew Kasch / Writer: Thommy Hutson

Back in the 80s, Roger Ebert said in his review of Elm Street 3 that the Krueger franchise was like a high-rent version of the Friday the 13th saga… Never more is that represented than here in this staggering FOUR HOUR retrospective of the eight Freddy films prior to the 2010 remake.

Narrated by the wonderful Heather Langenkampenschultzenburger and punctuated by stop-motion interludes, each and every film, plus that horrendous TV series, is explored to maximum effect, uniting nearly all the principal cast members who reflect on their time on set, what they thought of the films and the appeal of Freddy himself. Plus the riddle of Elm Street 2‘s notorious gay subtext is finally resolved – yes, it was intended to be a low-key theme, although it seemed most of those involved did not notice at the time.

Wes Craven and Robert Shaye talk freely about their dispute over the sequel rights and, on the second disc, the present cast members regurgitate memorable lines that recreates the saga from beginning to end and there’s a set visit which takes us to 1428 Elm Street, Nancy’s school and Tina’s house amongst others as well as extended interviews that cast a grim shadow over the then-incoming remake.

Comparatively, this grandiose slab of nostalgia wins hands down for sheer effort to please the fans, but could you watch it more than once? It took me three sittings just to get through it.

Ain't gonna sleep no more, no more

Ain’t gonna sleep no more, no more

Who else turns up: It would actually be easier to say who didn’t participate – almost every main cast member is interviewed, the only obvious exception to me being Ronee Blakely, who avoided it all by getting good and loaded.

Triv: For Jennifer’s TV-nightmare in Dream Warriors, Dick Cavett was allowed to choose his interviewee and so picked Zsa Zsa Gabor, citing her as the dumbest person he’d ever met, who he’d never have on his show and who he’d gleefully see slashed by Freddy.


All this shows that we are much indebted to Daniel Farrands, Thommy Hutson and Anthony Masi for all they’ve put into three out of four of these documentaries and Jeff Katz for appearing in, quite possibly, all of them, symbolic of their love and respect for a genre most people couldn’t have cared less about. We love you.

Don’t dream it’s over

nncoverWES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE

 3.5 Stars  1994/15/108m

“This time, staying awake won’t save you.”

A.k.a. A Nightmare on Elm Street 7

Director/Writer: Wes Craven / Cast: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, Miko Hughes, Matt Winston, Rob LaBelle, David Newsom, John Saxon, Wes Craven, Tracy Middendorf, Fran Bennett, Robert Shaye.

Body Count: 5


Been a bit Elm Streety round here recently, hasn’t it? Well, after this I’ll give it a rest for a while. Promise. The remake just got me hankering for the originals.

You know when you don’t like a song that everybody else does but it’s “just not you” but you’re well aware it’s good, A). that happens to me loads and B). that’s kind of how I am with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. It’s a stupendously good film, anyone can tell that but to me it’s merely a bit better than good.

nn1Understandably peeved with the way Freddy Krueger went from frightening villain of your dreams to campy sell-out within a few short years, his creator Wes Craven decided to have the last word on the subject with this looking back into the box from the outside sorta deal.

There’s talk of making a new Freddy film around LA, which coincides with a series of localised earthquakes and actress Heather Langenkamp’s freaky dreams and those of her young son, Dylan, who watches old Elm Streets in zombielike trances and chants “one, two, Freddy’s coming for you…” She’s also getting prank calls from an obsessed fan and things get worse still when her special-FX department husband gets clawed driving home one night.

nn2Car crash, everyone says with the exception of Heather, who things something else is afoot. She catches up with Robert Englund, Wes Craven, John Saxon and various New Line representatives who try to convince her it’s all in her mind. Dylan is taken to hospital for testing, where suspicion falls on Heather until there’s another murder witnessed by hospital staff.

Eventually, Heather and Dylan take on Freddy in a dream and put an end to him once and for all. Well, until Freddy vs. Jason nine years later anyway.

nn4The self-referential aspect catapulted into the stratosphere by Scream two years later is what makes the film. It’s smartly written, with a context of Freddy existing beyond the constraint of his films and crossing over into the real world plus some chucklesome little nods to the old films (as well as cameos), including that fabulous “screw your pass!” moment, and the wounds of Krueger’s razor fingers cropping up all over the place.

What holds the film back – for me, at least – is the low body count (two of the murders are merely referenced to in a news report) in ratio to the nearly two hour running time and drawn out scenes about Heather’s fears of her own madness. It’s just lack that re-watchability that a 90 minute quality slasher flick has: I’ve watched it twice in about 12 years. But, if anything, New Nightmare reasserted Craven’s directorial prowess and was probably a massive contributing factor in him landing the Scream films.

nn3Blurbs-of-interest: Englund was Freddy in all the other ventures until the 2010 remake and was also in Behind the Mask, Hatchet, Heartstopper, The Phantom of the Opera and Urban Legend; Langenkamp played Nancy in the first and third Elm Street movies; Rob LaBelle was in Jack Frost; Tracy Middendorf was later in Scream – The TV Series; Craven also directed Deadly Blessing and The Hills Have Eyes Part II.

“I’m your boyfriend now, Nancy.”

a-nightmare-on-elm-streetA NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

5 Stars  1984/18/87m

“If Nancy doesn’t wake up screaming, she won’t wake up at all.”

Director/Writer: Wes Craven / Cast: John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, Robert Englund, Lin Shaye, Charles Fleischer, Joseph Whipp.

Body Count: 4

Dire-logue: “I had a hard-on when I woke up this morning, Tina, had your name all over it,” / “There’s four letters in my name Rod, there’s not enough room on your joint for four letters!”


There are no perfect films (with the possible exception of Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion) in the same way that there are no entirely merit-less films, even more so in the realm of the slasher flick, so it’s a rarity when something excellent comes along. By 1984, I’d imagine most people were sick of masked killers hunting down teenage prey until the last girl saves the day – and then came Wes Craven’s low-budge indie flick with a bizarre little name – shouldn’t it be called Suburban Sleepover Massacre??

Everyone should know the twisted genius at the core of the Elm Street model: Don’t…fall…asleep. It’s perfect in the way that the lore of Jaws was don’t go in the water. Sleep is something even more impossible to avoid and when you’re a hormone-riddled teenager, your parents aren’t going to believe your tales of recurring nightmares about the claw-fingered madman who really is trying to kill you. Mom…he, like, really, really is!

elm11High school BFF’s Tina and Nancy discover they shared the horrible dream of the toasted guy in the Christmas sweater who freaked them well and truly out. Nancy’s boy-toy Glen tells them that’s impossible but, from his reaction when the girls describe their tormentor, he’s had the nightmare too. When Tina is brutally slain during a sleepover party, her dodgy on-off boyfriend Rod is blamed by Nancy’s Lieutenant dad and soon tossed in prison.

elm31While parents and authority figures simply accept that Rod killed Tina, Nancy becomes convinced that it was the man in her dreams and resolves that to avoid becoming his next victim, she needs to stay awake. Cue parental meddling, peer-disbelief and a memorable trip to a sleep clinic and Elm Street‘s Ace is thrown into play – Nancy has to stay awake by any means possible: pills, bad late-night TV and a helluva lotta coffee from the percolator she hides in her room.

There’s no point in me going through the rest of the story – if you’ve not seen it, what the hell are playing at!? I avoided this film until I was 19 thinking it would scare the hell out of me and, curiously, it was during my second viewing that the film left its frightening imprint: this means it rocks!

elm41elm51

Heather Langenkamp-enschultzenfuss is more than your average slasher flick heroine: she is the centre of the film, far more so than Freddy, who became the linchpin of later sequels (in accordance with Robert Englund’s ascent to top billing), and so a lot rests on her shoulders. As the girl next door type, Nancy is nothing but convincing and her descent into the nightmare (both literal and figurative) is the essence of the story, although things trip over themselves somewhat when she rigs her house with countless Home Alone-type traps, has a heart-to-heart with her mother and falls asleep to battle with Freddy inside a twenty minute window.

Let's get phallical...

Let’s get phallical…

Johnny Depp’s debut is a much-fussed element: as the leading guy, his job amounts to little more than standing around and looking pretty whilst not taking Nancy’s claims seriously and, eventually, dying. But he does fine in the role although we never get to see into his nightmares, nor that of any other male character as a matter of fact.

Craven’s creative streak peaked here, packing in so many great themes and ideas from the genuinely creepy skipping rope song – which has become an anthem of its own – to the allegorical subtexts of the Vietnam War: apparently Craven was riffing on untold truths which return and kick the younger generation in the ass. Here, the sins of the parents are revisited on their kids.

elm71Very little hasn’t already been written about Elm Street in the quarter century since its release, so why even bother reviewing it? I could’ve just given it five stars and written “Awesome!” next to it. It is a classic, the nightmare imagery still stands (I love the squishy staircase) and only some of the technology and Nancy’s ever-increasing hair mass date it, elements that, compared to the flaws in the remake, are minimal, proving that it never required re-booting at all.

Craven never wanted Freddy to become a franchise and while some of the sequels sucked a bit (5 and 6 I’m looking at you!!) I’m glad it did; of the three major slasher franchises, A Nightmare on Elm Street has the best story arc, bucked in Part 2, but back on track all the way through the 80s films until FK became a caricature and the films drifted further away from the sleep = death goldmine of a premise.

elm21In 1984, A Nightmare on Elm Street was made for about $1.8million and a lot of love. In 2010, It’s CG-heavy remake was made for $35million. Which one do you think people will remember in another quarter of a century?

BIG-blurbs-of-interest: Englund returned to his career-making role all the way up to 2003, starring in eight Freddy films and his own syndicated TV series (which was crap, by the way) and has cropped up in many a slasher flick including Behind the Mask, Hatchet, Heartstopper, The Phantom of the Opera and Urban Legend. John Saxon returned for Elm Street 3 and the New Nightmare and was also in The Baby Doll Murders, the original Black Christmas, Tenebrae and Welcome to Spring Break; Heather Langenkamp also came back for 3 and 7. Nick Corri, under his real name Jsu Garcia, was in Teacher’s Pet; Charles Fleischer was in The Back Lot Murders (which also had a cameo from Ken Sagoes from Elm Street 3); Depp has starred in big budget variants From Hell and Sleepy Hollow; Mimi Craven was later in Mikey. Craven also directed Deadly Blessing, The Hills Have Eyes Part II and the Scream trilogy.

By the finale, Nancy grew her hair so big that even razor blades couldn't penetrate it

By the finale, Nancy grew her hair so big that even razor blades couldn’t penetrate it

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