Sunday, October 11, 2009

31 Days of Halloween - Day 11 - Movie

After running a Frankenstein week during the countdown for two years in a row, I felt it was time for a change of pace. It came to my attention that I had only ever seen the first two "A Nightmare On Elm Street" movies. While I'm not big on the so-called "icons of horror" from the 1980s, I remember enjoying these movies and decided that this year I'd watch the entire series (minus the "Freddy vs Jason" installments). I may be in for a long week full of regret, but here goes.

"A Nightmare On Elm Street" (1984) is really an inaccurate title. There are numerous nightmares happening on this particular street, all being had by a group of four teenagers, and all the dreams centering on a badly burned man in a green and red striped sweater wearing a glove with razor blade covered finger tips. This burned man, it turns out is a dead child murderer named Fred Krueger, and he can now kill people in their dreams, killing them in the real world as well. After a desperate seven day attempt at going without sleep, one of the teenagers played by Heather Langenkamp decides to fight back so she can get some sleep without fear.

The movie is filled with dreams that don't ever really feel like actual dreams, but have some inventive imagery, which extends over into the real world as well as we watch Freddy Krueger's powers extend into the waking world. The special effects are pretty well done as well. The cast is able, but without any real standout performances, not even by Johnny Depp and his big 1984 hair and accompanying wardrobe. The film does boast John Saxon as Langenkamp's policeman father, who is always a welcome sight.

The movie does have some serious lapses in logic and believability, the most noteworthy being when Langenkamp pleads with her father to come to her aid in twenty minutes time. After he agrees, we watch a montage of her rigging some really sophisticated booby traps (meant to trap Fred Krueger when she pulls him into the waking world, never mind the fact that her mother is in the house, and her father soon will be. What happens if they stumble upon one of these death traps?) then has a heartfelt talk with her mother before going up to bed, successfully falling asleep (acceptable since she's been up for seven days, although a seven day sleep deprivation period devoid of the usual hallucinations) and dreaming during that twenty minute time period. Even better though, is after her father agrees to come to her, he starts up the stairs to investigate a crime scene, and she's finished her booby traps before he reaches the top.

I found the movie to be an okay diverting experience, but nothing great. I also found the character of Fred Krueger to be a one note unfrightening boogey man with absolutely no personality or even charisma. He was simply a delivery system to get to the special effects and nothing more, at least in this first film.

Tomorrow we'll find out what happens next, and I shall reveal my own bloody encounter with Fred Krueger. The blood was all mine, too.

1 comment:

Shawn Robare said...

Yeah the series is a weird bug. In the first flick Freddy is at his scariest, if only because he's sort of under-characterized and kept in the shadows. He's at his closest to playing off of the boogeyman archetype that Carpenter tried to establish with Michael Myers in the first Halloween. Each sequel starts working on him more and more in terms of building his character in a weird way where we start enjoying his onscreen time and start looking forward to the inventive kills.

That was the one thing that really drew me to the first film, the insane kills. This really is one of the series that helped eschew in the era of looking forward to the kids not surviving. Ah the 80s...