Thursday, 26 October 2017

Thirteen Nights of Halloween Horror | Night Eight - A Nightmare on Elm Street (1981)

image credit: new line cinema 


I’m now frolicking through m favourite part of the 20th century; the mid-1980s. Back to the Future was a year away from the big screen when A Nightmare on Elm Street was released, and it’s nothing short of a similar masterpiece, albeit in the horror genre instead of sci-fi.

Watching these horror films in order of year has proven to be a success, from Rosemary’s Baby to Nightmare on Elm Street, it’s astounding to see how much the horror genre grew over the span of two decades. Elm Street sees the introduction of comedy-horror, whilst also expanding the depth of the narrative to really mess with the viewers head.

Wes Craven’s masterclass of dream versus reality is absolutely genius, creating a film that has you wondering if you’re dreaming or not afterward. Instead of lingering in unneeded suspense, Craven opens Elm Street straight into the action. There’s no need for build-up, you’re thrown into Tina’s (Amanda Wyss) nightmare which then sets the theorizing and uncertainty of the entire film in motion.
Elm Street utilizes a number of Craven’s tropes that he’d include in the rest of his filmography, including references to other horror films (Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) watching The Evil Dead to fall asleep, Phantasm, Friday the 13th and Halloween are also referenced), parents not believing their kids and eventually becoming wrapped up in the creation of the villain, and self-referential dialogue.

  
  
  
  
  
gifset credit: horroredits.tumblr.com

The teens' inability to decipher whether what they are dreaming is real – and subsequently being killed both inside and outside of the nightmare – is rooted with influence from Craven’s childhood, including several newspaper articles in the 1970s that reported on the strange phenomenon ‘Asian Death Syndrome’. Those afflicted were Southeast Asian refugees who fled to America after the war and genocide in their home countries, and were haunted by nightmares and refused to sleep; many died during these nightmare episodes.

The combination of true events and a familiar understanding of the boundaries between nightmare and real life produces one hell of a terrifying film, but what would you expect from the one, the only, Wes Craven.

“One, two, Freddy’s coming for you / Three, four, better lock your door / Five, six, grab your crucifix / Seven, eight, gonna stay up late / Nine, ten, never sleep again.” 
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