Following the success of Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980), writer and former college professor Wes Craven wanted to write a more intelligent slasher movie. In this one, teens discover they're all having nightmares about a scar-faced man, Freddie Krueger. It turns out, he was a school janitor accused of something really nasty, and outraged parents (including John Saxon, the villain of Mystery Science Theater 3000's Mitchell) chased him into the school furnace, where he was burned to death. They were never brought to justice, and Krueger is now out for revenge on their children, which he tortures in their dreams until they die of fright. Surviving teen Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) tries to stop him and appears to succeed.
Robert Englund had just made the TV mini-series "V" (1983), in which he played a shy, sympathetic alien who sides with the humans when Nazi-like aliens take over the Earth with promises of making everything wonderful. Englund was afraid the mini-series, and sequel the following year, would typecast him as a goody-goody, and quickly accepted the "one-time" role of Freddie Krueger. Little did he know that it would be Krueger that typecast him as the biggest new horror villain actor since Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Vincent Price in the 1960s.
Wes Craven says when he was a kid, he couldn't sleep one night and looked down from his second-story window to see a man with extremely long fingers walking on the city sidewalk. The man stopped at a streetlight and looked strait up at Craven. He told Joe Bob that he never forgot it. Though the 1984 movie was a hit, Craven did not have an exclusive contract with the studio and they hired other writers & directors for the sequels. He got his final revenge in 1994 by ignoring all the sequels and bringing back the original cast, but more on that later. The original in 1984 was low-budget, but had a number of familiar faces; including John Saxon and two future stars: Johnny Depp and Charles Fleischer (voice of 1988's Roger Rabbit).
A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)
Quite a few stupid white people get clawed to
death by a pasty-face geek zombie with a burned-off face and stiletto
knives for fingernails, as he returns from the dead every night and jumps
into the nightmares of young nubile high school girls that live in Van
Nuys. But then the bimbos get together in biology class and figure out
they're all having the exact same dream. By then it's too late for Tina,
who gets herself boogeyed to death while she and her punkola boyfriend are
making the sign of the two-humped whale in her parents' bedroom. As soon
as she falls asleep, the vein-faced child molester crawls up out of the
bed, rapes her, strangles her, makes her walk on the ceiling, slaps her
around like a piece of beef jerky, and turns her into Old Faithful. Now we
got parents running around like constipated chickens, we got the zombie
showing up in the school boiler room, we got the washed-up drunk Mama
saying she KNOWS who the guy is (a walking Nazi experiment named Fred
Krueger), and we got Heather Langenkamp, who waits till all her friends
get slimed to death, then STRIKES BACK to save her own rear end.
dead bodies. Three breasts. Human torch. Paint-the-room-red death scene with 9,000 gallons of blood. One beast. Kung Fu. With Robert Englund, who
would become the best zombie killer since Jason, and Amanda Wyss, who dies
on the ceiling. Directed by master of horror Wes Craven.
Note: Freddy's photo is from Joe Bob's interview host segments for Motel Hell, when Joe Bob was chatting with a dermatolgist about movie monsters with obvious skin problems...
A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie
Set 5 years later, now Freddy is trying to take over a boy's mind & body, so he can use the possessed body to kill all the teens in the neighborhood. Joe Bob Briggs' review and Drive-In Totals:
Freddy Krueger, the best child molester in
film history, is still impressive using those knife-fingers to turn
teenagers into sizzling fajitas, but where the heck is Heather Langenkamp,
the best actress in the first flick and the only teenager left alive? The
way they explain it is that Heather went crazy and murdered her mama, and
so now a new guy named Jesse is moving into her house, having the same
dreams about Freddy, and Freddy, looking like his face got stuck in a Lawn
Boy, is once again trying to take little boys and girls down into the
BOILER ROOM. Pretty decent slime-spewing as Freddy jumps into Jesse's
dreams, takes over his body, and pretty soon we got Killer Parakeet
Attacks, flying basketballs, lethal jump ropes, a coach dressed up in
leather that gets flayed to death with a wet towel, and all the usual
"Kill for me" Post-Toastie teenagers getting their buns zapped into Guam.
So Jesse feels like he's losing his mind, pigs out on No-Doze and black
coffee, and gets so mentally deranged that he falls in love with a Meryl
Streep lookalike. Now THAT is scary.
One breast. Nine dead bodies. Two
dead birds. Two gallons blood. Seven beasts. One great transformation.
Gratuitous Hope Lange from Deathwish (1974). Scene where Freddy rips the skin off his skull so
we can see his brain breathe. Freddy takes a chunk out of a bimbo's leg.
Teenagers boiled alive in swimming pool. One motor vehicle chase.
Exploding TV. Exploding aquarium. Exploding swimming pool. School bus Fu.
Snake Fu. Parakeet Fu. Electric toaster Fu. Black tongue Fu. Weenie Fu.
Rat Fu. A 42 on the Vomit Meter. With Mark Patton as Jesse, Robert Englund
as the one and only Freddy ("You've got the body, I've got the brain"),
Kim Myers as the love interest, and Clu Gulager as the dimwit father who
has the best line: "Animals just don't burst into flames for no
A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)
Troubled teens in a psychiatric hospital are being visited in their dreams by Freddy, but Nancy (now a psychiatrist), teaches the kids how to take on Freddy within their dreams, and even manages to pop into their heads herself. Best of the sequels in writing and special effects. John Saxon is also back, guest stars include Dick Cavett as himself and Zsa Zsa as another guest on his talkshow in a TV interview segment with Nancy about the teens.
Our favorite child molester and
teen-suicide advocate is back on the job, jumping into adolescent dreams,
ripping their wrists open, pulling out their veins and using them as
puppet strings. All the local teens end up at the county nuthouse, having
group therapy with Craig Wasson until--tadaaaa!--Heather Langenkamp
returns from part one to kick Freddy's hiney. (She wasn't in the second
one because she was actually studying Russian at Stanford). Heather has a pathetic gray streak in her hair, but she starts jumping into the kids' dreams WITH
them and sticking incredibly long pointy objects through Freddy's stomach
and telling all the high school girls it's really not necessary to slit
their wrists and make their Mamas mad at em. Then this white nun who's
hanging around the hospital tells Craig Wasson he's got to go find John
Saxon, Heather's daddy, and find out where Freddy's bones are so they can
bury em in holy ground and then Heather and a bunch of sitcom actors can
go down to Freddy Hell in their sleep and fry his gizzards. We do
establish some new vomit-level readings in the Intestine Fu Finale.
breasts. Nine dead bodies. Seven gallons blood. Attack Wheelchair.
Cadillac fin impalement. Stomach plunging. Steel-claw bathroom fixtures.
Chest carving. Wrist slitting. Tricycle yanking. Tongue tying, with real
tongues. Head rolls. Head talks and rolls. Gratuitous Dick Cavett.
Excellent gratuitous attack-pig effect. Gratuitous Zsa Zsa Gabor eating.
Kung Fu. Scalpel Fu. Skeleton Fu. Hypodermic finger Fu. With Patricia
Arquette as Kristen, Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. Directed by Chuck
A Nightmare On Elm Street 4:The Dream Master (1988)
(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)
Freddy decides to go after a new batch of teens but is opposed by a "dream master", his spiritual opposite. More special effects than plot, but Freddy gets to do his allotment of dark-humored jokes.
Lasagna-faced Freddy Krueger and his Lee
Press-on Knives return for one time too many, rummaging around in people's
nightmares, ramming his fist through the tummies of high school kids,
turning bimbos into giant cockroaches, disguising himself as a land shark,
and best of all, turning the teen meat into pepperonis on his pizza. We've
got plenty of intestine goo but no way to figure out what's going on,
except that Freddy eats all the survivors from part three. He doesn't even
make the teenagers commit suicide anymore. He just fries their hineys like
breakfast sausage. Two breasts. Six dead bodies. Exploding head. Arms
roll. Freddy Krueger weight-lifting, with popped-off elbows. Giant Roach
Motel (teenagers go in but they don't come out). Giant cockroach transformation. Dog that urinates fire. Kung Fu.
Junkyard Fu. Waterbed Fu. Hypodermic Fu. Quicksand Fu. Toilet Fu. Nunchuck
Fu. Pepperoni Fu. With Robert Englund as Freddy, Brooke Theiss as Debbie
the bodybuilder ("I don't spend hours working out to let some
night-stalker beat me!"), Lisa Wilcox as the final girl, and Andras Jones
as Rick, who has the best line: "If you've paid any attention to our
town's history, this is not exactly a safe place to be a teenager."
These & other movie reviews by the artist formerly known as the
host of Monstervision are available at JoeBobBriggs.com
A Nightmare On Elm Street 5:The Dream Child (1989)
In this one, Freddy somehow uses the unborn child of Lisa Wilcox to get at her friends. Even special effects couldn't save this one, though Englund did get a cable TV series by the same name out of it. Then there was the network TV series "Nightmare Cafe", though it only lasted one season and so far hasn't showed up on the Sci Fi Channel schedule. The same year (1989), Englund starred in Phantom Of The Opera, as a gory villain closer to the original gothic novel than any of the other Hollywood movie versions. Englund's version wears skin peeled from dead victims on his face rather than a mask, for example.
Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
Joe Bob Briggs has yet to work up interest in reviewing "Nightmare 5" (he barely made it thru #4), but he liked this one so much, he interviewed Wes Craven by phone while it was showing on MonsterVision. Finally able to write and direct his own sequel, Craven ignored all the other sequels and brought back the original cast. Actually a movie within a movie, actress Heather Langenkamp (Nancy) is having nightmares about Freddy and begins to realize that people are dying in real life as Craven writes the script for Nightmare On Elm Street. John Saxon, Robert Englund and the others play themselves as well as characters in the Nightmare movie they're supposedly making. One of the best scary, witty, intelligent horror-thrillers ever made, though the final 15 minutes could have been better. Followed by the movie fans demanded, "Freddy Vs. Jason" (as in Friday The 13th) "Warn your friends. Warn everyone."
Coming someday to this very website - restored MonsterVision host segments for "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" - the first Nightmare On Elm Street sequel made by Wes Craven himself! Until then. here are Joe Bob's Drive-In Totals:
3 Dead Bodies, Hand-Hacking, Bloody-Stump Blood-Spurting, 5 Earthquakes, Chest-Ripping, 2 Motor Vehicle Crashes, 1 Epileptic Fit with White-Goo Spitting, Arm-Slashing, Blood-Spitting, Neck-Crushing, Levitating Babysitter, Nurse-Pummeling, Eel To The Eyeball, Knife To The Leg, Exploding Underground Demonic Temple. Four Stars, Joe Bob says CHECK IT OUT!
Fun Fact: a 1993 version of Nightmare On Elm Street was made in India "Mahakaal The Monster", more or less faithful to the original script, with songs added to make it a musical. Clips of it can be seen on YouTube. Note: Golden Compass cost over $180,000,000 to make and was such a big flop (grossing less than half of cost) that Warner Brothers took over New Line in February 2008, firing founder Robert Shaye and his partner Michael Lynne. Warner plans to let 40-year-old New Line continue to make edgier films including Final Destination 4 and a remake of Friday the 13th, and Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings sequel "Hobbit"
∑ Bloodstains on non-washable fabrics: Dab the stain with cold salted water and when the stain is gone, rinse the area with clear cold water and then blot until dry.
∑ If using red food dye to simulate blood in your low-budget slasher movie, rub the stain with toothpaste, let dry and then rinse in cold water.
∑ When even commercial toilet bowl cleaners donít work to get bloodstains out of your haunted houseís toilet in Amityville, spray the tough marks with vinegar and scrub vigorously.
"On stage, I'm this figure, this actor, who does things that people aren't used to seeing and I relish in that reaction. In real life though, I play golf, I shop and I walk around with no makeup on and my hair in a ponytail. I may not be the typical middle-aged Joe, but I'm closer to normal than you think."
Click center to play trailer
Join Robert Englund in the Nightmare Cafe
Or would you prefer another Nightmare? "Touch that remote, and you die"