By Raymond Knowby


It could certainly be argued well that 1984 was already in decline with slasher sequel-itis, but that didn’t stop the outright miracle that lightning would strike for a fourth time. This film, and probably the last for the genre, gave the world a devastating new villain and unrelenting reason to never sleep again.

Wes Craven’s first real smash hit and hailed masterpiece sees teenagers gruesomely stalked by a dead child killer in their dreams. One by one they are dispatched, until Nancy (Leather Langenkamp) learns about her neighborhood’s hidden past and goes head to head with the beast named Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund).

It isn’t hard to recognize that the story is particularly original; Craven was allegedly inspired by a series of newspaper reports on children who had died in their sleep. This shocker plays well off of subconscious fears and executes it with a brutal antagonist, blurring the fine line between what’s happening when awake or in slumber. Eerie photography by Jacques Haitkin and a great chilling score by Charles Bernstein ties it with a beautiful red knot.

Starting with the very next film though, New Line tragically buries what was probably the most innovative creation of the decade. Too bad, since this first effort is so top notch.

A spectral Freddy Krueger comes for Nancy in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET