Film: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
"Come to Freddy."
Nancy: But what if they meet a monster in their dreams, then what?
Glen: They turn their back on it. Take away its energy and it disappears.
Nancy: But what happens if they don't do that?
Glen: I guess those people don't wake up to tell what happens.A Nightmare on Elm Street
is a 1984 horror film by Wes Craven
, and the second feature film released by New Line Cinema.
Teens living in Springwood, Ohio are seeing nightmares about a burned man with blades on his fingers. After one of her friends dies during a nightmare like that, it's up to Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) to find out what's going on, and ultimately to confront it before she dies too.
The film was successful upon its release, as it saved New Line Cinema from bankruptcy and introduced world to the dream stalking Freddy Krueger, who would return many times since
This film provides examples of:
- '80s Hair: Exemplified by Glen and Nancy.
- Abusive Parents: Wes Craven said in the DVD Commentary that the distance between parents and teenage children (particularly teenagers) is a major theme of the first film. For example, Nancy's parents are not just divorced from each other but emotionally disengaged from their daughter, regarding her teenage problems as trivial and refusing to take her nightmares seriously, and divorced from life in general - Nancy's mother is an alcoholic, and her father arguably a workaholic.
- Alcoholic Parent: Nancy's mother. She isn't the abusive sort; once, she slaps Nancy after Nancy calls her out on her booze habit, but she immediately regrets it.
- All Just a Dream: Zigzagged at the end of the film. Nancy defeats Freddy when she realizes that all the events that transpired over the last few days were a prolonged nightmare. She wishes Freddy were gone, and walks outside, where it's a sunny day, her family and friends are fine, and she's about to go to school. Then Freddy takes control of the world again. It's not at all clear however exactly what is happening, whether this is a dream or reality, who is dreaming, or whether Freddy was real or not.
- And Starring: Johnny Depp's name is preceded by "and introducing", as it was his very first film appearance.
- Answers to the Name of God: Happens during Tina's second meeting with Freddy.
Tina: Please, God...
Freddy: This (holds up claw glove)...is God.
- Barrier-Busting Blow: One of the traps devised by Nancy for Freddy is a sledgehammer that will hit him when he breaks through a door.
- Being Good Sucks: Nancy refuses Glenn's advances because they were there for Tina's benefit and needed to behave themselves. Later, Glenn hears Tina and Rod having loud, enthusiastic sex in the room above him. He sighs and says "morality sucks."
- Bloody Hilarious: The death of Glen.
- Cassandra Truth: No one believes Nancy when she tells them someone is after her in her dreams. Double subverted in that it's later revealed they are fully aware who Freddy Krueger was and that they personally buried him after he murdered their children, they just don't believe he could come back from the dead.
- Catapult Nightmare: This is what happens to Tina after her first nightmare with Freddy.
- Cat Scare: Averted when Glen goes outside to investigate a noise and calls "Kitty kitty?" in hopes that it is this trope at work. It's actually the film's Jerk with a Heart of Gold who jumps out and scares him.
- Chairman of the Brawl: When Nancy sees Freddy attacking her mother, she breaks a chair across his back.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The colors of Freddy's sweater were changed to red and green after Craven read that those are the two most strongly clashing colors, to make his appearance more jarring.
- Creepily Long Arms: Freddy Krueger pulls this off in Tina's second dream, extending his arms as he approaches her.
- Dangerous Windows: This is the last scare of the movie as Freddy snags the heroine's mother through the front door window.
- Daylight Horror: At the end, we get a Hope Spot where Nancy firmly believes Freddy is dead and gone. It's an overly bright, clear day. She gets in a car, waves lovingly to her mother...then the car morphs into Freddy's signature colors and carts her and her friends off to their sunny, cheerful, and oblivious doom, while her mother gets pulled into the house by Freddy. The end.
- Deadly Bath: Double subverted. Nancy falls asleep in the tub and Freddy's bladed glove pops out of the water, but she wakes up in time for nothing to happen. When she dozes off again, he suddenly drags her under into a huge underwater space that he created with his dream powers, and she almost drowns.
- Death by Sex: Tina dies after having sex with Rod. Glen's death is a variation on this trope; it happens after he watches Miss Nude America.
- Decoy Protagonist: The film starts by following Tina, but switches to Nancy when she dies.
- The Ending Changes Everything: The movie's Gainax Ending raises a ton of unanswered questions about the rest of the film. Nancy defeats Freddy by realizing that everything that has transpired over the recent days has been an extended nightmare, and she takes his power away from him. It seems like all is well and Nancy's friends are still alive, but Freddy returns only moments later to take them all on a ride to hell. This makes it impossible to discern what parts of the film were actually dreams and which weren't.
- Enter Stage Window: Glen visits Nancy by climbing through her bedroom window.
- Eureka Moment: Heather realizing she pulled Freddy's hat into the real world.
- Evil Phone: Freddy calls Nancy to mock her on Glen's impending fate.
Freddy: I'm your boyfriend now, Nancy.
- Extendable Arms: Freddy briefly extends both his arms to scare Tina.
- Final Girl: Nancy Thompson.
- Fingore: Freddy performs this on himself to show off to Tina.
- Gainax Ending: Was the whole movie a dream? Did Nancy ever escape into the real world? Was that part a dream? Is her mother dreaming? Was it just a regular nightmare, not generated by Freddy?
Nancy's diary in the second film, Freddy's Revenge, describes her friends being killed, and it's said that her mother "killed herself" (i.e. got killed by Freddy), so it can be implied that the ending was Nancy's mother's nightmare. Furthermore, Nancy herself returns in the third film, Dream Warriors, and specifically talks about her friends having been killed. This should technically resolve the situation. Should. Watch the ending of the original Nightmare while knowing that Nancy survives, and it's still a WTF-y Gainax Ending.
- Ghost Butler: A door closes itself behind Nancy to signify that Freddy is still in the same room with her.
- Girl Next Door: Nancy Thompson lives across the street from her boyfriend Glen. Wes Craven noted he cast the actress specifically because of her accessible, wholesome appeal.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: Freddy clubs Ron with Tina while in the midst of causing her to float around the room.
- Harassing Phone Call: Nancy tries to call Glen to warn him not to go to sleep. Then the phone rings. She picks it up. It's the sound of Fred's claws being sharpened. She (understandably) freaks out, tears the phone out of the plug, and throws it across the room. Then, despite being unplugged, it starts ringing again. This time, it's Freddy again, telling her that "I'm your boyfriend now, Nancy", and then his tongue sticks out the phone.
- High-Pressure Blood: Nancy's boyfriend Glen is dragged into his bed by Freddy, disappearing into a hole — and a massive geyser of blood comes exploding out. No, this was not just in the nightmare world; later in the movie, we see cops carrying down buckets from the boy's room. Lots of them.
- I'm Not Afraid of You: Subverted. At the end Nancy says to Freddy "I take back all the power I gave you, Freddy!" and that he's not even real, so she shouldn't be afraid of him. It seems like she defeated him, but he reappears not much later.
- It Won't Turn Off: Nancy yanks her phone out of the wall after she gets a call of Freddy's trademark claw scraping noises. He's still able to call, however, and mock her about Glen's upcoming death.
- I Want My Mommy: During the infamous bed scene Glen started yelling for his mother to come in. Unlike most examples it wasn't funny.
- Lady Drunk: Marge Thompson starts hitting the bottle due to the stress of dealing with Nancy.
- Lecherous Licking: Freddy wags his tongue out at Nancy.
- Locked into Strangeness: Nancy gets her Skunk Stripe during the nightmare where she brings Freddy's hat from.
- Ludicrous Gibs: When Johnny Depp's character bites it – he is sucked into a waterbed and a geyser of blood comes out from it. Perhaps somewhat justified because we're dealing with Freddy Krueger here; if he wants you to have more blood, you're damn well going to.
- MacGyvering: Nancy prepares for the climax by constructing various traps for Freddy.
- Made of Iron: Nancy in the real world battle with Freddy.
- Man on Fire: Nancy sets Freddy on fire when she pulls him out of her dream and lures him to the basement.
- No Time to Explain: Nancy has a dream that she's seeing her friend Rod being killed in the jail cell he's in. She wakes up and gets Glen to accompany her to the police station. They join up at Nancy's house and run to the police station. Nancy waits until they're entering the police station to tell Glen that she doesn't have any time to explain. What could they have been discussing the rest of the way there that was more important than the fact that Rod Lane was being killed?
- Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: Nancy recites the prayer before going to sleep to confront Freddy.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Freddy pulls it on Tina when he's chasing her down a street, and appears before her when she looks back.
- Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: Glen becoming a blood geyser.
- Parental Abandonment: It is mentioned that Tina's father has abandoned her and her mother.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Done when Nancy warns Glen over the phone.
Nancy: Whatever you do, don't - fall - asleep.
- Rain of Blood: When Nancy's father arrives at Glen Lantz's house after his death, the first thing he sees is blood dripping from the living room ceiling. The real thing was a lot worse.
- Reaching Between the Lines: Freddy possesses Nancy's phone and sticks his tongue through it and into her mouth.
- Readings Are Off the Scale: Nancy has her dreams monitored by a brain-scan. The doctor notes that a "really intense" nightmare would read about seven...then watches in disbelief as it goes to 10, 15, 30...
- Revised Ending: Wes Craven planned for the film to have a happy ending, but this was changed by the executives, and the Downer Ending (where Nancy's mother is killed, and Nancy's own fate is left ambiguous) was created.
- Second-Hand Storytelling: Used late in the movie when Nancy's mother finally gets around to explaining the original death of Fred Krueger.
- Self-Mutilation Demonstration: Freddy says "Watch this!" to Tina before cutting his own fingers off, causing a strange green liquid to squirt from them. Later, he answers Nancy's "What are you?" by cutting into his own chest, revealing more green pus and what looks like maggots under his skin.
- Sequel Hook: The Revised Ending, as noted above, was added by New Line over Craven's objections for exactly this reason.
- Shout-Out: Nancy is seen watching The Evil Dead (1981) on TV while trying to stay awake.
- Super Window Jump: Freddy performs it through a mirror.
- Supernatural Proof Father: Donald Thompson doesn't take Nancy's warnings seriously as he believes that she is suffering from Sanity Slippage.
- Tear Off Your Face: Tina sort of does this to Freddy Krueger right before she dies. The "sort of" is there because Freddy lets it happen to make himself even scarier, and it doesn't take.
- Trap Master: Nancy sets a series of traps for Freddy and he is caught in all of them.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The non-supernatural parts are inspired by events that happened in the hometown the director lived in as a kid. Specifically, Freddy is the name of the kid who tormented wee little Craven, Freddy's appearance was based on that of a old homeless man wee Craven had a terrifying run-in with one night, and the "died in their sleep" thing was based on a few cases of young Cambodian refugees dying in their sleep of no apparent cause after repeatedly saying they were frightened to go to sleep. That would be Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome, which for some reason is most common among South East Asians.
- Villain Opening Scene: The film opens with Freddy Krueger constructing his iconic bladed glove when he was still a human serial killer before transitioning to Tina's first nightmare.
- Vomiting Cop: And the coroner to boot.
- Window Pain: Freddy lures Tina outside from her house by throwing rocks at her room's window, with the last one nicking it.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: Nancy to Freddy at the end.
Nancy: It's too late, Krueger. I know the secret now. This is just a dream. You're not alive. This whole thing is just a dream...I want my mother and friends again. I take back every bit of energy I ever gave you. You're nothing, Freddy. You're shit.