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YMMV / A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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  • And You Thought It Would Fail:
    • It took about five years for Wes Craven to get funding for the film, because no one in Hollywood thought it was scary.
    • Charlie Sheen explained why he turned down the role of Glen:
    I didn't price myself out of it because I didn't get greedy until years later. That came much later. I just didn't get it, and I've never been more wrong about interpreting a script...I just didn't get it completely, but I still took a meeting with Wes. And when I met him, I said, "Look, with all due respect, and as a fan of your talents, I just don't see this guy wearing a funny hat with a rotted face and a striped sweater and a bunch of clacky fingers. I just don't see this catching on".
  • Awesome Music: The menacing, atmospheric synth score by Charles Bernstein is a veritable treasure trove of unsettling vocal effects, reverberated percussion, and queasy pitch-bends that often feels like it could suddenly change direction or feel at any given moment, befitting Freddy's Reality Warper nature. The main theme especially stands out with its inquisitive ascending/descending synth hook.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: There are some fans who disregard the Gainax Ending due to it being a product of Executive Meddling, and instead insist the movie ends with Nancy defeating Freddy.
  • First Installment Wins: Widely regarded as the best film in the franchise and a landmark in horror films.
  • Genius Bonus: John F. Kennedy was assassinated as his limo rolled down Elm Street in Dallas, heading through Dealey Plaza. Craven later confessed that this wasn't a coincidence. For Craven, the themes of murder and loss of innocence that stemmed from the assassination matched up perfectly with the film's story, so he chose the name as a subtle Shout-Out.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • At one point, Tina notes that nightmares foreshadow earthquakes. L.A. was hit by those during the filming of Wes Craven's New Nightmare. Interestingly, they actually worked the earthquake into New Nightmare.
    • During the commentary, Wes Craven notes that the old prison where they filmed was later condemned for asbestos pipes. He comments they would all die of cancer. Not so funny after his death of brain cancer in 2015.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight
  • Meaningful Name: the name of the film may foreshadow the first ending twist. It’s “A Nightmare” on Elm Street. Not several nightmares.
  • Nightmare Retardant: At the end of the film, when Freddy drags what is supposed to be Nancy's mother through the little window in her front door as a final scare. It's a hilariously obvious mannequin.
  • Older Than They Think: An evil entity haunting a teenager in both dream and reality, with the two becoming indistinguishable as the movie progresses, leading to an ending where said teenager believes they've won, only for a last minute scare as someone is grabbed and dragged through a door to their possible death? There's a possibility that Phantasm may have been an inspiration for this movie.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Signature Scene:
    • Glen's death, which features mindblowing blood effects that still hold up today, as well as perfectly capture how chilling Freddy's power and kills can be.
    • The glove-making scene during the intro
    • The death of Tina Gray, Freddy's first ever victim in the series. It's the first time we ever really get a good look at Freddy and the sheer terror he exudes. The brutality and gore of the kill has made it an iconic moment across the entire franchise.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • Freddy's stretching arms look rather shaky by modern standards.
    • When Freddy pulls Nancy's mother through the door window, it's very obviously a mannequin.
    • In two scenes where a character jumps, you can see the mattresses.
    • When Freddy is set on fire at the end, it's very clearly a stunt double.
    • In the scene just before Tina's death where Freddy chops his own fingers off, causing green ooze to spew from the stumps, it is painfully obvious that the effect is not working properly: only his pinky bleeds the ooze, even though he also cut off his ring finger. Robert Englund's looking back and forth from the camera to the hand could be him nervously reacting to the failure, but he never breaks character so his sick leer the whole time could mean that Freddy wants to see both his hand and Tina's reaction to it for his own enjoyment.
    • In a minor case, when Glen is pulled into his bed along with his things, there's a noticeable jump cut (just as his record player tumbles into the hole) that reveals it didn't happen all in one shot.
  • Spiritual Successor: Kim Newman wrote in the Monthly Film Bulletin that the film was closer to a Stephen King adaptation with its small-town setting, and "invented monster myth".
  • Tear Jerker: Nancy's reaction to Tina's death:
    Nancy: You know Tina, she dreamed this was gonna happen... She had a nightmare, that someone was trying to kill her. *breaks down sobbing* That's why we were there, mom. She just didn't wanna sleep alone.
    • In a deleted scene we learn why Nancy's mother took part in Fred Krueger's immolation. Nancy had an older brother who was killed by Krueger when she was just a baby.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Glen's death and the epic geyser of blood that follows.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: While such notions have been lost with the overdone franchise, critics and film historians have stated that the movie represents the struggle young people have to see the distinction between fantasy and reality.