The 80s are most famous for bringing two new types of horror movies to the table. Slasher films and dark comedy horror films that mimic B movies from the 70s. Even though early slasher films like Halloween and Friday the 13th set the stage for the genre it was really the 1984 film A Nightmare on Elm Street that a film came out that combined all the elements that now are considered to be essential in a slasher film.
Every slasher has to have teens being hunted by a killer, promiscuous teens getting killed in punishment for not listening to their parents, and a villain that is a monster with iconic look. A Nightmare on Elm Street had all these elements plus low budget effects. One of the most notable cast members in A Nightmare on Elm Street is a very young Johnny Depp. A Nightmare on Elm Street was his first film.
The film went on to spawn a lot of sequels and even a crossover movie with Jason Voohees from the Friday the 13th series. Like most slasher films it focuses a lot on the serial killing villain. A Nightmare on Elm Steet’s resident villain is the horribly burned Freddy Krueger. He always wears a red and green striped sweater, a brown hat, and a leather glove with five razor sharp knives as the fingers. In the film fans find out that Freddy Krueger was a child molester who was arrested but got off on a technicality and moved into a quiet suburban neighborhood. The parents, appalled that such a monster was doing to be living in their neighborhood, hunted him down and set his house on fire with him inside. He was burned alive. In the film he has come back to stalk the children of the parents who killed him.
At first he can only appear to the kids in their dreams, but as he kills from a dream state he is able to come back into physical being. By the time the movie ends he has once again taken human form. Using dreams and physical attacks he kills all the children of his attackers except one who is able to get away from him. He continues causing terror and killing people throughout the sequels. Freddy’s look is very distinct and his mocking tone is also part of the character that everyone recognizes. Freddy is the ultimate 80s slasher villain because he can attack his victims in so many ways. Often he chooses over the top dreamscapes in which to appear to his victims and he likes to try and scare them to death.
Even though A Nightmare on Elm Street hasn’t racked up the awards that other 80s horror films have managed to win the film is usually considered the slasher film that all other slasher film are measured by. Part of the reason why fans have honed in on this particular film is that there was no other film produced in the decade that so neatly captured the essence of a slasher film. If you ask people on the street to name an 80s slasher film they will probably answer A Nightmare on Elm St. Many slasher films came after it, including many sequels to the original film, but this film is the one that crticis repeatedly suggest to people who want ot see what the horror genre has to offer and how far it has come over the years.
In the last few years the original story received a modern update and was remade. But for true horror fans there is nothing that can be done to improve the original Nightmare on Elm Street. They remain loyal to the film that helped define the entire 80s slasher film genre. For new horror fans who are trying to learn more about the history of horror movies watching A Nightmare on Elm Street is a great place to start. It will help you appreciate the kind of craftsmanship that filmmakers needed to have to make these films on just a shoestring budget.