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Friday, November 6. 2009 | Comments (5)
Not a lot to say on this, just a few thoughts. Since we just passed Halloween, wanted to make sure anyone who had their own thoughts on these movies could comment.
My wife picked up the "Dollar Saver" pack of Nightmare on Elm Street 1-4. Finally started watching them a few days ago. Following are some random thoughts on 1 - 3.
Nightmare on Elm Street:
Not really scary, anymore...a bunch of jump scares is all that's left. Although I can see how this movie could have been really scary when it first came out. I think Freddy may have been the first "Supernatural Monster Demon" slasher. The modern audience is so steeped in the tropes and concepts of slasher movies now that the concept isn't frightening anymore.
Best "not really dead" ending of any of the slasher movies.
That was Johnny Depp?
Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge:
I don't remember the "Freddy's Revenge" part. In fact, by the end I know I've seen this movie, it's just not that memorable. Very similar to 1 in feel, although the concept is different. Better acting, better FX. Better cinematography. Less scary. Not even as many jump scares as one. The story actually sticks a bit better in the long run that the first one, IMO...imagine waking up to the dead body of your best friend/teacher/etc....and realizing that YOU are the killer.
Yay for natural redheads! They don't get nearly enough respect in Hollywood.
Paused movie for an hour to have discussion with wife. Concept that I never really got in these movies that never felt right to me: the dysfunctional families. I had a pretty good childhood. I KNEW that a lot of other kids didn't, and we heard all about the paraphernalia of families that didn't work. But, if you didn't experience it or at least SEE it first hand, you can't really empathize. My wife had a bit more experience in that department than I did, and she explained that the familial depictions in the NoES movies were pretty accurate, in her opinion.
Second movie starts playing with the "are they REALLY awake?" scares.
Boring, until the pool party. Then they tack on that last confrontation and make it too long.
Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors:
I remembered this one pretty well. Didn't remember how many big names were in it.
Honestly, this is probably my favorite NoES movie, although it could have been A LOT better than it was. There is NO tension to this movie.
What would I have done? Give Langenkamp fewer lines (her acting is worse in this one than the first) and develop the Dream Warrior concept a bit more.
Favorite moment: First time they all enter a dream together, one guy is a wizard in his dreams, one is incredibly strong, one (mistakenly) believes she is more beautiful and deadly as a stereotypical punk chick with switchblades, one (clever bit, this IMHO) can use all of the closed walls and doors in her nightmare to her advantage in RUNNING AWAY BETTER. And the other guy? What does he get in his dreams? Laid.
Yay, full frontal!
Really good effects for the most part...except for a bit coming up. Very disappointing, as I mentioned earlier...when they finally all enter a dream to battle Freddy, the two most capable kids (YMMV) get wiped out easily, while Freddy kind of keeps forgetting to kill the others, even though he beats them up a bit...easily. Boo, story-induced character disposal!
Even then, the movie holds up well enough...until Freddy, sensing a disturbance in his bones, stop-motion re-animates his own skeleton and kills the Chief of Police and whacks Craig Wasson with a shovel and buries him (sort of) to prevent them from burying him in sacred ground. This scene is BAD.
The worst part is, I can see how this movie could have been so much better. It even could have been a decent horror movie. As is, this is the movie that started the "Freddy Krueger, comic genius and action hero" stories. Which says something itself, really. Freddy was the only slasher that was "cool".
I think that's it for now. Hopefully watch four soon...I don't remember that one at all.
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One point of disagreement. Freddy isn't the only "cool" slasher. I call your attention to Pinhead of Hellraiser fame.
Hellraiser never really did much for me. I've heard he had some nice fan moments in the later sequels, but I haven't watched any of them.
I mostly agree with your assessments. I was terrified by the first NoES when I was a kid, and I think there is still some residual terror there for me. The thing that really scares me is the inescapable nature of the plot. How do you hide from something that gets you when you sleep? Also: Some of the best and most creative death scenes in all of slasherdom.
One of my favorite things about the series is that it takes a common trope and crutch of the horror genre - the dream sequence - and really explores it in a unique and interesting way. Normally dream sequences are used (and overused) as a sorta false scare. In NoES series, they ARE the scare. Then there's the way that Craven plays around with the perceptions of waking life and dreaming, sometimes implying one when the other is what's really happening. It's a movie that invites more intellectual engagement than most slashers, which again separates it from the pack.
The other notable component about Freddy is that he's got a personality. The other classic slashers like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers are almost robotic in nature. They are implacable and yet almost predictable. Freddy's personality certainly isn't pleasant. He's a vicious sadist with a wicked sense of humor, but that's something that is missing from the grand majority of slasher films (indeed, most slashers don't even talk, and even when they do, they don't say much).
I recently revisited part 2 as well, and the subtle change in concept is really a neat idea that extends the original without feeling unoriginal. Also of note is how many people have noticed the "gay" subtexts of the film (something I didn't pick up on when I was little, but which became a little more obvious when I rewatched it - especially the gym coach scenes and the one where he goes to his male friends house to get away from his girlfriend:p)
I wanted to revisit part 3, but it's stuck on Very Long Wait on netflix, so I never got around to it. All the movies terrified me as a kid, and the things I remember about this one are that damn rickety wheelchair and that scene where Freddy's blades are replaced by like, syringes or something.
If I remember correct, the sequels gradually get sillier as they go on, turning to almost comedy until Craven returned to the series with New Nightmare (which I remember as being a post-modern precursor to his more popular Scream).
Whoa, didn't set out to write that much when i started:p I could talk about this stuff for hours!
I think 3 was the first I saw from beginning to end; I didn't watch the first until I think about 10 years ago. By then I was already familiar with the concept, so it didn't affect me much.
My wife and I noticed the homoerotic content while watching two. I would say much of it could be coincidental, if it weren't for the gym teacher.
We watched 4 today, and there really isn't much to add from that entry. Not sure I'll even update the post.
For the record, Ben watched NoES for me, because they somehow fell into a weird black hole in my life and thus this was my first viewing. Sadly, I was jaded for this first viewing by having seen far too many slasher flicks so the original lacked the gut-punch that it would have had otherwise. I can see how effective (and affective) it would have been to a fresher audience though back in the day. Certainly it's been homaged nearly to death in modern cinema and it wouldn't get that treatment without having a lot going for it.
One thing that strikes me is that people talk a lot about Freddy having personality. I wonder how much of that is colored by repeated viewings and having seen the sequels. The original NoES seemed to me to cast Freddy in a much closer role to Michael Meyers and Jason. He was more akin to a relentless killing machine. Sure, he had a few memorable lines ("I'm your boyfriend now, Nancy!") but he seemed much more implacable in the first movie. Each sequel, though, seems to add to the overall personality evolution of Freddy Krueger.
The other thing is that, as Ben mentioned, relationships (particularly child/adult relationships) were a strong and interesting theme in the NoES series. I find that most of the time horror is very reflective of the state of society at the time of its creation. When watching horror flicks you can see a snapshot of prevailing societal attitudes. The "big four" horror franchises (Halloween, Friday the 13th, NoES, and Scream) are a good baseline for modern horror. Look at the family unit in each. Halloween has a very real familial presence (and I'm not talking about Laurie and Michael here). Adults are a little out of touch, maybe a touch inept, but they really try to help the kids out. Two years later in Friday the 13th adults are largely absent from the film (and thus the integral moments of the teens' lives) entirely. In fact, the only adult in the original movie is the BAD GUY. Four years down the line things have shifted again. NoES brings us adults who are present but adversarial. They may think they're helping the kids but in reality they're actively contributing to their children's demise. They're not "the" bad guy but they're responsible for the bad guy and continue to destructively, if unknowingly, aid him. Twelve years later Scream brings a much more complex view of things to a new generation of teen fans. Adults are victims of clever, psychotic teens. The balance of power has shifted entirely. But not all adults are entirely victimized. Some continue to fight back (Courteney Cox, David Arquette), allowing other "normal" kids to emerge triumphant. Thus the dysfunctional family unit in NoES is an integral part of the puzzle.