(director/writer: Wes Craven; cinematographer: Jacques Haitkin; editors: Rick Shaine/Pat McMahon; music: Charles Bernstein; cast: Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), John Saxon (Lt. Thompson), Heather Langenkamp (Nancy Thompson), Ronee Blakley (Marge Thompson), Amanda Wyss (Tina Gray), Nick Corri (Rod Lane), Lin Shaye (teacher), Johnny Depp (Glen Lantz), Sandra Lipton (Mrs. Lantz), Ed Call (Mr. Lantz), Charles Fleischer (Dr. King), Joseph Whipp (Sgt. Parker), Mimi Craven (Nurse); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Robert Shaye; New Line Cinema; 1984)

“A senseless yet intriguing splatter horror film that was well-received by the public.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A senseless yet intriguing splatter horror film that was well-received by the public and brought on many sequels. Director-writer Wes Craven (“Scream”/”The Hills Have Eyes”) takes us to a fictional small town in America, where four high school students on Elm Street have bad dreams about a neighborhood child molester from the past named Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). He was a creep who was burned to death by their irate parents and who now seeks revenge on the children. The sinister boogeyman has a face scarred from burns and dresses in a dirty striped sweater, a slouch hat, a mask and in gloves with knife blades on each finger, as he suddenly returns from another world to haunt the teens in their dreams. The catch is the kids are fine if they stay awake with the bad dream but are in trouble if they fall asleep. This is just the hokum you are asked to believe if you want to get with the program.

Police officer, Lt. Thompson (John Saxon), and his wife Marge (Ronee Blakley) act just like clueless suburban parents act. They have a cheerleader daughter Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), who is the one Freddy wants most to kill. Nancy’s boyfriend is the pretty boy Glen (Johnny Depp, in his screen debut, and who would have thought he would be a future star after this forgettable performance!). Glen has the honor of falling asleep during the dream and his bedroom becomes soaked with a flood of blood because he failed to heed Nancy’s warning to stay awake. 

The other two kids experiencing these nightmares are Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss) and her boyfriend Rod Lane (Nick Corri).

Since the movie makes little sense and its conclusion makes even less sense, as it begins and ends with a children’s song, I’m led to believe the narrative is just a dream. The filmmaker’s theme might have been to blur the lines of reality from dreams.

Aside from a few frightful dream sequences, some quirky black humor quips, a few shocking graphic sequences, a neat premise about the killer already being dead and by finding some of the special effects effective, I still found it in need of a more substantial story and better acting for me to get more excited about it. I found lacking, in particular, the performance of Langenkamp, as she makes for a dull heroine. But if just looking for a good time scare film, this might be the one for many horror pic fans.

REVIEWED ON 10/10/2019       GRADE:  B-