Editor’s note: The hosts of Horror Movie Podcast are always impressed by the knowledge and insights of our listenership in the emails and voicemails that we receive, as well as in the comments here at HorrorMoviePodcast.com. Once again, we’ve asked our listeners to participate in our 31 Days of Halloween by contributing written reviews. This review was submitted by listener IANsidious (aka Ian West), whose other work you can follow here: on Twitter @hpmakelovecraft and Ghastly Grinning.com and That’s Not Current.com and on Letterboxd (search “Ian West”).
A Nightmare on Elm Street
1984 d. Wes Craven
-Spoken in a Ray Liotta voice-
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a monster. I grew up looking like Eddie Munster with my crazy widow’s peak and an insatiable appetite for Universal Horror Movies, Scooby Doo, and The Munsters. I’d go with my parents or grandfather to local Suncoast stores and caress all the Universal VHS tapes and make googly eyes when I saw them on the shelf at Blockbuster or the local Mom ‘n’ Pop video stores. My grandmother’s best friend was a seamstress, and she even made me a Dracula cape that I wore all the time… even in public!
I loved spooky stuff — pumpkins and ghosts and goblins and vampires — and scary movies, but the most “severe” stuff I’d watched, besides the previously mentioned above, were Jaws, Poltergeist, and The Monster Squad, but I knew the rumblings of famous “of the time bogeymen,” or as I would refer to “the guy in the woods with a hockey mask,” or “the man with the Indiana Jones hat and finger knives,” I knew about them from pop culture, and because of my older cousin who, 10 years my senior, worshipped Fred Krueger. He’d always dress up in the sweater-hat-and-glove for Halloween and spook me out with stories about Fred Krueger getting me in my dreams, usually capping it off with the “One, Two, Freddy’s coming for you…” nursery rhyme.
This stuff scared me. It really scared me. I hadn’t even seen A Nightmare on Elm Street yet, but the scare-hype was very real.
My cousin would babysit me to earn extra dough, and one Friday night in October I entered a new world for the very first time. They ordered us a pizza and some RC Cola (!!!), and right before they left my mother gave a stern warning to my cousin, “No Elm Street movies.” My cousin gave her the, “No problem, Aunt Denise!” as the door shut. As soon as that door shut, he feverishly unzipped his book bag and pulled out A Nightmare on Elm Street and its sequel, Freddy’s Revenge. I sat there on my couch looking at the box cover from all different angles and I quickly glanced out my window to see my parents’ car leaving the driveway, a pile of leaves blowing around behind the car as it disappeared around the corner. The feeling of impending doom was magnifying with each second.
So we ate some pizza and contemplated making Jiffy Pop before finally sitting down to watch. The New Line Cinema logo popped up and eventually so did the weathered hands that began constructing those famous “knives for fingers”… accompanied by a synth-driven score with a creepy dreamlike feel that was unlike anything I heard at that point, especially with the backdrop of a boiler room.
Shortly after Johnny Depp’s sound effects airport mishap happened, but before Tina’s backyard alleyway intro to Freddy, my cousin and I both heard scratching sounds. We paused the movie, both spooked, as we continued to hear them. Our search brought us to my cellar door (which was always slightly opened because my cat’s litter box was in the basement). It was coming from the basement, where the water heater was, and the furnace. Rife with fear, we flipped a coin to see who would go first…
Each step felt like a descent into omnipresent doom. As we reached the bottom, I went one way and he went another (Let’s split up, gang!), but I could find no evidence of scratching sounds. I turned the corner, and there he was, my cousin dressed in sweater, glove, and hat, silhouetted by the dangling lightbulb behind him as he raised the glove into the air and gave his best Krueger laugh.
I. Freakin’. Lost it.
I screamed like a banshee and ran upstairs so fast, much to my cousin’s amusement. After everything settled, we both returned to the couch and hit play, and the main theme music played as Tina looked out the window, but not before we both heard the scratching sound one more time coming from the darkened hallway door that led to my cellar.
Minutes later we were welcomed by “This, is god,” and Freddy jumping out from a tree. My fate was sealed, this new rollercoaster-like rush of terror was the best feeling ever. We followed it up immediately with NOES 2: Freddy’s Revenge, and from that point on, I began seeking out as many horror movies as I could get my hands on, and my cousin was a driving force behind that, bringing over so many different flicks as we’d sit and watch four or five a night every time he came over or when I’d go to his place.
Unfortunately, a few years later my cousin would succumb to the horribleness of addiction for several years, becoming a shadow version of his former self. He was gone from my life for years as he straightened himself out, making these moments I agonizingly reminisce about so precious. Eventually I went down the same path he did, and like him, I was able to pull myself out.
I love this movie. I don’t know where I’d be without it, or Wes Craven. Universal Monsters were my gateway, but NOES was me walking through that gate. People often ask, “What’s the most scared you’ve ever been watching a movie?” Well, my answer will always be A Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s not my favorite horror movie (Halloween). I don’t consider it the best horror film ever made (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), but for me (especially because of that first experience), A Nightmare on Elm Street is easily the most frightened I’ve ever felt watching a film, and the fact that our killer can only get us when we’re asleep and at our most vulnerable is genius. Easily one of the best genre concepts ever. We all gotta sleep, and there’s nowhere to hide in dream land.
10 out of 10 — an all-timer! Buy the Blu-ray!
Also, screw your pass!
Happy Halloween, HMP family!
— IANsidious (aka Ian West)
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