31 Days of Halloween — Day 29: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) — by IANsidious (aka Ian West)

31 Days of Halloween - A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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…

I lost.

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!

Love always,
— IANsidious (aka Ian West)

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10 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 29: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) — by IANsidious (aka Ian West)

  1. Wow. What a story! Thanks, Ian! I discovered Horror through my cousin, as well! And yes, I completely agree with your thoughts on “Chain Saw.”

  2. That’s an amazing memory. 10/10

    Addiction is its own horror to those within and the loved ones looking in from outside. I’m glad you escaped.

    Also, damn I love Nightmare on Elm Street. 10/10


    Day 29 – Scooby-Doo (2002)

    Two years after Mystery Inc. split up, Scooby-Doo and the gang reunite to investigate a strange case happening at Spooky Island.

    Scooby-Doo and I go way back. I’m told that the first thing I ever truly gravitated towards on TV was the old Scooby-Doo television series. I suppose it was my first interest in a series. I can remember being a child, watching some Scooby-Doo, and having my own Scooby-Doo action figure. As I got older, other viewing interests grabbed my attention and I slowly moved away from Scooby-Doo to the extent that when the first live-action Scooby-Doo film came out in 2002, I didn’t have any interest in seeing it. After all, this was a film made for children and here I was a teenager that was far more interested in violent horror movies. I do also have to wonder if I’ve been reluctant to give this film a chance due to how important the Scooby-Doo series was to me as a child.

    I’m honestly surprised at how much fun I had while watching this film though. Although it was apparently downplayed from the original vision, it is a film made for the family, while still parodying the previous Scooby shows with some more adult oriented jokes. At points, the jokes are very self aware such as when Daphne scoffs at always being the damsel in distress. Other points leave the adult viewers appreciating the more adult-based jokes such as all of the drug references. There’s literally a character named Mary Jane that Shaggy takes a great liking to. Speaking of Shaggy, his and Scooby-Doo’s scenes of binge eating is entirely build around the joke that food represents marijuana. They’re just two stoners hanging out, having the munchies, and laughing at the dumbest of things. Admittedly, although there are jokes for the older audiences, some are geared solely for the children. The best example would be the overly long sequence of Scooby and Shaggy having a burp/fart fight. I will fully admit that such jokes are not meant to connect with an adult like myself, but I hated this sequence so much.

    I did like how there was ultimately a purpose for the story with some of the characters growing. It all begins with an insider’s sort of perspective of how things were handled on the previous television shows with Freddy always being the leader, Daphne incapable of being anything other than a damsel in distress like it’s some Universal Monsters film, and Velma is typically forgotten about. That causes the split of Mystery Inc. with everyone going their separate ways before being pulled back together to head to Spooky Island for one last case. By the end, it’s a rewarding outcome with Fred realizing that he needs to share the attention with others, Velma gaining her own self confidence to realize her proper self worth, and for Daphne to channel her inner-Buffy Summers to kick some ass instead of needing a man to help her. This works so well with Daphne being played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played Buffy Summers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who with her friends refer to their group as the Scooby Gang.

    To out myself as an awful human being, I will proudly admit to being a massive Scrappy-Doo fan. I’ll easily go as far as to say that Scrappy-Doo was my favorite of the gang when I was a child. Imagine my utter surprise as I come across conversations online where seemingly everyone else in the entire world absolutely despised Scrappy! Scrappy-Doo’s involvement in this film was handled so well. His initial cameo in the flashback made me incredibly happy seeing the little guy again. At the same time, being self aware, the filmmakers decided to poke fun at Scrappy-Doo, allowing for Mystery Inc. to reveal that like every other Scooby-Doo fan (Minus one), they hated Scrappy-Doo as well. Knowing that Scrappy-Doo made an appearance in this film, I figured that would be it. The surprise reveal of Scrappy-Doo actually being revealed as the big villain of the film was perfect. Who could possibly work as the real villain better than a character that fans have hated for decades? Sure, the filmmakers could have chosen some newly written character, but choosing Scrappy-Doo again played into being self aware and giving older viewers, who spent their childhoods watching Scooby-Doo, be entertained with an appropriate villain.

    If there’s one clear drawback of the film, it’s the CGI. It’s 2002 CGI and it looks like it. As unappealing to the eyes as the CGI Scooby-Doo (And Scrappy-Doo) is, it’s nothing compared to the awfulness of the other monsters in the film. Considering what a huge role monsters play in Scooby-Doo, I wished the film would have just went the practical effects route to create some rad looking monsters. Another problem is I felt the beginning of the film was a little rushed. The film goes to the trouble of splitting the gang up, but rather than show what each member is up to in the two years that they were apart, they’re just instantly brought back together. What was the point of splitting them up in the first place and fast forwarding in time by two years? The story would have been exactly the same had Mystery Inc. just been going through troubles and were considering breaking up before going to Spooky Island. The resolution will be the same and it won’t feel as if the viewer is missing out on part of the story.

    Overall, 2002’s Scooby-Doo managed to be a fitting tribute to a classic television series. Although I believe children can enjoy it for what it is, long standing older fans of the various previous Scooby-based shows can enjoy it for its self reverence and more adult oriented jokes. As one of the few people who loved Scrappy-Doo as a child, it was a honest feel good movie experience to see him again, even if he was openly criticized as being a blemish on the history of Mystery Inc. The CGI monsters may leave a lot to be desired, but otherwise, Scooby-Doo is a fun romp for all ages.

    Rating: 7/10

  4. I’m fairly new to HMP, but I work with Jay of the Dead, so I frequently share my thoughts on the podcast and horror movies in general in person, but he suggested I share this story with everyone…

    I had a very interesting encounter with Freddy Krueger last week at Fear Factory, a popular haunted attraction in Salt Lake City. Freddy came up behind me as I was walking through his little haunt and dragged his sharp little knives from my hair all the way down my back, and it was hands-down the best back scratch I have ever had in my life. I actually said out loud, “That felt really good!” which was probably not the reaction he was hoping for.

    The downside is that I will never find Freddy creepy again because to me, he’s no longer Freddy Krueger, Serial Killer and Dream Extraordinaire. Now he’s Freddy Krueger™, Serial Killer, Dream Extraordinaire, Professional Masseuse.

    • Sarah Scythe is amazing! She also attended our meetup. To celebrate Halloween, Sarah Scythe left a pumpkin on my desk that is painted HMP green and has the HMP logo on it! Made my day! Welcome to the community, Sarah Scythe!

    • Ha! I was at the meet up and saw the Fear Factory from the highway but we didn’t end up going in. It looked like spooky fun, though.

  5. Day 29: The Innocents (1961)

    The Innocents (1961) is a gothic ghost story based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. It was released two years before The Haunting (1963) but has a similar feel and approach to the scares. Deborah Kerr stars as a governess who will be the caretaker of two children in a spooky British country mansion. A lot of the horror is psychological and subtle but it is effective and the tension builds slowly throughout the film. The children played by Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin give a standout performance for 1961. This film is charming and atmospheric. 9/10

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