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REVIEW: A Nightmare On Elm Street

It's official: Hollywood has run out of new ideas

Nightmare on Elm Street.
Courtesy photo

When I heard that a remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street was coming out, I threw my hands up in the air. Really, Hollywood should just give up. Throw in the towel. They have officially run out of ideas.

When the original was being made, most studios passed on it. One passed because they were making Dreamscape with Dennis Quaid (a fun little movie), which dealt with some of the same themes.

Death at a Funeral is in theatres now, and it was remade from a film three years ago. Hollywood remade Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. They’re releasing A-Team soon. The list of this type of stuff goes on and on.

I don’t even care that the cast of this new Nightmare has Clancy Brown, an interesting character actor I like (he was in Highlander, and was the mean prison guard in Shawshank Redemption). It also has Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Kruger. I’m not sure that’s such great casting, considering his voice was distinct in The Watchman as Rorschach.

In protest of Hollywood continuing to give us unoriginal ideas, I figured instead of giving them the time of day and writing a review of A Nightmare on Elm Street, I would instead run a reprint of the review I wrote of the original Nightmare, which came out November 16, 1984...

A Nightmare on Elm Street

by Joshua D. Board

I always wondered what happened to criminals that get off on some technicality. An officer maybe didn’t read you your Miranda Rights, or some search warrant was obtained illegally. Well, if you’re someone that murdered children in a small town, the parents rally and pull a Charles Bronson on you. In this case, they took Freddy Kruger and burned and killed him in the boiler room where he worked.

He comes back to torment the town again. Not just with his horrible wardrobe – a goofy hat and striped shirt that Charlie Brown would love – but also a glove that Michael Jackson would envy. Instead of sequins all over it, this one has knives for fingers. That dude better be careful if he has an itch on his face. He could take an eye out.

I would’ve preferred he run these fingers across a chalk board for an hour and a half, rather than sit through this garbage.

Now, I’m all for horror films. In the 1970s I loved The Exorcist, The Fury, The Wicker Man, The Swarm, The Uncanny, The Crazies, The Shining, The Omen…pretty much any scary movie with “the” in the title, I’m on board.

When Friday the 13th came out in 1980, horror films suddenly became “slasher” flicks. The filmmakers were more interested in the fake blood and gore, than actually scaring you.

Remember two years ago when Poltergeist came out? We were scared to death (and who doesn’t still occasionally look under their bed to make sure there’s no evil clown waiting for you to fall asleep?).

I enjoyed seeing Charles Fleischer as one of the doctors at the dream lab. He was always interesting on Welcome Back, Kotter. And he does a great stand-up routine (in real life, not in the movie).

John Saxon was okay as Lt. Thompson, although it looked like the movie was trying hard for their own Robert Pine from CHiPs.

And Ronee Blakley, as the mom. Oh, Blakley. What happened? You got nominated for an Oscar in Robert Altman’s Nashville. You recorded a few songs with Bob Dylan, even playing his wife in a movie. You had two amazing albums come out in the 70s. And now you play an alcoholic mother in a slasher flick. If you need to borrow some money, just give me a call. I’m in the phone book.

The cast of young actors in this film is laughably bad. One kid wears a leather jacket and talks in this New York/Italian accent that’s so atrocious.

This is the first movie for a young kid named Johnny Depp, who has no talent other than his ability to style his hair really well. This is his first film, and I’d bet you a million dollars, his last. Maybe we’ll see him in a shampoo commercial in a few years.

The movie is going by the premise that you can’t fall asleep, or you could be killed by Freddy. The kids all spend their time drinking coffee (and having sex). If this is the premise they give us, the ending makes absolutely no sense. The main character wakes up, only to show us that everything we just watched was one dream within a dream. Yet, the red ’59 Cadillac they step into, decides to kill all the kids (was the red Plymouth in Christine too busy to do this movie?). And Freddy’s arm reaches threw a window to kill Blakley. Maybe that’s putting her out of her misery.

And who wrote and directed this piece of garbage? A man named Wes Craven, who gave his wife a role as a nurse.

He shows signs of talent in this genre. We have a nice piano score that evokes some atmosphere. I have no clue why synthesizers had to jump out at us, instead of Freddy, during all his scenes. Aren’t scary movies supposed to actually scare us? Other then two scenes, they don’t even try.

A few of the shots worked well. Seeing a cross fall off the bedroom wall, or little girls jump roping…oh, and stairs that have been slathered with pancake batter or something. All nice touches. Even having Freddy do his torture in a boiler room, with the sounds of dripping water and steam, making you think of the creatures in The Fog. I’m just not sure how Craven couldn’t put all this into a clever thriller that would have us on the edge of our seats.

Mark my words…25 minutes after you see this, you will have forgotten about it. Like a bad dream.

In 25 years, nobody will even remember the name of the movie that ended the careers of veteran actress Ronee Blakley and teenager Johnny Depp -- who sadly, will never get a chance to see his star (or hair) rise.