A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984 v. 2010)

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Alright you guys, this is the last one in my Original V. Remake series. It’s been a heck of a journey, and I hope you’ll go back and check out my reviews of HALLOWEEN, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, EVIL DEAD and FRIGHT NIGHT. In the mean time however, we’re moving on to one of my favorite horror icons of all time, and one of my all time favorite horror franchises.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

Starting with the 1984 Wes Craven masterpiece, we are headed to a world of crazy camp, one-liners, the introduction of Johnny Depp, and of course, the living legend : Robert Englund.

As IMDB puts it, this movie is about :

In the dreams of his victims, a spectral child murderer stalks the children of the members of the lynch mob that killed him.

 

Freddy Krueger is one of the most frightening monsters to come out of horror films. The idea of something that stalks you while you’re asleep, and no one else can see, who can kill you when you have very little ability to fight back is terrifying. At least he is to me. Freddy has always really creeped me out, just in the basic concept of who and what he is. Not to mention he was a child molester/murderer. All of these things make for one really frightening, very evil force. Setting him apart from Michael and Jason too, is his personality. He loves what he’s doing, and loves causing pain, and we can see that on his face the entire time. Anyways, all of the things that cause me fear aside, lets talk about the movie.

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The 80s version of this movies is a classic. Robert Englund is outrageously charismatic, and terrifying. There’s no disputing that Englund IS Freddy. I will always remember him, and he will always terrify me, despite any less inspired choices and cameos he’s made in the time since, however, everyone needs to get paid so I understand that as well. The rest of the cast is perfectly likable, and they make the movie very watchable and fun. There is on cast member that I want to speak specifically about though, because this movie has one of my favorite opening credits ever : “Introducing Johnny Depp”.

This is the movie that got Johnny Depp, arguably the biggest movie star ever, his start in films. His performance is short, but it’s also very memorable. He’s still new, and a little bit goofy, but lets all be honest, the death of Johnny Depp (if you say spoiler alert I will end you) is one of the most memorable horror deaths of ALL TIME. The blood fountain in the bed is amazing. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

(Note : there is a documentary called ‘Never Sleep Again‘ that chronicles the production of each movie in the series, and if you want to know some amazing things about all of the movies, including how they did the blood fountain, spend the time and check that documentary out!)

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Anyways, the movie is still quite scary, has some fun and gory deaths, and remains one of the most iconic horror films of all time. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s aged pretty well, and even some of the cheesier effects (the mother being pulled through the window at the end) are still fun and don’t detract from the movie at all. While you can argue that some of the sequels drop in quality, it’s still just such a great film, and a must-see for any horror fan.

Fast forward to 2010, the year after the reasonably successful (and enjoyable) Friday the 13th reboot was released by Platinum Dunes, they decide to ride that wave and put out another remake of an iconic character, Freddy is back and this time (according to IMDB) :

A re-imagining of the horror icon Freddy Krueger, a serial-killer who wields a glove with four blades embedded in the fingers and kills people in their dreams, resulting in their real death in reality.

Seems more complicated than the last plot to say the same thing, but that’s an issue of IMDB not anything else, so lets move on. This is a darker version of the 80s classic. Starring Rooney Mara, who is absolutely fantastic in most things, and Jackie Earl Hayley, who I also quite like. That being said, there is something empty about this movie. The story is fine, the actors are fine and likable, and I do like the darker, more unsettling tone that the movie takes the story.

Even Hayley does a pretty serviceable job as Krueger.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

All that being said, something is still just missing.

I think one of my major issues with the movie is the complete absence of the blood-fountain that really made that original movie so iconic. That not being in this movie didn’t make any sense, and I think speaks to a major problem. The movie does take itself a little bit too seriously. Where the original had this sense of fun, and cheese, this one is pretty no-nonsense.

Maybe that’s what’s missing. Hayley’s Krueger is dark, scary, and intense, but he lacks the charisma that Englund brought to the orignal. Hayley does have a few one-liners in the movie, but they don’t really work given the dark tone that the movie has chosen. It’s a watchable remake, and substantially better than the Texas Chainsaw remake, but it just falls flat by being so joyless and heavy on the Child-Molester angle of Krueger’s character.

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The winner in this case is pretty clear I think. The original, all the way. The remake is plenty watchable, but it just doesn’t quite capture the spirit in the right way. At least, that’s my take away from it. It does set up a sequel, but I really doubt we’ll be seeing one.

FINAL GRADES

     1985 : A-
     2010 : C-

 

 

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