7.5/10
202,500
798 user 224 critic

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

TV-14 | | Horror | 16 November 1984 (USA)
Trailer
1:55 | Trailer

In Theaters Now

The monstrous spirit of a slain child murderer seeks revenge by invading the dreams of teenagers whose parents were responsible for his untimely death.

Director:

Wes Craven

Writer:

Wes Craven
Reviews
Popularity
150 ( 20)
3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Saxon ... Lt. Thompson
Ronee Blakley ... Marge Thompson
Heather Langenkamp ... Nancy Thompson
Amanda Wyss ... Tina Gray
Jsu Garcia ... Rod Lane (as Nick Corri)
Johnny Depp ... Glen Lantz
Charles Fleischer ... Dr. King
Joseph Whipp ... Sgt. Parker
Robert Englund ... Fred Krueger
Lin Shaye ... Teacher
Joe Unger ... Sgt. Garcia
Mimi Craven ... Nurse (as Mimi Meyer-Craven)
Jack Shea Jack Shea ... Minister
Ed Call Ed Call ... Mr. Lantz
Sandy Lipton Sandy Lipton ... Mrs. Lantz
Edit

Storyline

On Elm Street, Nancy Thompson and a group of her friends (comprising Tina Gray, Rod Lane and Glen Lantz) are being tormented by a clawed killer in their dreams named Fred Krueger. Nancy must think quickly, as Fred tries to pick them off one by one. When he has you in your sleep, who is there to save you? Written by simon_hrdng

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Midnight, Baseball Bats and Boogeyman. See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Was shown uncut on cinema in Sweden at the time, a very unique decision due to the moral panic regarding violent films. See more »

Goofs

(at around 22 mins) When Rod is cornered by the police, he stops and raises his hands and you hear him say "I'm cool, I'm cool", but his mouth clearly isn't moving. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Fred Krueger: Tina.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Film title logo as the end credits are finished. See more »

Alternate Versions

The Australian theatrical release was edited for an M rating but the uncut version was later released on VHS home video with an R rating and can be identified by a yellow strip up in the top right corner of the front cover that says "Graphic Uncut Version". See more »

Connections

Referenced in Holliston: Kevin's Wedding (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Nightmare
Performed by 213
Written and Produced by Martin Kent, Steve Karshner, Michael Schurig
See more »

User Reviews

Its reputation is a bit flattering but still a very good low budget horror film
9 July 2004 | by MovieAddict2016See all my reviews

Every small-town neighborhood has an old legend that never dies. For the residents of Elm Street, Fred Krueger is the demonic soul that plagues their nightmares. Krueger was an evil child molester, burned alive by the parents of the children he had slain in the past. Now, years later, he has reappeared in the nightmares of Elm Street's teenagers. Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) continually experiences these haunting visions in which the permanently scarred man chases her through the shadows of a boiler room -- the same room in which he used to slay his helpless victims. Nancy considers her dreams to be typical nightmares one of her best friends is apparently "sliced" to death during a deep sleep in her home.

Soon Nancy's dreams become worse, and her boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp) admits that he has also been experiencing unpleasant nightmares. Together they uncover the truth behind Krueger's death years ago, and vow to stay awake as long as they can and strategize a plan to bring Krueger back into the "real world" and kill him once and for all.

Loosely based on true events, Wes Craven's inspiration for the tale originated after he reportedly read that a number of people across the world had died in their slumber. Blending fantasy with reality, Craven wrote and directed one of the most iconic horror films of all time, which -- similar to "Halloween" before it -- spawned an inferior legion of sequels and imitators, all of which continue to pale in comparison to the original.

The brilliance of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is that it relies on psychological fear vs. cheap exploitation tricks. "Halloween," directed by John Carpenter and released in 1978, had re-sparked interest in the Hitchcock-style horror/thrillers, and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" builds upon this, cleverly channeling the mystery surrounding dreams and using it as a gateway for chills and thrills. Midway through the movie, a doctor played by Richard Fleischer tells Nancy's mother that the process of dreams -- where do they come from? -- has yet to be explained, and the fact that all humans tend to have dreams on a regular basis is essentially why this film remains so scary, even by today's standards. Some of the special effects are quite outdated but, unlike the "Nightmare" imitators, gore plays second to the plot and characters -- something rare in a horror film.

The sequels became sillier and gorier. Fred's name changed to the less menacing "Freddy" (which we all now know him by), he was given more screen time, the makeup on his face was not quite as horrific, he began to crack jokes more often and his voice evolved into a less demonic cackle. In the original "Nightmare" it is interesting to note that Freddy is rarely given screen time at all -- we see his infamous hands (wearing gloves with butter knives attached on the fingers to slice his victims), we see his hat, we see his sweater, we see his outline in the darkness of the shadows, but even when we finally see Freddy up-close, Craven manages to keep the camera moving so that we never gain a distinct image of the killer. Now, twenty years later, there's no mystery anymore -- Freddy's face is featured on the front cover for most of the films and his very presence has become the cornerstone of all the movies in the franchise. But in 1984, long before Craven predicted his character would become a huge part of modern pop culture, Freddy was mysterious and not very funny at all.

The acting is one of the film's weaknesses -- Heather Langenkamp is never totally awe-inspiring as Nancy, truth be told (although she does a decent job); Depp -- in his big-screen debut -- shows a sign of talent to come but basically mutters clichéd dialogue most of the time. The co-stars are acceptable at best. However the greatest performance is -- not surprisingly -- by Robert Englund, as Freddy, who is in the film barely at all. Ironically, as mentioned above, this only makes the film succeed at scaring us.

The direction is not as superb as "Halloween," and for that matter either is the film. Over the years, "Nightmare" has arguably been given an overrated reputation, although it is inferior to "Halloween." However, compared to some of the other so-called "horror films" released during the '80s -- including "Friday the 13th" and other dumb slasher flicks -- "A Nightmare on Elm Street" does seem to stand as one of the best horror films of the decade. Despite its flaws it is quite smart with a surprise "final" ending and one of cinema's greatest villains lurking at the core.

"A Nightmare on Elm Street" is really Nancy's story. The film focuses on Nancy's troubles, Nancy's dreams and Nancy's actions. The ending of the film becomes a bit muddled -- the booby traps are unfortunately a bit goofy and Freddy helplessly (almost humorously) chasing Nancy around her home supposedly trying to murder her is something the film could have done without -- but overall it is a satisfying mixture of horror, thriller and fantasy, a movie that taps into two seldom-recognized everyday events in human life, which are sleeping, and dreaming. Craven's ability to realize this unknown fear in a movie is, needless to say, quite fascinating. "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is not a great movie but for horror buffs it is a must-see and for non-horror-buffs there is a fair amount of other elements to sustain one's interest.


105 of 147 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 798 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 November 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Nightmare on Elm Street See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,271,000, 11 November 1984

Gross USA:

$25,504,513

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$25,504,513
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Workprint Version)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (DeLuxe)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed