Nightmare On Elm Street: Film And Reality


“The original A Nightmare on Elm Street was inspired by an extraordinary series of unnoticed stories in the Los Angeles Times. A young immigrant male, early 20’s, usually from Southeast Asia, a son, would have a severe nightmare where he would wake up screaming. The next day, he would tell his family it was the worst nightmare he’d ever had, and he had been terribly shaken by it. The next night when he went to sleephe died. Six months later I looked in the paper and there was a very similar story. I clipped it out and put it with the other one. Then the third appeared about a year and a half from the first one, this time in Northern California. And the elements were the basis for the film. The rest is horror history.”Wes Craven, Director of A Nightmare on Elm Street.


At a time when the stalker movie had run its course to all ends and the image of mute, staggering, vicious killers had been etched into society’s consciousness to the point of exhaustion, a new kid entered the block. The year was 1984 and it was time for a new villain to enter into the horror genre. It was a villain that was agile, intelligent, almost invincible, yet viscous, and by all means deadly. A Nightmare on Elm Street introduced the distinctive presence of Fred Krueger to the horror industry and to the audience. Freddy Krueger took the center stage and with him a new era of horror films began. This horribly scarred man who wore a ragged slouch hat, dirty red-and-green striped sweater, and a glove outfitted with knives at the fingers reinvented the stalker genre like no other film had. Fred Krueger breathed new life into the dying horror genre of the early 1980’s. This paper will enter the realm of the ideas in the movie, such as the psychological horror it held for the viewer, as well as the use of reality within the film. Not knowing what was real and what was a dream made for A Nightmare on Elm Street to be a successful horror movie.

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Horror films are designed to frighten the audience and engage them in their worst fears, while captivating and entertaining at the same time. Horror films often center on the darker side of life, on what is forbidden and strange. These films play with society’s fears, its nightmare’s and vulnerability, the terror of the unknown, the fear of death, the loss of identity, and the fear of sexuality. Horror films are generally set in spooky old mansions, fog-ridden areas, or dark locales with unknown human, supernatural or grotesque creatures lurking about. These creatures can range from vampires, madmen, devils, unfriendly ghosts, monsters, mad scientists, demons, zombies, evil spirits, satanic villains, the possessed, werewolves and freaks to the unseen and even the mere presence of evil.
Within the genre of horror films falls the sub-genre of teen slasher/stalker films. These teen slasher/stalker films take the horror genre film characteristics into account, however they add more to the formula. More violence, sadism, brutality, and graphic blood and gore are used to increase the terror factor. Sexuality and gratuitous nudity are also key characteristic of many of these films, including this one. Imitations and numerous sequels are also a common characteristic of teen slasher/stalker films as well, as Craven came back with six sequels.


A Nightmare on Elm Street and all the following six sequels fall into its own sub-genre of the teen slasher/stalker ideas and it is known as the Nightmare on Elm Street Series. This series of films adds a new dimension to the typical teen slasher/stalker film, depth of character and story. The characters are not there only to be killed, but rather they have distinct personalities. They are independent and intelligent, particularly the female lead characters. The killer, Fred Krueger, not only murders his victims violently, but he displays a great amount of wit, sarcasm and intelligence while doing it.
As the Nightmare on Elm Street movies progress, the audience gradually gains knowledge of each of the characters individual personalities. The storyline takes on a greater depth as well. The story goes beyond

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