Newest Reviews
Whoopee Boys, The
Set, The
Cyrano de Bergerac
Death Walks in Laredo
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Ad Astra
Winslow Boy, The
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Newest Articles
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
  Nightmare on Elm Street, A If I Should Die Before I WakeBuy this film here.
Year: 1984
Director: Wes Craven
Stars: John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Jsu Garcia, Johnny Depp, Charles Fleischer, Joseph Whipp, Robert Englund, Lin Shaye, Joe Unger, Mimi Craven, Jack Shea, Ed Call, Sandy Lipton
Genre: Horror
Rating:  8 (from 3 votes)
Review: Tina (Amanda Wyss) has been suffering from nightmares lately, and they all have the same strange figure in them who has knives for fingers and terrorises her in these dreams until she wakes up. She admits as much to her best friend Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) on the way to school, but is surprised to learn that she has been seeing this man in her sleep as well, and she is disturbed by him too. Even Nancy's boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp) is afflicted, although he won't state it outright, but what Tina doesn't say is that last night when she was shocked awake, her nightdress bore the tears of the mystery man's glove...

If there's any one film that summed up horror in the eighties, it was writer and director Wes Craven's most famous work, at least until the Scream series came along, a Nightmare on Elm Street. Here the fictional serial killer as anti-hero really sprung to life, or undeath would perhaps be more appropriate, as while Michael Myers had kickstarted the slasher genre in the late seventies, and Jason Vorhees had proven lucrative a couple of years later and for decades afterwards, Freddy Krueger was the man of the moment as far as poster boys for bloody mayhem in the movies were concerned and Robert Englund became a star in the part. Certainly classic horror characters like Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man had enjoyed their own merchandise for quite some time, but here the power of a franchise was truly unleashed.

It wasn't quite that way with the first instalment in the Elm Street series, as in spite of New Line head honcho Robert Shaye seeing the potential for a sequel before filming had ended, it was supposed to essentially be a one-off in Craven's view, which is pretty much why the film had two endings, one after the other, the second basically saying, don't go away now, if you enjoyed this we'll be right back for more. But if there was a weakness to Craven's script it was that there was no satisfying way to close the story, and the solution he came up with - wishing the villain away - was Disney movie corny. A pity, because the whole premise, that if you die in your dreams then you'll die in real life, was ideal material for a first class shocker.

After all, everyone has dreamt of dying at some point in their lives, so there was a universality to the notion that tapped into a fear, that lack of control in your nightmares that renders them so unpleasant. Here it is, as is now famous, the dead child killer Krueger who is the agent of this death (he was going to be a child molester but even Craven thought that was a step to far), and he is insinuating himself into the slumbers of Nancy and her friends as revenge. Revenge for what, well that's something she discovers during the course of her battles, both to stay awake and to understand what is happening and why, for example, Tina was brutally murdered when she was supposed to be spending the night with her now a suspect boyfriend Rod (Jsu Garcia when he was known as Nick Corri).

Craven wasn't simply canny about the whole nightmare aspect, but he knew that when it came to modern horror movies in the eighties, parents were not to be trusted as after all, it was they who told you that these types of entertainment were bad for you. Therefore he touched a few million nerves in the young people of the day when he had the parents in the film be repsonsible for the terror that has begun to wreak havoc on the teenagers, an older generation who aver that they shouldn't take such things seriously when that's precisely what their offspring should be doing. Ironically, it was the success of this movie, and all the imitators it spawned, that resulted in the whole genre being dismissed from much level-headed debate ever since, unless you're hoping to whip up a scare story in which case efforts like these are discussed as if they were the modern devil incarnate. Otherwise, aside from the fans most people roll their eyes when horror is mentioned, but if you go back and watch Cravens' 1984 favourite, you'll see there was a valid intelligence in at least some of these productions, although in truth this wasn't the best of them. Music by Charles Bernstein.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2921 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Wes Craven  (1939 - )

Intelligent American director, producer and writer, at his most effective when, perhaps paradoxically, he was at his most thoughtful. Controversial shocker Last House on the Left set him on a path of horror movies, the best of which are The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, New Nightmare and Scream (which revitalised the slasher genre).

Less impressive are Deadly Blessing, Swamp Thing, the ridiculous Hills Have Eyes Part II, Deadly Friend, Shocker, Vampire in Brooklyn, Cursed and the successful Scream sequels (the last of which was his final movie). Music of the Heart was a change of pace for Craven, but not a hit, though aeroplane thriller Red Eye was a successful attempt at something different; My Soul To Take, an attempt at more of the same, flopped. One of the pioneers of the American new wave of horror of the 1970s and 80s, he brought a true edge, wit and imagination to the genre.

Review Comments (2)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton


Last Updated: